Within TenCate Grass, Turf Systems Development R&D is responsible for the development of the synthetic turf systems for GreenFields and TigerTurf across the world. Bart Wijers is head of Turf Systems Development R&D. Over many years his department has acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience relating to the development and production of components for synthetic turf systems, and work is being carried out continuously on improving these.
The components, such as synthetic turf fibre, carpet design, shock pad, infill and combinations of these, determine performance, characteristics, consistency and sustainability. The subsoil, the construction and the maintenance of the pitch also play an important part in the performance of the pitch in both the short and the long term. TenCate Grass is well positioned to test new and innovative components and to monitor their performance in various synthetic turf systems.
Bart Wijers: ‘There are three things that are really important here: sport performance, consistency and reusability.’
During the research and development work, the sportsperson is of key importance for TenCate Grass, says Bart Wijers. ‘Sport-technical performance and the sportsperson’s perception are of added value whatever sport is being played. In this we are unique. And, of course we do not lose sight of playability, comfort or consistency. In the global synthetic turf industry we often work with advisers and architects who write tenders. Their aim is to achieve a minimum of quality, but the result is that every other supplier too offers the same, and then for the lowest price. This leaves little room for integrating one’s own value or vision into the end product. We aim to show our customers that we have the knowledge and capabilties to achieve the desired result. The specifications can then be drawn up on the basis of a set of requirements, enabling us to be in a better position to offer on added value.’ TenCate Grass also looks at the reuseability of materials, such as the shock pad, and at the potential for as much reuse as possible at the end of their service life.
TenCate Grass is working together with kinetics technologists at the universities of Maastricht and of Amsterdam
Any synthetic turf producer whose focus is first and foremost on the sportsperson cannot avoid the aspect of biomechanics. The movements of footballers and hockey players occur both through and in muscles, joints, joint capsules, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Biomechanics looks at the effects of the forces that are exerted on the human body. These movements are analysed, as is the input from the sportspersons themselves. ‘The use of a three-dimensional camera system that registers movement allows us to follow the sportspersons and calculate the forces behind their movements’, continues Bart Wijers. ‘It is then down to us to find those materials and the composition of synthetic turf that provide the sportsperson with maximum support.'
Incidentally, the results of all the research to date have been used primarily for the development of synthetic turf hockey pitches. The KNHB (The Dutch Hockey Association) is also involved in this. ‘Hockey has a relatively simple synthetic turf system: there is, for example, no infill. You have just two components, so the number of variables is limited. Football synthetic turf, on the other hand, has four components and thus so many more combinations.’