Strategies & Analysis

By Phil Phillips | August 16, 2005

Differentiation does exist-part III

A portion of my reasoning in addressing powder coating differentiation was my concern about it becoming undifferentiated and a commodity, with the accompanying low esteem in value appreciation. In the past two columns we have exposed several truly unique powder coating offerings. In this final column we will discuss another two systems. It has been our pleasure to report that these systems are differentiable and seem to be offered as a systems value with accompanying higher margin support.

Interpon Powder Coatings has two powder coating offerings which are positioned as unique and marketed at a high value end versus alternatives.

Ultra-fast Color Match Turnaround

The Interpon Express color mixing approach is a system with an ability to blend powder coating bases together, according to Dave Heflin, market manager, developing a homogenous color match in extraordinary short turnaround times. "An hour or less turns are practical," said Heflin. It is currently commercialized and is being offered as an in-house service from Interpon's plants globally.

Heflin feels the move to set up the Interpon color blending system in a customer's plant operation is a practical consideration and could be commercial in the next six months to a year's time. However, Heflin hastens to point out that the Express system has been commercial for several years in Europe and at the customer's site on small batches.

"Therefore, the approach for large volume batch production would be to manufacture at one of our plants as is common, while small batches designed for customer short production runs, would be blended at the customer's plant site on line, accommodating and meeting customers deliver schedule needs more precisely," Heflin said.

The barriers to the commercialization of the "customer blending operation on site" would be the willingness of a customer to invest in capital equipment, personnel training and to share the liability associated with this shift. He feels that these are issues that can be overcome provided the customer is selected carefully.

According to Heflin, "the equipment capability is there, the bases have been developed, the color data bases have been put together and the entire process is patented, so it's a matter of moving forward."

The customer benefit deals with specialty niche type business that involves more colors and quick matches. The architectural, metal furniture and custom job shops are especially needy in this area since turnaround time of small production runs of specialty colors is, many times, their competitive differentiation. "Therefore, through the use of our system, if we can assist them in this important quick turnaround objective through our on-site blending approach, we have accommodated a strategic advantage element," said Heflin.

Compete with 70% Kynar systems

Interpon has a thermoset powder coating system that meets the AMMA 2605-02 architectural specification and competes with liquid fluoropolymer coating systems. This is, in and of itself not unique, since other powder coatings are currently being offered to the architectural segment.

The uniqueness of Interpon D3000 Fluoromax is in the combination of overall toughness of the Interpon system, claiming significant improvement in scuff and mar resistance versus both liquid as well as other powder coating offerings and, in addition, the Interpon system is a one-coat system where other powders require a primer and some liquid systems a three-coat system is marketed. The line speeds are the same as for the competing systems, but with one-coat required, the Interpon system is two to three times faster in production output of finished coated goods.

Moreover, Interpon's powder coating system is supplied in various gloss levels where liquid fluorpolymers are marketed in only one gloss level. Obviously, the powder coating offering provides additional customer differentiation

Warranties are offered comparable to those offered by the liquid coatings in this market. The architectural specification market provide coated items requiring long-term exterior protection such as window and door surrounds and curtain walls for high rise buildings.

A one-coat powder coating system's applied costs provide a significant unit cost advantage to the customer. The combination of greatly improved line speeds, overspray capture and reuse, VOC compliance, and no waste removal issues, unite to provide this user advantage.

"Our key advantage is our over 30-year experience in supplying architectural powder coatings globally. Our D3000 system is on buildings throughout the world," said Heflin.

This column concludes our three-part consideration of the uniqueness of powder coatings. However, this does not mean the discovery of new and different capabilities are not of interest-they are. Please continue to inform us.

Phil Phillips heads the Chemark Consulting Group, a consulting firm focusing on the coatings, adhesives and sealants industries. He can be reached at phiquest@pinehurst.net or by calling 910-692-2492.

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