Alcoa shines as sustainability leader with success of global eh&s compliance/tasking system from ess

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Courtesy of IHS

Alcoa, a leading producer of aluminum, has long been recognized as a global leader in environmental protection and sustainability. It has been repeatedly named to the Global 100 list of the 'most sustainable corporations in the world' and has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for seven consecutive years. Recently, however, maintaining this standard of excellence has become more challenging as environmental compliance tasks and reporting requirements increase exponentially. Providing the legal registries to satisfy internal and external requirements is resource intensive and Alcoa, like other companies, faces an escalating number and complexity of applicable requirements.

Today, Alcoa's largest business, Global Primary Products (GPP), is successfully meeting this challenge with the worldwide deployment of a powerful new sustainability software platform for Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S) management – Essential Suite® from ESS.

Laura Coleman, Environmental Manager, and Sue Hamilton, Information Systems Manager, are leading the effort by deploying the Essential Compliance Manager and Essential Task Manager modules. Adoption of these first modules will allow all GPP locations to enhance a common, sustainable EH&S management system. (Alcoa has also deployed Essential Suite at 20 other non-GPP locations.) Alcoa's new ESS software is optimizing use of EH&S resources by automating the tracking, communication and reporting of key metrics as well as generation of internal compliance reports.

Deployment of ESS' compliance/task management software supports Alcoa's commitment to sustainable environmental management. The first step in deployment was to review GPP's prior handling of applicable regulations, policies and permits, and tasking.

'Previously, we relied on spreadsheets, Access databases, or custom-built solutions to manage legal registries and associated tasks. When we bought the ESS platform in early 2007, we converted to using Essential Compliance Manager and Essential Task Manager for our legal registries. This enabled us to reduce the number of applications and support for those old systems, which made good business sense for us,' said Ms. Coleman. 'Essential Suite not only supports our commitment to environmental excellence, it also helps reduce risks by ensuring that we have a system in place to sustain knowledge as business or personnel changes occur. And, whenever regulations change, they're integrated into the system so it is an effective tool for change management and tasking.'

The global scope of Alcoa's operations presented the ESS deployment team with another set of issues.

'Language is definitely an area that's challenging for our business,' observed Ms. Coleman. 'We have English but also Icelandic, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese as primary languages within Alcoa. Our contacts at each location are environmental managers who are often fluent in English but their teams are typically less fluent. We needed a system that could handle native languages and cultural settings.'

'Essential Suite's multi-language capability is key to expanded utilization of the software,' added Ms. Hamilton. 'It enables employees who work at the operational level of our facilities in different countries to all use the system effectively. That's probably the biggest benefit as we strive for zero risk.'

Successful implementation of ESS software as its global compliance/tasking system has positioned Alcoa GPP for ongoing efficiency gains and risk management:

  • Mitigating disruption from employee turnover by establishing a defined and communicated compliance/task management system.
  • Providing the ability to boost productivity by defining and delegating compliance tasks to operational employees.

Alcoa's deployment of the Essential Compliance Manager and Essential Task Manager modules was completed, on schedule, in only 17 months and 24% below budget.

'One of the key enablers allowing us to achieve our deployment goals was our core team members. Regional deployment teams were established in the Australia, Brazil, Canada, Iceland, Jamaica, Europe, Suriname, and the USA. Our teams demonstrated a high level of support and commitment during the deployment of the ESS modules. The insight offered by our deployment teams was invaluable. It allowed us to improve our deployment process and how we use Essential Suite,' reflected Ms. Coleman.

'Essential Suite has already proven value with respect to preserving knowledge and ensuring stability in today's difficult global economy,' said Ms. Coleman. 'ESS has provided a stabilizing force within our compliance management program. Complying with all applicable requirements and continuing to improve our EHS systems are core principles of Alcoa. The standardization and structure offered by Essential Suite is an enabler for achieving these principles.

'We've deployed Essential Suite at 41 facilities, including mining, smelting, power and refining operations. At least 526 active permits have been entered into the system and we're using it to assure compliance with over 245 different internationally governed bodies,' concludes Ms. Coleman 'There are over 4300 tasks in the ESS system. These tasks are spread across over 500 users. We expect applicable requirements to grow and business conditions to change over the next couple of years. ESS is the system that will help us manage it all.'

The Challenge

  • Satisfy corporate requirement for comprehensive legal EH&S registries
  • Standardize compliance and tasking processes to maximize value/efficiency
  • Achieve and maintain corporate goal of zero non-compliance

The Solution

Essential Suite® including...

  • Essential Compliance Manager™
  • Essential Task Manager™

Also licensed:

  • Essential Air™
  • Essential Audit™
  • Essential Chemical Inventory™
  • Essential Emergency™
  • Essential FEMS™
  • Essential Incident™
  • Essential Industrial Hygiene™
  • Essential MSDS Manager™
  • Essential Waste™
  • Essential Water™

The Results

  • Deployed global system on schedule to 41 facilities in 9 countries in only 17 months
  • Deployment cost was 24% below budget
  • Deployment cost was 24% below budget
  • Assured compliance with 526 permits across 245 governing bodies – including 1224 rules, 8999 requirement citations
  • Tracked 4300+ tasks – met goal of assuring >85% completed on schedule and documented near misses

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