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Becker's Outlook for industrial coatings in China

Published on 2006-09-25. Author : SpecialChem

Addressing the 6th China Coatings Markets event in Shanghai in mid-September, Becker Industrial Coatings China M.D. Anders Norling reviewed the "Outlook & Expectations for Industrial Coatings in China" with special reference to coil coatings and coatings for mobile communication devices, both markets in which Beckers is one of the leading suppliers world-wide.

Reviewing the growth of coil coating capacity from the first line installed by Wuhan Steel in 1987, there are now around 150 coil coatings lines in China. However, a surge in new capacity over the past three years has led to serious over-capacity in the market with consequent price pressures and postponement of further investment plans. It could take some years for this situation to be corrected. This has left little value in the chain, particularly in the low- and mid-quality steel segment.

To recover value will require concerted efforts from raw material suppliers, coatings manufacturers and coil coaters. Increased line speeds improve efficiencies but also increase capacities. Environmental value will become more important, demanding new technologies such as UV, near infra-red and electron beam curing: water-borne and powder are also possibilities.

Turning to the much smaller, but extremely fast-growing market for coatings for mobile communications equipment, Anders pointed out that, while Asia in general, and China in particular, is the major area for production, often styling and sales take place elsewhere. Applicators require accurate colours in 24 hours, while ramp-ups and ramp-downs of production add great uncertainty. Helping applicators to achieve maximum yield from their coatings is a key to efficiency.

New technologies will be important in plastic coatings, too: UV curing is already used, and cure times for conventional coatings are being speeded up. Environmental pressures are encouraging very high solid and water-borne coatings. Their introduction in China has been slower than in some other regions, although there are now pressures for uniform 'best practice' from some international companies. All industrial coatings markets in China are facing rising raw material prices in very competitive markets. Success in China will require more focus on logistics, to make and deliver the right quantity of paint on time. Logistics will also help competitiveness, by taking both cost and time out of the chain. More use of returnable bulk containers, and of bulk tanker deliveries is required.

Anders concluded, "Coatings manufacturers must add value for the chain by providing coatings with useful new properties, such as thermal control, dirt shedding and bacterial control. They must also reduce the environmental costs of their coatings and coating processes. Beckers looks forward to doing this with real commitment and customer focus in China."

Source: Becker

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