Used to coat everything from exterior roofing to roads and bridges, industrial coatings must be able to protect the substrate from corrosion, abrasion and UV damage. But increasingly, aesthetics and appearance retention are becoming important attributes as well.
"Protecting the substrate whether metal, plastic or wood is the primary purpose of an industrial coating," said Shruti Singhal, industrial and construction market manager North America at Rohm and Haas. "However, gloss, gloss retention and chalking are critical factors to consider, especially when the coated structure is visible to the public and may be viewed as an eyesore."
PPG Industrial Coatings is very successful in selling both functional and decorative coatings to a number of markets. "PPG has an extensive industrial coatings portfolio, covering a vast array of markets and technologies," said Reggie Horne, general manager of industrial coatings marketing at PPG. "Some of our primary application areas include automotive decorative parts, consumer electronics, appliances, coils and extrusions, wood coatings, general metals and a full array of powder coatings."
"With BASF Industrial Coatings, the functionality is there in terms of durability, weatherability, excellent scratch-resistance and best-in-class performance for initial and aged solar reflectance and thermal emittance," said Tom McKay, market development manager, BASF Industrial Coatings Solutions. "From an aesthetics perspective, new innovative products are having a huge impact on the market."
BASF offers VARI-Cool roof coating, which changes color depending on the viewing angle, and offers architects, specifiers and building owners increased design flexibility and the ability to offer visually stimulating options.
"With regard to metal roofing, one of the primary applications for industrial coatings, the market options for consumers are growing," McKay continued. "In addition to standing seam panels, customers now can choose metal roofs that simulate nearly any alternate profile, such as slate, tile and cedar shake. This is true primarily for residential, but it's flowing into commercial also."
While industrial coatings have been affected by the economic downturn and sluggish housing market, opportunities for growth do exist in the residential sector. "Over the last few years, the industrial coatings business has been severely impacted by the downturn in the construction sector, primarily residential," said McKay. "At the same time, however, significant growth is being seen in the areas of sustainable construction and green building."
Another area for growth is in maintaining aging infrastructure. "Industrial maintenance is the fastest growing segment for industrial coatings," said Singhal. "As many of our nation's bridges, overpasses and storage tanks age, the need for maintenance and recoating becomes more important.
"There is a major drive in North America to improve our infrastructure, such as bridges, to provide a safer and better way for the public to travel," continued Singhal. "Several manufacturing facilities need to repaint their storage tanks to prevent corrosion damage. The recent demand for corn for ethanol has required an increase in rail cars for transportation, which need coatings. While the hosing and construction market is in a slump, the commercial market still continues to grow slightly, with a need for shopping malls and office centers."
Source: Orr and Boss
"Asia and Eastern Europe in particular are showing growth potential for industrial coatings," continued Horne. "The Eastern Europe economy is relatively healthy because of their labor. While China is currently suffering, Asian countries such as India and Vietnam have growth potential again because of their attractive labor rates."
"Asia, especially China and India, are growing rapidly, as is Eastern Europe," agreed Singhal. "Rohm and Haas is able to supply customers in these and other regions from local manufacturing plants and can provide technical assistance from local research centers as well. Double-digit growth in these regions is expected to continue."
Despite these reasons for optimism, there are several challenges that are affecting the industrial coatings market including the rise in raw materials costs, energy prices and the economic slowdown. "PPG is dealing with challenges by focusing on the development of sustainable and renewable products that help to lower energy prices," said Horne. "Our company is also paying close attention to results of voice-of-the-customer interviews to ensure all R&D efforts are being focused on marketable technologies."
"One of the main challenges facing the industrial coatings industry is the unprecedented escalation in the price of oil, natural gas and raw materials, which is having a significant impact on everything from manufacturing to shipping costs," said Singhal. Other issues he mentioned are new federal, state and local regulations limiting the amount of emissions that can be released into the atmosphere and an increasing focus on health and safety issues.
In response to the escalating raw material prices, Rohm and Haas recently applied an across-the-board surcharge on all of its products in North and South America, Europe and Turkey. "The surcharge is indexed to changes in energy and raw material costs and will be adjusted monthly to reflect increases or decreases in these costs," Singhal explained.
In order to stay afloat in this challenging environment, industrial coatings manufacturers must develop innovative solutions for their customers. Environmentally responsible and sustainable products offer the industrial coatings market opportunities for growth.
"Despite the volatility of the construction market, the building and construction market still offers a significant opportunity for industrial coatings," said McKay. "The growth and increased awareness of green building initiatives will continue to require sustainable coatings solutions like BASF's Ultra-Cool and Vari-Cool production. In the aluminum extrusion industry, for instance, products like our EcoCeam, which is HAPs compliant and low VOC flexible polyester coatings have less impact on the environment."
