I’m attending the ICSOBA2023 conference in Dubai this week. Already, I made a number of both pleasant and useful connections within the primary aluminium industry.

I want to share one particular insight that hit me today:

I was listening to talking about retrofitting electrolysis pots with fiber optic cables. This would allow smelters to detect and thus prevent an early pot failure (where bath melts through the bottom or side of the shell and seeps out.) This problem can be a real threat to smelters.

The solution would provide the smelter with real-time data to be analyzed.

Here’s the thing though:

Do we really need to have this data in real time? What if we only measured the temperatures once a day or even once a month? Perhaps installing a cheap thermal camera on a machine that cleans the potline’s basement would already suffice to detect hot spots? That would be so much cheaper…

I don’t claim to have the answer. I do find it striking that we, myself included, are attracted to “shiny” technologies all the time. However, true mastery is having the courage to keep things as simple and boring as possible.