AkzoNobel opens testing and training centre in UK
The Dutch-owned group of paint brands has created a new facility by extending its Yacht Paint Application Center in Southampton.
Inside the ARC in Southampton where coatings are trialled and tested
AkzoNobel, whose leading yacht brands include Awlgrip and International, has opened the first phase of its Application Research Center (ARC) in the UK, following the success of its research and development centres in North America. The new centre offers trialling and testing of products, systems and technology, as well as product application training.
The base is a new extension of the Yacht Paint Application Center (YPAC) in Southampton and provides new innovative products, applications and techniques to professional and DIY applicators. The project has been split into three phases and is due to be completed in 2025.
This year, two new spray booths and an adjoining laboratory were brought online as part of the first phase of development. The new facility allows applicators to work with AkzoNobel to help improve their efficiency and enhance their application skills while also increasing capacity for the onsite R&D team to fast track new product development and improve response times to customer queries.
Awlmix racks are packed with Awlgrip coatings in the ARC for training applicators
Phase two, due to begin in 2024, will include a pioneering climatic control spray booth with the ability to raise and lower temperature and humidity to replicate climatic conditions anywhere in the world. Further developments in line with market trends will be implemented in 2025.
Designed in combination with long-term technology product roadmaps, the new facility will also explore how robotic applications can be used to help improve productivity and repeatable quality.
The original Southampton YPAC opened in 2008 and has completed training on a variety of products and skills for more than 600 trainees. The centre has a long history of developing industry leading products and systems for Awlgrip and International.
International One UP, a two-in-one primer and undercoat, is applied to a yacht
The laboratories have put many leading products to the test, including Awlcraft SE, Perfection Pro, Awlgrip HDT, Awlfair SF, One UP, Toplac Plus, Awlcraft 3000 and next-generation fouling-control products like B-Free Explore.
Alongside new product development, the facility is renowned for working with industry partners like spray-gun manufacturers and sand-paper suppliers to ensure the latest technology and equipment is tested.
Jemma Lampkin, AkzoNobel’s Yacht Commercial Director, said: “The ARC will set a new standard of Research and Development and training. We are passionate about connecting our research and technical teams with applicators who want to be best in class by improving their product, technical and application knowledge with state-of-the-art equipment.
The laboratory inside the testing and training centre
“The testing facility is first class. Yacht paint must stand up to the most challenging conditions from the elements. Being able to evaluate the impact of regional climate variations will inform and improve new product development and innovation in application technique for the next 20 years and beyond.”
Gareth Thomas, Site Manager and R&D Section Leader, said: “This is a huge redevelopment project with enormous ambition achieved ensuring 95 per cent of materials replaced have been either repurposed or recycled.
“The team behind the project have brought innovation to the planning and execution of the build and the finish is outstanding. The site pushes the boundaries and will further establish AkzoNobel’s position in the heart of the yacht community for years to come.”