Industrial coatings manufacturers face many of the same challenges as their counterparts serving other industry segments, such as cost, consumer demand and VOC levels. There are, of course, differences as well. While aesthetics, low-odor products and ease-of-use drives product development in the DIY segment, protection is of utmost importance to both manufacturers and users of industrial coatings.
"The coatings will be protecting your customers' assets," said Mark Sposito, marketing manager, M.A.B. Paints. "Substrate and structure protection with long-term chemical and corrosion resistance are very important in the industrial maintenance market."
Mark Howe, global technical manager of PPG Industries' general industrial coatings segment, added, "Performance and protection are the primary function of industrial coatings. In some markets, expectations of performance have increased. This is especially true in the agriculture, construction and transportation markets."
"Tnemec is a highly specialized manufacturer of high-performance coatings, so naturally we would argue that performance and protection is of utmost importance in an industrial environment," said Mark Thomas, manager of architectural markets at Tnemec Company, Inc. "Coatings are typically the only thing standing between an expensive piece of equipment or vital structural element and an extremely abusive environment."
As technology continues to improve, however, customers will begin to look for more than just performance and protection in a coatings system.
"Performance is still very important because owners paint their facility to preserve their asset," said Paul Litzsinger, president of U.S. Coatings. "However, technology has consistently exceeded the expectations of the owners so products manufactured by quality suppliers are taken for granted. Other factors such as availability, price, ease of application and local representation have become more important than performance."
Although some manufacturers who spoke with Coatings World described the industrial coatings market as mature, that doesn't mean the segment is stagnant. "We expect continued growth in liquid industrial coatings," said Susan Conley, director of marketing, BASF industrial coatings.
The Freedonia Group estimates that demand for coatings used on industrial machinery and equipment will increase 3.7% each year to 42 million gallons in 2004.
Just where will increased demand be found? A number of coatings manufacturers noted bridges, roadways and water-treatment facilities as markets to watch in the coming years.
"Two markets which are growing are bridges and highways due to increased federal funding and offshore oil production due to increased crude oil prices," said Mr. Litzsinger.
Mr. Sposito of M.A.B. added, "Areas of growth within the industrial maintenance market include bridges, Department of Transportation (DOT) work for highways and other public sector facilities."
Environmental concerns are also spurring growth. "Key growth markets are waste and wastewater treatment, which is driven by clean water and environmental issues; power development as a result of the California brown-outs; and bridges, which have a substantial amount of federal highway dollars targeted at them to replace this aging infrastructure," said Jim DeChant, ICI Paints' industrial maintenance market manager for Devoe Coatings.
One challenge facing traditional liquid industrial coatings firms continues to be the advancement of powder coatings technology. The Freedonia Group estimates powder coatings will account for 54% of industrial machinery coatings shipments in 2004.
Thinner film thickness and higher transfer efficiency are two areas that Finishes Unlimited is focusing on in the battle against powder coatings technology. "We're focusing on even lower VOCs and improving the transfer efficiency of spray applications by formulation and equipment changes," said Hank Godshalk, president. "We are working with equipment manufacturers and hope to achieve transfer efficiencies of 80%. There's a direct economic advantage to better transfer efficiencies. If we can increase the rates of transfer efficiency, we won't have to worry about recl
Experience Plus Partnership Equals Success for U.S. Coatings
Restructuring at Carboline left a number of top-level executives without an opportunity to apply their combined 200 years of experience in the high performance coatings industry. U.S. Paint had been considering a move into the industrial maintenance market. Put these two groups together and you have a happy ending–U.S. Coatings.
Meeting customer demand continues to drive growth in the industrial/OEM coatings market. A few paint firms have found that forming alliances can expand their portfolio and provide further growth opportunities down the road.
Duron has signed an agreement with Ameron International Corporation to sell Ameron's high-performance coatings products at Duron's company owned stores. "Ameron products will complement our current line," said Tom Schwartzbeck, Duron's president. "It's a great feeling to know that we now can meet 100% of our customers' needs with these quality products."
"Duron creates a broad distribution platform in the east, central and southern regions of the U.S., something Ameron looks forward to being a part of," said James S. Marlen, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Ameron. "Plus they have a reputation for superior service to professional painters and contractors."
Ameron's performance coatings and finishes group manufactures high performance coatings for industries such as marine and offshore, oil and gas production, refining, petrochemical processing, fossil and nuclear power, pulp and paper, infrastructure maintenance, railroad, general manufacturing and municipal water and wastewater treatment. These products will complement Duron's Dura Clad line of industrial maintenance coatings.
"This agreement compliments our existing lines while also putting us into new markets," said Charles Benedict, Duron's director of industrial sales. "We also gain name recognition through our association with Ameron."
