FEATURE: The Alpena Cement Factory
The Alpena Plant is part of the Lafarge Corporation. This group is active in over 40 countries and has the following businesses: cement, concrete, gypsum, wallboard, and ready-to-use products such as point, coatings, and exterior finishes. Lafarge�s largest cement plant is in northeast Alpena.
An advantage of this location is its easy access to shipping.
This plant is also one of the longest-operating cement facilities in the United States. The Alpena Plant has been in operation since 1908, and the Lafarge Corporation bought it in 1986. This plant is continuously making changes to increase productivity and improve environmentally.
The process of creating cement has gone through many changes in the Alpena Plant. As a result of technology, one kiln can produce in one day what six original kilns produced in one week. The plant currently produces 2.5 million tons of cement per year. Its maximum efficiency is due to the use of state-of-the-art electronics, computers, and X-ray analyzers, which are controlled by highly skilled and educated employees. They work together as a team, with minimal direction from management. This type of relationship is called the participative management style. Employees often attend seminars, college classes, and on-site programs to prepare themselves for what is to come.
The Alpena Plant produces Portland Cement. This is created in the plant�s five kilns where coal, coke, and fuel quality waste is burned. The Alpena Plant has initiated an �industrial ecology� program, which is the concept of reusing other industries waste in place of a raw material. Alpena�s Plan uses waste heat from the kilns to generate steam, which therefore produces electricity. It produces enough electricity to power every resident in the county of Alpena for three weeks. In addition, by using wastes from other industry�s, such as that of glass and chemical, in place of the virgin natural resource, shale, the Alpena Plant has reduced the amount of cement kiln dust going into landfills. The picture below shows the deposits of cement kiln dust on the shores of Thunder Bay.
The Portland Cement Association recognized Alpena�s innovations by awarding the plant with Overall Environmental Excellence, in April of 2004.
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