The evolution of concrete protection
Ludvik Kovacic, Managing Director at Hychem discusses the evolution of concrete protection over the past 20 years, revealing how they continue to push the boundaries in developing and supplying fast curing, long-life products for fast-turnaround installation and easy application.
Since the very first epoxy came onto the market, products have been continually developed and enhanced, with the needs of the customer being the catalyst for product evolution. Some of the technologies that are being used today were actually available 20 years ago – however many new products have been formulated to provide better usability, to have longer lasting qualities, or greater aesthetic appeal.
The most common market demand is for fast curing products that allow areas to be turned over and returned to service quickly. These are qualities that we are constantly incorporating into our coating solutions as we continue to expand our concrete coating range.
Sourcing product materials and quality
To be a successful manufacturer, it is important to have a number of reliable suppliers providing consistently high quality materials at the right price. Over time, our experience and position in the market has allowed us to develop an established and trusted group of major suppliers who complement our day to day business activity.
The impact of health and safety
The construction industry is interested in making the workplace safer, as well as using more environmentally-friendly products. The push towards green products has gained momentum, and Hychem has moved to modify the range to meet this demand.
As Hychem is a formulator and manufacturer as well as supplier, the health and safety of our employees, our clients and the public is consistently of highest importance. All of our coating products are formulated with a firm focus on personal safety and environmental sustainability.
Evolution of customer demand
The market demand for protective concrete coatings continues to grow, and today we find ourselves supplying a wide range of products for different applications. This includes coatings for water and wastewater asset protection, flooring solutions for retail commercial and residential applications, waterproofing, mining applications as well as a range of grouting solutions.
In the flooring industry, designers are always on the lookout for the latest in floor colour and texture. For carpark or road sealants, there is a constant push for products with better flex properties as well as longer pot life. Better resistance to harsh chemicals is a big factor in the water and wastewater industries, and mining coating solutions are always looking for the most durable system to protect the asset.
The catalyst for change
What was once purely the domain of a few industry specialists, the influence of the internet has provided potential users with the ability to research and source information about products and finishes. As a result, customers are overall better informed, making them request a wider variety of better, higher quality and faster curing products.
This has led more and more clients to choose Hychem as their supplier of choice for concrete coatings, as we pride ourselves on our keen understanding of the Australian market while keeping a finger on the pulse of new technologies surfacing across the globe.
All industries have their challenges and the concrete protection industry is no different. The main ongoing challenge in this industry revolves around education and quality – not just the quality of our product but the quality of the installation. Hychem currently works with a close network of licensed installers that have been selected based on extensive experience within the coatings industry.
Educating the market on what product should be used where is also very important, and has become a very important part of our marketing strategy. The simple fact is, using a very good product in the wrong environment can be disastrous, even if it is the best product on the market.
At Hychem, we pride ourselves on ensuring that there is open communication between Hychem, the installation contractor and the end user, to ensure that the client gets what they need and not necessarily what they think they need.
Impacts of Australian conditions
As formulators, we are very conscious of the fact that our products will often be used in the middle of winter in Tasmania and the peak of summer in Northern Queensland. Because of this, whatever we produce needs to be versatile enough to work under a variety of conditions.
Over the years, once a product limitation is reached such as flex, strength, temperature resistance, we have had to develop a new range that offers solutions. However, this is more often than not irrespective of environmental conditions.
How Hychem has adapted to changes in the market
I believe that our position in and exposure to the market has allowed us to recognise the market’s changing needs early on. This has allowed us to stay one step ahead and adapt our products accordingly.
We have some very experienced people in our organisation, as well as some great partnerships with overseas suppliers and manufacturers. This enables us to keep up to date with the latest trends and technologies. As a formulator and manufacturer, having the ability to identify market needs and then source and develop products to fill those needs is critical to our ongoing growth.
What’s in store for the future?
I believe these markets will continue to grow as the Australian economy and population grows. While some local manufacturing has headed off-shore, there will always be the need for locally produced products, particularly when it comes to fresh food and produce.
As our population and cities grow, the need to repair, replace or construct new wastewater assets should mean that the demand for high quality concrete protection products continues to grow.