Story by: Gunjan D. Bidani

In-line with the growing preference for factory-built CVs in India, Nippon Paint (India) introduced wet-on-wet paint technology recently. It revealed its ambition to attain a leadership position in commercial vehicle segment by 2021 in the process. Doing so at a time when CV manufacturers are increasingly investing in new production technologies, the wet-on-wet paint technology aims at helping manufacturers to maximise asset utilisation and minimise capital expenditure. Following hot on the heels of Nippon’s ‘Xpress’ paint technology, which involves the establishment of body and paints repair centres at the retail level to cut processing times, the wet-on-wet technology, given the new regulatory changes where trucks could be painted in any colour rather than the uniform dark brown colour as long as the words ‘N/P’ for ‘National Permit’ is written at the front and back, makes an interesting offering.

With the regulatory changes demanding that CVs carrying hazardous goods have their bodies painted in white, the wet-on-wet paint technology, with its ‘direct-to-metal’ application, speaks of maximising efficiencies and drastically reducing painting cycle time and energy requirements. Claimed to reduce labour costs, as well, the wet-on-wet painting technology is in-line with the company’s philosophy to provide paints that are not just about the colour but also about comfort and peace of mind in everyday life. Present in the field of paints and coatings for the last 138 years, Nippon Paint, at the forefront of technology in field of automotive, industrial and trade paints, iis extending the wet-on-wet paint technology to the Indian market with the promise of a lean and extremely efficient painting process for CVs. Expressed Sharad Malhotra, President Automotive, Commercial and Wood Coatings, Nippon Paint (India), “The wet-on-wet paint technology with the direct to metal is a ‘green’ system. It iis a water-based system, and new. It is different from what is currently being offered.”

Superior solutions
Aiming to capture 25 per cent market share by 2022, Nippon Paint (India) is keen to distinguish itself by offering solutions like the wet-on-wet technology. By doing so, it is looking at rapid growth in new areas of the Indian paint and coatings market. Addressing concerns in the area of paint quality, corrosion resistance, cycle time, energy conservation and costs, the company is focussing on technology to improve throughput for its customers without any major capital investment from their end. Said Malhotra, that they are pursuing a goal of world-class products and systems. With products and systems that have been developed by its global R&D team, and add tremendous value to CV and light industrial customers. The company, according to Lewis Taylor, Global Technical Manager, is looking at delivering customised solutions that ensure maximum efficiency.

Venturing into the CV market by supplying to Swaraj Mazda, Nippon Paint (India) is driving wet-on-wet paint technology on the premise of minimising sanding and baking process thereby delivering efficiency improvements of up to 50 per cent and cost reduction of up to 20 per cent. Adding Mahindra and Force Motors to its list of prestigious clients recently, the company is looking at a substantial share of the bus bodybuilding market. It is in talks with the Karnataka State Board Transport Corporation for water-based systems. With 90 per cent of the CV business revenue coming from OEM and state transport corporations, Nippon Paint (India), is also closely following the rise in electric CVs – buses especially. Registering a good growth of 30 per cent last year, the company is keen to carve out a share of the EV business as well.

Painting e-CVs
Aware of the painting and coating needs of the manufacturers of e-CVs, Nippon Paint (India) is working with Isuzu towards the development of an electric bus. It is also working with Ashok Leyland and Mahindra. “The system to paint electric buses is going to be different from that of a conventional bus in the wake of lower metal content,” informed Malhotra. He explained that the significant use of plastics or composites in electric buses would call for a tailored paint technology and processes. The primer used would be different, and also the baking process. Hoping that the rising number of e-CVs will get OEMs to invest in robotised painting and coating technologies, Malhotra averred that some unique challenges could be expected. Drawing attention to the market research report published by P&S Intelligence, which projects the Indian e-bus market to reach 7,187 units by 2025, he said that his company was leveraging technology work with clients and addressing their requirements, however complex they may be.

Working on energy-efficient paint and coating systems, which do not require higher temperatures to dry a painted surface, Nippon Paint (India) is leveraging the global knowledge base of its parent organisation. It is emphasising on the lower cost incurred with the use of energy-efficient painting systems. Stated Malhotra, “Energy-efficient painting systems are more durable.” Looking at total solutions. It is looking at the entire management of the painting line, the company worked with Ashok Leyland at their Alwar plant. “The painting lines there are now greener, more energy-efficient and faster,” revealed Malhotra.

Painting systems
With the capability to supply an entire paint system for motor vehicles with a high scope of customisation, Nippon Paint (India) is looking at a considerable value add for its clients. With the range of automotive applications at an OEM typically including surface treatment chemicals, protective basecoats, intermediate coats, and sparkling topcoats, the company eyeing projects where it would be fully accountable. Working closely with clients to tackle challenges like humidity, salt, water, and mist, Nippon Paint (India) is offering robust solutions. Entering the Indian market with 1000 hours of salt spray test, which according to Malhotra, is just another parameter in a painting process now, the company is looking at introducing more technologically addressed products and solutions in India.

Aware of different needs of the market, Nippon Paint (India) is positioning itself strategically to participate in the CV aftermarket as well. It is in discussion with a few interested parties, and is planning is to set up CV aftersales service centres at key locations in the country. Of the opinion that there is a big vacuum in the aftermarket as far as CV painting and coating solutions are concerned, Malhotra mentioned, “Our CV aftersales service centres will provide just the solutions many clients would be looking for.” “In a scenario where buses do not have a place to be repainted or repaired, the CV aftermarket as far as paints are concerned, has a long way to go yet,” he averred. Malhotra signed off by saying that it marks an opportunity for them to do something good.

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