Julián Restrepo is the current president of the Association of Andean Technicians in Coatings (STAR), consultant and technical advisor and the Professional of the Month representing Colombia.
By Duván Chaverra Agudelo
If you are a frequent reader of INPRA LATINA, at some point you will have read one of the articles that Julián Antonio Restrepo Rodríguez has written constantly for more than 10 years, and if you barely get to this publication, you will enjoy reading each of the words that he captures in our publication.
Now, we consider that it was time to recognize his long trajectory made in such a short time of life, his efforts to take the industry forward and share knowledge. Let's know a little more about the Professional of the month of this edition on behalf of Colombia, who currently serves as Advisor and Technical Consultant and as president of the Association of Andean Technicians in Coatings (STAR).
Julián is 38 years old, he is a Chemical Engineer (2002) from the National University of Colombia (Medellín headquarters), with a Master's Degree in Sustainable Chemistry (2008) and a PhD in Sustainable Chemistry (2010) from the Jaume I University of Spain (Castellón de la Plana). He has more than 16 years of experience in the Paints and Coatings sector, where he has held positions in various Colombian companies (see box Professional Awards).
Nowadays, in his work as a consultant he works different approaches (air purification, products for the Agro, suppliers of raw materials and of course, some of paints), especially in the subject of product innovation and development of environmentally friendly products.
Julian says that since he was a child he was very dreamy, imaginative and creative, but according to his mother's version, he was very hyperactive and could not sit still for a minute, which is why he was in numerous courses, from swimming, painting and other plastic arts, to candle making. Details that today he appreciates because they helped his personal growth.
Your arrival in the industry
Julián had to prepare his final degree project and together with his fellow student, Diego Pulgarín, he elaborated a project related to the paints sector: "I ended up in the paint industry, perhaps accidentally: we were at the end of the Chemical Engineering career in the search for a group and a research topic for the final degree project and my partner told me that he wanted to do something in the chemical engineering industry. paintings, taking advantage of the fact that his brother had a paint production company (Prolac Ltda.). In the end, we agreed to work on our degree project at Prolac: "Reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), using water-based technology in wood coatings". Javier Pulgarín (Manager of the company), was delighted to support us and so we ended up developing several aqueous systems of paints for wood, including a catalyzed lacquer".
This is how Julián ended up working at Prolac as an R&D Assistant for a period of eight months. "I have nothing but words of gratitude to Javier, Diego and their company, to give me the opportunity to take my first steps in the world of paintings."
Wants to continue contributing
Julián is clear about continuing to work for the industry. For that reason he accepted the challenge of leading the STAR Association, to contribute to the growth of the same and the guild: "I have a deep responsibility and challenge to contribute to the growth of the Association and the development of the sector in my country and in the region. I believe that STAR can allow us to boost the sector, bring together more and more technicians and generate a space for technical-commercial exchange that goes in favor of the sector. I have been in love with the industry, perhaps that is why I have not yet made my first steps in college or academia, and I believe that my most important goal is to be able to continue contributing to the industry and its growth."
Following the same line, Julian has tried to take advantage of all possible means to share his knowledge. Therefore, in addition to Inpra, he has been a columnist in other publications and has given many lectures at different events.
He also highlights the research that has most marked his professional career: "It was that of the CPVC (Critical Concentration of Pigment in Volume), which I announced in the AndinaPaint of 2005. " Predictive calculations of CPVC in water-based systems". I must admit that before I started it, I did a survey among many of my colleagues about whether they used the concept, calculated it or measured it and I realized that it was a concept that was little used and I always saw that the CPVC was measured and not calculated. Thus, I had the challenge of addressing the subject and proposing a revision of the calculation of the CPVC, revision, because then I realized that in some books of the specialized literature if its calculation was reported, but its approach was in many cases difficult to understand. My work has allowed an approach to the concept of CPVC in both solvent-based systems and water-based systems, I have made known works of other researchers on the subject and I have made contributions to their way of calculation, in fact I have proposed a new calculation model for CPVC in water-based systems: "Towards a new model for the calculation of CPVC in latex coatings", published in the journal Surface Coatings International (SCI, ISSN 1754-0925); Vol. 98.3, 2015, pp. 133-136 (www.occa.org.uk/publications)," commented the guest.
