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Canada - Helping to dive Honda’s engine

MAPCAN, the newest manufacturing plant in Alliston, may only have one product and one customer but it’s gearing up for a 24-hour-a-day, five-days-a-week schedule once it’s in full motion.

“We’ll be into full production later this year as Honda ramps up their engine plant,” says Molten Aluminum Producer Canada (MAPCAN) president Brad Wilson. “They announced they’ll be producing about 200,000 engines at full capacity.”

MAPCAN produces the liquid metal for use in engine blocks and engine heads for the plant across the road, and ingots for shipment to the engine plant in Ohio.

With associates on the floor at the engine plant monitoring the levels of molten aluminum in the die-castingholding furnace, there is never a slow-down in production waiting for materials.

“We deliver it directly to their die-cast machines,” says Wilson.

In a joint venture between the Honda Trading Group of Companies (HTC) and Asahi Seiren Co. Ltd., a $16-million facility was constructed to house this unique supplier.

 “This is a clean and green operation,” said HTC’s president and CEO Motohide Sudo.

“Material that could otherwise end up as landfill – household siding, wheels, cars and other scrap aluminum – is recycled into quality built, four cylinder Honda automobile engines. 

“Virtually 100 per cent of the molten aluminum we supply to Honda will come from recycled material,” he said.

All scrap aluminum is purchased from major scrap dealers in southern Ontario, Quebec, New York and Michigan, says Wilson. “We don’t buy from the public. The scrap we buy is already prepared, sorted and baled.”

“We expect that this uniquely ‘green’ and hi-tech facility will achieve the target of 0 per cent waste to landfill and provide valuable support to the HCM engine plant,” said Wilson. Carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by as much as 1,600 tonnes annually.

This is a priority for owners and staff alike.

When received, the bales of scrap are stored inside to retain a clean look outside and to ensure the metal stays dry. If water gets trapped under the molten aluminum, there could be an explosion, says Wilson.

Consequently, front-end loaders and forklifts deliver the scrap from the inside storage facility to the open-well reverbatory furnaces. Care is taken to include the necessary type of scrap.

“Based on batch, we’ll pick up so much of this and so much of that – each type of scrap has its own chemistry,” he explains. “We blend it to create the two types of alloys we’re making.”

Engine blocks are made with high-pressure die casting and the heads are made with low-pressure die casting. The different processes require different characteristics of molten aluminum. What is consistent is heat.

“Our customer has very specific delivery temperatures – requirements we must meet,” says Wilson.

“We are delivering on a just-in-time basis, so we have to be very careful.”

The molten aluminum is shipped across the road in pots directly into the die-casting machines by MAPCAN. For the U.S. destination, 65 12-kg ingots are bundled together before shipping them out.

During the melting process, the chimneys are carefully filtered with washable filters to clean the air before it reaches the outdoors. And in the furnaces, oxides that are skimmed from the melting metal are sent to a specialty recycler in Quebec to be used again.

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