An Interview With J.J. Wirth, PPG Manager, Marketing Services Refinish US and Canada
PPG recently launched the DELFLEET ONE® paint system, its next generation coatings technology for commercial vehicles. One of its major features is the industry’s lowest VOC ratings for a paint system of its kind, but beyond that, J.J. Wirth explains how this newer technology is designed to meet the current and future needs of users of commercial paint systems.
J. J., can you briefly explain the thinking behind PPG’s development of this new paint technology?
Like how most product development projects should begin, we thoroughly researched the “voice of the customer” in the commercial segment, with the goal of reaffirming their key requisites for a paint system and determine if there are any unmet needs that we could improve upon. The research encompassed the full range of end users, from fleets and heavy-duty collision repair operations to body builders and transits. Of course, the end goal was to determine not only how we could better meet current needs, but to also ensure that any product technology would have long-term viability, should future legislative action require stricter VOC emission standards.
What did this research uncover?
It wasn’t a surprise that durability, appearance and productivity remain as top priorities of commercial coating users. Color capability and ease of use also rated high but there was sufficient feedback to indicate that much improvement would be welcomed in these two key areas.
In terms of color capability, how does Delfleet One address this priority?
In addition to selecting pigments designed for long life, the system’s proprietary toners offer excellent stability so there is less color variability between sprayers and equipment—and that’s an important asset especially for operations seeking consistent colors across their fleet.
Then, to come up with a robust formula database for this new system, we literally hand-matched thousands of commercial vehicle colors for better accuracy than computerized matching systems could do. Just as important, we followed up with new tools to assist painters in their color-matching efforts.
Can you be more specific about the color tools?
As most commercial painters know, when faced with matching an OEM color, say for a spot repair, there are literally hundreds of vehicles that can have a finish that varies from the OEM’s prime standard. That makes color-matching a repair difficult and time-consuming. We addressed that issue with a variety of assists. First, there’s the Delfleet Color Selector. It contains some 3,000 solid, metallic and pearl color chips, including OEM prime and variants that are arranged chromatically. This allows the painter to quickly select the color that best matches the vehicle. Since each chip is sprayed with actual paint it adds further confidence that the selected formula will match the vehicle. Secondly, we upgraded our PAINTMANAGER® XI software program to make it easier to search and find correct formulas. And lastly, we’ve introduced the RAPIDMATCH® XI spectrophotometer, a leap forward in the ability to read the actual color of a vehicle and search for a corresponding matching formula. Included with available formulas are “e-colors,” which increase the number of reflectance data for new paint lines and serve as virtual variants to fill the color space.
You mentioned “ease of use” as a priority for Delfleet One? Expand on that.
Given the high turnover and shortage of paint technicians, we paid special attention to how we could ensure the system is easy to use. Consequently, the system uses traditional application techniques that experienced painters would be familiar with and novices would find easy to learn. Then, to minimize color variations between painters, we ensured that the toners of the mixing system would offer excellent stability and consistency as well as provide consistent ready-to-spray viscosities across color families. This helps eliminate the need for painters to adjust each color before application or to change spray-gun settings.
Now, for those painters faced with performing spot repairs on damaged vehicles, our new color deck combined along with a simple-to-learn, blend procedure will help achieve accurate matches with minimal effort. Simple mixing ratios and a compact lineup of products, including shared hardeners and reducers, also help make the system easy to use.
What type of commercial operation is a good candidate for Delfleet One?
Well, as I mentioned from the outset, our customer research sought to determine the needs of all types of commercial coatings users. This feedback was the key driver in making sure Delfleet One, with its ultra-low VOC ratings, can be a long-term solution for fleets, heavy-duty collision repair operations, body builders and transit operations.