Chief Technical Officer Ron Moors heads new Quality & Development department
As of the 1st of March we have a new central department: Quality & Development, led by our CTO Ron Moors. With this new department, we will be able to anticipate even better the everchanging synthetic turf market
Over the years, Schmitz has developed itself as a well-known and respected shock pad producer for the global synthetic turf market. This market, which is the biggest sales market for Schmitz, is everchanging. Ron Moors: “Every day we hear of new systems, like non-infill and alternative infills, and with the current microplastics discussion these new systems will evolve at an even faster pace. Therefore, it is only logical for us as a leading shock pads producer to anticipate these changes.
In addition to these changes, there are also new demands from sport associations on national and international levels. Whether it’s the new norm of the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) or World Rugby that now allows synthetic turf with a fiber length of just 50 mm, the demands of the industry are always increasing. With these changing norms from the customer side, it is important for us as a producer to anticipate and meet these expectations. The market simply expects to receive a system that meets these ever changing demands. Of growing importance in the synthetic turf market is recycling. “This is a development that we at Schmitz applaud loudly, since recycling is in our DNA and plays a role in all our developments. It is with reason why we at Schmitz, with years of knowledge and experience, are at the forefront of this trend.”
With the growing demand for ProPlay worldwide, we opened a second production facility in 2017 in Coldwater (United States). In opening this second production location, we are able to better meet the demand of the US market, and ensure shorter delivery times as well as reduced freight charges. Since the end of 2019 we also deliver a ‘hybrid’ shock pad, which combines recycled and virgin foam. Moors calls this “The best of both worlds”. In line with these developments, we also will start with our own foam production in the Netherlands in 2021. This process, currently in the startup phase, will enable our company to grow further and create possibilities for new products for the synthetic turf market. “Everything is moving and our organization cannot stay behind”, according to Moors.
Anticipating New Developments
With all these changes in mind, we made the commitment to create a Central Quality and Development department, situated at our Dutch headquarters. Moors explains: “This department is best seen as a combination of all capabilities we have both in Roermond and Coldwater. Here, we anticipate the latest market development and ensure that our quality is up to the highest standard, which is important in a constantly evolving market . After all, quality is the basis of our process. Additionally, this new department will build on the synergy we currently have between our two production facilities”. Moors will be the head of this new department leading a multi-disciplinary team, consisting of quality assurance, equipment and process engineering, application engineering and product development.
Accepting the challenge
Of course, the big question is: Will customers notice this change? According to Moors it will be mostly noticeable in our technical capabilities and ability to innovate. “The market expects a certain innovative mindset of us. After all, we are a leading global shock pad producer, which means we should stay ahead of trends and be the ones that set the trend. Be it on sport technical segment or on subjects such as circularity. We see meeting these challenges head-on as a fun experience that we will take with the utmost confidence.”
The new ProPlay-Sport20 passes all tests
The start of the new decade saw the ProPlay-Sport20 undergoing a update, this to ensure the world’s most popular shock pad is future-proof. 2020 turned out to be a year that was demanding in many ways, but the renewed ProPlay-Sport20 passed with distinction.
ProPlay-Sport20 is widely praised for its sports technical performance and high drainage capacity. As the shock pad is made of remnant foam and it can be fully recycled after end-of-use, this shock pad also scores well when the environmental impact of an artificial turf system is considered. This is one of the reasons why the demand for ProPlay-Sport20 has grown exponentially in recent years. In order to continue guaranteeing high quality and availability in the future, Schmitz Foam Products decided to revise the composition of the ProPlay-Sport20. The well-known and trusted 12mm thick layer of foam flakes is now combined with an 8mm thick foam layer. “This year we started laminating the ProPlay-Sport20 with a polyethylene foam that is specifically produced for Schmitz Foam Products. From 2021, the production of this foam layer is brought inhouse. By continuing to invest in our processes and products, we maintain control of the supply chain and anticipate the continuously increasing demand for ProPlay,” explains Ron Lokhorst, Export Manager at Schmitz Foam Products.
The adjustment is in line with the aim of governments and industries to produce smarter and more efficiently in the coming years in order to make optimal use of scarce raw materials. “Schmitz Foam Products had already introduced this approach in the 1980s. That is why we give cut-offs from the world’s largest foam producers a second chance by using them as the base material for our ProPlay. As our suppliers now start producing more efficiently, we have the obligation as a market leader to take the next step. This to ensure we stay ahead and can continue guaranteeing our deliveries.”
