aluminium: How green aluminum can help in global supply chains

Aluminum is inevitable for a resilient, efficient and sustainable global supply chain that strives to achieve an optimal level of movement of goods. While being economical, fast and flexible, it incorporates a management process that federates a network of suppliers, manufacturers and warehouses, and means of transport. And if there’s one metal that’s unavoidable for a strong, efficient, and sustainable supply chain across the globe, it’s aluminum.

It goes without saying that if the world is to meet the ever-increasing demands of its growing population, aluminum, the “green metal”, has a competitive advantage today and will be imperative in the global supply chain tomorrow.

Endless possibilities with aluminum

From construction to aircraft, household appliances to food and beverage packaging, aluminum’s fundamental properties such as its design, strength-to-weight ratio, infinite recyclability, durability, high corrosion resistance and its supreme formability offer endless possibilities. They make this green metal, the metal of the future for a more sustainable world.

Aluminum in road transport

Transport accounts for around 20% of global energy demand. The aluminum components of an articulated truck can reduce vehicle weight by up to 2,000 kg. Due to its strength-to-weight ratio property, a truck with a high aluminum content can carry a heavier load with exceeding the legal weight limits. Reducing the weight of vehicles leads to better energy efficiency, reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to steel, aluminum can reduce the weight of a vehicle by 40%, without compromising its strength. The benefits of aluminum in transportation go beyond to cover improved performance, easier handling and reduced road wear.

Increasing Trade with Aluminum: Freight Containers

Cargo containers in the global supply chain connect the global economy. It is estimated that more than 80% of the world’s goods are transported by sea. The strength, lightness and durability of aluminum make it an advantageous and economical material for the construction of freight containers. Also in the case of shipping containers, the use of aluminum over traditional materials such as steel has the potential to increase payloads, while reducing weight and therefore overall transportation costs. , making the company a profitable business. In addition to this, aluminum has also proven to be an effective material for the construction of cargo holds, including insulated holds, as it is non-reactive and non-abrasive.

Aluminum in a sea vessel

Since the first all-aluminum seagoing vessel built in 1892 in France, aluminum has for over 120 years been the preferred material in the marine supply chain due to its lightness and ease of fabrication as well as its resistance to corrosion and fatigue. The exceptional properties of aluminum make it possible to increase the volume and height of the vessels without losing stability. In addition, the aluminum linings of the interiors are attractive and easy to clean. In addition to low maintenance costs, aluminum boats over 30 years old have been reported to show no signs of metal fatigue. Compared to their steel counterparts, the use of aluminum in the global supply chain can increase vessel speed and size while improving fuel economy, safety, reliability and cost.

Planes: bringing global economies together

From the Wright Brothers’ first airplane with a 30-pound aluminum block to reduce weight, to building the first all-aluminum airplane in the early 1920s, the world has relied on aluminum to achieve efficiency and take off . The International Air Transport Association estimates that air cargo was used to transport $6 trillion worth of goods annually, representing 35% of all global trade by value. As the primary aircraft material, aluminum accounts for approximately 80% of an aircraft’s empty weight. Aluminum’s combination of light weight, maneuverability and strength makes it the ideal metal for manufacturing commercial aircraft. Strong aluminum alloys withstand extraordinary pressure and stress associated with high altitude flight, reduce weight and therefore save fuel and increase aircraft payload.

Modern warehouses

Due to its properties, aluminum makes it the most popular raw material for creating modern and reliable solutions. Metal can take almost any shape. So in warehouses, which play a central role in the overall supply chain, aluminum can be easily molded to produce complex elements like an individually designed grid system, modules, shelves and platforms. In addition, as aluminum lends itself perfectly to anodizing, it becomes even more resistant to wear and scratches. In the case of an aluminum roof, it is non-flammable, aesthetic, easy to install and respectful of the environment. These properties make metal an excellent choice for retrofitting and building modern warehouses.

Aluminum packaging

Aluminum is a malleable metal. It can take any shape and its protective qualities have made it the most versatile packaging material in the world. It is also by far the lightest packaging material. Aluminum packaging offers a high level of corrosion resistance, a metallic barrier impermeable to light, ultraviolet rays, water vapour, oils and greases, oxygen and micro-organisms. In the case of the packaging of sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals or food, the metal is hygienic, non-toxic and non-staining. The foil wrap also plays a vital role in keeping the contents fresh, ensuring a long shelf life.

In conclusion

The world must continue its pursuit of innovation and advanced technologies to improve aluminum applications and processes, use less energy, reduce climate emissions and improve the global supply chain to achieve its business and of durability.

(The author is President – Operations at Jindal Aluminium)

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