THE 30-YEAR R&D JOURNEY IN VIET NAM OF THE ALLOY-COATED STEEL COMPANY
NS BlueScope Vietnam has spent 30 years asserting a presence in the market, with pioneering research and development (R&D) at the forefront of its success.
In Vietnam, many large enterprises welcome the wave of opening research centers, as they understand that R&D is necessary aspect of closely adheres to business survival. One of the pioneers of alloy-coated steel industry, NS BlueScope Vietnam, fully embraces this belief. The company’s vice president, Dang Thanh Hung, spoke with VIR’s Thanh Van about the Australia-based brand’s 30 years journey as a leader in alloy-coated steel technology.
EARLY INVESTMENT IN R&D
REPORTER: When did BlueScope’s investment story for R&D begin? What motivated the company to focus on R&D at that time?
– MR. DANG THANH HUNG: This is a very interesting question, reminding me of the first days when BlueScope set foot in Vietnam in 1993.
As you know, at that time, Vietnam was only was just starting to open up with many industries still in the early stages of development and the alloy-coated steel industry was no different. Our market penetration enabled the alloy-coated steel industry to have access to the two-phase, aluminum-zinc coated technology, which quickly became a new industry standard.
At that time, we seriously began to consider what direction we would take in such a young market.
Ultimately, though, we choose what we are best at – pioneering technological innovation in the alloy-coated steel industry.
We have the unique advantage of more than a century of experience in building and developing alloy-coated steel technology globally. This was of great value in what was a burgeoning domestic market at that time.
– What is your perspective on businesses reluctant to invest in R&D due to the expense?
– As a business, we obviously need to weigh and measure opportunities, costs and profits. But with R&D, we need to weigh it in the long term. Customers have higher and higher expectations for quality of products and services and R&D is indispensable to improving quality and is key to increasing competitiveness. So the story of R&D is not about cost anymore, but about “to be or not to be”.
People from Gen X, like me, have experienced this. We witnessed the rise and fall of many giant empires. We are the people who had childhood under red-tiled roofs and large dormitories, and matured with high-rise buildings close together, covered with corrugated iron or other modern materials.
Therefore, in the business and the construction industry in particular, firms are forced to keep pace with the times. If we move slowly, we will be left behind, and then fall into oblivion. R&D is a prerequisite for us to keep pace.
“PIONEER” IN TECHNOLOGY BUILDS ON R&D
– Developing a new technology certainly takes a lot of time and effort. Meanwhile, business environment and customer needs are constantly changing. How has BlueScope consistently managed to be at the cutting edge of new technology and raise the industry standard for the past three decades?
– When it comes to R&D, we talk about being at the forefront. Therefore, we must develop technology ahead of time and set new industry trends. That’s how BlueScope uses R&D as a competitive edge.
When we first entered the market, Vietnam’s alloy-coated steel mainly used just zinc steel, which is susceptible to corrosion, rust and have short lifespan. BlueScope paved the way to lead the industry to the next level by introducing two-phase, aluminium and zinc-coated technology in 2005
However, our goal is to provide buildings with the most durability against rust, especially in the polluted and highly corrosive environment, by continuing to innovate. Therefore, in 2019, we once again introduce a breakthrough with our four-phase, alloy-coated technology, exclusive to BlueScope.
With the growing wave of industrial plants in Vietnam, we are delighted that investors are increasingly taking a long-term perspective on choosing sustainable materials. If you look across the three regions of the country, it is not difficult to name large projects using our four-phase alloy-coated steel, such as the Long Son oil refinery and the Goertek electronics factory in Bac Ninh.
We started conducting R&D more than 20 years ago, with a total investment of more than $68 million. Tens of thousands of profile panels have undergone Q-Fog cyclic testing and salt spray testing in laboratories and outdoor tested in different exposure sites in Australia and around the world.
Additionally, test huts and building applications have been tested in the real-world conditions and in severe marine environment to verify the technology’s quality.
The four-phase alloy-coated technology was born in this context and overcame the disadvantages of two-phase coated technology. We apply four-phase technology to all alloy-coated steel product lines, including Inok® technology for the residential segment and Activate™ technology for the industrial segment.
It is our long-term vision and the determination to consistently innovate that remain unwavered against all market changes and is the keys to help us stay firm in our strategy.
Even with the current trend of green construction, we are at the forefront as well. We launched technologies to support LEED certified investors. Typically, our Thermatech technology® helps to reduce the absorption of heat from the Sun, thereby reducing the surface temperature of alloy-coated steel.
– Can you share a little about BlueScope’s achievements and development orientation in the upcoming time?
– We are the first and only alloy-coated steel manufacturer in Vietnam to be granted Green Label certificate by the Singapore Green Building Council for all product lines in the residential and project segments. We are looking forward to winning the global ResponsibleSteel™ certificate for a responsible and sustainable alloy-coated steel producer by the end of this year – on the occasion of our 30th anniversary in Vietnam.
The results we have seen in Vietnam could not have been achieved without R&D. Maintaining the fire that keeps our enthusiasm for R&D burn is our long-term vision, steadfast to all changes of times. We believe that this fire will help us maintain our position as a top R&D brand in Vietnam’s alloy-coated steel industry.
– THANK YOU!