A focus on health, safety and environment (HSE), innovation, market-targeted products and customer satisfaction is driving Jotun Paints, a leading global paint manufacturer to greater heights in the Middle East as it continues to expand its facilities and services in the region.
Three decades of experience in the Middle East has helped the company produce a variety of conventional and specialised coatings – each incorporating the latest technological developments while offering performance with economy – catering to the various product segments and demands of the different markets.
Today, Jotun’s diverse product range includes decorative, protective, marine, floor/concrete protection and intumescent coatings, bearing testimony to the company’s claim of being a single-source solution for clients, consultants and contractors alike.
In keeping with the worldwide trend towards environment-friendly products, Jotun continues to develop systems that reduce the use of toxic substances such as coal tar and lead that are normally added in coating products.
“We are focusing on reducing toxic ingredients like coal tar, which will be phased out by 2009, while the use of lead pigments too will be reduced,” says Trine Finnevolden, operations manager, Jotun UAE, adding that coal tar is normally added in the paints used in the protective and marine coatings market.
Lead is used only in the marine and protective (construction exteriors and related steel) industry, not in decorative paints.
“Lead is used to reduce the number of paint coatings required and hence lead-free paints need to be applied in extra coatings for a better finish,” she says.
Jotun offers its customers a choice of paints that are either lead-free or have a lower lead content.
The company has also strengthened its ultra-violet (UV) resistant coatings range with the addition of Jotashield Thermo.
“UV rays are harsh on paints and causes colours to fade – the effects are even worse when low-quality paints are used. Our products offer a double protection against both UV rays and humidity,” she adds.
The new Jotashield Thermo is a pure acrylic exterior coating with insulation properties for coating concrete cement plaster.
“Jotashield Thermo actually helps reduce the heat transmitted into the building by reflecting the sunlight away from the surface. Tests have shown that buildings with an exterior coating of this paint have cooler rooms – compared to those coated with standard paints. This reduces energy consumption due to less need of air-conditioning”
“Jotashield is a breathable coating that allows water vapour to be released from the structure while preventing moisture or humidity from penetrating within. In addition, all our Jotashield paints are resistant to UV rays, salt and carbon dioxide and are especially suitable for protecting concrete.”
Jotashield Thermo has been gaining popularity and we see the trend continuing into the future, says Finnevolden, who is responsible for the company’s Dubai-run operations that include a factory, warehouse and customer service, maintenance, health-safety-environment and quality control departments.
“This focus on environment-friendliness represents part of the four values that the company emphasises on – care, boldness, respect and loyalty – in regard to our customers worldwide,” she adds.
Commenting on its main markets and the Middle East, she says: “The construction industry is our main market as it requires our decorative paints for interiors (called Fenomastic) and for exteriors (Jotashield). Today, our products are supplied in a big way to projects at Jumeirah Palm Island, Burj Dubai District, Dubai Metro Line, Jumeirah Beach Residences and various others.
“The Middle East market requires special paints in the decorative segment due to the high temperatures and humidity, as well as because of its quest for something unique.”
A wide variety of Jotun’s coatings are being used to protect concrete structures such as bridges and flyovers, which are exposed to the weather and other environmental conditions.
“Our Jotashield Tex Ultra paint, which provides superior flexible concrete protection system that bridges cracks and long lasting exterior protection, has been supplied for painting many of Dubai’s bridges, flyovers and even for the new metro line that is coming up in the emirate,” Finnevolden says, while pointing out that the company has supplied the product to most of the bridge projects in the emirate.
Jotun will be supplying Jotashield Tex Ultra for coating structures in Dubai such as the Business Bay Crossing, Al Garhoud Bridge, Floating Bridge, Interchanges No 4, 4.25, 5 and 5.25, The Palm Jumeirah Gateway/Middle/End bridges, Dubai Metro, Dubai Bypass, Arabian Ranches Roundabout and The Palm Jumeirah monorail.
Jotun’s research and development (R&D) section at its Dubai office plays a vital role in ensuring the global paint major's success in the region.
“Since Dubai is our regional head office, we have an R&D section here to develop products suited for the Middle East, especially for decorative products. Recently, they have invented two products called Lady and Jotashield Thermo,” she says.
