Lotte Aluminium Materials USA and SMS group agree on a strategic partnership

by David Fleschen

Lotte Aluminium Materials USA LLC and SMS group have announced their strategic partnership to set new operational standards through the combined use of state of the art technologies supplied by SMS. The latest supply of an advanced digitalization package will support Lotte to orchestratethe production of ultra-thin aluminum cathode foil for electric vehicle batteries at the new greenfield production site in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, USA. In combination with the AMOVA highbay storage system which is currently in commissioning Lotte’s objective is to produce 36,000 tons of cathode foils per year in response to the sharp rise in demand. This is where Lotte is relying on the digitalization and logistics expertise of SMS group.

This collaborative effort will take advantage of a sophisticated digital systems package and cutting-edge technology to enhance efficiency, quality, and customization in the manufacturing process from the start of production. Technologies involved in the digital package include SMS group’s DataFactory Suite for collecting all relevant production data from the very first product, the Manufacturing Execution Suite (MES), which serves as the planning and communication master that enables automatic execution of the entire plant’s production process, as well as the Quality Execution Suite (QES) for real-time, pass-based quality evaluation and product certification.

The project covers the integration of six cold rolling mills and four slitting lines supplied by a third-party supplier, as well as the high-bay-storage system delivered by AMOVA, an SMS group company.

Source and Photo: SMS group

The high-bay storage system with around 500 storage locations is connected to the various process lines via appropriate conveyor technology and is equipped with warehouse management software developed by AMOVA.

This logistical solution is directly linked to the MES, which allows bi-directional communication on production and warehousing. Moreover, all systems integrate seamlessly with third party equipment and automation to achieve efficient logistics throughout the plant.

In consideration of Lotte’s existing processes in various plants around the world, the digital package will be fully customizable to meet Lotte’s production requirements, offering various operation-supporting functions such as inspection procedures, production support equipment planning and administration, claim assessment, and plant reporting on a shop floor, operations, strategy, and management level. In addition, the systems will allow remote access and control possibilities via overseas.

SMS group’s MES enables, for example, pass-level production sequencing and intralogistics control, while the QES ensures genealogy tracking and time-length mapping from the first pass to the final product. The easy integration of multiple types of third-party surface inspection systems supports the enrichment of quality-related data as and where required. The QES automatic coil release functional automates the quality decision-making process and helps Lotte’s operational team to focus on demanding quality decisions. The QES also ensures that each coil is quality certified.

The long-term data storage of all production-relevant data in the DataFactory Suite means that quality process-oriented analyses can be carried out and production failures prevented.

A global SMS team coordinated by a local project management office on site in the US, with dedicated teams for technical sales, coordination, advice, and execution, will enable effective communication and swift issue resolution.

Furthermore SMS will support Lotte by the supply of a software maintenance contract in terms of a lifecycle partnership with predefined and on-demand services for continuous secured operations and improvements to keep the systems at the cutting edge of technology.

This strategic partnership is one of the major digitalization projects underway in the aluminum foil production industry and marks a significant milestone in bringing together the expertise of Lotte Aluminium Materials USA and SMS group teams to deliver unparalleled quality, efficiency, and customization capabilities.

“With SMS group, we have the right partner for our business in the sensitive aluminum industry. They impressed us with a digital package that also seamlessly integrates third-party equipment for the greenfield production of ultra-thin aluminum cathode foils for electric vehicle batteries. SMS group combines longstanding metallurgical and operational know-how with digitalization expertise – these strong competencies support us immensely on our road to enhancing aluminum foil production. Our strategic partnership contributes significantly to shaping the electric vehicle battery manufacturing landscape,” says Eun Seong Chang, CEO of Lotte Aluminium Materials USA.

“This predictive approach is an example of the commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancement in the aluminum industry and ensuring long-term success by also contributing to the reduction of global carbon emissions,” says Dr. Thiago Turchetti Maia, Executive Vice President CoE, SMS digital.

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