Activate technology: The story of a two-decade R&D journey

April 14, 2021 | 08:00
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It is rare in the industry for research and development to take more than two decades, the way it did for BlueScope’s Activate technology is barely seen in the industry. This “abnormity” enables this unique technology to set a “new norm” in Vietnam’s alloy-coated steel industry. Daniel Parker, Process Development manager at BlueScope Innovation shares the story behind this technology and what it can bring for the industry.

The market is constantly changing and so is technology. What inspired BlueScope to develop Activate – a technology that can still claim to be the “best-of-the-breed”, despite the 20 years of testing?

activate technology the story of a two decade rd journey
Daniel Parker, Process Development manager, BlueScope Innovation

At BlueScope, we understand that our success depends on our customers choosing us. That is why we work closely with them to create value and trust, share ideas, and bring the benefits of innovative, sustainable products and services to their own businesses and projects.

We have manufacturing operations in 18 countries, and sales offices in other locations around the world. Through this supply network, around 14,000 BlueScope people serve thousands of customers worldwide.

That is to say we have in-depth understanding of customers’ needs and our customers, as end users, have always been looking for ways to expand the lifespan of their plants, workshops, or buildings, maximising their investment. This is where our Activate technology fits in.

Why did it take BlueScope more than 20 years to invent the Activate technology?

In order to ensure the new generation of COLORBOND steel and ZINCALUME steel with Activate coating technology live up to the highest expectations in durability, we conducted a comprehensive testing programme that featured accelerated laboratory corrosion tests, as well as real-world outdoor exposure tests.

Over a 20-year period, more than 8,000 profile panels have undergone Q-Fog cyclic testing and salt spray testing in laboratories. A further 10,000 panels have been tested in 22 different exposure sites in Australia and around the world. The Activate technology is covered by over 20 patents applications that have been filed worldwide, related to the unique and effective microstructure in our new technology that differentiates it to any other product on the market.

Additionally, during the product development stage, 50 building sites comprising a wide range of applications, as well as five purpose-built test structures, have been tested in real-world conditions and in severe marine environment. The new technology has also been validated by third-party testing and benchmarked against the latest coated products around the world through the French Corrosion Institute, proving that COLORBOND steel with Activate technology is highly durable, especially at the cut edges, and more resilient to scratches and scuffs during construction.

activate technology the story of a two decade rd journey

What makes Activate technology corrosion resistant? Is this technology a good fit for challenging environments in the industrial or coastal context?

The key factor behind BlueScope’s patented Activate technology lies in the unique composition and microstructure of four phases including aluminium, zinc, and two strategically positioned magnesium compounds.

With the unique composition and microstructure of the four phases, our new generation COLORBOND steel and ZINCALUME steel create a self-sealing effect that greatly improves corrosion resistance at cut edges, screw holes, and scratches. This mechanism improves the protection of projects in difficult environments such as marine and polluted industrial sites, enabling them to withstand the test of time. And of course it’s a good “candidate” for any project in Vietnam from benign environments to more challenging environments close to marine or industrial areas.

activate technology the story of a two decade rd journey
Vingroup chooses COLORBOND steel for their Vinfast Factory and its complex areas

Since its launch in 2019, how has Activate been received by investors?

Our Activate technology was launched in Australia in 2013. After six years of presence in a variety of global projects, NS BlueScope Vietnam made a business decision to introduce this very technology to the Vietnamese market as a breakthrough to improve our product quality, thereby accelerating the growth of the country’s construction industry.

activate technology the story of a two decade rd journey
Kizuna IZ has chosen Colorbond steel for their ready serviced factories for over 10 years. When Activate technology was launched in 2019, they confidently choose the new-generation COLORBOND steel for their new project, Kizuna 3
activate technology the story of a two decade rd journey
C.P. Group has also chosen Colorbond steel for many of their factories

As our Activate technology sets a new standard for Vietnam’s alloy-coated steel industry, it is welcomed by prestigious investors across the board. We are now having major world-class factories such as Vinfast, Kizuna, or FM Logistic applying our new flagship coating technology in Colorbond steel or Zincalume steel. We believe they will be the trend setters in the industry with our solutions.

By Anh Duc

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