At Afera’s recent Stockholm Conference, Michael Punter of Parafix Holdings Ltd. (UK) delivered a lecture on the opportunities for ‘increasing the pie’ of the European self adhesive tape market. He related that the tape industry is medium-sized and is characterised by a high level of professional competition. “Increasing the pie” means market development—not ‘nicking’ someone else’s business. Mr. Punter sees real competition and market growth opportunities lying in alternative fixings. From the Afera Specialty Die Cutters Group’s point of view, opportunities can be found everywhere.
Today, the general level of awareness of adhesive tape used as a joining method in consumer electronics is at 63%, which is relatively low. According to research backed by Afera, only 30% of those who are familiar with pressure sensitive adhesive tapes currently use them as joining methods. There is clearly a need to raise the level of consciousness of self adhesive tape solutions used as joining methods to increase the use of PSAs in the consumer electronics market.
The above-mentioned statistics had surprised Mr. Punter, so he investigated the matter more thoroughly. Along with other Afera Members, he visited end-user companies to discuss Meijer + Voermans’ 2009 market study and comparison tool, which were commissioned by Afera’s Marketing Committee. They visited two companies: Company A is based in Western Europe with a global brand and production across the world. Company B, a market leader in its field, is based in the UK but has subcontracted its manufacturing out to a company based in Central Europe.
Visiting Company A was interesting because Parafix’s contact there was moving on from his position and his replacement found the M + V tool very useful. She was clearly very competent but had no commercial PSA solutions experience. She also mentioned that the use of adhesive tape solutions had not been part of the syllabus of her engineering degree course.
His original contact at Company A, when asked about how he had acquired his knowledge, replied that he had learned through trial and error with tapes they had on hand and then by speaking to his suppliers’ representatives—thus not through his formal education. During his first five years on the job, he added, he had never used adhesive tapes. In hindsight, he said he would have used them had he been aware of their properties and solutions. This information is especially pertinent as time and cost factors of producing an application are so critical today. Very simply, screws take longer to assemble. 46 screws have now been replaced by adhesive tape, converted and product combinations.
Studying Company B was also interesting as it is typical of an organisation with a design facility in one country and production elsewhere in the world. Mr. Punter said that this scenario would normally present a high risk of no return on his investment. Company B was chosen because Parafix enlisted them to help with its website and their product design and development engineers were asked what they wanted from a website. Company B engineers wanted easily-read, professional decision options and therefore appreciated Afera’s joining method tool. For this reason, Parafix is incorporating the tool into its website to complement its product selector.
Throughout his travels, Mr. Punter has found that few of Parafix’s supplier representatives were aware of the existence of the M + V tool. The methodology tool is yet another demonstration of the tape industry’s professional approach in its desire to meet its customers’ needs. While a company’s customers eventually move on with their knowledge and experience, the tool remains a constant and can be used by the organisation to attract and educate new customers.
Mr. Punter stated that he is aware that the technical fraternity of the Industry’s tape manufacturing partners do not think they need the tool; however, their channel partners and end-user customers would appreciate it. Mr. Punter informed his audience that the Afera SDC Group has created an opportunity to present a paper to the UK Institute of Mechanical Engineering, courtesy of one of their Fellows, Dr. Dal Koshal, in the first half of 2011. Lastly, Mr. Punter asked whether Afera could develop an adhesive tape awareness and solutions module for inclusion in the European Engineer’s Degree syllabus.