Martín Toscano
Managing Director of Evonik Industries de México
Evonik Industries de México
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Materials to Face the Challenges of Tomorrow

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 10:16

Q: As a manufacturer of specialty chemicals with exterior, interior and under-the-hood automotive applications, how is Evonik contributing to more efficient vehicles?
A: The automotive industry’s main challenge at the moment is to reinvent the common concept of mobility. Evonik is an innovative enterprise that is always looking for efficient management of energy by reducing weight in its polymers or by the amount of coating or adhesive needed in vehicle applications. Less weight leads to fuel savings, which is how Evonik contributes every day to more efficient vehicles.
Being experts in chemistry, we are determined to give shape to future visions in the industry. We are the partner creating the essentials for automotive innovations, challenging our experts to overcome all obstacles and figure out the solution that meets a company’s specific challenge. At the same time, we gain advanced knowledge and anticipate future potential of new materials, thus gaining a competitive edge.
Q: How have automotive companies benefited from Evonik’s focus on innovation?
A: Evonik is present in practically every OEM in the world and we also have a strong collaboration with the auto parts segment. VESTAMID is among the most important materials developed in collaboration with our partners coordinating research, development and production choices to optimize overall automotive performance. The automotive industry is the most important consumer of polyamides at the moment and fuel lines made of VESTAMID L are chief among any competitors in the market. Today, VESTAMID from Evonik is used more than any other polyamide 12 in fuel-line systems.
Similarly, we can safely say that almost every OEM worldwide has benefited from Evonik’s Acrylite/Plexiglas solutions, from brands such as Ford to Lynk & Co in China. Suppliers, such as Pirelli, have also shown preference for Evonik’s liquid polybutadienes, such as Polyvest. In 2018, Evonik was first among the Top 3 automotive suppliers in the Chassis, Body and Exterior category of the Automotive INNOVATIONS Award granted by CAM, reflecting the company’s commitment to innovation.
Q: What solutions is the company introducing to ensure greater fuel efficiency?
A: Evonik is working on innovative materials and processes, providing solutions for better cost efficiency and more environmentally friendly systems, as well as materials that are more resistant to chemical or mechanical stress. The company has two main drivers: save weight and boost efficiency. Evonik is now working on high-performance lightweight materials to replace metal or rubber parts. By combining different polymer materials, weight is reduced and efficiency soars. Our solutions give customers the power to design commercially-optimized vehicles with a perfect blend of multimaterial systems.
Evonik also provides innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The company boosts efficiency with advanced lubrication of engines and drivetrains, low friction parts and reduced rolling resistance on tires.
Q: What opportunities exist in replacing welding processes with adhesive bonding and what impact can that have in terms of cost and vehicle structural integrity?
A: One of the biggest issues in mechanical terms is vibration. Replacing welding with adhesives reduces vibration and leads to increased safety for users, as well as cost savings for manufacturers. Evonik is always innovating in its polymers, such as Vestoplast, an APAO polyolefin; Dynacoll, a reactive polyester; and Polyvest, a liquid polybutadiene. Most of these materials are used in adhesives and can offer several benefits. Polymers with low density, for example, reduce weight and increase efficiency in adhesive applications. Polymers are also designed for the most demanding conditions regarding flexibility, rigidity, mileage, performance, heat resistance and adhesion in different substrates, such as rubber, metal, glass and plastics like PP, ABS and PE.
Q: How are materials changing to cater for electric vehicles?
A: These vehicles’ requirements are focused on energy efficiency and driving autonomy to save costs and energy consumption, so our products must be aligned to these standards. We have several solutions oriented specifically to the electric-vehicle market that range from chemical to mechanical performance.
Our AEROXIDE solution can increase the useful lifetime and capacity of lithium-ion batteries when used as a separator between the batteries’ anode and cathode. Meanwhile, electronic components like ignition systems are encapsulated in epoxy resins with toughening compounds such as ALBIDUR to improve their thermomechanical performance and to remain functional in harsh environments. Electronic connectors can also reach higher temperature resistance if the basic thermoplastic material is equipped with our crosslinking agent TAICROS. Finally, cooling lines for electric vehicles equipped with mono or multilayer tubing with VESTAMID are significantly lighter than metal, while still guaranteeing high mechanical, thermal and chemical performance.
Q: How is Evonik ensuring sustainable and efficient energy consumption in its manufacturing operations?
A: Careful use of energy is anchored in Evonik’s corporate philosophy as an essential element of daily activities. Efficient use of energy resources not only contributes to further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, thus making an essential contribution to the protection of our environment and climate, but also leads to a sustained improvement in our ability to remain competitive. Evonik guarantees constant improvement by working with environment, safety, health and quality certifications and standards.
Q: How active is Mexico in Evonik’s global operations and what is the role of the automotive industry in your corporate strategy?
A: Evonik Industries de México actively participates with several business units to provide solutions to the automotive industry. We participate in approximately 30 percent of the entire value supply chain. Although we distribute products for different markets in Mexico, the automotive industry is one of our most important lines of business. Evonik offers many solutions, including additives, polymers, coatings and adhesives. Our plant in Coatzacoalcos is our only manufacturing site in the country and it is focused on sodium cyanide for mining applications. However, our core activity at Evonik Industries de México is supporting our local customers through the best customer service, bringing our entire solutions portfolio to Tier 3 companies in the Mexican market.
Mexico’s automotive industry has grown at a double-digit rate for the last five years thanks to hard work, great quality, great ideas and government support. Although the country is facing one of its biggest challenges with the renegotiation of NAFTA and the change in its federal administration, Mexico remains critical for Evonik’s global operations, due to its privileged geographic position, especially in the Central American market and to supply our biggest consumer in the world, which is the US.
Q: What lessons can small, local Tier 3 suppliers learn from a large and experienced company with presence in several markets and industries like Evonik?
A: Investing is key in any company, as well as believing in people. Companies must learn to identify talent and the people who can help every day in the sustainability of the business. Teamwork is also important in the automotive industry. If someone in the company fails, customers realize it, which means everyone in the company must be committed to delivering excellence. Having said this, it takes time to be part of OEMs’ manufacturing chains and although the benefits are worth it, patience is a virtue for any player looking to enter this market.