By A Saj Mathews:

In the highly competitive global rubber chemicals market, Schill+Seilacher/Struktol’s products continue to be the benchmark in the industry. It’s all thanks to the company’s investment and focus on R&D to develop innovative and affordable products to their customers across the globe. In an exclusive interview to Rubber Asia, on the sidelines of the recently concluded India Rubber Expo 2019, Colin Clarke, Director, Technical Sales, Rubber Chemicals & Release Agents, and Guido Robbe, Head of Sales, explain their company’s cutting edge and road map. EXCERPTS:

The global rubber chemicals industry is becoming more and more competitive. Appreciate your comments on the present status of this industry across the globe and Schill+Seilacher/Struktol’s cutting edge in this highly competitive market.Schill+Seilacher/Struktol was founded in 1877 and started to develop rubber process additives since way back in 1925. So we are nearly 100 years known as the leaders of engineered process additive chemistry. Nearly all well-known products in the market originate from our development resources and Struktol is still a benchmark for advanced and cost-effective process solutions. To keep this leading status we have invested regularly in our laboratories and are grooming the most innovative R&D staff. By the way, in our Hamburg plant we have 1/3 of all employees working in the labs!What are the innovations happening in this industry and your company’s path breaking R&D initiatives?

Twenty five years ago, the introduction of silica as the main filler for passenger tyre treads changed the face of the industry and its needs. We were the first to adapt the existing technologies to suit the changed requirements and quickly followed up with new generation technologies tailored to fit the new demands. Today, the tyre industry is focused on new generation functionalized polymers with ultra-high loading of fillers. This requires totally different additive technologies in order to further contribute to tyre performance as well as processing.

How do you manage the competition in the industry and make your products affordable to the customers without compromising on quality?

We differentiate between two groups of competitors. Just two or three companies are operating with own developments and some creativity. We appreciate such competition as they are also driving change in our industry. And then there are plenty of regional and local players who just claim to offer similar products. In our experience they simply try to make copies of our innovations, often without understanding even the basics of our technologies. In all cases, they are unable to offer any degree of product or application support. Frequently we see wrong products, badly advised resulting in poor processing or even in creating increased scrap levels at customers due to their usage. Our philosophy is to ensure customers have access to the most efficient products at fair market prices. We will never dilute product performance by use of low grade raw materials as often seen at so called “cheap” competitors!

As such, challenging days are ahead. What is the road map of the company?

Our company is currently supplying customers in 92 countries. This shows our global presence and ability to serve multinational customers wherever they are located. Our main focus in the last few years have been on Asia/Pacific as well as on the global tyre industry. In both the cases, we have increased our market share significantly and we are currently increasing our capacities in Hamburg and the US. We ensure the best value for the customers in developing tailor made product technologies for their specific needs. We always offer close co-operations under Joint Development or Non-Disclosure Agreements. Our long established history and reliability makes us a trustful partner for such agreements.

We are pleased to learn that your company has opened a new facility. Please elaborate.

This new plant is located in Villa Rica/Georgia and is designed to be the most modern and efficient production facility for homogenizing agents worldwide. We are proud on the highest level of productivity and uniformity already achieved, and this is backed up by the increasing number of global customer approvals already gained by this plant. The location of this new plant is in close proximity to both our key raw material sources and the main port of Savannah. This offers us strategic advantages especially when compared with other major competitors who are located much further in the north of the US.