In May of this year, Henkel officially opened its Technology Center in Bridgewater, New Jersey. A 70,000 square-foot facility, the center provides a place for collaboration with customers seeking solutions from the company’s portfolio of adhesives, sealants, functional coatings, and specialty materials. Michael Todd, vice president of innovation and new business development, Henkel Adhesive Technologies, described the center as being designed to “encourage collaboration across the value chain” as the company seeks to leverage its Adhesive Technologies business in core markets, including North America. 

Todd answered questions from ASI about the importance of innovation at the company and how Henkel is working to meet demand for more sustainable products, and in the process helping combat climate change.


ASI: Are there any drivers of innovation that have become more important in the last few years?

Michael Todd: Sustainability has become increasingly important as a key driver for innovation at Henkel and across the industries we serve. A Gartner study found that 87% of business leaders expect to increase sustainability investments over the next two years. This is a sentiment that carries into our adhesives business and influences how we look to innovation across our products and materials. The world is facing significant challenges when it comes to climate change, and we see it as our responsibility to contribute to helping tackle these challenges.

This focus on sustainability is driven by Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies Sustainability Ambition framework, which is focused on finding ways to address climate challenges our customers are or will be facing. A significant part of that framework is focused on optimizing our own carbon footprint and tackling these issues through product design and innovation. In 2021, we launched the industry’s first bio-based polyurethane reactive (PUR) Loctite hot melt structural adhesive for consumer electronics assembly. It is a sustainable alternative and has 60% bio-based content from renewable, plant-based feedstock. This was a significant milestone in our electronics strategy and helped our customers with their own sustainability efforts.

Sustainability has been a priority for Henkel and will continue to be well into the future.


ASI: How has increased demand from consumers for more sustainable products influenced your product development goals?

Todd: To meet the demand for more sustainable products and do our part in helping combat climate change, we have four bold ambitions we plan to achieve by 2030 that shape our daily business. These include having climate-positive operations, offering net-zero or low-emission products, offering solutions that enable emissions reduction and circularity and delivering end-to-end sustainability data transparency.

To meet our ambitions around offering net-zero or low-emission products, we are connecting with partners to help boost sustainability throughout every step in our value chain. We assess the carbon footprint of every raw material we use for our products and look for ways to cut emissions. As an example, we launched Technomelt Supra ECO, a range of hot melt adhesives that delivers greater sustainability and lower CO2 emissions while maintaining the performance of the Supra range. The products were developed using innovative raw materials which substituted fossil fuels with bio-based polyolefin elastomers.

Continuing to see demand from customers for more sustainable products is critical. We will continue to collaborate with Henkel’s customer base to ensure we’re meeting business objectives and helping them deliver on sustainability goals.


ASI: How have digital technologies changed the way you do business and respond to customer needs?

Todd: You can’t over emphasize the importance of digitalization in driving business today. For Henkel, technology is an essential part of shaping our operations and customer service, so we continue to become more agile and responsive.

In 2020, we founded Henkel dx, our Digital Business Unit that is the driving force behind our digital transformation. Through this journey, we are developing new digital solutions and business models to respond quicker to our customer needs and take our business to another level. This is something that was brought to life through Loctite 3D printing’s partnership with Origin to create nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing. Albert, a state-of-the-art digital tool for materials development, helped Henkel experts rapidly design and produce millions of nasopharyngeal test swabs during the height of the pandemic. Albert offers a cloud-based system that collects data from every experiment conducted by Henkel 3D printing and is used to create innovate solutions for Henkel’s customers. The software reviewed more than 16,000 formulations in Henkel’s 3D portfolio and selected the best material for the test swabs. Albert’s abilities helped accelerate the innovation process and deliver much-needed results faster than traditional methods of production.

Albert is now supporting innovation efforts at Henkel sites around the world. For example, the software is supporting product development at our new technical application center in Silicon Valley, our latest addition to our global footprint of Adhesive engineering and development centers. The application center is designed to support product development for our high-tech customers and expedite proof-of-concept initiatives for electronic advances. Using the latest digital innovation technology developed by Henkel, we can digitally connect over 3,000 of our innovators with this new engineering and development center via real-time data analytics and digital engineering design capabilities.

Another example how digitalization is transforming our business is highlighted with our Loctite Pulse portfolio for the global maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) markets. These data-enabled solutions empower industrial customers to increase maintenance efficiency and effectiveness by monitoring the status of critical assets in real time and to pre-empt failure by providing actionable maintenance recommendations. The latest innovation within this growing portfolio is our Smart Steam Trap system, which is designed to monitor the health of steam traps and to reduce customers’ maintenance costs through the prediction and prevention of critical failures.

Our investments in new digital tools and digital services are helping us respond faster than ever to our customer needs.


ASI: Looking to the future, what do you see as some possible new trends that will facilitate or motivate innovation?

Todd: Sustainability and technology will continue to be main drivers of innovation. Our adhesives and sealant solutions continue to evolve to support everything from 5G handheld devices and mobile networks to smart home systems and autonomous driving. We want to ensure that our solutions continue to enable robust electrical connections, heat management for optimized performance, protection from stress and environmental conditions, and long-term durability. Adhesives innovation is what will help move the industries we serve continue to move forward.

Looking to the future, we also see the push for sustainability data transparency becoming more important. There’s an appetite from customers to have greater insight into their value chains, and that push is inspiring more innovation across all areas of business to ensure products and solutions are being manufactured in a way that supports a multitude of goals, from financial and operational to environmental and social.

Transparency is essential for assessing responsible action and performance. At Henkel we are aiming to be as transparent as possible about our impact by employing a variety of tools to systematically analyze, measure, and evaluate our products from the start. This data is not only critical in how we assess our ESG progress and ensure transparency, but it also helps us optimize our products and identify areas of opportunity, which benefits not just us, but our customers as well. As part of our transparency efforts, we joined Catena-X, which is a pan-European network aiming to standardize methodology for calculating footprints and the data exchange for participants in the automotive value chain.

Another trend that we think will inspire more innovation, especially when it comes to sustainability and social impact, is companies using their resources to help address challenges outside of their direct business. At Henkel, we’ve had several unexpected partnerships and collaborations where we’ve been able to use our resources for good. Last year, we worked with local middle school students in Connecticut and other community partners to design a special boot to help an endangered African Penguin living in a colony at a local aquarium. Our LOCTITE adhesives team developed a unique material to help increase the lifespan of the boot. Purps’ story was just one of the many examples of how we were able to use our brands to bring innovative and unique solutions to communities.

Learn more about Henkel at