Coronavirus Concerns Continue, Paint, Coatings Industry Respond

By Anthony Locicero, Associate Editor | 03.16.20

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is disrupting the supply chain and some companies in the paint and coatings industry are pledging to monitor the situation carefully.

For Sun Chemical, this includes its raw material and intermediate suppliers and logistics providers.

"Proactively managing our customer orders, inventory levels, in-transit shipments and open order levels is a critical path for us,” said Jeffrey Shaw, chief supply chain officer, Sun Chemical. “We have established control teams to manage each of these areas and take the required precautions in order to prevent any supply disruptions. Specifically focusing on individual materials and suppliers will enable us to take any necessary precautions."

After the company released a Q&A for customers, Shaw offered an additional statement.

“While some regions in the world continue to improve, other regions are facing unprecedented challenges," he said. "At Sun Chemical, we continue to monitor our global supply chain, proactively manage each of our sites and warehouses, and frequently communicate with our supply base.

“At this time our manufacturing and warehouse sites continue to operate, raw materials continue to flow, and logistics providers continue to ship materials in a timely manner," Shaw continued. "With new governmental regulations enforced and varying restrictions in place around the world, we continue to work with all our stakeholders to make sure the fulfillment process works in an undisrupted manner.

“We have a vast global network in place to manage these changes and an integrated supply chain approach," he added. "Inventory levels remain in place while we continue to fulfill customer orders. In the event of further changes, we will work with customers to make sure we provide the best level of service.”

Axalta is withdrawing previous financial guidance for 2020, which did not reflect the impact of the coronavirus.

"First and foremost, we are focused on protecting public health and the health and safety of our employees and customers, consistent with guidance issued by relevant authorities," Axalta President and CEO Robert W. Bryant said. "Where possible, our employees are working remotely, and we have instituted global travel restrictions for all employees. We are taking steps to promote social distancing and have instituted robust on-site hygiene practices and restrictions on visits to our facilities."

HMG Paints said in a statement that it remains fully operational. The UK-based company said it is maintaining higher levels of stocks of raw materials and finished goods. 

"We would like to reassure our customers and suppliers that we are continuing to provide our essential services to critical industries such as pharmaceutical packaging/health/transport/utilities/defence throughout the current situation," HMG said. 

PPG said it would donate $143,437 (1,000,000 RMB) to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to assist with mid- to long-term recovery efforts, such as training, mental health assistance or other support for frontline health workers responding to the crisis. 

Inkmaker and Tecnopails’ facilities in Italy, the UK, France and Malaysia,  were temporarily closed, according to Christophe Rizzo, CEO EMEA/Americas, Inkmaker Group.

The company's U.S. operations remain open and "in Shanghai, our assembly unit is fully operational and to handle the increased demand, we have doubled the size of our premises there," Rizzo added.

Maroon Group operations remain open for business and the company is fulfilling customer orders as required, according to Michael F. McKenna, president & chief operating officer.

"We have implemented contingency plans with regards to stock locations for key inventory items to ensure continuity of supply," McKenna said.

DuPont released a statement highlighting its safety plans and protocols.

"The health and safety of our employees is our highest priority. We have corporate, regional and local crisis management teams in place actively monitoring, preparing and managing our COVID-19 response around the clock," the statement read. "We are implementing our safety plans and protocols based on World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"As cases expand globally, we've updated travel restrictions, and are providing new guidance to ensure we continue to serve our customers’ needs while practicing safe and healthy measures to contain and mitigate the spread of infection at our sites and offices. In that regard, we have taken several strong actions, including:
  • Suspending international travel and restricting all other travel to business-critical only;
  • Mandatory self-quarantine measures for employees at risk of exposure;
  • Limiting access to our sites;
  • Conducting enhanced and more frequent cleaning services at all facilities;
  • Encouraging employees to practice social distancing, proper handwashing and hygiene practices;
  • Canceling participation at all large meetings, both internally and externally;
  • Requiring employees to work from home where possible."
BASF's Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors Dr. Martin Brudermüller cited the coronavirus's impact in the company's Group Outlook for 2020.

“In the first two months of this year, we are already experiencing a high level of uncertainty in the global economy," he said. "The coronavirus has added a new factor that is considerably hampering growth at the beginning of the year, especially in China. Lower demand and production outages in many industries are already visible consequences of the measures taken to prevent the further spread of the virus."

"BASF," he continued, "anticipates that the negative effects of the coronavirus will have a significant impact worldwide, particularly in the first and second quarters of 2020."

BASF also postponed its Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, which was scheduled for April 30. The state of Baden-Württemberg has banned events with more than 100 participants for the time being until June 15, 2020, the company noted.

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is the infectious disease, which can be spread from person to person, caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused the cancellation or postponement of trade shows and conferences worldwide, including the American Coatings Show & Conference, PaintExpo, Middle East Coatings Show and Coatings for Africa.

"While we are unaware of any reported cases of COVID-19 in Indiana or Indianapolis, postponement of ACS/ACC 2020 was unavoidable as the show could not proceed as scheduled due to forces beyond our control," organizers said, adding that they are working on securing a later date at the same venue.

Global business events accounted for $2.5 trillion in sales during 2017, according to the Events Industry Council and Oxford Economics' November 2018 "Global Economic Significance of Business Events" report.

RadTech 2020 and the 2020 IUVA Americas Conference still happened after RadTech's Mickey Fortune and Gary Cohen said that there were "no plans to postpone or cancel" the events.

The conference was declared "handshake-free" with organizers suggesting "fist bumps" and "elbow taps" as the preferred method of greeting other attendees, RadTech wrote on its website. The Orlando Sentinel additionally reported on the policy.

On Jan. 30, 2020, the director-general of WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, per the organization's website.

“Listening to our members, it’s clear there are already signs of shortages and raw material price increases based on tightened supply due to the coronavirus,’’ Tom Bowtell, chief executive of British Coatings Federation (BCF), whose members include inks producers, said in mid-February. “While there are alternative sources of some raw materials, many of the precursors of the raw materials they use start life in China. We are still waiting for more information regarding how long it will be before Chinese factories are back to normal output levels.’’

To read how COVID-19 has affected the allied ink industry, read more here.