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Henkel Adhesives Technologies Innovation Centre at Pune has got customers glued to its solutions | By Indira Rao | To a lay man, the knowledge of an adhesive is limited to sticking paper, shoes, wood and now glass. I was one amongst them. With that limited knowledge, imagine my surprise when I entered Henkel Adhesives Technologies Innovation Centre at Pune and saw the array of uses an adhesive was put to.

It was no more a ‘white glue’. It was a liquid adhesive with chemical properties that was being used to fill the gap between contact surfaces of anything – wood, plastic and even metal. I was told that over the years, the importance of adhesives has grown due to benefits such as – cost savings because of reduced inventory and labour costs, ease of application, increased reliability and productivity, elimination or reduction of mechanical fastening methods such as rivets, screws and welds, improved aesthetics compared to mechanical fasteners and fast processing

Also, these adhesives being liquid provide for 100% gap filling, high bond strength and also prevents corrosion between two substrates. Unlike any mechanical locking devices such as nuts/fasteners etc. liquid adhesives are not only more reliable but can also be used irrespective of the size/shape of substrate to be bonded thus reducing inventory costs. “We basically replace most mechanical locking and sealing mechanisms with liquid engineered adhesives and sealants and ensure that the final component is light weight and integrated,” asserted Pradhyumna Ingle, business director, General Industry, Henkel Adhesives Technologies India.

He further added, “Most of our coatings can deliver 100% customer performance need at lesser thickness than any conventional methods/products. “More with less” being a sustainability focus at Henkel, we ensure our customers too get the maximum benefit with optimum application.”

The adhesives industry has seen exponential growth over past years and has formed a giant market globally and in India. This growth is attributed to the need for faster production, reliability of products and focus on quality. Today, application of adhesives is present in almost every manufacturing sector right from flexible packaging to textiles and have gained widespread popularity across sectors-renewable energy, auto, aviation, construction, FMCG, healthcare amongst many others.

Witnessing this growth, the company decided to have its own innovation centre at Pune. Agreeing, Ingle affirmed, “44% of Henkel Adhesive business is contributed by the emerging markets and we aim to grow this contribution. India is a high potential emerging market in the India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA) region and hence we want to focus our investment here.”

The Henkel India Innovation Centre is a first-of-its-kind for the company in India. It is spread across 27,000 sq-ft and focuses on developing, innovative technologies and solutions that will cater to customers across sectors such as manufacturing assembly, automotive and maintenance solutions for process industries in the IMEA region. “With a team of over 40 scientists dedicated to developing productivity boosting, reliability enhancing and cost saving solutions, we are sure many customised innovative products will be available for Indian customers,” avowed Ingle.

The centre has mechanical testing facilities, surface preparation and application procedure design lab, analytical and acoustic lab as well as a metal pre treatment section. It has the capability to not only design products suited for a customer’s need but also conduct post application performance testing facilities.

“We can even use customer components to test and prove the performance of ‘Loctite’ (One of Henkel’s brand of adhesives) products on their parts. This integrated state of the art facility is equipped with customer component testing facilities, dispensing systems, application training, product development and engineering facilities, which will provide customers comprehensive adhesive solutions,” elucidated Ingle.

For the automobile and metal industry, the laboratory is well equipped with a simulated environment for noise-vibration and harshness testing. The centre develops cutting-edge technologies for the general industry (assembly and maintenance solutions) and has customised training assistance programs with interactive sessions for customers to equip them with the latest developments and sustainable solutions.

New products developed here in the areas of corrosion prevention, wear resistance, needle bonding solutions for the medical industry etc. have already been launched in India and are now being launched in international markets. The Innovation Centre caters to over 800+ automotive suppliers/metal customers and 4000 companies in the manufacturing sector.

Currently, Henkel is present in numerous markets across the globe. Basically, their business is broadly categorised under three segments – Industrial, Transportation and General Industry adhesives. Each segment is further divided in business units called as steering units.

All products under the Adhesive Technologies arm of Henkel are under the five power brands – Loctite, Teroson, Bonderite, Technomelt and Aquence. They also recently launched two new products specifically designed for Indian customer requirements – Loctite Safe Coat and Loctite PC 7000 high temperature abrasion resistant coating (HTARC).

Elaborating on the same, Ingle said, “Loctite Safe Coat was developed keeping in mind the anti-corrosion requirements of the submersible pump manufactures in India. This two part high solids, sprayable epoxy anti corrosion coating can protect the submersible pump rotors against corrosion caused by continuous presence of high humidity and saline water. HTARC is a newly launched solution to protect industrial components such as coal burner tips against high temperature abrasion and can protect against abrasion upto 1100o C.”

Both these products were designed by partnering with the company’s customers and understanding their challenges in assembling or maintaining their end products. In fact HTARC has received such customer appreciation that many of Henkel’s international customers have found application for this innovative solution.

The company uses its in-depth industry knowledge to also help increase efficiency along the entire value chain. “This approach is an integral part of our long-term goal of tripling our efficiency by 2030. We can draw on more than 90 years of experience in developing adhesives,” declared Ingle.

Their broad portfolio of technologies reduces energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and waste generated during production. “We also continuously optimise our products and technologies to provide leading performance with best-in-class features for environmental protection, consumer protection, and health and safety,” stated Ingle.

For example, mobile electronic devices are becoming smaller, thinner, and more powerful and produce more heat as a result. The new patent pending thermal conduction foil introduced in Loctite’s TAF series (Thermal Absorbing Film) reduces processor and case temperatures by more than three degrees celsius. “This improves performance and user comfort, while expanding the range of design possibilities for new devices. It is also an example of how the innovative solutions we provide are one step ahead of the current market requirements,” stressed Ingle.

Being global pioneers in adhesive technologies, Henkel was the first to come up with anaerobic technology. They are also featured amongst the most innovative companies according to Forbes and as sector leader in sustainability according to the Dow Jones sustainability index. All of this makes the company truly unique. With a strong new product launch pipeline set up for the coming months – right from bonding solutions for medical devices industry to structural bonding solutions, windshield bonding for vehicle repair market, to potting/encapsulating solutions for electrical component manufacturers, the company surely has plans to bring more value to customers across diverse sectors.

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