I just returned from my second visit to the People’s Republic of China. I was on assignment covering the ChinaCoat 2006 exhibition in Guangzhou. Never have I encountered such a throng at a coatings event.
I just returned from my second visit to the People’s Republic of China. I was on assignment covering the ChinaCoat 2006 exhibition in Guangzhou. Never have I encountered such a throng at a coatings event. I felt engulfed in a surging Disneyworld sea of attendees. The show itself was dovetailed with SFChina, an exhibition overlapping the finishing world with a concentration on plating and other metal finishing technologies. All combined, more than 700 ChinaCoat exhibitors occupied 30,000 m2 (nearly seven acres) of bustling floor space. Many booths engineered two levels to maximize floor space for their footprint. The crowd attending was expected to exceed 25,000 this year.* The immensity of this Chinese juggernaut is mind-boggling.
As I traversed the exhibition floor, I encountered masses of coatings professionals hungry for the latest finishing technology. I estimated the median age of Westerners sighted to be approximately 55, while the median age of our Oriental counterparts was about 30. It appears that all the youthful energy in the finishing industry resides in the Middle Kingdom. What is more telling is the news that many Western multinational companies are establishing research and development centers in China. The East will eventually become the epicenter for the world’s emerging coatings technology.
How does this affect you, the finishing professional? We still need to continually provide value to our customers. Notwithstanding, the U.S. maintains the highest industrial productivity in the world. To survive, we must continue to offer this superior productivity, coupled with timely delivery and cutting-edge innovation - innovation not only in technology, but also in operations and business models.
This month’s issue provides examples of some innovative technologies that can help us keep our edge in the global finishing industry. Our cover story reports on the efforts of a couple of clever brothers from Memphis, TN, who have perfected a service to vastly extend the life of powder coating booth filters (see pp. 18-20). In another article, we describe a novel technique that not only has the potential to eliminate paint and powder waste, but it also can renewably synthesize monomers for coating resins (pp. 25-27).
While on my 25-hour journey to the Orient, I digested the bestseller China, Inc., by Ted C. Fishman. In this engaging treatise on the exploding Chinese economic phenomenon he states: “For America to stay productively employed, its skills, sophistication, and imaginative power must remain world-class, every day better than ever before. America itself must become a new place.”
Advice we must retain if we are to adapt successfully to this rapidly changing market.
*To put this in perspective, the Powder Coating 2006 exhibition had approximately 160 exhibitors occupying less than 4,000 m2. It was hoped that 4,000 professionals would attend. This year’s plating show, SUR/FIN, boasted a show attendance of 1,140 with 127 exhibitors displayed over 2,800 m2.
December 1, 2006