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Upgrading of China's Painting and Coating Industry

Tuesday, November 12, 2013  
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Report: Upgrading of China's Painting and Coating Industry

China has vowed to upgrade its industries and move up the global value chain. The country also means to change the way of its economic growth. An environmental-friendly, sustainable and clean path towards better development is essential for all.

Today we will listen to the story of Lantu Company, a leading player in China's painting and coating industry, and see how it tries to stand as a representative of China's millions of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Su Yi has some insights. Most people are familiar in some way with painting and coating, as it has factors in their lives at one point in time. In today's more environmentally conscious world, paints are expected to become "greener," that is, more healthy for users and not devastating to the ecosystem.

Lantu, a producer, supplier and contractor of painting and coating in China, knows the importance of their products' quality to consumers.

Feng Keming,Chief Engineer of Lantu, explains the significance of good paints to his company and the consumers.
"Green and clean products are popular around the world. This is the major trend. Producing such goods is the responsibility of the paint industry in China."

Paint manufacturers are busy formulating new products that could reduce volatile organic compounds, or VOC, which may harm people and the environment. This requires a transition of products from oil-based paints to water-based paints, which have the advantages of low VOCs, easy cleanup, quick drying and stable color over time.

Feng Keming says what they have been doing is actually researching on water-based paints, rather than oil-based paints. This is the most difficult part, because the switch-over requires innovation.

"This is our future; I believe oil-based paints will be replaced by water-based paints very soon. In international markets, this is the obvious choice. In China, we are still in the developing and innovative phase of implementing this practice."

Purchasing the right raw materials for production is also a key task.

Feng Keming explains that, in order to get high-quality raw materials for paints, like gum rosin, paint additives and pigment, they insist on buying from the world's leading enterprises, despite their high cost.

"Raw materials are the basis of products. If raw materials are green and clean, then our products will be good. So upgrading is not only for us. It is for the players on the entire value chain. We all need to be innovative and environmentally friendly."

Xu Bing is in charge of Lantu's line of paints made specifically for wood surfaces. He shares the same sentiment expressed by Feng Keming.

"We choose the best raw materials for paints. For example, we choose the best gum rosin, one of the key ingredients in producing paint."

Xu Bing says that, due to their careful selection and the emphasis on raw materials, their products have less volatilization than traditional paints. They claim that their water-based paints don't produce an odor.

In order to test the paint quality, Xu Bing and his co-workers often buy furniture with their own money, on which they test out new paint.

"We aim to provide better products with higher quality. After our paint is applied to furniture, it doesn't smell; that's our promise. If our paints smell, we will refund the money."

Xu Bing concludes three things that Lantu has done to upgrade its products and operations.

"We have the most advanced equipment in the industry. Many colleagues visited our factory and were surprised by the equipment we have. We invest a lot in technology research. Last year, the research on paints for wood surfaces cost us five million yuan. We also invited the world's top researchers to join our project."

Equipment, technology and human resources add more value to Lantu and its products. These factors also raise the efficiency of production.

Ye Feng, President of Lantu, elaborates.
"For example, in the past, people needed maybe ten liters of paints to finish a project; now you only need three liters. Technology will make paints highly refined, so as to save labor costs. From production to painting, we believe in the clean and green ideology."

Ye Feng adds that upgrading operations is a long process. At the beginning, they invested a lot in technology upgrading, but gained little. It took them almost two years to make the needed adjustment.

Nevertheless, with customers' shifting demands on efficient and clean paints, products with high technological elements are expected to become more popular, and the result of upgrading will pay off.

Management in Lantu also visited the labs of the world's leading paint and coating brands that have facilities in China, including PPG Industries and Sherwin-Williams.

Ye Feng believes that, in the modern business world, research does not start from zero. Enterprises need global wisdom to find technological solutions, which should be practical and promising.

"No good idea or product could be figured out by one person at home. Making changes or upgrades is a trial-and-error process. Changes that lead to real, tangible productivity is what is worth anything, making changes without any knowledge or input is just playing with technology."

Industrial upgrading is a complicated process that requires enterprises to make the right decisions about what to buy, what to produce and how to produce. It also needs international cooperation and understanding about the importance of technology, the industry they are aiming for and what consumers want.

 Source:  News Plus/Biz China