Let’s get closer to the paint surface with digitization

Just ask Kodak, Blockbuster or Nokia: digital technology is redesigning commercial landscapes beyond recognition and can disrupt even the most established of industries. And where B2C goes, B2B usually follows. Artificial intelligence, automation, and virtual reality are all reshaping the foundations and approaches of biotechnology, financial services and goods manufacturing. In today’s digitized world, more than ever, yesterday’s innovations are gone, forgotten and at the bottom of our news feeds. 

The paint and coatings industry, by contrast, has not yet embraced digitization at scale; with reasonable margins and continued demand, companies are largely taking a wait-and-see approach. Too often – and I’ll point no fingers and name no names – R&D paint manufacturing programs across the world focus on delivering incremental improvements on existing technology, rather than thinking “outside in” about what could really add value to the lives of the people around us and working from there. And this, my friends, offers an opportunity for differentiation…  

Moving from insights to innovation
In particular, if leveraged successfully, digitization allows us to know and understand paint and coating consumers like never before. Indeed, at Covestro Resins & Functional Materials, we use a variety of digital tools – big data, web crawling, artificial intelligence, Google scraping –  to deep dive into end consumer needs, and build our innovation from there. Above all, we’ve identified the trend that, increasingly, the market is demanding functional higher performance paints – as such, dealing with ‘surface problems’ can allow paint manufacturers to unlock significant value. 

Specifically, issues like mold, rust, cracks, stains, scratches, flaking and adhesion imperfections are the common problems that consumers complain about. For them, this is what paint performance is largely about, and, as such, these are the problems our innovations need to address. In addition, we’ve identified that “extra” paint functionalities – such as anti-bacterial properties, oleophobic capabilities and multi-layer applications – are all increasingly popular and in demand, creating significant commercial opportunities across our industry. 

Coming together for real impact
Moving forward, paint manufacturers that are able to embrace digitization insights – to think big, think bold and think different – will be able to get ahead and make a real impact in the market, and address the wider market trends (like increasing demands for high performance functional coatings) effectively. At Covestro, we are here to support such companies, and to turn real consumer insights into superior paints and coatings. Our coating innovation efforts are directed at meeting the real demands of real people – whether that’s an antibacterial coating, a mold-resistant paint or beyond… 

But we understand that we can’t do this alone. To accelerate product development and build a strong innovation pipeline in line with industry ‘megatrends’, we partner with a range of different parties across the value chain. Only through collaboration and cooperation can we drive the paint industry to a brighter future. And, since we can’t do this alone, shall we do it together? 

Do you have any questions about how we apply digitization to deliver consumer insights? Please reach out to me! Send me an email.

And, if you’d like to find out more about our approach to innovation, feel free to read my previous blog ‘To develop the best coatings, start with the end in mind’

Gerjan van Laar, Marketing Manager Decorative

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