PPG’s Kevin Braun Discusses Future Trends During 2019 Eastern Coatings Show

By David Savastano, Editor | 05.20.19

Digitalization, future of mobility are changing the way we live.

The world we live in is changing rapidly, often happening right before our eyes. During his keynote address at the 2019 Eastern Coatings Show, Kevin Braun, VP, Industrial Coatings, Americas for PPG, noted that what he thought were mega trends just a year ago have evolved dramatically since then.

“I gave this talk a year ago and a lot has changed since then,” Braun said.

During his presentation, “Major Evolving Trends in the Coatings Industry and Their Impact on Future Coating Industry Needs,” Braun cited digitalization and the future of mobility as key mega trends in manufacturing and information, first offering an overview of how industrialization has changed over the last few centuries.

“In 1800, the first industrial revolution was created by mechanization and power, such as water and steam. In the early 1900s we saw mass production, the assembly line and electricity. By the 1970s, we started talking about robots and automation, and around 2015 is the latest industrial revolution, and we are seeing cyber physical systems – machines can now run and react on their own,” Braun observed. “The speed of this change is unlike anything we have ever seen before.”

One area of note is digitalization and the use of data to change how businesses operate.

“Digital transformation is taking data and figuring out how to use it to drive your business,” said Braun. “It’s how you take all of the information and show how it helps your customers. For example, Domino’s made it so you could order a pizza on any device, and stored all of your previous orders. Caterpillar works with Uptake, which grabs data off of equipment when it goes out of service and creates a preventive maintenance schedule. The paint industry will be able to look at when coatings get applied and look at performance.”

Braun also cited the future of mobility as an overarching theme.

“There is a significant shift in thenfuture of mobility, moving products or people from point A to point B,” he noted. “This will fundamentally change transportation. There are five key forces: electrification continues to gain steam; mobility as a service – Uber and Lyft; autonomy; connectivity and taking all of these data points; and lightweighting, using new materials such as aluminum and magnesium, which challenges coatings.”

For example, Braun sees a major shift to autonomous vehicles as only a matter if time.

“How fast do we see autonomous vehicles happening depends on whether it is higher disruption or lower disruption,” Braun continued. “Clearly, we are at driver assist. Under the progressive scenario, 50% of cars sold by 2030 could be highly autonomous, and 15% fully autonomous. This depends on personal vs. shared ownership. Our kids or the next generation view car ownership differently.”

Another factor will be who is driving the change, and whether it is the traditonla utomobile manufacturers of disruptive technical companies such as Tesla, Google, Apple, Uber of Waymo.

Coatings and the Future

So how do paint and coatings companies fit in with these mega trends? Protecting the environment is seen as ever more important. “Generations are trying to protect the environment,” Braun said. “We are seeing a lot of momentum here for lower VOCs, lower HAPs, reduced water usage and drying time.”

Braun noted that there is much work being done by paints and coatings companies in the field of autonomous vehicles.

“For autonomous vehicles, we being asked to look at coatings that we haven’t been asked to before,” Braun reported. “ Sensors are everywhere on the car today, and sensors need protective coatings. We are seeing requests for coatings for cars that are on electronics today, such as coatings for soft touch, anti-fingerprint and anti-glare.

“Coatings now must do more than prevent corrosion and add color,” he added. “Conductive coatings can store and transfer electric changes in lithium ion batteries; functional coatings can improve efficient heating applications for cabin or drivetrain. Trucks and highway equipment could go all electric, and self-driving trucks could be the future of freight.”