China is the second largest market for paint products in the world, and local Chinese companies are facing fierce competition from global corporations who want to gain a foothold in the market. Nanjing Alwayslucky Paints Co. Ltd. is a medium-sized manufacturer and distributor of decorative and wood paints, and ranks among the top three paint manufacturing companies in the Nanjing region of China. The company’s humble beginnings go back to 1988, when it started with the production of batch tinting in manual tanks in a classroom. Today, 100 people work with tinting systems for both in-plant and point-of-sale tinting in a new modern location outside the city.

Rising demand and growing competition from international paint manufacturers have put pressure on Nanjing Alwayslucky to dramatically increase production. The company discussed these challenges with CPS Color, the company now called Chromaflo Technologies after its colorant business combined with Chromaflo Technologies in December 2013. “The concept of integrated tinting solutions was a mystery to us,” says Tom Xu, Deputy General Manager at Nanjing Alwayslucky. The company used several different machines from various suppliers. “We encountered some problems with the different equipment because they were not compatible with one another. In addition, we wanted to get better service.”

Tailor-Made Integrated Tinting Solution

Following careful analysis of the requirements, an integrated tinting solution tailored to the company’s needs was suggested. Crucially, integrated tinting offers customized solutions with one single point of contact for all requirements. It includes colorants, color formulas, dispensing and mixing equipment, software, technical support and equipment service. Nanjing Alwayslucky opted for a COROB™ D600 and a COROB D800 dispenser, as well as the Chromaflo Monicolor DW colorant range (formerly sold by CPS Color). In the early stages of production, the company used one-by-one dispensers. However, dispensing speed was far too low for the growing paint demand. COROB D600 and D800 are simultaneous dispensers that are suited for high paint volumes.

COROB D800 operates with especially economical gear pump technology. The pumps move very slowly when they are not required for the dispensing cycle, thus significantly reducing maintenance costs. The unit features an active humidifier with sensors that are capable of detecting both air temperature and humidity. The humidifier nozzle system and daily maintenance program, in turn, ensure longer equipment lifetime. With its modular design, COROB D600 – the second dispenser in use at the production facility – makes it possible to choose between multiple configurations of canisters in different shapes and sizes. The fully automatic dispenser allows users to tint paint with water-based, solvent-based and universal decorative and industrial colorants.

Custom Chinese Colorant Range

Nanjing Alwayslucky uses its COROB dispensers for Monicolor DW, a water-based colorant range that was especially designed for the Chinese domestic market. Chinese customers do not use oil-based paints in the decorative environment. The Chinese market is dominated by water-based paints. Color trends in China also differ significantly from Europe or North America: 90 percent of interior decoration is white. The other 10 percent are lighter shades such as yellow and grey. Regarding colorants with higher tinting strength, red is the most popular color, as opposed to green, which is not very common in China.

Additional reasons for changing to the new colorant range are the current regulations on VOC content in paints and colorants. To comply with these regulations, Nanjing Alwayslucky needed to switch to colorants with lower VOC content. The company chose 13 colorants from the Monicolor DW range based on current Chinese trends. The paint manufacturer used to work with two differing colorant ranges for point-of-sale and in-plant tinting. The higher pigment concentration in the Monicolor DW range is an advantage for both systems – accounting for lower tinting costs and higher production efficiency compared to standard colorants.

Cost Savings

“After unifying both systems to run with Monicolor DW colorants, we have achieved significant savings in time and cost: production has become much more efficient, convenient and cost-effective,” Xu underlines. “Monicolor DW is cheaper than our previous colorants and higher in pigment concentration.” This means that we need less colorant to achieve the same effect. Customers also benefit from this price difference. “We are especially happy with the amount of time we save. We now only require one database for color formulation, which makes work a lot easier,” says Xu. All in all, Nanjing Alwayslucky reports to have decreased its production costs by over 30 percent in the sector of POS tinting. The production rate for both POS and in-plant tinting has risen to 10,000 tons of paint per year.

“The advantage of working with Chromaflo is that you have one single point of contact for all issues. You receive a higher quality and ultimately achieve a better cost-performance ratio,” Xu adds. “After working with CPS Color, which is now part of Chromaflo, for over 10 years, we are convinced of the top quality and service. Moreover, our staff is familiar with the technology, and we are already working on further projects.” In the long run, the company wants to expand, ideally by purchasing a tinting during filling (TDF) machine. In the meantime, Nanjing Alwayslucky plans to buy another COROB D800 dispenser to fulfill even higher production demands. The company might also opt for a new low-VOC and APEO-free colorant version in the near future. This new range is currently developed at Chromaflo's Shanghai site and is designed to meet the increasing demand for environment-friendly products from leading Chinese paint manufacturers. 

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