The new ProPlay-Sport20 hit the market for the first time this year. One of the first Dutch artificial turf football fields to benefit is the renovated main field at Be Quick’28 in Zwolle. The field is filled in with TPE infill and sand that has been reclaimed from the previous top-layer. “The municipality has a clear policy on sustainable construction, and strives to reuse good materials as much as possible,” says Jos Florax of the municipality of Zwolle, when explaining the decision. The renovated top-layer was installed on the ProPlay-Sport20. “The contractor was asked to deliver a pitch that would pass the tests the Dutch FA, KNVB, has set for artificial turf pitches. Because we did not want to replace the existing subbase of sand and steagran, it was decided to use the ProPlay-Sport20 sheets. It turned out to be the only way for the field to meet those stringent KNVB requirements. If we had had to excavate that subbase and replace it, we would have violated our sustainability principles,” Florax adds.
The main field of Be Quick’28 is now the second synthetic turf pitch at the sports facility that is installed on ProPlay-Sport20 shock pads. Field number six, which had been transferred to neighbouring club PEC Zwolle, was renovated by the stadium club. The club will use this renovated field for its own youth academy. PEC Zwolle used the artificial turf carpet with TPE infill that had been removed from the stadium as the stadium field was converted to a natural grass surface. As the existing ProPlay on field six was still in good condition, it was decided to maintain it. According to contractor, CSC Sport, this decision allowed the field to deliver all the intended sport- and technical playing values, despite it being installed on a subbase that is different from what it was built on inside the stadium. However, the big gain lies in the fact that this decision allowed for adhering to the principles of sustainable construction, as set by the municipality.
Easy to handle for builders
The very first to notice the change in the ProPlay-Sport20 were the builders of the field. The new ProPlay-Sport20 is 25% lighter than its predecessor. “The summer period means show-time for us. That is when we are expected to deliver, irrespectively. Our builders are expected to build an artificial turf pitch under great time pressure and in hot summer conditions. The lighter the work is for them, the better the end result will be,” observes Arjan Emaus of De Sallandse United, the company responsible for the renovation of the main pitch. Thanks to the characteristic puzzle-shape pieces, and the lower weight, it is pleasant to work with the ProPlay-Sport20. “It requires fewer of our employees and it helps us to finish an artificial turf pitch faster.”
Futureproof shock pad
ProPlay shock pads come with a 25-year warranty, but the expected lifespan is a multiple of that. Since the manufacturer of the artificial turf has warranted the carpet for at least 12 years, ProPlay-Sport20 will help the municipality of Zwolle to respect its sustainability standards once again when the time comes to renovate the field again. “We can guarantee those 25 years because ProPlay has already proven itself in practice for this period,” says Ron Lokhorst. AFC IJburg near Amsterdam is an example of a club that decided to leave the existing ProPlay-Sport20 in place when its artificial turf pitch was renovated. “ProPlay has been installed since the early 1990s, and we are hearing more and more stories from clubs who are still satisfied with the sustained performance of the shock pad.” The fact that the new ProPlay-Sport20 now consists of two layers does not affect the lifespan. “Both layers consist of the same basic material and are thermally bonded together. We have been using this method for years to produce sheets from these remnant foam flakes and it has proven itself. Schmitz Foam Products is fully committed to producing shock pads, and we master that process in detail because we have invested a lot in the development of the method.”
The developments of the past year have, unexpectedly, shown the importance of continuous innovation when you have the ambition to maintain quality and quantity. COVID-19 also had its impact on Schmitz Foam Products, but due to their experience, preparations and cooperation with suppliers the company was able to proceed with their 24/7 production process and could rely on their stock to fulfil the worldwide demand for shock pads. “Based on, among other things, the forecasts of our partners, we build up stocks in the low season to ensure that we are structurally able to deliver with short delivery times,” says Lokhorst.
ProPlay shock pads distinguish themselves in many ways, but one aspect that truly makes ProPlay stand out is its respect for the environment. ProPlay is made from redundant foams. Once these foams have been accepted for the production of this shock pad, they will remain in the system and will continuously be used to produce high-quality foam products. ProPlay reduces the need for virgin materials and helps prevent the unnecessary growth of landfills.
Schmitz Foam Products places the environment firmly at the top of all its lists. By taking remnant foams and using them for products that have a meaningful purpose, Schmitz Foam Products prevents tonnes of foam going to waste annually. The plants in Roermond (the Netherlands) and Coldwater (USA) use the latest technologies and skilled employees to separate quality foams and prepare these foams for use in shock pads for different purposes. It has been doing so since the late 80s. The various quality monitoring and guiding principles for this process have been adequately documented. Internal processes to adhere to these principles are verified regularly, most importantly by auditors tasked with verifying the compliance with ISO 9001 and the CE principles.
