United Arab Emirates, 27 July 2021: Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas, today marked the 40th anniversary of its Suggestion Scheme, which encourages employees to share their ideas for operational and technological improvements. To date, EGA employees have made over half-a-million suggestions for improvements, delivering cost-savings of some AED 416 million.
EGA’s Suggestion Scheme is integral to the company’s culture of innovation and continuous improvement that has for decades been a foundation of its growth and success. Founded in the summer of 1981 by then-Head of Industrial Engineering, Glyn Ashley, and a team of industrial engineers, the Suggestion Scheme is today one of the longest running employee-engagement programmes of its kind in the world.
In its first year, the Suggestion Scheme garnered 43 suggestions, submitted by employees on printed forms. Each subsequent year saw a significant increase in the number of suggestions, with EGA launching an online platform in 1999 to accommodate the influx.
Altogether, more than 9,800 EGA employees have since collectively submitted over 546,000 suggestions that have improved every facet of the business, from decreasing energy consumption to improving operational efficiencies, workplace safety and sustainability performance.
Of these suggestions, the one that has contributed most significantly to the Suggestion Scheme’s hundreds-of-millions in cost-savings involved the building of a breakwater for EGA’s desalination operations in Jebel Ali. First suggested in 2003 and implemented in 2006, the breakwater has generated cost-savings of AED 6.68 million every year. Through greater power-generation efficiency, it has also delivered a 245-tonne reduction in EGA’s CO2 emissions every year.
Another top idea, suggested in 2016 and implemented in 2017, involved the in-house building of a remote-controlled cleaning machine from scrap material, eliminating an arduous manual task and saving over AED 809,000.
Savings from implemented suggestions are shared with the employees who generate them. These employees are also recognised at company events.
EGA Chief Executive Officer, Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, said: “The Suggestion Scheme is part of our heritage at EGA and continues to deliver great value each year. It is founded on our belief that those closest to a work process are often in the best position to both spot improvements required and implement them. Innovation and continuous improvement are part of our culture at EGA. The Suggestion Scheme is one part of this, along with our Tamayaz programme, as well as decades of investment in technology research and development. All of us together make EGA one of the UAE’s most innovative companies.”
Launched in 2016, Tamayaz is EGA’s reward-and-recognition programme that encourages mid-level managers and their teams to find solutions to overlooked problems through the regular examination and analysis of their work processes and output. Tamayaz teams are also coached by EGA’s in-house experts in lean manufacturing.
For more than 25 years, EGA has developed its own technology in the UAE. The latest generation of EGA’s aluminium-smelting technology, the DX+ Ultra, is the 10th iteration of the technology since its development began, and is today amongst the most efficient in the global aluminium industry.
EGA has used its own technology in every smelter expansion and retrofit of its older potlines since the 1990s and, in a 2016 deal with Aluminium Bahrain, became the first UAE industrial company to license its core process technology internationally.
In November 2020, EGA signed an agreement with NEO Aluminio Colombia that could lead to the export of its DX+ Ultra for the development of the South American country’s first aluminium production facility.
In December 2020, EGA signed a series of agreements with PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (INALUM) to help upgrade the Indonesian company’s aluminium smelter in North Sumatra.