Stefan Erdmann, Novelis’ vice president of global research and development, explains the stages of aluminum beverage can manufacturing to German chamber members touring the company's Kennesaw research center. View a full gallery of photos from the tour. 

Tucked away in a nondescript building in Kennesaw, it would be easy to mistake Novelis Inc.’s state-of-the-art Global Research & Technology Center for a humdrum corporate office. 

Yet a detailed tour behind the doors of the newly remodeled 160,000-square-foot complex reveals a picture of the aluminum giant’s world-class innovation and engineering capabilities.

The purpose of the facility is to collaborate with customers like Coca-Cola Co. and Ford Motor Co. to produce cutting-edge designs for aluminum products from soda cans to ultra-lightweight automobile frames, said Stefan Erdmann, Novelis’ vice president of global research and development, who heads up the Kennesaw research center. 

And though Novelis doesn’t actually produce the products it develops, as many as one out of every 10 inventions produced by the center eventually makes its way into customers’ factories, Mr. Erdmann said. 

The close collaboration between the company’s engineers, executives and corporate partners is what makes those opportunities possible at the facility, which includes a beverage can  manufacturing line and a space for heat-treating automotive frames, he told a private tour of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S. Inc. Feb. 13

The facility’s proximity to Novelis’ corporate headquarters in Buckhead and major clients in the city was a deciding factor for moving many of the company’s engineers and R&D operations to Kennesaw from Canada last year. The airport also played a key role, since the Kennesaw facility is the central node for Novelis’ global research centers, which are also located in Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Korea

Though it already employs more than 100 people, the center may look to hire 40 more by this summer, Mr. Erdmann said. It is partnering with local universities to provide internships. 

As the largest aluminum beverage can recycler in the world, Novelis’ also hopes to facilitate increased recycling efforts in Georgia through its presence in the state, which ranks among the worst recyclers in the country, according to Mr. Erdmann.

To accomplish that goal, the company is expanding its community outreach programs, working with partners like Coke. 

“We want together to educate the community to recycle, to be better for the environment,” Mr. Erdmann said.

Click here to view photos of the German chamber’s private tour. 

For more on Novelis research centers, click here