Geosynthetics and leisure: to shield and protect
Woven and finished geosynthetics are suitable for a number of applications in active and passive recreation. Examples include fabrics for trampolines, swimming pool covers, and for sheltering terraces. Here too everything comes down to Protecting people.
TenCate Geosynthetics has three business units: Civil Works (infrastructure), Water & Environment (hydrological and environmental projects) and Industrial Fabrics (agriculture, horticulture, livestock farming and recreation). The product portfolio of Industrial Fabrics includes fabrics for covering and insulating swimming pools, for trampolines, and for sheltering and separating tennis courts and terraces.
The production of TenCate Permatron® trampoline fabric is carried out at TenCate Industrial Zhuhai and – for the North and South American market and Latin America – at TenCate Geosynthetics in Cornelia (Georgia, United States).
The market in this part of the world is stable, although there has been marked growth in recent years thanks to the popularity of indoor trampoline parks. So it’s not only private consumers that are more frequently buying a trampoline. In Europe too the coming of trampoline halls, such as Bounz with its trampoline arenas and tumble tracks, signals further professionalization.
There are two qualities of covering for swimming pools (safety pool covers) and these are produced at the TenCate factories in Cornelia and Nijverdal. The summer quality is a double-layer heat-retention fabric that combats evaporation and therefore heat loss. The winter quality serves as a safety net, shielding the pool from dirt, falling leaves and other sources of contamination, and helping to substantially limit the growth of bacteria. Both fabrics help to protect children and animals if they accidentally end up in the pool.
Swimming pool covers, both for the private market and for resorts, hotels and the like, generate a significant part of the sales revenue of the business unit Industrial Fabrics. This market too is fairly stable. Like trampolines, swimming pools are more popular in the United States than in Europe – particularly in the southern states, where temperatures are higher. ‘When I travel by airplane, I’m always amazed to see how many homes have pools in the back yard,’ says Mark Torre, sales manager National & Industrial Accounts of TenCate Geosynthetics. New developments such as digital printing can help the customer and end-user to achieve distinction in design and colour – although such applications are seldom used as yet.
In Cornelia TenCate also produces skimmer covers, windscreens for tennis courts and materials for barriers. Skimmer covers protect fixed or floating filters (skimmers) in a swimming pool or pond. Materials for privacy screening and crowd control facilitate wind and visual protection, the efficient marshalling of large groups of people at major events and the separation of activities, such as cartridge collection at paintball matches.
In the United States we also find geosynthetics around football and baseball pitches, in coverings for athletics fields (for example during the performance of cheerleaders) and even in the cushions of stadium seats. TenCate shade fabric is very popular on camping sites in Italy.
Geosynthetics for the sport and recreation market constitute a business-to-business activity, where distributers and installers play an important role in marketing and sales. They buy the rolls of geosynthetics and process them on site. According to Julie Patty, market manager Industrial Fabrics in Pendergrass (Georgia), social media are rarely used at the moment for marketing these and other materials. ‘In this respect we’re still in the initial stage. Our customers do make use of Facebook but there is also considerable word-of-mouth advertising. Anyone who goes to a tennis club or swimming pool is automatically exposed to it.’
The American and European sister companies cooperate in product development, although some regional differences still remain. In the United States the fabric is calendered, making it shiny and smoother, but there is no demand for this in the European market. In the United States TenCate has developed hurricane barrier fabric − storm-resistant material comparable to trampoline fabric and available in different colours. Its primary function is to protect the property of home and hotel owners against flying rubble and torrential rains. It is light in weight, flexible and resistant to UV and chemicals.