Rohm and Haas has introduced a number of innovative, environmentally advanced, high-performance binders and resins for industrial coatings. "Coatings suppliers are looking for solutions to tougher VOC regulations and are seeking innovative water-based technology that couples the performance of solvent-based systems with formulated cost savings," said Singhal.
"PPG is always striving to innovate," said Horne. "We are working to make all of our coatings more user and environmentally friendly, use less energy and utilize better application processes. We also continuously strive globally with raw material standardization to ensure our products are superior regardless of their manufacturing and application location."
On the merger and acquisition front earlier this year Sherwin-Williams acquired Becker Powder Coatings in North America, a subsidiary of AB Wilh. Becker based in Sweden. Simultaneously, AB Wilh. Becker acquired the North American coil coatings business of Sherwin-Williams. The business will be integrated into Becker Specialty, a Chicago-based subsidiary of AB Wilh. Becker.
Headquartered in Columbus, OH, Becker Powder Coatings Inc. produces powder coatings applied to appliances, metal furniture, fixtures, equipment and electronic products manufactured throughout North America. Becker Powder Coatings has sales of approximately $14 million.
"This is another positive step in our strategy of steady growth and expansion with a quality set of products and people who provide excellent service to our customers," said Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO, The Sherwin-Williams Company.
"As a leader in coil coatings, this acquisition, following our acquisition of Specialty Coatings Company, is another important step in growing our North American business," said AB Wilh. Becker chairman and CEO, Jenny Linden Urnes.
PPG helps build out wind turbine industry
By Charles W. Thurston
PPG Industries may be best known for its architectural and automotive paint and coatings lines, but a growing business area for the company is the demand for its specialized fiberglass and coatings used in wind turbine blades. "PPG's high-strength fiberglass and corrosion-resistant coatings are enabling the wind power market," said Cheryl Richards, global market development manager for wind energy at the Pittsburg-based company. "If wind turbine OEMs used metals or other composites, because of their weight and lack of durability, wind power would be less efficient."
Demand for wind turbines-and components such as blades-is hot. Over first-quarter 2008, there were 1,400 megawatts of wind power added in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association. A megawatt will power close to 800 homes for a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By project count, last year there were an estimated 15,000 wind turbine installations in the world and projections of growth in the market is close to 22% over the next five years.
Leading wind turbine OEMs have stated goals of building blades with a 20-year lifetime, so durability is a prerequisite in coatings design.
The fiberglass fibers that PPG manufactures for these blades are only 17 microns thick, and aggregated into bundles called a single-end roving. The fabric that the OEMs use consists of the fiber in a multi-axial construction, with layers stitch-bonded with polyester thread. The assembled fabric is enmeshed in a resin, and finally coated through either an epoxy or a polyurethane coating system, or in some cases, in both.
"Our blade coatings portfolio included both polyurethane and epoxy systems each of which is designed to address specific performance issues, within which the main drivers are extreme durability, ease of use and high productivity or throughput enhancement," said Dave Chapman, the commercial marketing director for PPG's automotive refinish business. "Flexibility is an issue because the blades flex, and rain and environmental erosion particulates can accelerate erosion of the coating, especially on the leading edge of the blade."
Leading wind turbine OEMs have stated goals of building blades with a 20-year lifetime, so durability is a prerequisite in coatings design. "Important factors are color and gloss retention, which is negatively impacted by ultraviolet light exposure," said Chapman. "Emerging issues are ability for the coating system to shed ice, dirt and bug deposits, which improves turbine efficiency. Recently, turbines installed in India have exhibited significant blade leading edge erosion due to wind-blown dust and sand, and the turbine OEMs are looking to companies like PPG for solutions."
"Epoxy primer systems are typically used for adhesion and moisture resistance, as well as for inter-coat adhesion. Polyurethane primer and/or topcoat systems are used for application flexibility, color and gloss retention, and throughput enhancement, like going wet-on-wet from the primer to the topcoat. And in some cases OEMs use polyurethane on top of epoxy," explained Chapman. The coatings are typically high solids/low volatile content formulations, responding to rising interest in waterborne and powder technologies among turbine OEMs.
"PPG also manufactures the coatings for the towers, including zinc-rich and epoxy primers, and polyurethane and polysiloxane topcoats, which are applied in two or three-step processes, depending on customer specifications and performance expectations," added Chapman.
"There may only be $3,000 worth of blade coatings on a $2 million turbine, but the blade is arguably the most important element of the entire assembly in terms of its primary function of turning the electrical generator shaft, so the blade coating helps to protect the entire investment," concluded Chapman.