Come and discover all the new products from ACOBAL at the Global Industrie exhibition in Lyon Eurexpo from 7 to 10 March. The whole team is in full preparation of the event. Some surprises on the program for the most greedy...reserve your date and do not hesitate to contact us if you wish an invitation to access the event.



01 - Patrick Lynch interview (President and CEO of Northern Technologies International Corporation)

1. Would you briefly introduce ZERUST®/EXCOR®?

In 1980, Northern Technologies International Corporation (NASDAQ: NTIC) filed a patent on an invention that would transform the way modern manufacturing companies protect their bare metal products as they are shipped all over the world.  For NTIC had just discovered how to extrude chemical compounds that are scientifically classified as either volatile corrosion inhibitors or vapor phase corrosion inhibitors (“VCI’s”) into conventional polyethylene, thereby creating plastic packaging that actively protects any metals packed in it against rust and corrosion. Over the past four decades, the ZERUST®/EXCOR® VCI packaging brands have proven their value, over and over, to virtually every major metal products manufacturer around the world.

Forty years ago, the automotive industry still considered shipments with “zero rust” as an aspirational quality goal, but today that’s precisely what PPAP documents routinely specify and our customers achieve. Since the Bronze Age, thousands of years ago, people had relied on coating metal surfaces with viscous greases and oils, in order to prevent them from rusting and corroding. Today, however, it’s become rare to find expensive, messy, and hazardous “dipping lines” that cover products in oily rust preventative (“RP”) coatings still in use inside manufacturing plants to. It’s become equally rare to find the expensive, messy, and hazardous washing lines that were used to wash RP coatings off when parts arrived. ZERUST®/EXCOR® VCI packaging made it possible to ship metal parts clean, dry and corrosion-free.

2. Would you talk about the ZERUST®/EXCOR® groups global R&D infrastructure?

Innovation requires seeing things in novel and different ways. Therefore, we are continuously recruiting exceptional technical thought leaders to join our global R&D team.

For example, in 1994, our German joint venture company, EXCOR Korrosionsschutz Technologien und Produkte GmbH, established our first international R&D facility in Dresden, Germany under the direction of Prof. Georg Reinhard, the former head of corrosion research for East Germany. Similarly, in 2000, we established a third R&D center in Beachwood, Ohio under the direction of Prof. Efim Y. Lyublinski, the former head of corrosion research for the Soviet Union. By the beginning of 2020, the ZERUST®/EXCOR® groups technology development and applications engineering efforts had expanded even further to include Shanghai, China, Chennai, India and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

3. How did ZERUST®/EXCOR® enter the market?

After inventing VCI film, we originally introduced the technology to prospective users in the United States. Our very first customer was Caterpillar, followed by Cummins, Ford and GM. However, getting anyone to use our packaging was far from easy.  At the time, NTIC was a tiny start-up based in a northern suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. No one had ever heard of us and, obviously, no one had ever heard of VCI plastic packaging before.  Furthermore, from the customer’s perspective, we were selling something akin to the “Emperor’s new clothes” from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

Heavy greases and oils had, literally, been the standard method for protecting metal from rust and corrosion for millennia. Yet here we were, trying to convince some very conservative engineers that our translucent plastic packaging film did, in fact, contain a chemical additive that was emitting a harmless gas that they couldn’t see or smell and that when they wrapped metal parts in it – nothing would happen (in other words, nothing rusted). It took two (2) years to prove the efficacy of the product with repeated field trials before getting our first order. Today, ZERUST®/EXCOR® products are sold in over 65 countries through our network of joint venture companies.

4. How do you provide global, on-site, technical service?

Metal products must reach their destination not only just-in-time but must also conform to the specified quality criteria – including “no rust” requirements. Any failure to deliver according to the agreed upon schedule and/or quality can create a parts shortage that, subsequently, may cause entire production lines to shut down, which often cost the component supplier responsible significant financial penalties. Consequently, when rust failures arise, they need to be resolved as quickly as possible.