Likewise, the Schmitz Foam Products protocol for accepting ProPlay sheets that are no longer used for their intended purpose is well-defined and documented. These ProPlay sheets can be handed back to Schmitz Foam Products to grant these sheets a purpose again in other applications. ‘It is a responsibility we take as the manufacturer but it is also something we can and like to do without even worrying too much about its condition,’ says Ron Moors, Plant Manager at Schmitz Foam Products. ProPlay sheets that have been handed in will be cleaned and either reused for other applications or recycled for the production of new high-quality foam products.
Reuse prevails over recycle
The Schmitz Foam Products’ recycling philosophy aims to reuse whatever possible before recycling is considered as an alternative. The company will go to great lengths to see whether ProPlay sheets that have been reclaimed can still serve a purpose elsewhere. Tests are conducted to establish the performance and quality of the sheets and to determine whether they could serve another purpose in a sports field or, perhaps, should be used in multi-game areas or for other drainage or shock absorbing purposes. Only once it is established that this is not the case will the ProPlay sheets be recycled.
‘Recycling the foam is really a last resort as, generally speaking, the foam is still in good condition. However, sports governing bodies are very strict regarding the constant technical performance they expect the material to deliver for a particular sport. We do not want to put that at risk. Nevertheless, they are still good enough for other purposes like drainage mats for roof gardens, horse riding arenas or as cow mats, as the drainage capacity of the material is still very good,’ Moors explains.
Proper thing to do
Sending the sheets back to Schmitz Foam Products will be the responsibility of the company that possesses the sheets. Schmitz Foam Products can provide pallets to enable smooth shipping. ‘Schmitz Foam Products accepts the sheets at no cost. We believe it is the right thing to do in a time where the environment is carefully considered,’ Moors points out.
With the protocol in place since 2012, the option of returning ProPlay sheets to Schmitz Foam Products has, thus far, been used sparsely. ‘In light of the lasting performance of ProPlay sheets that can go up to 25 years, it is understandable that we have only been offered a few sheets for recycling. Most of the sheets we have produced up till now are still being used in artificial turf systems. Once they cross their 25th anniversary, I wouldn’t be surprised if they still perform according to the needs.’ As the recyclability of artificial turf is increasingly becoming an issue, Schmitz Foam Products have decided to actively pursue the ambition of giving foams a second opportunity by also accepting shock pads from other producers for recycling purposes. Provided the shock pad is made from cross-linked polyethylene it can be offered to Schmitz Foam Products to have it recycled for another purpose. ‘These shock pads are made of the same raw material that we use for the production of ProPlay, hence we can easily process them in our production,’ Moors adds.
Giving used ProPlay sheets a new lease of life is something that can be done multiple times. ‘The performance degradation is very limited. That is why we are comfortable claiming that even once ProPlay is no longer delivering what is needed for sports, it can still have a useful purpose in other applications.’ Much of the ability to extend the lifespan of the foam can be attributed to Schmitz Foam’s long-time experience and extensive knowledge of polyethylene foams.
The quality of ProPlay sheets is unrivaled and well-documented. Don’t be surprised when it outlives the artificial turf carpet that has been used for the field. Even when it is decided to replace a sheet or the shock absorbing layer of an entire field, ProPlay can still have a meaningful purpose. By shipping those sheets back to Schmitz Foam Products you will lay the foundation of another period of unrivaled shock absorbing and drainage qualities.
Check out the short video on the website to get the full story in less than 2 minutes via https://www.schmitzfoam.com/sustainability-and-recycling
As of January 2020, Schmitz Foam Products will replace its popular ProPlay-Sport20 shock pad by a renewed version. The change is necessary to answer the demand for the product and to remain on par with the latest trends and developments.
Schmitz Foam Products introduced ProPlay-Sport20 in the early 2000s, when shock pads were still considered a luxury. Thanks to its robustness and the excellent performance it delivers, ProPlay-Sport20 has since become the most used shock pad for artificial grass sport systems globally. The industry has progressed, and the time had come to rethink the product’s concept, says Jens Ulb, Chief Commercial Officer at Schmitz Foam Products. “ProPlay-Sport20 is produced from foams that the foam industry consider redundant. In the last few years Schmitz Foam Products has experienced an above average growth which exceeded the growth of the foam industry. As we foresaw that this could lead to challenges in sourcing our raw materials in the run-up to our peak-season, we decided to review the design of this front runner.”
