AkzoNobel opens first phase of world-class testing and training center

Awlgrip and International, two of AkzoNobel’s leading yacht brands, continue to set the standard in customer support and innovation with its new Application Research Center, a world-class center of excellence offering a cutting edge location to trial and test products, systems and technology alongside first-rate product application training.

AkzoNobel has invested in a new extension of the Yacht Paint Application Center located in Southampton to provide new innovative products, applications and techniques to professional and DIY applicators. The project has been split into three phases and is due to be completed in 2025.

In early spring, two new spray booths and an adjoining laboratory were brought online as part of the first phase of development, offering an opportunity for applicators to work with AkzoNobel to help improve their efficiency and enhance their application skills while also increasing capacity for the onsite R&D team to fast track new product development and improve response times to customer queries.

Phase two, due to begin in 2024, will include a pioneering climatic control spray booth with the ability to raise and lower temperature and humidity to replicate climatic conditions anywhere in the world.

Further developments in line with market trends will be implemented in 2025.

The new facility, designed in combination with long term technology product roadmaps, will also explore how robotic applications could be used to help improve productivity and repeatable quality.

The original Southampton YPAC opened in 2008 and has completed training on a variety of products and skills for more than 600 trainees. The center has a long history of developing industry leading products and systems for Awlgrip and International.

The laboratories have put many leading products to the test, including Awlcraft SE, Perfection Pro, Awlgrip HDT, Awlfair SF, One UP, Toplac Plus, Awlcraft 3000 and next generation fouling control products like B-Free Explore.

Alongside new product development, the facility is renowned for working with industry partners like spray gun manufacturers and sand paper suppliers to ensure the latest technology and equipment is tested.

Jemma Lampkin, AkzoNobel’s Yacht Commercial Director, said: “The ARC will set a new standard of Research and Development and training.

“We are passionate about connecting our research and technical teams with applicators who want to be best in class by improving their product, technical and application knowledge with state of the art equipment.

“The testing facility is first class. Yacht paint has to stand up to the most challenging conditions from the elements, and being able to evaluate the impact of regional climate variations will inform and improve new product development and innovation in application technique for the next 20 years and beyond.”

Site manager and R&D section leader, Gareth Thomas, said: “This is a huge redevelopment project with enormous ambition achieved ensuring 95% of materials replaced have been either repurposed or recycled. 

“The team behind the project have brought innovation to the planning and execution of the build and the finish is outstanding.

“The site pushes the boundaries and will further establish AkzoNobel’s position in the heart of the yacht community for years to come.”

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