The mix of air conditioning and humidity sets high requirements for a material. In Thailand, the illuminated 7-Eleven signs now have a frame of stainless steel grade Outokumpu Core 4622.
When Noppol Chuklin, Managing Director of Thailand's RBS Group, shops for new materials, he leaves no room for compromise. A major supplier of display equipment and interior decoration for the country's retailers, his company has built its brand reputation on providing only high quality solutions.
Last year, after winning a bid to outfit about 6,000 of Thailand's 7-Eleven convenience stores, he realised that the grade 304 stainless steel he was buying wasn't up to his quality needs and he began looking for alternatives. That's when Noppol contacted Outokumpu's Bangkok office and learned about a new grade, Outokumpu Core 4622.
Convinced by qualities
“For the equipment RBS was supplying to 7-Eleven, it was critical that the stainless steel would offer needed corrosion resistance with good weldability,” says Noppol.
Naturally, cost was also a factor. As it happened, the price was competitive with 304, and after hearing a presentation on Core 4622, Noppol was convinced enough to try it out with a test order.
RBS received its first container of Core 4622 last summer. The material came in the form of sheets, which RBS cut and welded into the products it needed – in this case, the metal frames for light boxes, the illuminated signs that appear outside the 7-Eleven outlets.
“So far, the material has lived up to every one of our requirements. However, we did make some adjustments in our manufacturing process to compensate for the higher strength of the material,” Noppol says.
Air conditioning meets moisture
Based on the success of the light box production, Chuklin now would like to expand his use of Core 4622 to other equipment, beginning with counter tops.
Outokumpu's Senior sales and marketing manager S.E.A.,
Koh Tiah Ann, points out that the anti-corrosion properties of 4622 make it an ideal option for interior elements in a convenience store like 7-Eleven.
“In an environment where humid weather, air conditioners and refrigerator units mix, moisture – and the potential for unhygienic rust – is ever-present,” says Koh.
Even retailers, who don't sell food, he says, would benefit from Core 4622's corrosion resistance because pretty much every shop in Thailand has the same issues with air conditioning and moisture.