ZERUST®/EXCOR® products are sophisticated chemistry that have been compared to “anti-rust medication”. When a doctor is confronted with a sick patient, she’ll first perform an examination to determine all of the symptoms and run tests to confirm her diagnosis. Then she’ll confirm all the other medications the patient is currently taking as well as any allergies they may have. Only then can the doctor prescribe a specific treatment plan. Solving rust problems properly requires following essentially the same methodology. Therefore, when our technical service engineers are invited into a customer’s plant, they’ll first perform a comprehensive root cause analysis, as well as collect samples of all the other chemistries currently used to test both their condition and compatibility before recommending specific corrective actions and solutions.

Our global ZERUST®/EXCOR® technical service engineers are located in virtually every country in which we do business and, on average, have more than a decade of training and hands-on experience, with about one-third also having advanced technical degrees.  In turn, their efforts are supported by 12 regional technical service labs, where the ones in the USA, German and China also have fully equipped analytical labs to help address very complex cases.

06 - Interview of André Gaebel (Field Implementation Expert at ZERUST EXCOR)

Hello André. You are one of the specialists in the implementation of VCI packaging for the Zerust-Excor group. What is exactly your job?

Development of corrosion prevention packaging concepts with application/usage of VCI method, manufacturing of prototypes and test it in industrial size with high climatic stress load conditions in big climatic chambers.

For those unfamiliar with VCI technology, what is VCI packaging?

This is a complex chemical process with a lot of advantages for corrosion protection during packaging, I recommend the video on ZERUST EXCOR home page.

How does VCI Packaging work?

With the chemical active VCI product inside a tight closed package and VCI saturated atmosphere is established and VCI molecules lay down on the surface of all parts inside for corrosion protection.

What forms can VCI packaging take today?

VCI products are available in different applications as : papers, plastics, foams, dispensers, oils
These are solutions for the protection of parts during shipment.

Are there other fields of applications like outdoor storage or long-term storage?

Yes, especially for short-time corrosion protection and company in-house protection with low budget for packaging materials.

What is complicated in the implementation of these solutions?

Costs and tightness of packaging.

You are in permanent contact with customers, do you have a particular intervention process because each case is unique with variable components?

Yes, you are right, each case is unique and it needs to look deeper into detail and/or process. But the most important points for VCI packaging concepts are always valid: cleanliness, dryness, and corrosion-free initial situation of parts with the tightness of package and enough availability of VCI inside.

One of your particularities is that you train the customers in the implementation and use of these VCI packaging solutions, how do you organize these sessions?

In most cases, ZERUST EXCOR KAM suffers in contact with customers the needs or doubts for VCI resulting packaging concepts. After getting direct contact we organize meetings with training courses, prepare instruction materials or make upgrade training presentations or events. Nowadays telephone or video conferences are the medium of choice.

In general, you are called on special or specific cases?

Yes, mostly. If the standard solution is not applicable or special big sizes of packaging volume are requested. The last big unconventional issue was an 8 m long loading platform from a dumper. For sure customers and KAM asked for my opinion in interrelation with climatic stress tests or shipment under extreme climatic conditions.

Do you also intervene upstream for the design and manufacture of VCI packaging?

For design and development yes, after them the manufacturing is well organized by my colleagues from purchasing department.

Have you set up a user feedback system to bring back valuable information from the field?

Normally we create for all applications and developments packaging instructions and descriptions. This information we discuss with KAM in frequent meetings. A special kind of internal communication is the preparation of customer-made presentations with all technical details and parameters and relevant information and pictures.

One last question André, how durable are the solutions you implement?

All ZERUST EXCOR VCI materials are recyclable via standard collection systems and reusable. All products you can use in returnable, multi-cycle systems if the mechanical properties allow it and it is are practicable for the customer. For the EMIBO VCI capsules, we create a separate returnable system with big partners from the automotive industry and reuse the VCI contained plastic content partly in other VCI plastic products.

How did you get to this position?

In the situation of retirement of a very experienced packaging expert, I got a tip from a good friend of mine and follow the job advertisement. From 1987-1992 I took my study as a mechanical engineer at the University of Dresden. Before EXCOR (for 11 years) I worked 17 years in leading and worldwide active positions in the paper machinery industry in Germany and Sweden.