Painting the Future

Painting the Future

ABHIJIT ROY explains how the paints and coatings sector is on the frontline of technology adoption.Paints and coatings play a critical role in augmenting the structural integrity and improving the liveability of constructions while also enhancing their aesthetic appeal...

ABHIJIT ROY explains how the paints and coatings sector is on the frontline of technology adoption.Paints and coatings play a critical role in augmenting the structural integrity and improving the liveability of constructions while also enhancing their aesthetic appeal. In India, the industry has been at the vanguard of a revolution that has improved the quality of construction in the country. This revolution has come about both in products and services. It encompasses advances in technology that benefit everyone, from an individual consumer painting his first home and a builder bringing to life a new township to an architect trying to build a massive infrastructure project. The scope and influence of these advances have been wide ranging; in the interest of brevity, this article speaks of a few such developments.Product solutionsSoaring nearly 1,200 ft above the river Chenab in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and stretching nearly 4,500 ft is the world’s highest railway bridge. This marvel of engineering in near inaccessible terrain needed a paint product that would withstand a high degree of UV radiation while giving it an extended life that would forestall the need for expensive maintenance. Berger Paints successfully met the challenge by formulating a glossy, fluoro-polymer-based coating that will protect the structure from the elements for many years.  This record-breaking bridge slated for inauguration in 2021 will be a testament as much to the engineering prowess of India as to the mastery of its paint technologists.Installation of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems ensures thermal comfort and indoor air quality. But in the process, the environment pays a heavy price owing to the huge energy demands placed on it. Whether energy needs are met by oil, coal or hydro-electricity, environmental degradation is an unavoidable by-product. This is where external thermal insulation and composite systems (ETICS) can play a role. Introduced in India by Berger Paints with technology from our 100 per cent subsidiary, Bolix SA of Poland, the system envelops a building with a water-resistant cladding that drastically lowers the energy costs of heating and cooling. Apart from new installations, ETICS solutions can also be retrofitted on older buildings.Moisture and paint do not make good bedfellows. In the domestic segment, thousands of homeowners are plagued by damages to their structure caused by leakages and seepage, either because of poor masonry or plumbing or just age-related wear and tear. The damage is compounded when unscientific waterproofing solutions are prescribed by ill-trained or untrained contractors. Homeshield™ from Berger Paints uses a specially calibrated moisture meter to detect the degree of moisture in structures, while the proprietary Homeshield™ waterproofing range prescribes a scientific solution to lick the problem. Ab no gyaan; only vigyaan!These are only a handful of solutions of the many technological innovations that the industry has brought to consumers of paint. Pathbreaking advances have been made in powder coatings, automotive paints, decorative paints and marine paints, to name a few. Omniphobic coatings that repel oil and water, paints that can generate solar electricity or behave like wires that conduct electricity and paints that can change colour are some of the marvels of construction technology that are in the works. Many of the solutions being worked on resemble science fiction! Service solutionsPainting, especially structural painting, is a labour-intensive, time-taking and, at many times, hazardous job. Over the years, paint application technology in the consumer space has evolved and some degree of mechanisation of processes has been introduced. Tools like sanders, mixers, automatic rollers, airless or air-assisted sprayers and putty sprayers are now prevalent at painting sites, though their adoption in India is still very limited.However, application technology has evolved even further with the emergence of robotic solutions. Image a robot or a small army of robots crawling over a wall, painting as they go, with no human intervention and without taking a lunch break, while providing a flawless and even finish. No off days, no late-coming, no labour shortages—only timely delivery. This solution that is now being tested may well be a godsend for builders plagued by time (and cost) overruns, once it is commercially available. Think of pipelines, grain silos, oil storage tankers and ships, all of which have gargantuan painting surfaces that are difficult to access. Hazardous or difficult-to-reach painting sites can be effortlessly accessed by wall-crawling robotic painters.In conclusionThe paints and coatings industry employs state-of-the-art technology from AI and ML to advanced chemistry, engineering and manufacturing processes and packaging innovations and application techniques to ensure that the construction industry and its consumers have access to the latest and best solutions human creativity can conjure. In that respect, the industry is on the frontline of technology adoption across various disciplines and is comparable to any other industry that serves the construction sector. In the coming days, more innovations that are currently in laboratories and test centres across the country and world will see the light of day. Consumers of construction products will find their homes, offices and living spaces enhanced like never before. And coming issues of CONSTRUCTION WORLD magazine will no doubt make mention of these developments!About the author: Abhijit Roy joined Berger Paints India Ltd in 1996 and took over as Managing Director & CEO on July 1, 2012.  Berger India’s market cap has increased from Rs 3,693 crore in 2012 to nearly Rs 50,000 crore in 2020, making it among the top 100 most valuable companies in India. He is the current Chairman of CII – ER.

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