Vinay Rajadhyaksha, Managing Director, Axalta Coating Systems India (P) Ltd, elaborates on the company’s India operations.
Could you explain the evolution of Axalta India? What was the trigger factor for setting up manufacturing operations in India?
Axalta Coating Systems has been in India for close to two decades and was established under its new name in 2013. Now, in 2016, Axalta Coating Systems celebrates 150 years of creating innovative industrial coatings and has grown into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of liquid and powder coatings. The Indian market has been a rising star since the early 1990s with huge market potential in the automotive industry and it is this market potential that prompted Axalta to focus on the Indian market and expand its global reach.
What are the products manufactured in the India plant, particularly for the light vehicle and commercial vehicle segments?
Our product portfolio covers the entire range of requirements for the refinish market, plastic coatings and bus segment. We have well-established brands like Cromax, Standox, Duxone, and Lucite which caters to all the key market segments. We have introduced our Nason brand in the 2K economy PU products, especially for non-OEM garages, and it has been well-received by the market. The Lucite product range, which is used in the bus segment, also has received good response from some of our key customers. With regards to our waterborne system, we have started with our Standohyd brand in India and now we are offering the third generation of Cromax Pro range to selective OEM body shops. We already have approvals from selected OEMs.
How has the demand for the company’s products changed over the years?
We understand that the Indian market needs coating solutions to improve overall productivity. And this demand has grown over the years. For example, we introduced Cromax Pro third generation waterborne products which have been well-accepted in the market, and as mentioned earlier, we have introduced our Nason brand in 2K economy PU products, especially for non-OEM garages. The Lucite product range, which is used in the bus segment, was also introduced in tune with a demand for this kind of product. Over the past three years, Axalta has been awarded for outstanding performance and excellence, and has also received certificate of appreciation from key OEM customers, thus further establishing our presence in the market and improving the demand for Axalta products.
Has any customisation been done to suit Indian requirements?
India being one of our priority markets in Asia Pacific, we have developed products that meet local needs and we will continue to deploy our assets to meet customer needs. Axalta India, over the years, has built its leadership in the refinish segment by understanding local needs, investing in development and building relationships with local customers. We have been able to make global premium brands locally and Axalta as a company has been recognised through several awards for its ability to successfully customise products to suit Indian requirements. For instance, the introduction of Cromax Pro in India demonstrates our commitment to our Indian customers and our focus on producing more sustainable coatings. We see sustainable coatings as the most important trend in our industry in India. We will continue to bring all of our new developments and offerings to India, work on localising the product in our manufacturing facility, train our teams on product application, and maximise the value for our customers.
What is the current capacity and status of operations after doubling the production capacity for automotive OEMs?
Axalta is in the process of expanding its production capacity of both high and low temperature bake coatings - primers, base coats and clear coats used in the full line of Axalta’s solvent-borne products for every substrate and process requirement and this is scheduled to be commissioned in 2017. It is being designed to be scalable to produce waterborne coatings when customers elect to convert from their existing coating solutions. On a parallel track, we are also building a new automotive OEM coatings’ development laboratory that will facilitate adoption of our coatings by OEM customers and this is scheduled for completion during 2017.
The colour laboratory will focus on developing special formulations to ensure superior colour match, appearance, and quality. The improved laboratory space will feature contemporary robotic spray applicators that can precisely replicate line application conditions inside customer manufacturing plants. The equipment is designed to facilitate the development, approval, quality control and customer line support required by automotive customers. Additional new capabilities at the next generation facility also include colour measurement tools and accelerated paint testing equipment.
What kind of R&D is being done and what will be the next phase of demand in the Indian automotive industry?
At Axalta, we innovate with purpose and are driven to perform better every day. In fact, innovation is one of the key values of our company. We started a technology centre in Savli a couple of years back and our R&D facility deploys the latest equipment for the development and testing of paints. Our main focus is to develop and design products to meet the requirement of local customers. We are making great progress in the field of waterborne coatings solutions globally across our network of R&D centres in China, Europe, the US and Latin America which helps us to support our customers in India as well.
We expect the Indian market to grow, the refinish market, in particular, to shift to more environmentally responsible products - waterborne or low-VOC emission solvent-based products in the future with brands such as Cromax Pro, Standoblue and Centari-LE. Also, with limited capacity in A-class body shops, especially in metro areas, there is a growing focus on productivity improvements, which has triggered demand for coating technologies that offer faster clears and fast repair systems. Our products, such as Cromax Pro, can significantly increase productivity in the refinish body shop because it requires less time and fewer coats to achieve full coverage versus alternatives.
What are the company’s expansion plans for 2017?
In 2017, Axalta is taking two significant steps to elevate its presence in India. We will upgrade our coatings development laboratory and double the manufacturing capacity at our facility in Savli, Gujarat which currently manufactures coatings for Axalta’s refinish, automotive parts and commercial vehicle customers. Further, we will expand the production capacity of both high and low temperature bake coatings. Axalta’s technology-backed products include primers, base coats, and clear coats used in the full line of Axalta’s solvent-borne products for every substrate and process requirement. These products include Axalta’s higher productivity and more environmentally responsible high solids, high solids 3-Wet, and high solids mono-coat technologies.
The facility will also be designed to scale up to produce waterborne coatings when customers elect to convert. Formulated to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, high solids coatings can help reduce the environmental impact of coatings while providing superior finishes and improved OEM productivity. The new automotive OEM coatings development laboratory is scheduled for completion in 2017 and will focus on developing special formulations to ensure superior colour match, appearance, and quality.
Will the company undertake any specific product and brand promotion plans to acquire a competitive edge?
Axalta’s brands such as Cromax, Standox, Duxone and Lucite have very strong brand presence among their targeted audience and are well-established in the industry. Being a B2B business, Axalta prides itself in putting the customers first with innovative product solutions that improve our customers’ business and productivity. In 2013, we introduced the Nason range of products which has also been well-received by the retail market. As such, it is the quality of our products that speaks for itself.
Will India also be an export hub for neighbouring countries?
Axalta India is already exporting material to other countries such as Thailand and Indonesia and will continue to act as an export hub for future growth expansion projects into new markets to grow the business.
- Huned Contractor
Axalta Coating Systems
In 2016, Axalta Coating Systems celebrates 150 years of creating innovative industrial coatings. The company’s heritage dates back to 1866 when its first products were developed in Germany and since then the company has grown into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of liquid and powder coatings, especially for the automotive industry. From the earliest products that supplied European carriage manufacturers with colourful coatings in the 19th Century, Axalta evolved to meet the needs of an automotive industry that flourished in the 20th Century. In the 1920s, Axalta introduced the first quick-drying multi-colour lacquer line for automobile production in the US. Company scientists developed colour equations that became a key analytic tool in the catalogue of colour science. In the subsequent decades, technology at Axalta evolved to produce coatings that were increasingly durable and productive. In the 1980s, the company ushered in the first more environmentally responsible liquid coating systems with the introduction of waterborne products.