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Product innovation

It was another productive year which saw us further improve our customer-driven solutions and introduce a number of exciting innovations with a strong focus on sustainability. For example, we are now able to produce a key raw material used in our Sikkens Autoclear Superior family of clearcoats based on 40 percent renewable materials. We also designed a new spray gun with an integrated UV-LED curing device. This step-change in the application process enables customers to cure the coating almost instantly, therefore saving a lot of time and money. In addition we continued to roll out our pioneering Sikkens Autoclear UV clearcoat, as well as our state-of-the-art waterborne basecoat, Sikkens Autowave, which had an outstanding year. The product has been very well accepted in Europe and we are rolling it out in Asia, while its success in North America – where it’s legislated in California and Canada – has been so strong that the rest of the country is picking up on it, even though the relevant legislation banning solvents won’t be introduced for a number of years.

Customer focus

One of the main pillars of our strategy is based on color technology and a commitment to getting it “right first time” for our customers. In 2008 we saw the benefits from some significant investments, which included the launch of Sikkens Mixit Pro. This is our innovative software for the retrieval of color data and we believe it to be the best color software package in the market. We also introduced a tool for our customers and service staff called Sikkens Automatchic 3, the latest generation of our customer-focused color matching device. This works by “reading” the color and automatically searching for the best formula. But perhaps the most exciting development involved the Automatchic 6i. This device was jointly developed and contains patented technology “inside”. It allows for simultaneous measurement of the color and texture of special effect coatings. Until now, this has proved to be elusive. It means color matches involving the exotic pigments used in metallic and pearlescent paints can be perfectly matched first time, dramatically cutting the time and cost of formulating and spraying. The prospects of launching it for our customers worldwide look extremely promising.

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