Recognizing that floor coatings was not a strong market segment for M.A.B. Paints, the company formed an alliance with Rust-Oleum. Under this agreement, M.A.B. will distribute Rust-Oleum flooring and concrete protection products as well as industrial coatings, including the Hard Hat rust-preventative aerosol line. "We saw a gap in our line, so we brought in a quality product with an excellent brand image," said Mr. Sposito.
Finishes Unlimited recently established a joint venture with Ferber, a Barcelona-based coatings firm. Utilizing Finishes Unlimited's technology and Ferber's manufacturing capabilities, Mr. Godshalk expects the JV to benefit from new air quality standards in Europe. "I think there is a lot of opportunity for this joint venture because we have a lot of experience in developing low-VOC products," he said. "We are also doing research on products with almost zero VOC levels. Field trials are currently being conducted which achieve this objective."
ICI has also been fine tuning its industrial business by developing a new "customer needs-based strategy" that will focus on the unique requirements of industrial maintenance customers. Thomas Verghese has been named ICI's new vice president and general manager for the industrial maintenance business unit, and will lead the company's efforts in this market.
"The industrial coatings business is very different from the architectural coatings business," said Mr. Verghese. "The industrial coatings customer is mainly concerned with asset protection and the effective use of maintenance expenditures, unlike the architectural customer who primary concern is cosmetic. Our industrial maintenance business unit is designed as a specific, strategic business whose goal is to meet customer needs with state-of-the-art industry knowledge."
High in the Sky
Travellers rely on bridges to take them to and from their destinations. If the coatings system protecting the bridge cannot battle weather conditions and corrosion, there will be a lot of unhappy drivers who never stopped to think just how important paint is to their commute.
"Coatings have to adhere to steel structures and protect them from exposure to moisture, salt and other environmental conditions and pass stringent testing requirements," said Mr. Sposito of M.A.B.
Mr. Thomas added, "Most zinc bridge coatings require a specific percentage of zinc in the applied film. Typically long-term corrosion protection is the most important requirement for a bridge coating."
Evaluating the bridge's current conditions is a very important step in the bridge coating process. Not having to remove the current coating system can save both time and money.
"Abrasive blasting, containment and disposal of the old paint and abrasive are extremely expensive, so systems have been developed to overcoat the old system with minimum removal of the old system," said Mr. Litzsinger of U.S. Coatings. "Thin film penetrating sealers have performed well in this overcoating approach on bridges."
M.A.B.'s coatings have been used on two bridges in Philadelphia. A three-coat system has been applied to the Benjamin Franklin bridge following complete removal of the prior coating system, while the Betsy Ross bridge, completed in 1999, required only limited surface preparation and an overcoat system. "When we developed a coating system for the Benjamin Franklin bridge, we did extensive pre-work with the Delaware Port Authority," said Mr. Sposito.
Bridges also present some obvious application challenges not found in other segments. "Painting a bridge requires rapid recoat times due to vehicular traffic," said Mr. Litzsinger of U.S. Coatings. "Since many bridges are very large, repainting can require several years so extending the painting season into late fall and early spring becomes desirable."
"Bridge coatings must be tolerant of less than ideal application conditions," said Mr. Thomas. "Often the bridge itself is in an environmentally volatile area such as river or bay. Therefore, moisture tolerance and low temp cure are welcomed characteristics for applicators."
Mr. Litzsinger added, "The other unique factor about bridge painting is that most states have unique laboratory performance requirements which substantially raise the cost of the coatings. This is done to maintain the quality of coatings in a non-proprietary manner."
The news within the coil coatings market during the past decade has been strong growth rates as more end-use applications adopted this technology. "Coil coatings have been experiencing moderate growth that will continue due to the value, versatility, aesthetics and durability this technology delivers," said Ms. Conley of BASF.
Robert P. Hanna, president of Titan Coatings, said the key reasons for a switch to coil coatings technology are environmental concerns and a reduction in the number of steps in their production process. Among the markets where coil coatings technology has made inroads are building products, transportation, appliances and furniture.
Like other coatings segments, performance properties will depend on the particular coil coating application. Susan Bird, marketing services coordinator, coil and extrusion coatings, PPG Industries, said because color ranks high with customers PPG has developed Megaflon fluoropolymer coatings, which are available in a variety of vibrant colors and a full 20-80% gloss range.
Also from PPG is a multipurpose primer that Ms. Bird said is compatible with many different substrates and can reduce or even eliminate primer changeovers on some coating lines. Recommended for use on pre-engineered building panels, residential and commercial building panels and residential and commercial roofing products, PPG 1PMY5650 multipurpose primer also exhibits high corrosion and delamination resistance, according to the company.
"The primary performance requirements are proper flow attributes for application to satisfy ever-increasing demand for higher line speeds, flexibility for forming, scratch and mar resistance for handling, corrosion resistance for durability and color stability for weathering," said Ms. Conley of BASF. "Most times, the system must be properly balanced chemically to meet performance and economic requirements."
