A few weeks ago, I was presenting at a coating conference talking about controlling the temperature of coatings at the point of application. The conference was heavily attended by chemists and lab technicians from some of the largest coating suppliers in the world. They were there to learn about new additives and test methodologies—all the latest trends in formulating—so, needless to say, my presentation did not win the “best-attended” award.
At the speaker dinner that evening, I was talking with one of the attendees whom I noted was not at my presentation and I felt compelled to ask the logical question, “What made you decide not to attend my presentation?”
His answer was almost automatic, “I’m a chemist. I work in a lab all day trying to create the right formulation for my customer. Why would I care about Process Temperature Control?”
The words no longer escaped his mouth when, realizing the insulting nature of his response, a look of regret crossed his face, and he started to back-pedal. But since it was the answer that I expected, I was undeterred. “So, do you mean that temperature doesn’t affect your coatings?” I asked.
A PhD in chemistry, he was no dummy, and the light was already dawning. “Sure, it does. I have to test at all different temperatures. In fact, sometimes I have to create a summer blend and a winter blend to get acceptable performance year-round,” he replied.
I pressed on. “If temperature didn’t vary, it would be a lot easier for you to create the best formulation, wouldn’t it?”
Now he knew he had me. “Yeah, but that requires controlling the whole plant and our customers are never going to spring for that!”
“I’m not sure that controlling the whole plant is necessary,” I replied. “Would you agree that the only material temperature that’s important is the temperature of the material that is being placed on the part?”
He thought about it for a moment and said, “That makes sense. It would be at the right viscosity and should perform just like we designed it to.” And then he added, “That’s what you were talking about in your presentation today, isn’t it?”
“Now I wish I had been there…” he said.
And I smiled.