What makes Austria an attractive location for your R&D center?
Ruben Mannian: Austria has been an important production and R&D location for Allnex since 1948. Many inventions were made here during this time, making Allnex the pioneer and inventor of numerous waterborne resins for industrial coatings. This early start has shaped Allnex’s leadership in sustainable resins today, helping our customers around the world to go green.
We believe that there is a healthy R&D climate in Austria, thanks to the proximity and close cooperation with the University of Graz and other Austrian universities, as well as excellent access to highly qualified talent, university contacts and government support to stimulate innovation.
Having the R&D center close to one of our key sites allows us to accelerate the innovation process and reduce time to market.
What are the main features of this new website?
manian: The new R&D center will be state-of-the-art and equipped with the latest equipment and automation tools to enable advanced innovation while reducing time to market. In addition, the center will provide a safe and healthy work environment. It WILL also offer various “Innovation Corners” where our scientists can meet and discuss their challenges and ideas in a pleasant and stimulating environment.
An important part of the investment is the increased automation of synthesis and application activities. Using the latest robots and digital technologies, many manual tasks become automated, resulting in increased productivity and the ability to run large numbers of experimental iterations simultaneously. All of this will not only reduce time to market, but also allow our scientists to improve the solutions they operate.
How important is R&D to give you a competitive advantage?
manian: Allnex is the world’s leading supplier of industrial coatings and manufacturer of specialty resins. Throughout its history, Allnex has pioneered many innovations such as powder coating resins and was among the first to introduce the technology dating back to 1968, UV curing resins and various resins based on automotive OEM and industrial coatings, SCA -Resins for rheology control and non-isocyanate breakthrough technologies.
To maintain our leadership position and continue to develop the coatings industry in terms of performance and durability, R&D is a key pillar for Allnex, along with our practical application know-how, technical support and global footprint.
Can you please tell us more about your digitization plans?
manian: Digitization is nothing new for Allnex and has been part of our work for many years. Synthesis and application robots were first introduced about twenty years ago. And advanced analytics, electronic project management and algorithms to predict formulation results are part of our daily work. As developments in this area change rapidly on a daily basis, Allnex will continue to invest and contribute to digitization. Significant investments in the automation of our R&D center in Austria as well as the modernization and expansion of our production facilities for next-generation water-based products are a prime example of this commitment.
Will you be rolling out these new improvements globally to your other locations in the near future?
manian: Absolutely. The various research and development centers in our global network have different degrees of automation and digitization. We do the know-how that we can immediately share with other centers. And in other cases, with certain advances, we first accumulate expertise in one center and then gradually expand it to other R&D centers. Our research centers around the world are closely connected, and digitization plays a key role in this.