Evolution of high quality shock pad is ahead of its time

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.”

Sustainable field

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.