Q. How is DuPont managing the rate of change in the auto industry?
A. The only constant in change is that we'll see more change. The auto industry - with mergers, consolidations, cost-down pressures, e-business - is no exception.
Understanding how to navigate change is tricky - if you don't have the right reference point you can get lost. At DuPont we have "science" as our reference point, and for 200 years it has helped direct our path of providing solutions that make a difference in people's everyday lives.
In the auto industry, we use our materials and technology to deliver science-based solutions that increase the value and quality of the end product, while providing manufacturing cost savings. We do that with engineering-focused application teams charged to provide solutions to current and emerging trends, such as enhanced safety and security, improved performance, sustainability and reduced vehicle weight and cost.
Some of the relevant technologies are DuPont SentryGlas[R] safety and security glass for front and side windows, which complements our already broad offering of safety technologies like Kapton[R] film for airbag sensors, Hytrel[R] thermoplastic polyester for airbag doors and DuPont nylon 66 industrial fiber for airbags.
In coatings, we're developing new topcoats and clear coats that not only look great longer, but protect the environment.
Protecting the environment is a core DuPont value, but the only way to protect the commitment from cost-cutting is to ensure it provides both shareholder and societal value while reducing our environmental footprint.
You can see the results in small ways that add up to large contributions. For example, we reduced volatile organic compound (VOCs) emissions by 50 percent at one automakers' paint facility by changing the way we measure success. That is a sustainable way to reduce our environmental footprint - the automakers' costs fell 35 percent and we gained greater efficiencies.
At the same time, we're developing new grades of thermoplastic materials that improve productivity, extend reliability, reduce weight and cost.
Some of the more than 16 grades we introduced this summer include flame-retardant Zytel[R] nylon resins, structural Zytel[R] HTN high performance polyamide resins and Zytel[R] DMX nylon resins that pass tough USCAR tests for all four connector classes. We also introduced five Delrin[R] acetal resin grades for fuel and gear applications.
We also showed new productivity enhancing technologies to help our customers do more for less. Camdo[TM] 2000 Interactive Molding Guide for Crystalline Resins allows molders and designers to optimize part and mold design. The CD-ROM is based on real-world experience using our family of nylon and acetal resins, and includes an easy-to-use trouble-shooting guide.
Q. What about longer term?
A. As the industry considers alternatives to the internal combustion engine, for example, our science-based solutions can contribute to emerging technologies like fuel cells. We invented Nafion[R] perfluorinated polymers and films, and it has become the "heart" ofExchange Membrane fuel cells. Nafion[R] was used to help launch some of the early space missions.
But the story doesn't stop there. With our broad base of materials and material-handling technologies, we are in a unique position to supply more than 80 percent of the materials required for a fuel cell.
In E/E, we are working on new materials to help support the 42-volt system, and on microcircuit materials that can help make Bluetooth wireless communications technology a reality.
Q. What's the impact of DuPont?
A. We look at e-business as an opportunity to be more "e-fficient." E-business adds value by reducing the time it takes for people to solve problems.
As a science company with a firm belief in the power of technology to increase value for customers, we know that virtual design labs and digital testing models enable us to eliminate problems before a component moves into prototype or production phase.
We also know success is due to the people behind the technology - people with an old-fashioned commitment to understanding and delivering science-based breakthroughs to our customers. We've been doing this better than almost anyone for 200 years.
Q. What does the future hold?
A. Our customers want to increase product value and quality, but they want more . . . more diversity of product offerings, more technical support, more value. In short, they want a supplier committed to understanding industry challenges and providing cost-effective, sustainable solutions.
With an ever expanding portfolio of more than 100 materials and technologies for the automotive industry, DuPont is an industry leader in delivering science-based solutions that cut weight, costs, manufacturing cycle times and improve both part and vehicle performance. This level of performance requires a significant investment in building a high level of trust with our customers. Our ability to develop materials to meet exact needs of systems suppliers is one tangible benefit derived from that type of relationship.
The real challenge, though, is for all of us in the industry to stay strong enough to reinvest in the research and development needed to deliver products that the consumer values and trusts at prices they can afford.