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Monday, July 22, 2019, 11:48
Nippon Paint embraces automation to meet nation's growing demand
By Zhong Nan
Monday, July 22, 2019, 11:48 By Zhong Nan

A Nippon Paint employee undertakes decoration services at an apartment in Shanghai. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Nipsea Group, Asia's largest paints and coatings manufacturer by sales revenue, plans to convert 28 of its China plants into automated factories by the end of this year.

This move will further boost productivity and save on labor costs, said the head of Singapore-based Nipsea's China unit.

Eric Chung, president of Nippon Paint China, said many companies are willing to upgrade their products and boost work efficiency now to progress to the next stage of development in their evolution. So, building new factories is no longer their priority in China as the adoption and implementation of the Industry 4.0 concept can effectively resolve issues such as labor shortage and low work efficiency.

In 2012, Germany set up Industry 4.0 working groups as a means of pushing its companies to utilize new technology and thinking, to maintain its pre-eminence in top-quality manufacturing.

This move will further boost productivity and save on labor costs, said Eric Chung, president of Nippon Paint China

The "third generation" of manufacturing refers to the use of automation and early computers; thus,"4.0" refers to a phase of manufacturing in which automation and interconnection play a far greater role in making the manufacturing process more efficient.

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Large companies are taking notable strides in terms of digital transformation by using internet-connected technologies. At the same time, building knowledge-based industries, conducting international collaboration, and operating intelligent factories are seen as the future development direction for Nippon Paint China, to remain competitive in the Chinese market, said Chung.

The company has been running three automated plants in China, including one in Xianning, Hubei province. It will continue to seek robust growth by focusing on aspects like operational safety, environmental protection, energy saving and efficiency improvement.

Chung said smart manufacturing is about connecting intelligent systems. It gives businesses hitherto unavailable data to be more efficiently applied to manufacturing processes and supply chains.

"In addition to improving productivity, the adoption of automation can separate people from those conditions that are harmful to employees, such as noise, noxious gases, extremely hot or cold working environment," he said.

The push for automation also comes from China's growing demand to build new facilities for public service and consumers' need to repaint their old homes, and requirements for quality paint products to ensure their health

The push for automation also comes from China's growing demand to build new facilities for public service and consumers' need to repaint their old homes, and requirements for quality paint products to ensure their health.

ALSO READ: Robots advance on China's push

Besides, growth momentum has received a boost from the country's policy to allow married couples to have up to two kids, higher disposable incomes, rapid urbanization and smart city projects.

Nippon Paint China has provided fireproof paint products to cover half-a-million square meters of the three-floor car park and comprehensive service building for the upcoming gigantic, star-shaped Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is due to open by Sept 30.

The high-tech paint has high quality, and anti-mold, antibacterial and alkali-resistant properties, as some of the spaces painted are underground. The car park has 4,321 parking slots and requires high-degree combustion resistance.

According to ADP Ingenierie, the French architectural designer of Terminal 1 of Daxing airport, the new airport's Terminal 1 will have an annual capacity of 45 million passengers, which will be able to meet the transportation demand of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

With China implementing a new round of reform and opening-up measures, Chung said Nippon Paint China will continue to transform its business from a product supplier into a service provider, offering a broad range of painting products to meet consumers' diverse decoration and painting demands, including desired colors, texture and brushing effects.

The Chinese market has notably diversified, he said. For decorative painting products, what looks nice in Beijing may not work for consumers in Guangzhou.

They have seen many excellent practices across the world and have their own aesthetic perspective. Therefore, the market direction is constantly changing and "we have to keep a sharp eye on the new trend all the time", he said.

Supported by over 7,900 employees and 41 plants, Nippon Paint China earned 17.5 billion yuan (US$2.55 billion) in sales revenue in 2018.

It entered China in 1992. Today, it offers paint products in architectural, coating, auto, auto refinish, industrial, coil, protective coating and powder coating industries.

Sun Fuquan, a researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development, said demand for the development of high-end manufacturing in China is among the world's fastest-growing. Both global and domestic players have already begun seeking solutions to get products to market faster at lower costs, to improve their asset utilization and cut associated risks.

"Those who have committed to upgrading their manufacturing capabilities either for higher profit margins or to become a well-known export brand, have moved toward automation," he said.


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