DUBAL receiving the awards
The spirit of innovation and continuous improvement for which Dubai Aluminium Company Limited (“DUBAL”) is renowned has again come to the fore — this time by way of two category awards in the 2011 Ideas.Arabia Idea of the Year competition. The award ceremony was an integral element of the 6th Ideas.Arabia International Conference (“Ideas.Arabia 2011”), held under the patronage of H H Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (President of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman of Emirates Group). Having been a major sponsor of the event since its inception in 2006, and the main sponsor for the first three years, DUBAL was the Platinum Sponsor Ideas.Arabia 2011 — which took place at Westin Hotel & Resorts, Dubai, from 8 to 10 May.
The two awards accorded to DUBAL were 2011 Ideas.Arabia Health & Safety Award — This went to “Safety mechanical stopper for loading/unloading station”, submitted by A. Regenio, G. Anthony & K. Balakrishnan. The suggestors responded to a scenario where anodes and the conveying trolley (with a combined mass of 1 to 1.2 metric tonnes) could potentially fall from the runway beam of the loading and unloading station, located 5 metres above butt cleaning facility — posing an extremely unsafe situation from both an employee and an equipment perspective. Their idea was to install a mechanical stopper (100 per cent fail-safe), which stops any anode trolley movement when it is in the loading/unloading station — even if any malfunction of the equipment or operational errors should occur. The solution avoids potential fatalities and equipment damage, reduces repetitive breakdown calls, enhances working conditions and minimizes environmental pollution (the anodes are stored indoors).
2011 Ideas.Arabia Productivity Award — This went to the suggestion entitled “Modified transfer rolls at Ingot Casting Machine”, which was submitted by D. Kumar, N. Prabhakar, C. Hugos & P. Kadirvelu. At the Ingot Casting (“IC”) Machine, which produces between 15 and 20 metric tonnes of aluminium per hour, a transfer roll conveyor is used to transport the hot ingots (460ºC) from the shearing device to the cooling booth through a right-angled turn. If any one of the transfer roll chains breaks down, hot ingots are rejected until it is fixed, eventually leading to upstream breakdown and stoppage of the whole casting complex. Frequent production delays occurred due to breakages of the transfer roll chain, damage to the rollers and sprockets. The suggestors proposed, then designed and fabricated a new transfer roll assembly in-house using duplex roller chain and a continuous drive system with detachable sprocket and roller. The new design also includes a tensioning mechanism and simplified transfer of ingots through a right-angled turn. Many benefits have been realised, including a substantial reduction in machine breakdowns, minimized hot ingot rejections and rework, reduced re-melting of aluminium (1,128 metric tonnes to almost zero), a smooth and continuous flow of ingots, a strong and reliable roller conveyor, and improved safety at the hot ingot conveying system.
Commenting on DUBAL’s repeated award-winning performance at Ideas.Arabia, Abdulla Kalban (President & CEO) said, “This independent recognition highlights both the level of creativity within our organization and the inherent potential of inviting employees to engage with our company. It also proves that DUBAL has immense potential for the future and confirms that which we have always believed, namely that our employees are our greatest asset.”
Currently ranked as one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters, DUBAL is not only the largest producer of primary aluminium in the Gulf, but also the leading aluminium player in the region. Moreover, DUBAL is widely regarded as the UAE’s industrial flagship — the company being rated by many as a role model in every aspect of its business. For example, DUBAL is a regional pioneer of employee involvement programmes through its award-winning Suggestion Scheme. Established in May 1981, the DUBAL Suggestion Scheme celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year. The success of the since its inception has been remarkable: the cumulative savings arising from implemented suggestions has exceeded AED 117 million over this period. The scheme achieved 100 per cent participation from eligible employees in 2010, for the fifth year in a row.
As in prior years, the best suggestions submitted by DUBAL employees will be entered in regional and international competitions this year — such as Ideas.Arabia, Ideas.UK and Ideas.America — where top honours are often received.
A large number of organisations, both locally and internationally, have used the DUBAL Suggestion Scheme as a model for developing similar programmes. In keeping with the theme of the three-day Ideas.Arabia 2011 conference — “Beyond Innovation” — DUBAL’s Mohamed Jame (General Manager: Smelter Maintenance), delivered a presentation entitled “Building an Innovation Culture”. He highlighted that the most meaningful way of understanding innovation is competitive advantage, whereby it has a direct benefit to your day-to-day business. To promote a culture of innovation, some of the key success factors are top management involvement, empowering employees, collaboration, awareness and training, transparency, plus recognition and awards. The challenges facing the future of innovation include fuelling the passion of innovation, change and becoming managers of learning, such that innovation will enforce competitive advantage.