Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head-Protecton, Berger Paints India

Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head-Protecton, Berger Paints India

- Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head-Protecton, Berger Paints India Corrosion of steel and concrete structures is a common problem faced in infrastructure. However, high-volume solids paints, solvent-less paints, water-based paints and such coatings can offer excellent protectio...

- Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head-Protecton, Berger Paints India Corrosion of steel and concrete structures is a common problem faced in infrastructure. However, high-volume solids paints, solvent-less paints, water-based paints and such coatings can offer excellent protection against corrosion for a longer period of time in the most aggressive conditions. One such offering to enhance corrosion-resistance for steel and concrete infrastructure is the Protecton range by Berger, which was refurbished keeping in mind global emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In an exclusive interview, Sanjay Chowdhury, Business Head-Protecton, Berger Paints India, shares more on this range and how it caters to different environmental and industrial requirements, with SERAPHINA D’SOUZA. Global VOC emissions are considered an environmental hazard. How has Berger been able to address this issue? A forerunner in value innovation through technology, our products meet the governing standards of the environment. Berger’s products such as Breathe Easy and Aqugreen have been launched to introduce water-based paints with less smell at the time of painting. Heavy metals such as lead and chrome in paints have been removed from formulation, keeping up to international standards. We have spearheaded several committees to influence the Government as well as the user industry to enforce regulations that encourage stopping the usage of carcinogenic substances created by heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium and lead in paints. So, how does the R&D team work towards global technology and cater to the industrial challenges of corrosion? Please share some recent product developments in this direction. Our R&D team comprises an in-house talent pool with decades of experience and expertise, who always strive to give us wonderful products of international standards to meet any growing need. For potable water contact, we have developed solventless coatings that have been approved by the WRAS (Water Regulatory Advisory Scheme). Our other product lines are in the areas of anti-fouling, gas-transmission pipe coatings, can and drum thin film coatings, the latest one being fluoropolymer coatings. Further, in line with the Government’s initiative of Atmanirbhar Bharat, we have introduced water-based intumescent coating with our technology partner Promat. Notably, Berger is the only Indian company manufacturing intumescent coatings, with the factory and product being certified to UL requirements and standards. Several green buildings now mandate the use of low-VOC paints. What are your offerings for sustainable buildings? The green building concept has two-dimensional requirements. First, to provide long-term durability and, second, to cater to the low-VOC limit regulations. Berger Protecton’s advanced coatings have high solids and low VOC content. New-generation coatings, such as solventless or water-based formulations, comply with green building norms. We have also come up with the latest generation high-voltage insulation floor coatings to deliver three times’ better durability and at half the cost that can replace traditional rubber mats in power plants and control rooms. Speaking of innovation, are there any newly identified eco-friendly raw materials that can make the final paint or coating product more efficient? Berger Protecton has proven our innovation to the world by the use of eco-friendly raw materials that have long-term durability. We are the only and the first company from India to introduce water-based black asphaltic paints, making us the proud supplier of paints for drinking water application, thus ensuring water quality as per UL/ANSI/NSF 61 standards. The firm supplies several types of coatings to the industrial and infrastructure industries, such as power, oil and gas, railways, roads and bridges, stadiums, pharmaceuticals, fertiliser industries, etc. Which types of projects drive maximum demand for your Protecton range of coatings? Protecton high-performance coatings have always been in demand in major industries such as oil and gas and power. Having said that, the recent year has seen more share and business from infrastructure segments such as metro-rail projects, bridges and flyovers, airports and railways. Nearly 23 per cent of our business comes from infrastructure, for which we have the latest range of epoxy, polyurethanes, polysiloxanes, fluoropolymer and specialised coatings from CECRI and CBRI, which also cater to RDSO specifications. As you mentioned, Protecton spans a wide range of paints and coatings: epoxies, polyurethane, high-temperature resistant coatings, anti-carbonation coatings, concrete, rebar, floor, among others. Which of these is a larger contributor to the company’s Protecton business and where do you see the traction going forward? As the progress of various technologies continues, replacing age-old formulations and conventional coatings, epoxy continues to be the breadwinner for this division. However, we are now taking this ahead with the advent of newer innovative technologies and development in smart coatings research. The notable development well received in the market is mono-coat (primer-cum-finish) systems, solventless coatings, fluoro-based coating, water-based PU, UL-certified water-based asphaltin coating for drinking water and wet surface epoxy, among others. How affordable and price-competitive is your Protecton range of products? With a nine-decade presence in India, Berger Protecton understands the customer requirement better than any competition. Hence, our mission is always: Ecology (working towards creating a better environment), Economy (costs less to what we offer on performance), and Energy (reduction in effort to place in service and offering fewer interventions). What is a USP of your product that keeps you ahead of the rest? Berger Protecton always believes in innovation and offers tailor-made coating specifications as a solutions provider rather than just catering to the needs of the customer. What kind of after-sales services are offered to clients, in terms of maintenance, consultancy or any other? Berger Protecton started to show this as the basic difference from its unique identity as a protective coating consultant; this consultancy includes free-of-cost service to cover corrosion survey, audits, coating system recommendation, educational seminars and support to installing coating, training of applicators and extension of technical inspection support during painting activity. What percentage did the Protecton range contribute to Berger’s overall business last fiscal? Berger’s Protecton leads in the heavy-duty protective coating market and this segment of the protective coating business line contributes close to 10-12 per cent of turnover. ‘Protection is on with Protecton’—this tagline has been the industry choice in protective coatings for nearly five decades ever since high-performance coatings was started as a separate SBU and we are the undisputed leaders in the protective coating segment in India. How are you gearing up to overcome the challenges of the pandemic? The Protecton team is an innovator not only in R&D but in sales support as well. During the pandemic, the sales team has formed closed groups with our business partners and ensured training at every level with all channel partners, making the best use of the online mode of discussions. The management supported the painters associated with us by providing financial assistance and encouraging them to learn PPE requirements and how to be safe in their working arena. Berger also introduced sanitisers and sprays for 24-hour protection of the most accessed areas like handles, taps, lifts and railings. Like any other company, we were forced to shut our depot operations for a brief period in April and May last year. But under careful control, we could operate some select factories with utmost safety to employees and manufacturers, and continue to start operations. We could fairly complete the previous year's sale in 10-month operations of the last fiscal and continue to show a single-digit growth to the previous year—a remarkable achievement by the entire team. What are your growth plans and target avenues for the Protecton segment this fiscal? Any new launches or big announcements planned? Growth in the topline and bottomline is major focus of Berger and we are growing faster than the market. For Protecton, we project to achieve double-digit growth in coming years. This is expected to come primarily from market expansion and through our product line with underwater cure solventless coatings, wet surface epoxy coatings, universal primers, corrosion under insulation coatings, and water-based products that will be superior to existing polyurethanes. We are planning to step up our focus in floor coatings, polyurethane concrete, temporary moisture barrier coatings admixture, waterproofing and the construction chemicals range, which will add extra value in the years to come.

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