BASF's newest coil coating development targets the appliance industry. "This technology provides significantly improved scratch and mar resistance for smooth-door refrigerator applications," explained Ms. Conley. In addition, the coating self-heals from minor scratches after warm water or warm air is applied."
Makers of metal roofing for industrial and residential building applications are also showing more interest in coil coating technology. "While standing seam roofs still dominate this industry, coil coatings also enable metal roofs to resemble wood shakes, clay titles, slate, shingles and even Victorian metal tiles," said Ms. Conley. "The construction industry recognizes the benefits coil coatings deliver in durability, attractiveness, weather resistance, environmental friendliness, safety, low life-cycle cost and energy efficiency."
"We have custom-formulated a variety of products for use over aluminum, light gauge and heavy gauge steel," explained Mr. Hanna of Titan Coatings. "Some products are coil-primed only and will later be post-painted with a variety of products. Other products are conventional one-coat and two-coat coil coatings."
PPG reports that post-painted materials are a growth area for coil coatings. "Post-painted applications can be converted to pre-paint where the new technology is streaming the manufacturing process," said Ms. Bird. "Prepainted steel or aluminum by coil coating, prior to fabrication, offers a number of benefits, enabling manufacturers in industries like automotive, appliances, signage and others to produce products faster and more efficiently in a continuous process. Manufacturers who chose to convert their paint lines to include coil prepainting may achieve significant cost savings. Coating coils prior to fabrication also ensures uniform coating coverage due to the coil coating process' excellent uniformity of coverage with virtually 100% transfer efficiency."
Ms. Conley said the automotive industry is another growth market for coil coatings. "The OEMs are initiating significant research and development efforts to produce coil coated vehicles, especially in operations with smaller production runs. A first step will be to establish a pre-primed coating system that allows OEMs to eliminate portions of their paint process. BASF recently developed a full-coat primer system (primer, basecoat and clearcoat) to produce a coil coated vehicle in Europe," she added.
But like most segments of the coatings market, coil coatings demand is closely linked to the general economy. "The truck trailer market is down by 30%, due primarily to fewer trailers being built this year because of the overall economic slowdown," said Ms. Bird. "We do not see demand improving throughout the year."
"It is difficult to see growth in the current economy," added Mr. Hanna. "However we are seeing some end-users converting to coil. It seems to be more of an individual company decision rather than a specific market movement."
The OEM Market
In a segment as diverse as original equipment manufacturer, which includes the appliance and transportation markets, offering one coating system for a variety of customers is no longer possible. Coatings manufacturers know they must deliver the customer the specific system they demand, or someone else will.
"The OEM market has always been competitive," said Mr. Thomas of Tnemec. "There has been a move by manufacturers to be a one-stop shop for the OEM accounts they call on."
Regardless of end market, Ms. Conley of BASF said one growing trend in the OEM market is "coatings that enhance consumer satisfaction and add value to the manufactured product."
Hans-Jürgen Fromm, marketing and communications business director for DuPont Herberts automotive systems, told Coatings World that customers want top-class quality coatings at the highest efficiency rates and the lowest processing costs. "Real growth can only be achieved by securing shares in emerging markets and by outclassing the competition in performance, at a very high level." Dr. Fromm continued, "Today the customers' requirements in OEM coatings can only be met by a few global suppliers. The globalization of our customers leaves little room for niche markets and suppliers with limited portfolio of products and services."
San Diego, CA-based Rhino Linings USA contends a smaller company can survive in the market–as long as they focus on their strengths. "We are relatively new to the OEM segment," said Kirk Jeffries, Rhino Linings' executive director of sales. "I find that the outstanding performance of our formulations has surprised most of our prospects and surpassed every test we have had the opportunity to participate in. According to Mr. Jeffries, in an U.S. Army test, a Rhino Linings product outperformed other products that had been on the market for a much longer time.
"It is important to understand that no one coating is going to be the appropriate protection for every situation and I would be the first to say the same is true for Rhino Linings," continued Mr. Jeffries. "Rhino Linings USA provides solutions for our customers by recommending the best Rhino Linings formulation for the service the substrate is expected to perform in; it seems to me most companies are focusing on their core competencies."
Water-based Products Continue To Offer Environmental Advantages
Many end-users looking for environmentally-friendly alternatives to solvent based coatings have considered making the switch to water-based coatings. But it takes more than just environmental benefits to convince them this could be a successful move. As more coatings manufacturers develop water-based coatings for industrial applications, improved performance properties are driving interest just as much as environmental benefits did in the past.
"We continue to see an increased presence in waterborne coatings in the marketplace as improvements to the cost/performance parameters are achieved," said Susan Conley, BASF Industrial Coatings' director of marketing. "Waterborne technology has the potential to deliver the same performance and appearance characteristics as solvent-based coatings.