The Lady brand – made especially for residential interiors – was launched in May this year, based on a detailed market study that included interviewing women in the Middle East region.
“We found that easy clean, neutral scent and lasting colour of paints were the three main features sought by women for their houses. Since women are the ones who decide how to refurbish their houses, we decided to name this paint after them and the market indicates that people are very positive about it,” she says.
Jotun’s paints play an important role in the marine sector as well.
“We have anti-fouling paints for ships. Previously, these paints used to contain a lot of tin but, with the use of tin being banned, we developed newer superior products that are environment-friendly, less toxic and very efficient,” she adds.
“Fouling” is growth of barnacles and algae on the submerged exterior of ships, which causes increased fuel consumption and damage to the vessels.
Detailing Jotun’s operations, Finnevolden says the company was founded in Norway in 1926 and today comprises 40 factories in various countries including the UAE, where operations began in 1975.
Jotun has expanded dramatically throughout the region and claims to be the first paint manufacturer to be awarded the ISO 9001 certification. It has been at the forefront in terms of developing products specifically suited to local conditions. Jotun Paints is a market leader in the region in decorative paints, certain segments of protective paints and marine paints, says Finnevolden.
In the Middle East, the company has nine factories including three in the UAE (two in Dubai including a paint factory and a powder coating factory, as well as a paint factory in Abu Dhabi), three in Saudi Arabia, and one each in Oman, Yemen and Egypt.
“Since 1975, the paints market has been witnessing a boom due to the increase in construction activities in the Middle East and we needed to increase our production capacity to meet the growing demands emerging from this industry.”
The new factory caters to the needs of four countries – the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.
“Paint quality and on-time delivery have been key factors in our success. Our new factory has also been a selling point as, after visiting us here and seeing our quality manufacturing systems, customers go away impressed and assured of timely supply.
“Our factories use state-of-the-art equipment and machinery and accord priority to both the worker and product safety. For example, our Dubai factory is automated and minimises manual handling. The raw materials in the storage tanks are transferred via pipes directly to the production tanks and automatic filling machines.
“Even in conditions where workers are in indirect contact with raw materials, we use air suction equipment that ensures pure air and worker health safety,” she adds.
The company ensures that it conforms to health, safety and environment management standard. “In line with the company’s HSE policy, we conduct annual reports for the total group (Jotun) which required all the factories to report to us in regard to waste, recycling etc.
“In Dubai, we have a designated HSE officer responsible for improvements in related issues such as health of workers and product-users and safety (since the solvents used in some of the paints are flammable). We also hold training programmes for staff in fire-fighting and first aid. So safety in the factory is a key focus for us all the time,” she points out.
Transportation too is viewed importantly. “Some varieties of our paints are sent in air-conditioned trucks from Dubai on long-distance routes to countries such as Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. The temperature in these trucks is maintained at 20 deg C to ensure the paints retain their properties for use in the protective coatings segments for oil pipelines and rigs which require thick coatings,” she adds.
In a bid to enhance customer satisfaction and boost market penetration in the UAE, where the paint market is estimated to be worth Dh630 million ($171.66 million), Jotun recently launched its second 'Inspiration Centre’ in Dubai, which primarily targets villa and house owners who are looking for ideas to spark their imagination.
Here, customers will have personalised attention from highly qualified and friendly personnel, who will help them choose the most suitable colour, texture and pattern for their paint jobs, and take them through the latest interior trends and effects. The value-added consultancy services are provided to all customers without any charge.
Jotun ultimately aims to promote the Inspiration Centre as more than just a paint shop by incorporating different household elements, such as furniture, in helping customers decide on the paint range they want.
Finnevolden, who came to Dubai barely one-and-half year ago, says she is focusing on improving efficiency, innovation, customer satisfaction, safety and environment-friendly activities such as recycling, which is carried out by the company.
“We do a lot of recycling to reduce waste and this includes reusing solvents after cleaning, and also other paint-related articles like metal drums, plastic, cardboard and wooden pallets.”
The company’s recycling measures paid off rich dividends when it bagged the Safety Award in 2006 from the Dubai Municipality.