Nurturing an innovative culture
Capturing employees’ creative ideas to solve business problems
Last updated: 22 February 2022
Many of the challenges that lie ahead – from decarbonising our operations to improving productivity – will need new technologies and approaches, some of which haven’t yet been developed.
Nurturing an innovative culture will be essential to helping us meet these challenges head-on. This is the idea behind Pioneering Pitch, our global programme designed to capture our employees’ creative ideas to solve business problems.
Held annually, each Pioneering Pitch round is assessed by an expert panel assembled from across the business against criteria including scalability, ability to generate value and what lessons can be shared with the wider business. We provide up to $250,000 per idea in seed funding to develop the most innovative pitches and connect the pitchers with experts from around the business, helping them make their idea a reality.
Since it began in 2017, we have invested over $8 million across 47 projects on topics ranging from exploration to the environment.
Pioneer Portal: Partnering with external experts
Our Pioneer Portal gives external organisations – from start-ups and entrepreneurs through to established businesses – a platform to be heard and potentially deliver real value to our business. We are seeking original ideas – big or small, from the unproven to those ready to deploy.
If you have an idea that could help us work smarter and more sustainably, pitch it through our Pioneer Portal.
Real-time active casting control, Aluminium business
Cast houses produce semi-fabricated aluminium products (ingots) that are sold to our customers worldwide for the fabrication of automotive parts, and for building and construction applications. The process uses a mould with cooling water, extracting heat from the molten aluminium alloy, to control the solidification process. The first minutes in the casting process are critical to ensuring the quality of ingots. If defects or cracks are formed, the product is rejected, and the scrap material must be remelted and processed again.
Typically, the process is managed manually and is very costly. Through Pioneering Pitch, employees proposed developing a control process that will automatically measure the temperature of ingots and adjust the cooling water to maintain temperature within the required range – unique in the aluminium industry.
The process, which is being implemented at our Kitimat smelter in British Columbia, Canada, has delivered a significant increase in the quality of ingots produced, reduced losses, and helped accelerate the development of new, more complex products.