Julián thinks that informality still exists in the Colombian market, especially in the architectural sector, which affects those who work legally and comply with all the rules of the game. It also explains that informal products do not meet specifications demanded by the customer, both from a performance and environmental point of view, but customers end up buying these types of products for the price.
Regarding the technological issue, Julián highlights that innovation and the generation of new products is still a pending issue in Colombia. "They are all limited to a 'copy-paste' between manufacturers, and the one who introduces a product is doing nothing more than bringing technologies already well proven in other markets. Our industry should focus on solving our domestic problems and associated trends. I believe that we have an important possibility of growth in the area of infrastructure (roads, metal structures and in particular, demarcation), marine transport and the exchange of goods (marine and industrial paints), and especially in the subject of various agricultural programmes that will have to be developed for the implementation of the peace agreements and for reintegration, so our industry should have a focus on products that meet these needs: paints for agricultural machinery and tools, paints for wood, anticorrosive paints, paints for floors and storage and handling spaces for fruits, vegetables and food."
Regarding how to give greater added value to the paint business, the Professional says that "offering paints with additional advantages, such as environmental, biodegradability, lower toxicity, additional uses (such as anti-bacterial paints, self-cleaning paints, to combat pollution, etc.). Not always, giving a greater added value implies a proportional increase in the final cost of the product, but for this we must master the issues of product formulation, nature of raw materials, logistical aspects, among others. "
Formulation failures and where we are going
Julián highlights the fact that in the formulation processes mistakes continue to be made that are noticeable in the final result of a product.
"I have found that we do not know how to afford our products, and whenever we have a requirement to lower product costs, the action falls on the formulator or R&D area, and this, from my point of view, is a big mistake. Just as, in 1985, moving the Coca-Cola formula proved to be a big corporate mistake, so is thinking that only the cost of a paint depends on the raw materials and the formulation of the product. I have found that many companies have very inefficient production processes or have purchasing, distribution, storage practices that are far from optimized, and that if small improvements were made in them, even greater impacts would be achieved in terms of costs, cash flow and other advantages to the product and even corporate, than only the change of raw materials.
Faced with the future of the sector, Julián highlights some necessary requirements to see remarkable progress: We require more durable materials and resistant to environmental conditions, especially taking into account the so-called Climate Change. We will require paints with greater resistance to coastal, saline, humid environments (UV, heat, salinity, sand, hydroliths, among others). We will require materials with greater commitment at a lower weight and cost. Everything related to fuel economy should be a priority. Last but not least, paints will need to be made increasingly environmentally friendly and desirable that they are completely non-toxic. among others).
Prolac (R&D Assistant), 2002-2003; Macrocom (Production Manager), from 2003 to 2004; Colombiana de Caolines (Head of R&D), from 2004 to 2005; Pinturas Sapolín, Invesa (R&D Assistant), from 2005 to 2007, (Innovation Coordinator), 2010 and (Pinturas Technology Leader), 2011; Insucolor (Technical Marketing), from 2011 to 2012; PPG Industries Colombia (Process Control Manager), from 2012 to 2013 and (Technical Manager of the business unit, Protective & Marine Coatings), from 2013 to 2016. For more than a year I have started a new professional stage as an Advisor and Technical Consultant in various companies
The Other Side of the Professional
Julian is the eldest of four brothers (three men and one woman). He is "happily married to Ederley Velez" and has a beautiful baby, Sofia, 3 years old. "The three of us form the longing for family that fills me fully and is the engine of my life. My wife is a Chemical Engineer like me, and we share a passion for science."
Julian enjoys spending time with family and playing with his young daughter; reading, watching documentaries (especially scientific and environmental), painting in oil (I use the Impressionist style, although I have stopped doing it for a couple of years). They are also hobbies. He also practices field tennis once a week. He is a follower (not a fan), of the football team Atlético Nacional de Medellín and Barcelona.
About his personality, Julian considers himself someone very active and with many ideas, something that makes him anxious, since sometimes he wants to execute several things at the same time and have results soon. "I like that I am committed, disciplined and always try to fulfill what I promised, and I have a high vocation for service, which also makes me very demanding about it. It bothers me that I can become something direct in communication and this has generated some misunderstandings," said the Professional of the Month.