April 21, 2020

Alcoa crowdsources sharpest minds globally to problem solve locally

Alcoa Wagerup Alumina Refinery_OC2Alcoa recently used an online crowdsourcing competition to connect with some of the world’s smartest people to improve the descaling process at its Wagerup Alumina Refinery in Western Australia.

The company collaborated with Unearthed, an innovative online business which connects the resources industry to thousands of developers, data scientists and innovators around the world who pitch novel and diverse solutions to industry challenges.

Called Scale Away, the competition challenged participants to come up with ways to more efficiently descale tanks, vessels and pipes. During the refining process, which involves extracting alumina from bauxite, scale builds up and causes lost production from reduced available tank volume. Its removal is costly and time consuming.

More than 90 innovators from 20 countries registered to participate in the challenge, vying for $10,000 prize money and the opportunity to work with a major resources company.

Following the six-week development period, 18 submissions were received and after a rigorous Alcoa review and interview process, three winners were announced from Australia, Canada and the USA. The proposed solutions range from innovative high-pressure cleaning nozzle design to groundbreaking technologies making surfaces repel water permanently and therefore resistant to scale.

Alcoa’s Digital Transformation Operations Director Ali Nooraii said unearthing ideas and innovation via this approach is an industry game changer.

“In this modern era, it is incredible we can connect with engineering and technology developers like this to uncover opportunities for transformational change to help improve efficiencies at our operations,” Mr Nooraii said.

“The Unearthed concept produces benefits for both Alcoa and the companies and innovators involved. In addition to establishing connections, there is potential to co-develop and trial the technology solutions within our operations locally and even globally.”

Alcoa’s digital transformation group works to leverage new technologies and partnerships to transform operation capability and processes for cleaner, more efficient alumina production.

Visit Unearthed for more about the Scale Away competition, operational challenge and winners.


Media contact:
Jane McGuire, Senior Communications Advisor, jane.mcguire@alcoa.com, 0410 694 676