The renewed ProPlay-Sport20 provides similar or even better sport technical performance, is equally robust and offers a drainage capacity that matches that of the original ProPlay-Sport20. “What differs is that the future edition will consist of an 8mm foam layer that has exclusively been produced for Schmitz Foam Products, combined with 12mm foam flakes sourced from foams which were deemed redundant. It simply combines the best of both worlds”. No additives are involved in bonding the polyethylene foam layer and polyethylene foam flakes to a single sheet. It is done with thermal bonding, similar to the way Schmitz Foam Products produced the ProPlay-Sport20. “As this heat-bonding is done by a state-of-the-art laminator, it is impossible for the foam layers to separate spontaneously. The only time they will come apart is when Schmitz Foam Products recycles these pads by the time they no longer have any meaningful purpose.”
Renewed product, known performance
Over the past few months, the renewed ProPlay-Sport20 has been tested by international testing institutes. Since the shock pad comes with similar or even better sport technical characteristics, system test efforts if desired can be kept to a minimum. This ensures a smooth industry transition from the original ProPlay-Sport20 to the renewed version. Jens Ulb continues; “Due to its look you can differ between the two ProPlay-Sport20 pads, but an installer or athlete will not experience any difference with our renewed shock and drainage pads.
The shift to the new version also means that Schmitz Foam Products will cease producing the ProPlay-MP. “The ProPlay-MP was mainly used for multi-sports courts. As the sports experience on multi-sports courts has also evolved over the years, it is our recommendation to also use the ProPlay-Sport20 for this type of surface. The pad delivers a superior performance and experience for these fields at a competitive price,” says Ulb.
Schmitz Foam Products has already started producing the new ProPlay-Sport20. Jens Ulb is convinced that they will have sufficient stock from 2020 onwards. “With this evolution we combine the best of both worlds with which we are ready to secure the delivery of a robust shock and drainage pad to any future-proof artificial grass system.”
http://schmitzfoam.com/newppsport20 for more information or to order a sample and technical datasheet.
Shockpad outlasts lifespan of two synthetic turf carpets
Early adopters of the ProPlay® shock absorbing layer are currently reaping the fruits. A growing number of installations are proving that the lifespan of ProPlay® meets expectations, thereby enabling clubs and stadium owners to offer a safe and durable surface over a longer period of time and achieve significant savings when renewing their synthetic turf surfaces.
Engineered systems like synthetic turf fields enable field owners to control the quality and safety of their fields. However, they often fail to recognise the importance of a shockpad. ‘I have had clients and architects in the past considering various pads to reduce the Gmax results of their field,’ Craig Shonk of Midwest Synthetic Turf says. ‘The price of adding a pad was just simply out of their budget. As an alternative, they requested for a taller pile height turf, which allowed for more rubber to be added to the infill system. That helped lower the Gmax but it also makes the field so soft under foot that you increase the fatigue in your lower body. The experience is similar to running in dry sand on a beach vs running on the wet sand.’ Shonk has become a strong advocate of using shockpads. ‘A pad gives you the reduction in Gmax results but maintains a firm and fast surface under foot because of the higher sand content in the sand/rubber infill mix. Putting a pad under the turf is always the best option, if you can afford it.’
A lasting investment
An investment in a shockpad is a lasting investment. Harding University in Arkansas, United States, can attest to this claim. The Harding University field was replaced in 2012. At the time Craig Shonk was the director of operations for Prograss, the company that held the contract on the replacement of the field. ‘Once we removed the existing turf from the field, we performed an inspection and we concluded that the ProPlay® shockpad that was used when the field was installed in 2005, was still in excellent shape.’ All Shonk had to do was replace the synthetic turf carpet and its infill.
‘Throughout the turf removal and rollup process we punctured or tore a handful of panels. We ordered two pallets of new pad to replace the damaged pieces,’ Shonk admits. The new panels blended in easily with those that had been used for eight years already. ‘We noticed that existing ProPlay® panels had not changed in size, shape or thickness over the length of time that the pad had been installed. The original pad pieces matched up perfectly with the new pieces that we had ordered. .’
Best of two worlds
‘ProPlay® shock- and drainage pads are produced from foam products that, for one or another reason, ended up not being used,’ Jens Ulb, Sales Director of Schmitz Foam Products explains. ‘These products already passed the quality tests at their respective producers and provide us with the perfect raw material to enable us producing a superior shock absorbing panel.’ As a result, the company’s CO2 footprint is limited. ‘Best of all is that we prevent quality products that were not used for their intended purpose, from ending up in the waste-stream.’
Craig Shonk is convinced that synthetic turf fields can’t do without a shockpad. ‘As more people learn about concussion in sports and the potential impact that synthetic turf fields have on concussions, the overall awareness to find better solutions in turf systems is leading to more clients purchasing or budgeting for pads.’ ‘Because budgets are typically a huge factor in the decision-making process, I believe that many clients will lean towards ProPlay® because of their overall value.’
