Delegates attending the TiO2
World Summit 2015 conference in Prague, Czech Republic, were
told today how there is a strong distinction between regular
and strategic suppliers for titanium dioxide (TiO2)
Gary Miller, executive vice president of
global supply chains and chief products officer for A Shulman
Inc., a performance plastics and resins business, said that
while regular suppliers of TiO2 and other additives
will provide material and take some interest in basic,
externally-led product development, his company prefers
so-called "strategic suppliers", who take a much more active
interest in the development of products and markets.
These suppliers focus on continuous
product and material improvement; participate with the pigment
consumer and eventual end users; are consistent and flexible;
and understand the business consuming their products, rather
than simply being aware of it as a customer.
"Instead of only wanting to visit our facilities, they want the
reverse. They focus on what we need," Miller explained.
"It’s important for suppliers to know what we do
and have knowledge of our company. They understand where they
can add value. Regular suppliers listen, but they
|G. Miller of A
Schulman: "Strategic suppliers focus on what we
Miller said that while regular suppliers
of pigment material want the business of A Shulman, only
strategic suppliers want to actively grow together, provide
market intelligence and collaborate on sales growth and
He introduced the concept of a "glocal"
provider: a supplier that operates globally, but understands
and meets the challenges and requirements of local markets.
Strategic suppliers will also be
continuous innovators, with no end in sight, Miller said.
"Performance coatings and plastics are in a race with no finish
Jean-Marie Greindl, vice president of EMEA
automotive coatings at coatings and pigments supplier PPG Inc.,
said that innovation was being driven by the European Union
(EU) as much as by customer requirements.
"The EU is constantly imposing rules on
colours that can be used in products," Greindl said. "The speed
at which we have to adapt is quite fast, but we see it as a
huge opportunity. We need improvements in process control and
test method capability to drive pigment quality."
Griendl also spoke of the importance of
proactive suppliers: "On a longer time period I would expect
every supplier to come with innovations to improve the
appearance and performance of the products we supply to
customers, who are constantly demanding new ideas."
Customers are seeking supply security too,
he explained. "Customers come to us and ask for proof of
multiple supply sources. Redundancy is as important as
While PPG is a major consumer of TiO2, the share of
the pigment material in its products has fallen by several
percent over the past few years, Greindl said, adding that
these reductions are significant year-on-year.
|PPG's Greindl: EU
drives innovation as much as
There all the time
Referencing strong demand destruction that
occurred in the high prices years of 2010-2012, Miller
advocated a constant market presence.
"Some of that demand has come back as the
prices have decreased and availability has improved. For some
it has not returned and we don’t think
that’s healthy in the market place."
"It can’t be an on and off
situation, we have to be there all the time. And if we talk
about being there all the time – quality, quality,
quality. Consistency is a very big element of what is
required," Miller said.
He recommended the development of better
dispersing, stronger and purer pigments.