- How would you define the word innovation?
It is everything that involves the development of new products and/or production processes, involving the use of new technologies, raw materials, or special properties, which do not yet exist in the sector, which are very little developed or in which a trend can be sensed.
- What role does R&D play in Omar Coatings, and how long has it been working?
R&D has always been present in the company, depending on the stage of development, it plays a fundamental role for several reasons.
First, due to the typology of our customers, who require innovative contributions according to the needs that their target market demands. And because of our presence in consumer sectors that are not usual for OMAR, which allows us to diversify our portfolio and, therefore, to grow our business.
On the other hand, European legislation regarding chemical substances is constantly changing, so the elimination, substitution, or reduction of all those involved in the legislative change is a constant in the department.
Finally, pure research, without customer or legislative demands, is a factor to be taken into account for the company’s progress as a leader in the sector. The search for new properties, which enable the development of products with high added value, is what allows us to be at the forefront as manufacturers of varnishes and resins.
- How many people make up the department and what is their role?
We form a fantastic team, headed by the Technical Director, as head of the department, who coordinates all the work and projects with the technicians.
On the one hand, the research technicians formulate and develop new products according to the defined projects.
Also, the team is made up of color technicians, who develop and study new pigments and dyes, systems, and databases for automatic tinting solutions, adjusting products for specific color needs and/or optical effects.
And the other technicians who provide support to production for scaling up the laboratory developments to the industrial plant.
We are in direct contact with the commercial department and customers, as well as with raw material suppliers, technological institutes, research centers, universities, etc. From where knowledge, new developments, trends and/or needs are extracted, to be applied later to R&D projects.
- How has this second industrial revolution influenced this department?
From our point of view, the third industrial revolution has meant the preservation of the environment and the use of materials that are potentially less hazardous, recyclable and whose raw materials used come from renewable, non-fossil sources.
In our case, the specific weight in the R&D department is tremendously high, as we are continuously launching products containing raw materials of renewable origin.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the work environment and the safety of the people who use our products. In our department, we periodically scan raw materials by hazard classification and act immediately by making the necessary formulation adjustments to reduce the impact on this environment.
- What are the main lines of research at present?
We have several lines open; I would highlight the following:
- Range of water-based and solvent-based products with raw materials from renewable sources.
- Antibacterial products based on silver ion technology for all kinds of finishing applications.
- Products with excellent anti-scratch and deep matt properties.
- High gloss finishes based on acrylic resins and aliphatic isocyanate with very easy polishing but very high hardness.
- Research study in consortium with other companies for the development of finishes with indoor air purification properties.
- How is the development of new products determined?
First, a market study is carried out together with the commercial department.
At the same time, we study the technical feasibility, availability or search for raw materials and the study of our own resources, both in terms of equipment and human resources.
If all this is feasible and has the approval of the company’s management, a development plan of activities is programmed, and the project begins to be executed in well-defined phases in this plan.
- Do you consider customer feedback a fundamental part of innovation?
Of course, the customer’s vision regarding innovative products demanded by the market is totally complementary to the one we may have from within the company.
In addition, the information received by the customer is crucial in all phases of development of any innovation project, both at the initial testing level and in the final phase of product validation.
- Does this sector usually invest in innovation?
Perhaps it is a sector that has invested more in development or applied research than in innovation. But, due to current trends, both business and regulatory, investment in innovation is becoming paramount.
Looking ahead to the next few years, what are the main challenges and objectives that Omar Coatings will pursue in terms of innovation, and what role do the environment and CSR play in all this?
It is necessary to continue with the current lines already underway, related to the preservation of the environment, low impact on the health of users and with special and differentiating properties that significantly increase the added value of the products commercialized.