One of the undisputed highlights of last month's INDEX show was the presentation of the INDEX awards. These seven awards, spanning a range of categories, showcased a number of new innovations ranging from automotive carpet to an insect repellant blanket to a formaldehyde-free binder to inspection equipment that lowers the cost of diaper production. Additionally, a number of companies were awarded for their efforts toward sustainability. Winners in this category include a sustainability process, a pollution pays process and software that helps companies improve the lifecycle assessment of their manufacturing process.
These awards, given every three years in conjunction with the INDEX show, are just one of many award competitions in the nonwovens industry. The IDEA show has its own awards program as does the Vision Conference, recognizing innovation in consumer products, and the World of Wipes conference, gives companies in the wipes supply chain a chance to show their innovations with its own competition
The fact that not only so many awards competitions exist but also that they attract such a large number of nominations time and time again, shows how the nonwovens industry is evolving on all levels—from raw materials to machinery to the final nonwoven and end use product.
Moving forward, as nonwovens manufacturers, strive to move the hundreds of thousands of tons of new capacity currently being installed worldwide, we will certainly continue to see new developments on the roll goods level and, by extension, in consumer products. Take for example, PGI's insect repellent blanket, one of this year's INDEX award winners. Who would have thought such a product would have existed a few years ago?
And, while PGI is one of the world's largest makers of nonwovens, it won't necessarily be the major players who will contribute the world's next blockbuster nonwoven product. Some of the most interesting examples of new products—like Boogie Wipes or Germy Wormy—were developed by entrepreneurs looking to solve a problem and finding the solution in nonwovens. Hopefully, the nonwovens industry will continue to embrace this entrepreneurial spirit and welcome new product ideas into the marketplace.