The LORD Corporation has been serving the global rubber industry for over six decades. Its expertise in rubber field offers innovative solutions to meet the disruptive demands in automotive, power generation, civil engineering, mining, aerospace, military, oil and gas, and industrial applications. In an interview to Rubber Asia, Gareth McAllister, President, Asia Pacific, at LORD Corp, takes a look at LORD’s diverse product portfolio and outlines the company future road-map.
He says LORD is constantly looking at the mega trends associated with the new ‘revolution’ in the automotive industry and aims to expand presence in the booming New Energy Vehicle (NEV) market. “APAC is the largest growth engine in today’s world economy. Transportation (automotive, rail, aerospace) remains the core growth area for us, but we also expect growth in other sectors that are tied to the economic growth of each individual APAC country,” he adds. EXCERPTS from the interview:

The growing emphasis on eco-friendly and higher performance products is redefining the entire process – from design to production to service. How are these new expectations bringing opportunities to LORD Corp, particularly to the company’s products used in rubber-to-substrate adhesive?

As our customers evolve, we also evolve. We are dedicated to developing new platforms that change with the industry. Since LORD Corporation has invested in the rubber industry for more than 60 years, we leverage our expertise in rubber to help meet our customer’s changing demands. With the increased emphasis on eco-friendly and higher performing products, customers will gravitate towards partners who understand their issues. When it comes to elastomer bonding and performance, we have proven to be a loyal partner in the past and will continue to be their partner in the future.
When we talk about the automotive business, vehicles are getting lighter and faster. These new trends are testing each component to their optimal level and to achieve these new demands, traditional materials are being replaced by new ones.

How are these demands posing new challenges to LORD in developing new products?

LORD offers performance material solutions that work for elastomers, thermoplastics and metals. Our customer solutions can be a combination of different product lines. Thus, for automobiles using primarily thermoplastics and aluminum, we have epoxies, acrylics and urethanes. These automobiles still necessitate adhesives for vibration isolation and sealing in which our traditional Chemlok adhesives, that bond elastomers to many different types of substrates, are able to meet performance needs. With regard to the sealing of the automobile, we offer a line of Weatherstrip and glass coatings and adhesives.

Do you work with your clients from conceptual or product development stage? What are the new trends you are witnessing in rubber-to-substrate adhesive business?

We believe in collaborating with our customers at every stage of the process. Therefore, we do work with our customers at the product development stage all the way through application. As Chemlok is used across a large variety of applications, it is difficult for us to comment on one specific trend that we are seeing in the rubber-to-substrate adhesive business. Perhaps the one commonality we see is the increasing strength of environmental regulatory aspects of the business.

Which is the more popular one, single coat adhesive or two-coat adhesive? Why? Which sectors/ industries widely use double-coat adhesive?

Both systems are incredibly popular. What determines whether a customer uses a one-coat or a two-coat really depends on the application, process and performance need. Across many of our industries, there are instances of both one-coat and two-coat adhesive customers.

In release agents (in rubber business), what are the new trends you are witnessing?

We know our customers are focused on faster cycle times and reducing costs in high-volume industries. Our goal is to provide them with a complete solution that helps improve their processes to meet their goals. We recently launched LokRelease 800 Adhesive Stripping Solution designed to remove dried-on adhesive from spray equipment as well as fixtures and masks, without being dissolved. This product is saving our customers time and money by decreasing cleaning cycle times.

What’s your take on Electric Vehicles and where do you see potential for your business in EVs?

LORD is constantly looking at the mega trends associated with the new ‘revolution’ in the automotive industry, we are working as strategic partners with our customers, to align technology road-map developments to suit the ever-increasing needs for autonomous and electric vehicles. From our state-of-the-art thermal interface materials to our expansion in sensing technology, we are well-positioned to support the growing trends. We aim to expand LORD’s presence in the booming new energy vehicle (NEV) market. We recently launched our CoolTherm product portfolio, which is indicative of LORD’s goal to advance automotive power battery efficiency.
What are your efforts to educate your existing and potential customers to use right products for right applications?
Our customers are our priority; thus, their success is our success. A key part of helping them find success is ensuring they receive the necessary training to select, apply and test our products correctly. Training is part of who we are, and it is evident in the global efforts we make by training our customers. Our applications engineering team travels the world to ensure that our customers get the proper training they need.

In which markets in the APAC region do you see faster growth? And why?

With regard to the rubber-to-substrate business, we see lots of areas of growth in the APAC region. APAC is the largest growth engine in today’s world economy. Some of the fastest growing companies in the world are Asian and they will be dominant global players very soon. Transportation (automotive, rail, aerospace) remains the core growth area for us, but we also expect growth in other sectors that are tied to the economic growth of each individual APAC country. New market opportunities include electrification, infrastructure, environment, inter-connectivity and health backed by the mega trends of the emerging middle class, urbanization and initiatives such as China’s OBOR (One Belt One Road).

What are the major challenges and expansion plans in the region?

Asia is leading the world in many areas including GDP growth contributing most to global growth. With such new dynamic growth comes challenges. The pace is very fast. Speed and responsiveness are critical to meet our customer’s expectations. With many opportunities, portfolio management is very important. As things stand, targets are centered on accelerating automotive-related sales, particularly in China and India, and tapping into new markets for industrial equipment and aerospace. LORD has a very broad portfolio of technologies and solutions. We are constantly looking at our nearly 95 years of core knowledge and technology and seeing where we can customize it to make it more relevant for our local markets. Our model in Asia Pacific is ‘In China for China’ and ‘East for East’.”