After eight years, the turf of a soccer field in IJburg (The Netherlands) had to be replaced. The ProPlay® shock pad underneath, which was installed in 2010, was still fully functional.
When the turf was taken off recently, installers discovered a flawless ProPlay®-Sport20 field which looked like it was installed yesterday. Moreover, the performance still was on the same level. As good as new, not a single sheet needed to be replaced.
Of course, this was good news for the investor who could now see with his own eyes the return of an investment done eight years ago. In general, the warranty of all ProPlay® shock pads is 25 years. So this underlayment will be good for at least another 17 years.
The highest altitude ProPlay® field, located in Estadio Municipal Villa Ingenio in the municipality of El Alto in Bolivia, is completed. El Alto is the highest major metropolis in the world, with an average elevation of 4,150 m. It makes this field the highest altitude FIFA Quality Pro certified field in the world. It is also the first synthetic turf field with a horizontal drainage system in Bolivia, using the
ProPlay®-Sport23D shock pad with an outstanding drainage capacity.
El Alto (Spanish for “The Heights”) is the second-largest and youngest city in Bolivia, located adjacent to La Paz in Pedro Domingo Murillo Province on the Altiplano highlands. Today, El Alto is one of Bolivia’s fastest-growing urban centers, with a population of 974,754 in 2011.
Estadio Municipal Villa Ingenio is the first modern stadium in Bolivia and has a capacity of 25,000 spectators. The Government allocated 55.8 million Bolivians for the construction which is about 6.6 million Euros. The stadium cover 22.850 square meters so it has enough room for other sports. This mainly benefits the children and young people of the city, so they have a place for training and entertainment.
The municipality of El Alto were highly satisfied with the time of installation. Temperatures in El Alto vary between -17ºC and 18ºC which can make the installation a challenge. This however was no problem for the professional installation crew who completed the installation in just two weeks. ProPlay® panels are puzzle shaped and therefore easy to install during all weather conditions.
The stadium was officially inaugurated by Bolivian President Evo Morales in Villa Ingenio. It was premiered by the teams of ‘Bolívar’ and ‘The Strongest’ in a classic ‘paceño’. “Brothers and sisters, a small gift to the people of El Alto, to that rebellious people, rebellious not only for the demands of the people of El Alto, but also for the people of La Paz and fundamentally for the Bolivian people,” the President said after giving the inaugural kick. “The people of El Alto from the first moment guaranteed us the democratic cultural revolution with their conscience, with their vote and therefore fulfilling our responsibilities to recognize with this kind of works the people of El Alto,” he said.
The realization of the high quality field was a collaboration between Greenfields (who provided the high quality synthetic turf) and Schmitz Foam Products B.V. (who provided the high performance ProPlay® shock and drainage pad). The collaboration resulted in this world-class synthetic turf FIFA Quality Pro certified system with excellent playing characteristics and high durability.
Want to see ProPlay® with your own eyes? Request a sample via www.schmitzfoam.com/contact.
The iconic Hong Kong Football club, located in Happy Valley in the Center of Hong Kong, wanted to replace their main existing Football pitch. Since there is a shortage of pitches for both Rugby and Football in Hong Kong and the demand for pitch use is very high, a quick turnaround time for construction of the pitch was required. Another requirement was that the shock pad used for the replacement had be guaranteed for at least fifteen years. Considering these criteria, the ProPlay-Sport23 shock pad was used for this project.
The weather often slows installation of shock pads in Hong Kong, particularly in the summer, but this was not an issue with the ProPlay pad which is well known for its weather independent installation. The entire project was completed on schedule and meets both FIFA Pro Quality and World Rugby standards.
This multi-use field was completed last January by our partner Polytan in Centennial Park Sydney. A synthetic turf system with a ProPlay-Sport shock and drainage pad was applied. The multi- use field is an innovative solution to give a variety of different sports and sports teams the opportunity to play and practice in the same area.
The goal for the Moore Park Synthetic Field was to overlay a number of aged netball courts with a modern synthetic field offering multi-sport activity do the local user groups.
Polytan proposed an exclusive patented system of drainage cell, ProPlay Sport shock pad with LigaTurf RS+260 COOLplus football turf meeting the performance criteria for FIFA, World Rugby and NRL. The drainage cell proposal eliminated the need to disturb the stable earth of the parklands ensuring a solid, well graded base retaining its long-term stability.
The football field, with multiple line marking is now heavily booked for team activity and compliments the nearby sports and recreation facilities. Not only are long established clubs playing and training on the surface, but small team sports activity is heavily booked beyond original expectations.