Berger Protecton always believes in innovation

  • Industry News
  • Oct 02,21
Corrosion can cause huge loss to industries if no measures are taken to prevent it. Berger Paints offers Berger Protecton protective coatings to cater to different environmental and industrial corrosion protective requirements. In this interview, Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head - Protection, Berger Paints India Ltd, shares more details about the company’s protective coating range, new product developments and emerging trends in the industry.
Berger Protecton always believes in innovation

Corrosion can cause huge loss to industries if no measures are taken to prevent it. Berger Paints offers Berger Protecton protective coatings to cater to different environmental and industrial corrosion protective requirements. In this interview, Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head - Protection, Berger Paints India Ltd, shares more details about the company’s protective coating range, new product developments and emerging trends in the industry.

Globally, VOC emissions are considered an environmental hazard. How has Berger been able to address this issue by refurbishing the Protecton range of paints and coatings that can help in corrosion-resistance for steel and concrete infrastructure?
Berger has always been the forerunner in the introduction of technology and products that meet the Governing Standards of Environment and proactively products like Breathe Easy and Aqugreen were launched to introducing water-based paints with lesser smell during painting. Heavy metals in paints were removed from formulation keeping to international standards and Berger spearheaded many committees to influence government and user industries to enforce regulations to stop the usage of carcinogenic substances created by heavy metals (cadmium, chromium, lead) in paints.

What percentage did the Protecton range contribute to Berger’s overall business last fiscal?
Protecton leads the industrial segment of Berger total business and this segment of protective coating line contribute to 10-12% of the turnover. Berger ‘Protecton’, Protection-is-on-with-PROTECTON; the tag line has been the industry choice in protective coatings for nearly five decades ever since high-performance coating was started as a separate SBU and we are the undisputed leaders in protective coating segment in India.

Protecton spans a wide range of paints and coatings – epoxies, polyurethane, high-temperature resistant coatings, anti-carbonation coatings, concrete, rebar, floor, among others. Which of these is a larger contributor to the company’s Protecton business and where do you see the traction going forward?
As the progress of various technologies continues to take place replacing age-old formulations and conventional coatings, Epoxy continues to be the breadwinner for this division. However, we are now taking this with the advent of newer innovative technologies and development in smart coatings research. The notable developments which are well received in the market are mono coat (Primer cum Finish) systems, the solventless coatings, fluro based coating, water-based PU, UL-certified water-based Asphaltin coating for drinking water, wet surface epoxy and many more.

You supply several types of coatings to the industrial and infrastructure industries – power, oil and gas, railways, roads and bridges, stadiums, pharmaceuticals, fertilizer industries, etc. Which types of projects drive maximum demand for your Protecton range of coatings and what percent?
Protecton high-performance coatings have always dominated in major industries like oil & gas, power, etc, but the recent year has shown up more share and business from infrastructure segment that includes metro rail projects, bridges & flyovers and airports and railways. Nearly, 23% of our business is from infrastructure and we have all the latest range of epoxy, polyurethanes, polysiloxanes, fluoropolymer, and specialised coatings from CECRI & CBRI and also cater to RDSO specifications.

Several green buildings now mandate the use of low-VOC paints. What are your offerings in this direction for sustainable buildings?
Buildings with the green building concepts have two-dimensional requirements; one to provide long-term durability and secondly to cater to the low VOC limit regulations. Berger-Protecton has advanced coatings which have High-Solids and low VOC content and the new generation coatings walk the extra mile to providing solventless or water-based formulations too. We have also come with the latest generation High Voltage Insulation Floor Coatings to deliver three times better durability and at half the cost replacing traditional rubber mat in power plants and control rooms.

How does the R&D teamwork towards global technology and in ensuring to cater to the industrial challenges of corrosion through the solutions offered? Tell us about some recent product developments done in this direction. Also, what is the firm’s annual investment in R&D like?
The R&D team comprises of in-house talent pool with decades of experience and expertise which has always given us wonder products to meet any growing need to meet international standards. We have developed solventless coatings that have taken the WRAS (Water Regulatory Advisory Scheme) approved coatings which are for potable water contact. The other product lines are in the area of anti-fouling, gas-transmission pipe coatings, CAN & DRUM thin film coatings, and the latest fluoropolymer coatings.

We have gone along with the government’s initiative of Aatmanirbhar Bharat to introduce water-based intumescent coating with our technology partner PROMAT. We are the only Indian company manufacturing intumescent coatings with the factory and product certified to UL Requirements and Standards.

Speaking about innovations, are there any new eco-friendly raw materials identified that can make the final paint or coating product more efficient?
Berger-Protecton has proved to the world for its innovation category of using eco-friendly raw material combined with long term durability by being the only company and the first from India to introduce water based black asphaltic paint and become the proud supplier of paints for drinking water application ensuring water quality as per UL /ANSI / NSF 61 standards.

How affordable is your Protecton range of products? And, how competitive is your pricing as compared to your competitors?
Berger Protecton understands the market better than any competition for its nine-decades of presence in India and hence our mission is always Ecology (working towards creating a better environment), Economy (costs less to what we offer on performance), and Energy (reduction in effort to place in service and offering fewer interventions).

What is the one USP of your product that keeps you ahead of the rest?
Berger Protecton always believes in innovation and offers tailor-made-coating specifications to address as a solution provider rather than just catering to the needs.

What kinds of after-sales services do you offer to clients, in terms of maintenance or consultancy, or any other?
Berger Protecton started to show this as the basic difference from its unique identity as a Protective Coating Consultant; this consultancy includes free-of-cost service to cover from corrosion survey, audits, coating system recommendation, educational seminars, supporting to install coating from identification to training of applicators and extend technical inspection support during painting activity.

How are you gearing up to overcome the challenges arisen out of the pandemic? How has it impacted the company’s operations – manufacturing, sales, supply?
Protecton team is an innovator not only at R&D but in field sales support as well. During the pandemic, sales team formed closed groups with our business partners and ensured training at every level with all channel partners making the best use of the online mode of discussions. The Berger management took to its role of supporting the painters associated with us by providing financial assistance and encouraging them to learn the PPE requirements and as to how to be safe in their working arena. Berger also introduced sanitizers and sprays for 24-hour protection of the most accessed areas like handles, taps, lifts, and railings.

Berger like any other company had to force shut their depot operations for a brief period in Apr-May 2020 but under careful control, we could operate some select factories with utmost safety to employees, manufacture, and continue to start operations. We could fairly complete the previous year's sale in ten-month operations of last fiscal and continue to show a single-digit growth to the previous year; a remarkable achievement by the entire team.

What are your growth plans and target avenues for the Protecton segment this fiscal? Any new launches or big announcements planned?
Growth is one that you have seen in Berger as a constant phase in the last ten years. From this division, we project to achieve double digit value growth to cross Rs 1,000 crore by 2024. Expansion of product line is planned with under-water cure solventless coatings, wet surface epoxy coatings, universal primers, corrosion under insulation coatings, and water-based products that will be superior to existing polyurethanes. The floor coating range will expand with the introduction of polyurethane concrete and temporary moisture barrier coatings. Admixture and construction chemical range to get added this year as a focused product.

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