With a production capacity of more than one million metric tonnes per annum, Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL) is not only the largest primary aluminium smelter in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region, but also the largest single-site smelter in the world using pre-bake anode technology. Moreover, the entirely state-owned DUBAL is a pioneer and an industry leader in many aspects of its business; and is renowned for sharing best practice as a means to advance the company, its sector competitors in the region, and the broader cross-section of industry.
As a case in point, DUBAL recently provided comprehensive operator training to 65 new recruits of Ma’aden Aluminium Company (MAC)و a partnership between Saudi Arabia Mining Company and Alcoa Inc., one of the world’s largest aluminium companies. The trainees, all Saudi nationals, were trained in batches at DUBAL’s Jebel Ali site between February and September 2012. With every trainee receiving more than 54 days’ training over the period, the project involved a total of 3,555 training days. The trainees were exposed to a combination of classroom and on-the-job practical experience across the potline, carbon (greenmill, baking kilns and rodding room) and casthouse areas of a smelter’s operations. Some 125 different training modules were used, each based on DUBAL’s well-established procedures and practices but customised to MAC’s specific needs where necessary.
DUBAL has a proud, 33-year record in training hundreds of its own employees to work in the various operational areas of the DUBAL smelter complex. Over the years, the company has built state-of-the-art training facilities which, coupled with hands-on experience in the plant, give individuals comprehensive training for their day-to-day duties plus opportunities to advance in their careers. DUBAL’s on-site facilities include fully-fledged Plant Training Centre (“PTC”), staffed by 30 dedicated trainers. In total, 21 PTC trainers with multi-disciplinary expertise, and mostly Emirati nationals, were responsible for training the MAC employees. This team of PTC trainers received the MAC trainees at DUBAL; issued appropriate personal protective equipment; conducted initial safety courses; trained them in the required areas as per the training plan; liaised with a dedicated MAC Training Co-ordinator who accompanied the trainees; ensured that the trainees achieved the required level of proficiency and competence; established and maintained appropriate records; and took care of the MAC trainees’ day-to-day issues while on duty.
According to DUBAL’s Sultan Al Sabri (Vice President: Human Resources & Organisational Effectiveness), the first batch of MAC trainees arrived on-site at DUBAL in the third week of February 2012. The fourth and last batch arrived in May 2012. “The trainees returned to Ma’aden between June and September this year, with the peak of the training activity having been reached mid-summer when we had 40 MAC trainees on our site,” he says. “A comprehensive training programme was developed for each of the smelter areas concerned, as well as for each level required by Ma’aden – from Utility Operator to Operator. Over 360 assessments were completed collaboratively by the PTC team and the MAC Training Co-ordinator, the results confirming that the trainees could perform their assigned jobs without supervision – including operating the associated equipment safely.”
The training was completed timeously, with most of the MAC trainees returning to Ma’aden ahead of schedule. Cohesion between the MAC recruits was encouraged, if not cemented, through team-building activities. Moreover, DUBAL’s commitment to the highest safety standards, as embodied in a corporate quest for “zero harm to people and the environment”, led to zero lost time injuries occurring throughout the seven-month period (the trainees spent a total of 45,000 hours at DUBAL’s premises).
“The agreement between DUBAL and MAC was the first of its kind between two members of the Gulf Aluminium Council (GAC), a coordinating body that represents, promotes and protects the interests of the aluminium industry within the Gulf region,” continues Al Sabri. “DUBAL is intensely proud to have been chosen to fulfil MAC’s training needs at this level; and extremely pleased at the success achieved, as attested by the competence of the trainees. Not only does it confirm the high standards established at DUBAL, but also bodes well for the future of the Middle East as a leading hub in the global aluminium industry.”