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Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation (KACC) of Spokane, WA, had a strong projected demand for its heat-treated aluminum products in 1989, which necessitated a significant increase in capacity. As a result, Averill M. Law & Associates (AML) was asked to perform a simulation study whose major objective was to determine what changes to the existing batch furnace or what options for a new continuous furnace would meet the throughput requirement at the least cost. The project was carried out by Michael McComas and Averill Law of AML working closely with KACC engineers Thomas Cook, Bruce Ely, and Lee Endicott.
It should be noted that the heat-treating process consists of the following steps:
1 .Loading of (untreated) aluminum plates into the furnace.
2. Raising of metal temperature to between 900 and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (soak temperature).
3. Heating of plates at the soak temperature for a specified amount of time (soak time).
4. Cooling of plates with a water spray.
5. Stretching, sawing, inspecting, and packaging of plates (not included in simulation model).
The heatup and soak times depend on the plate alloy and thickness.
In addition to the above major project objective, some of the specific issues …