In an interview with APMEN, Laurent Blaevoet, Asia Managing Director of Novacel discusses the challenges the company faced due to the pandemic and how it innovates sustainably.
Novacel is a French company, part of Chargeurs Group, with more than 40 years of experience in the field of temporary protection of industrial surfaces, technical tapes, performance coatings and specialties machinery. Novacel is a supplier of industrial solutions in various industries (Windows, Glass, Plastics, Metals, Decorative laminates) with a strong focus in metal industries in Asia. Here, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) spoke to Laurent Blaevoet, Asia Managing Director of Novacel to understand how the company was impacted by the pandemic and how it innovates sustainably.
Q: What was the impact of Covid-19 for your company in Asia and your customers?
Laurent Blaevoet (LB): The pandemic has disrupted a global balanced supply chain and an economic system, which are complex and fragile.
Our presence in different countries allowed us to deal with the Covid-19 complications using different approaches. Asia was in the front line of the pandemic; it allows us to appreciate how different countries recovered from the disruption due to the pandemic and reopened their economies.
The negative impact of the Covid-19 on our sales was very strong, in the first quarter 2020, especially in China. Most of our customers reduced theirs orders because their production lines were shut down. However, they resumed their activities equally abruptly, in April-May 2020 in order to offset the major effects in the supply chain and in the stocks pipeline. Consequently, we dealt with a strong recovery in China firstly and then to other countries.
We faced various difficulties in finding shipping, both for domestic transportation and for international shipping as most of our products are produced in Europe. Raw material supply was also a concern because the production capacities are limited and not adapted for excessive pent-up demand. This has caused an explosion of prices on most of the raw materials such as plastic resins, chemicals and natural materials for adhesives.
Q: How has Novacel adapted during this crisis?
LB: Novacel is a human-centric company, which facilitates the response to such crisis.
Novacel was prompt to set up sanitary and contagion prevention protocols at its different locations: temperature measurement, wearing a mask, installation of terminals with hydro-alcoholic gels—measures that are today widely recommended, were implemented in Novacel as early as February 2020.
In Europe, not only did we set up these health protocols in our factories, but also we dedicated part of our industrial production capacities to develop sanitary products for protection like hydro-alcoholic gels, antibacterial films and disinfection tunnel. More recently, Novacel even developed an anti-microbial and anti-covid spray that can last of three months on every surface, reducing the risk of contamination by contact. In France administrative authorities designated Novacel as an essential industrial activity, which permitted us to remain productive, even during the various containment plan enforced by the Government.
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