In this piece I visit a subject that has been on my mind for a very long time. Rather than diving straight into the subject, I can think of many analogies that can help in putting my thoughts in perspective right up front.
If we take our human body as an example, of course it is the sum total of so many parts, each with its own function and importance, without which perhaps our existence would be incomplete. However, it is the backbone which controls the entire body in terms of its structure and its functioning. Likewise, while we all would like to live in the tallest of buildings with the swankiest flats possible, we cannot be building this on a foundation that cannot support the structure. On a different note, much as we relish our starters, our soups and our dessert on a good dinner spread, somehow the main course is what really defines the menu by itself. These examples could go and on, but this is a good time to get to the main subject having subtly made my points.
Everyone often speaks of value-addition in the coatings industry, and justifiably so. It is all a part of the conscious effort to individually and collectively upgrade the value and profits we can derive from our existence in the coatings industry. However, what I have observed in the coatings and inks industry, moreso in the former, is that we seem to have ignored a very fundamental aspect of coatings as we make steady progress on so many other counts. Of course, though not as glamorous as some of the other ingredients, they still play in a key determining role in some of those good, old-age virtues of any coating system (drying, thickness, gloss, et al).
We will all agree that the resin or binder system is central to any conventional coatings system, be it a liquid or a powder, a water-based formulation or a solvent-based one, and whether for an intended architectural application or an industrial one. Yet, in our quest to optimise or even reduce costs, we often compromise on what is the very backbone of the coatings system. The Resin or Binder has unfortunately become the casualty of our practices. I would not want to get too technical since we will now use this opportunity to have senior industry persons address this larger issue in our journal in its forthcoming editions. However, an elementary rain-check on this would call for simple measures like dedicated and reputed supply sources, basic but imperative quality checks and also a traceability of constituent raw materials.
This is not in any way to contradict all that has been spoken in terms of ascending the value-chain. On the contrary all research and development efforts should be built on top of the basic resin system, and understanding its interaction with various other ingredients, and the desired performance of the coatings system as a whole. It is common place to see real technology-oriented companies begin with the resin as central to their plans in new development. This is also an opportunity to reinforce the importance of forging good partnerships with the right resin suppliers, extending far beyond mere pricing and credit terms.
Resin and binder technology, after all is like our old classical melodies, which can be enjoyed alongwith new-age forms of music as well. I might have really stretched the boundaries in terms of my journalist's licences with language and analogies in this piece, but I really feel that we need to strongly emphasise this important aspect, and revisit the basics. It is something that will hold us all in good stead.
Are you sure you want to