An aluminum worker has a vast array of duties that take aluminum from it's raw material state to the wide range of aluminum products we see and use on a daily basis, such as aluminum cans, aluminum foil and aluminum pots and pans. The worker must be knowledgeable in the use of various types of equipment as well as safety procedures. An aluminum worker's educational requirements depend upon his position. Some require on-the-job training and other more skilled positions, such as welder, require vocational training that teaches the skills of the trade. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of mid-2008, the average wage for those working in metals manufacturing was $15.20 per hour.
Mining and Processing
Unlike many other materials that fall into the category of metals, aluminum is not a product found directly in nature. Aluminum is processed from a raw material, called bauxite ore, which contains many different minerals. Bauxite ore must be mined by mining workers from open pits in the ground. Once the ore is extracted it's ready to be processed by aluminum workers to create aluminum. The aluminum workers process it by using machinery to crush the bauxite ore, wash the crushed pieces, dry them and then grind them. Once the ore reaches this state the aluminum worker must place it into a large tank with chemicals.
The melting process creates the material that goes into the production of aluminum. Once the processed bauxite ore and chemicals are mixed in a large tank, the aluminum worker introduces heat and pressure into the closed tank. The result of this procedure is a material called alumina, which is a fine white powder. As alumina forms in the tank, it separates from all the other chemicals and materials and the aluminum worker removes it from the tank. Next he places the alumina into large steel kettles and inserts an electrical cable into the kettle. He begins running an electrical current into the kettle, which causes a chemical change as it melts the alumina, resulting in liquid aluminum.
The refining process takes months. The aluminum worker uses heavy equipment at this stage of the operation. Aluminum workers operate hot metal cranes to remove the heavy liquid aluminum from the large pots and place it into large steel containers, called crucibles. After the carbon lining inside the crucibles melts away, the liquid aluminum is ready to be moved by the crane operators to be remelted and refined. Aluminum workers who work in the remelting process are called remelt operators. During this part of the process, they reheat the aluminum and mix it with other ingredients to make a variety of aluminum metals, as directed by the manufacturing company.
- Photo Credit Aluminum cans on end image by Jeffrey Studio from Fotolia.com Mine image by Eldin Muratovic from Fotolia.com
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