Alcoa Chief Technology Officer Ray Kilmer Discusses Alcoa's 125 Years of Innovation
NEW YORK--“At Alcoa, we are taking sustainability to the next level,” Alcoa Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Raymond Kilmer told business students at Columbia University in New York. “We are using waste products such as bauxite residue, a byproduct of the alumina production process, and finding beneficial uses for it like safely cleaning waste water. When you can take this technology to places like Saudi Arabia where water resources are limited, it’s a win-win situation," he said.
This is one example of Alcoa (NYSE:AA) innovation in the company's nearly 125 year history Kilmer described to top business students who recently participated in Columbia University's Business School's Odyssey event, a premier global MBA conference which brings together the brightest students from the world's leading business schools.
Besides the novel use of bauxite residue, Kilmer engaged the students by talking about some of Alcoa’s other innovations including Eco-Clean™, a smog-eating architectural building panel that helps clean itself and the air around it, and the aluminum bottle.
“People don’t think about manufacturing companies being highly technology focused. But, to make it in a global economy, we need to be. Innovation ensures success and longevity,” Kilmer told the audience of students, alumni and corporate partners.
"Aluminum is the miracle metal," he continued. "Its properties are amazing: lightweight and ideal for promoting fuel efficiency in cars and airplanes; and strong enough to withstand deep ocean drilling and space travel. Plus, aluminum is infinitely recyclable."
Kilmer also discussed how some ground-breaking ideas come from earlier experiences and innovations.
“One of the many advantages of a large company like Alcoa is having exposure to technical advancements in different markets like aerospace and automotive,” he said. “We can take our understanding from one market and help customers in a different area apply it to their products. Or, we work across businesses to create a multi-business solution.”
Innovation is familiar to Kilmer, who heads the Alcoa Technical Center, near Pittsburgh. The facility is the world’s largest light metals research and development center, and is close to the birthplace of the modern aluminum smelting process.
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for ten consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 31 countries across the world. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com.