It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that changes in industrial metal coatings happen slow enough that you are never really in danger of getting left behind.
However, the belief that there will always be time to adapt before competitors gain an advantage is dangerous. The march of progress can sometimes take you by surprise, and therefore it’s vital to remain informed on the current situation and the upcoming trends in the metal coatings industry.
Laws and regulations in metal coatings
So, where are we right now? Well, the driver for change is still often regulation and, with that being out of your sphere of influence, it’s essential to understand what this can mean. Let’s take the example of China, which has been tightening the rules around solvent-borne metal coatings for several years now.
Their updated laws flipped the coatings for the container industry on its head in during the 2010s. From almost nowhere, now nearly every container produced in China is coated with a water-borne solution. Meanwhile, introducing a VOC pollutant fee has made a considerable impact on Chinese manufacturers and their choices regarding the location of their facilities and the coatings they use.
It may feel like the wheels of regulation turn slowly in your territory. Still, updating and adapting your coatings systems, for example, from solvent-borne to water-borne, can be a large, expensive and time-consuming project. Therefore, monitoring the situation and planning for potential changes must be seen as a critical ongoing task.
Metal coatings and sustainability
Almost hand-in-hand with the laws is the trend towards sustainability as environmental awareness becomes ever more important and each step of the supply chain demands greater green credentials.
Understanding what this may mean exactly is a matter of learning about the impact of different coatings solutions. For example, is it better to have a lower VOC coating that needs to be renewed at twice the rate of a higher VOC one?
Often, the choice of coating can come down to calculating the true cost of different metal coatings, but also, more and more, sustainability and environmental elements are becoming factors for consideration.
Tikkurila recognises this and wants to be a sustainability pioneer in the paint industry through all aspects of our service. In fact, we’ve been working towards this for some time already. Find out more about our commitment to helping to protect the environment.
The changing choices for metal coatings
The debate of water-borne vs solvent-borne will continue, with water-borne having established a market share that could easily expand further through regulation. However, that isn’t the only potential choice available. For example, there is also a movement towards more use of high-solids coatings.
High-solids coatings are one way to meet stricter environmental rules without completely updating a coatings production line, as a change to water-borne would require.
The immediate future appears to contain choices between product types that can meet requirements and laws in different ways. This is certainly an area to keep a close eye on since more innovations can come at any time.
Digitalization in metal coatings
There seems to be agreement from both experts at Tikkurila and the industry in general that digitalization will have a growing influence on the metal coatings industry. Our metal coatings trend report showed that this could happen in various ways, from e-commerce to helping with logistics.
Some companies are already making moves in this area, but it’s also important to recognize that it may not always be appropriate. For example, there are limits to how helpful e-commerce can be in the highly tailored world of industrial metal coatings. With exact shades needed and precise technical requirements that are custom to a company, interaction with service experts at a supplier will still be essential. However, in terms of providing information about the solutions and products available, the internet is now seen as a crucial source.
Finding that balance between what works and what wouldn’t be appropriate concerning your company’s needs is the key. It seems evident that everyone can benefit from more precise information on logistics, and there digitalization is sure to grow in influence. Watching the trends develop and being prepared to adopt those that deliver for your business needs should remain an ongoing goal for everywhere else.
Final thoughts on the trends in industrial metal coatings
The industry of metal coatings will continue to change and develop, as you would expect. We believe that identifying the direction of those trends can help you prepare and make informed decisions early enough to impact your company positively.
The influence of regulation changes can’t be understated, but there are also changes afoot in the market as sustainability, and environmental concerns come more to the forefront. Meanwhile, digitalization seems set to enhance services within the sector and so should be followed for new opportunities.
We’ve touched on some of the key areas to monitor but to gain a complete insight into the current trends, with opinions from experts at Tikkurila and the results of an industry survey, read the full metal coatings trend report:
Access the report