Marion Widmann | Liquid Products Developer
What do you do, what is your role, and how long have you been with us?
I have been an adhesives developer in research and development for four years. My job is mainly to develop adhesives. That includes development, doing the necessary tests with technical customer service, and finally transferring to production. I then provide product support for any problems in production or at the customer’s site.
There area always new criteria coming in for adhesives that existing products have to comply with, such as EC1Plus and Blue Angel. Sometimes raw materials fall cannot be used anymore or there are new, cheaper raw materials that need to be tested in existing products. So there is always lots to do.
How do you develop a new adhesive?
It is not very easy. As a developer, you get a list of requirements, describing what the adhesive have to do, what competitors are already out there or if there are any at all.
The first step is to modify existing formulas to meet the new requirements. For types of adhesives that we do not have at all, the job is more difficult. If there are competitors in the field, a developer take a look at them. Otherwise, you can give free rein to your creativity and also discuss openly with suppliers what ideas they have and what raw materials they can provide us with.
Do you do development for Germany only or internationally as well?
Mainly for Germany, but our adhesives are sold internationally. There are different requirements in every country. So, there are climate requirements such as humidity and temperature, and then also requirements from customers. Some customers prefer a slow adhesive, others want an adhesive that has hardly any inherent odor, and so on. We try to develop to meet all requirements.
How big is your team?
There are only two of us in our team. The adhesives lab normally has three groups of three developers. The groups are wood flooring adhesives, dispersion adhesives and epoxy, and dispersion and primers. But each group does not work in isolation - we share experiences with each other.
Where do the requirements come from?
The requirements primarily come from customers. For example, someone on a building site says “Wouldn’t it be great to something like that!”. Comments like that go to the application engineer, who is usually on site as well to support our customers. From there, it goes on to product management. The interdepartmental product committee discusses what is worth doing and what is not. Finally, another committee formulates the requirements for a new adhesive, and those are passed to the developer. Overall, we work very closely with customers, application engineering and product management to develop a product together.
How long does it take to develop an adhesive?
It varies, because an adhesive just does what it wants. Theoretically, a developer knows in advance the direction it will go in, but when you touch it, you may see that it is not going to work after all. We have information and standard formulas from manufacturers, but most of that is not useful for our applications. There is a wide range of raw materials, so you have to try a lot. It takes a lot of stamina and experience to find out which raw material is the right one. We mix up to 200 trials - and that can take a long time. Once you have the right mix, the final testing for an adhesive takes about half a year on its own. You have to test stability in storage, as the adhesive should be stable for at least a year.
Do you enjoy working at UZIN UTZ?
I think the company is superb. It is just great how Dr. Utz and Mr. Müllerschön work with us. They do not just say employees are at the heart of everything, they act on that approach too. The Horizons program is much more than just going through the motions. I really enjoyed the “Women in Leadership” seminar. It was very valuable for me personally and a great experience. The seminar with Holger Fischer was also very, very useful. I am really grateful to the Board for the opportunity.