A diverse group of more than 100 participants, including customers and sales partners, industry associations and the media, convened in Las Vegas to take part in the discussion. The program's topics included a look at the global macroeconomic outlook and changing dynamics of manufacturing, technology trends driven by innovation, the role of chemistry in green building standards, and supply chain management.
This was the third Pigments Symposium hosted by Lanxess Inorganic Pigments, following two successful events in China in 2013 and 2015. Alongside weakened, but sustained growth in Asia, the North American pigments market is seeing substantial gains and is a key market for Lanxess.
In his opening remarks, Global Head of the Inorganic Pigments business unit Joerg Hellwig noted that economic recovery has led to an increase in global iron oxide pigments demand. Additionally, the consolidation trend in China further increases the risk of market shortages for iron oxides. Lanxess has responded to this with its new, state-of-the-art pigment plant in Ningbo, China, specifically developed to provide environmentally-friendly pigment production and sustainable supply to meet the demands of the global market. Hellwig emphasized the importance of holding this symposium to provide a connecting platform for building trusting partnerships and making progress to tackle global challenges.
Dr. Chad Moutray of the National Association of Manufacturers provided an overview of the outlook and dynamics of manufacturing from a macroeconomic view, noting that the U.S. continues to be an attractive place for business, especially in chemistry.
The program featured an interactive short paper session covering each of the key markets for inorganic pigments - construction, plastics, and paints and coatings. In this session, five speakers - Dr. Ryan Dirkx, Arkema, Mark Bruner, industry consultant, Stuart Lipskin, Byk USA, Dr. Antonio Blasco, Esmalglass-Itaca Grupo and Dr. Brij Mohal, Chromaflo Technologies - shared their perspectives and experiences on technology trends driving innovation.
In a presentation on Green Building Standards, Deborah Phillips of the American Chemistry Council spoke about the key role chemistry plays in green building, despite the often contradictory perception of chemicals. She noted how consumer interest in materials is shifting toward health and wellness awareness, which can be a challenge for science and public perception: "What is going to be critical for the chemical industry is the need to come forward with openness and the ability to do risk assessments and facilitate science-based approaches."
This theme of collaboration and partnership to innovate was echoed by Steve Kooy of SCS Global Services, in his presentation on green building trends. He noted that green building is already widely adopted globally, with expected strong growth in developing countries, driven by client demand, environmental regulations and social triggers. Dr. Daniel Pedersen of Green Seal reinforced the day's theme in his presentation on engaging the supply chain, emphasizing the importance of sustainability: "To move from a supply chain to a value chain, the key is in the personal relationships along the value chain - engaging all stakeholders in a partnership for sustainable development."
Discussing his company's strategic procurement process, Todd Brogan of Oldcastle Architectural emphasized that quality and trust are key factors in the purchasing decision and that sacrificing those things can be costly. "What makes supplier relationships is people," he concluded.
In this closing remarks, Joerg Hellwig summed up the day's theme: "In the end, it is about people buying from people, and therefore trust is the most important thing. We feel responsible for all stakeholders in this connected value chain. I believe that having these events and bringing people together is the right thing to do, and we will continue to do so."
Like the last two events in 2013/15, this year's symposium had the character of a high-level scientific exchange, giving guests an opportunity to talk extensively with industry experts and colleagues specialized in various areas. "The very positive response we received from participants and speakers encourages us to continue holding this event on a regular basis," Hellwig said.
Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.9 billion in 2015 and about 16,700 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 54 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of chemical intermediates, specialty chemicals and plastics. Through ARLANXEO, the joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Lanxess is also a leading supplier of synthetic rubber. Lanxess is listed in the leading sustainability indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI World) and FTSE4Good.