Pratley – where product performance must exceed all others

Pratley laboratoryPratley have a bold policy statement that says that the performance of their products must exceed all others in the world market. This statement is printed on the back of every pack of Pratley Adhesive, signed by their CEO, Andrew Pratley.

The policy statement is a tough ask but one that is achieved through extensive Research and Development (R&D). Also, a recent investment in its impressive laboratories, an extensive upgrade to Pratley’s ‘wet’ laboratories and its ‘instrumentation laboratory’ has made a significant contribution. Chief Chemist, Sylvia Wilken has the best of the best in lab equipment to help her and her team achieve the company’s policy statement; including a state of the art tensometer, FTIR spectroscopy, high pressure liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy, viscosity water baths amongst other high tech equipment.

Sylvia joined the company 16 years ago and studied Chemistry and Mathematics at Unisa whilst working. She took over the reins as R&D Manager in 2007 when her mentor, Richard Greeves after whom the lab is named, passed away.

Andrew Pratley explained the importance of the laboratory in the pursuit of company excellence. “We constantly bring in local and international formulations to analyse and compare against our own products. This allows us to stay on top of our game and make sure that we comply with our policy statement of producing products that out-perform all others on the world market.”

Pratley do not see themselves as a ‘me too’ company, and their products all have unique and innovative properties that differentiate them from other products on the market. For example, their ‘world first’ Wondafix adhesive is an epoxy/urethane hybrid allowing the high strength properties of epoxy to also have the toughness and flexibility of a urethane. Another example is the superior penetration of its Powda Bond adhesive which is achieved through the unique chemistry of the formulation that was developed in the Pratley laboratory. “Even though it looks similar, it is an entirely unique formulation to others on the market,” explains Andrew.

Apart from development of unique products and formulations, the lab also acts as a quality control centre. Samples are constantly being bought from the manufacturing facility to the lab for compliance and quality testing. In addition long term testing is done on all products where products are exposed to different environmental conditions – from high moisture, to punishing heat and extreme cold. These tests are important to determine the shelf life of the products under different conditions.

Pratley is well known as a leading manufacturer of high strength, ultra-high performance adhesives for the DIY Market. Andrew Pratley stressed that sometimes it can be more challenging formulating adhesives for the DIY market as the consumer demands the same performance as industrial products, but there are added constraints. “DIY adhesives need to be simple to mix, easy to understand, non-toxic and yet retain all performance characteristics of the industrial equivalents. “Complex mix ratios and relatively toxic formulations are acceptable to the industrial market. Not so with DIY adhesives. The key is user friendliness while maintaining optimal performance,” says Andrew.

Pratley also pride themselves on the production of in-house content.  Almost everything produced at Pratley is produced in-house including some of the raw materials. This again is to enable them to achieve their policy of being better than the rest, whilst allowing for innovation and uniqueness.

Andrew adds, “We even have our own printing department and most labelling, instruction leaflets and some packaging are done in-house. We prefer independence and self-reliance; it gives us control and confidence in our products.”

Andrew explains, “The company likes to launch at least two or three new adhesive products each year.” With the newly upgraded adhesive laboratories and highly qualified R&D team, Andrew Pratley is confident about the future of adhesive research at Pratley. “R&D is in our blood. It’s one of the cornerstones of what we do at Pratley” he added.

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