Coatings Trends & Technologies (CTT) was held September 26-27 at the Westin in Lombard, IL. Co-produced by our magazine and the Chicago Society for Coatings Technology, the event is held each September in the Chicago area. CTT continues to grow – this year welcoming 275 attendees and 56 exhibitors.

The keynote speaker this year was Gale Murphy, Vice President Research & Development Product Finishes Division at The Sherwin-Williams Company. Murphy discussed the trend toward globalization, and noted that what has driven his division to become more global over the past 10 years has been the customers – as customers have become global, they have expected Sherwin-Williams to follow. And challenges followed as well, with raw material contracts, specs, supply and procurement, and in learning how to operate as a global company. Murphy said that as companies become more global, they need to work together as a matrix organization, offering global marketing, sales, technical teams and manufacturing. Global companies need to communicate and collaborate as one company.

To help with these efforts, Murphy’s division offers an exchange experience, where technical staff can spend anywhere from six weeks to 1½ years gaining experience in other parts of the world. This program has allowed employees to learn the unique challenges and customer requirements in other countries, and has helped his division to work together to establish clarity and global effectiveness.

Murphy also discussed the sustainability trend. He noted that sustainability means different things to different people – some focus on the VOC emissions or energy required to apply the end product, while others take into consideration the amount of energy required to manufacture the product. Murphy suggests offering a full report on the life cycle of your products, and then letting the customer decide which product fits best with their own definition of sustainability.

Sustainability was also discussed in a presentation titled Towards a Fully Sustainable World: Next Steps for the Coatings Industry, by Tony Mash of TMA Consulting. Mash discussed some creative initiatives that assist in the drive towards the goal of creating a fully sustainable society, but noted that we still have a long way to go. Our industry needs to be innovative – to think outside of the box and come up with solutions before solutions are dictated to us.

In total, 26 technical papers were presented at CTT, covering a wide range of technologies, from a new process to manufacture TiO2, to structured nano-acrylic polymers, to a super sticky waterborne primer. A coatings expert roundtable discussion was also introduced this year. Panelists included Brian Casey, Evonik Industries; Dave Peterson, EMI Mills; Julie Vaughn, Emerald Performance Materials; and Dave Fasano, Dow Coating Materials. Attendees asked questions regarding challenges they were having with their formulations, and the panelists as well as other attendees offered their ideas and suggestions.

 Plans are already underway for next year’s event. Since exhibit space sold out before July 4 this year, CTT will be moving to a larger facility that will accommodate more tabletop booths. Mark your calendars now for September 11-12, 2014, at the Marriott Resort in Lincolnshire, IL, and be on the lookout for our call for papers within the next few months. I’m looking forward to learning about more new technology at ChinaCoat later this month – hope to see you there!