Under the banner “European laminate reinvents itself time after time”, the initiative was unanimously approved at the last EPLF General Assembly in May 2017. The EPLF then introduced its Innovation Manifesto in November 2017, at a special trade press conference during the Branchentag Holz show in Cologne.
The EPLF – an association of innovators
Mr Schindler described the motivation behind it all: “All around us, the market is moving faster than ever and on an international level in particular, different perceptions of products and quality are causing uncertainty for retailers and end customers. This is where the EPLF is able and willing to provide guidance.” The educational work carried out by the EPLF should help to separate the wheat from the chaff, i.e. to make the distinction between cut-price products and sustainably produced quality flooring. European manufacturers view this as an important task – not only in the Asian markets and in new sales regions, but likewise in the domestic markets. EPLF Executive Board Member Paul De Cock added: “Laminate is justifiably one of the biggest-selling floor coverings of all. But not all laminate is the same, and this is our core message for all markets.”
The EPLF provides a central platform for establishing quality standards for better laminate worldwide – in the interests of the consumer and out of a sense of responsibility for its own colleagues and the environment. It is thanks to the commitment of the association’s member companies and the activities of the EPLF itself that significant milestones have been reached in laminate development. Everyone in the EPLF undertakes to carry this commitment forward, most importantly by implementing the manifesto, and the work of the association and all its players is firmly focused on this.
European laminate is the best in the world – but why?
The European laminate industry has worked hard for many years to establish itself as market leader. And to make sure it stays that way, European manufacturers never rest on their laurels; the passion and enthusiasm for the products they make is what motivates these industry players to continuously evolve. Added to that is their firm belief that sustainable product quality, future-proofed design and innovative technologies will win through in the long term. Both manufacturers and suppliers harness their creativity and technical expertise to reinvent their flooring, time after time, consistently aligning their products to benefit their customers. This is how European laminate is able to excel, time and time again. Staying true to its motto “Quality and Innovation made in Europe”, the EPLF wishes to put the spotlight firmly on the special innovative strength of its members by presenting an association award for excellence in this area for the first time.
Laminate Innovation Award
The Laminate Innovation Award constitutes a key building block in the association’s Innovation Manifesto. EPLF Vice Chairman Max von Tippelskirch commented: “We want to actively encourage the innovation process among our member companies by honouring highly successful innovation projects after consulting with our membership and technical institutes.” All ordinary and supporting members of the EPLF can submit ongoing or completed projects for the prize, which will be awarded in three categories: digitalisation, qualification and sustainability. The decision-making will be at two levels and will represent the breadth of the industry and the depth of expert opinion at the same time. One level will take the form of an online vote by EPLF member companies, specialised journalists and industry multipliers plus their readers; the other will run in parallel and will be a vote by an expert jury who will evaluate the projects submitted. The work of the jury will be moderated by a well-known institute. Only projects will be honoured, not companies or specific products. The prize-giving will take place at a small ceremony during the subsequent Domotex in Hanover.
Working towards increased transparency and quality
As well as incentivising individual members to innovate, the EPLF continues to pursue major joint projects in the fields of standardisation and technology. The EU-sponsored “Castor Chair Test” is still underway and will run until August 2019. This involves experts from the EPLF Technical Committee developing new test methods and test equipment in cooperation with the IHD Institute for Wood Technology in Dresden. On the subject of “deeply-textured surfaces”, the EPLF has proposed an annex to EN 13329 at CEN level. The new test methods for deep surface textures resulting from the pilot project successfully completed by the EPLF are to be integrated into this standard.
At the present time, draft standard prEN16354:2017-09 is about to be put to the final vote (“Laminate floor coverings – Underlays – Specifications, requirements and test methods”). It includes test methods for determining the technical characteristics of underlays under laminate flooring and also defines minimum performance requirements for the flooring underlay system. Dr Theo Smet, Executive Board Member and Acting Chairman of the EPLF Technical Committee, looks upon this revision as further progress: “EN standard 16354 guarantees the technical comparability of different underlay materials. In its new version, it will continue to promote rivalry between businesses to improve the quality level of these products. That means an improvement in the entire laminate flooring system – which will benefit all customers!”
Looking to the future, EPLF members can continue to stand up to international competition on the flooring markets with confidence; the creative potential of laminate remains infinite, and products manufactured in Europe are constantly developing, both in appearance and in technical terms. Looking forward to a new year for laminate in 2018, EPLF Chairman Ludger Schindler confidently stated: “Our common goal for 2018 is to win over even more customers with the quality of our products, to stabilise our sales figures in our traditional markets and increase sales in new areas.