Geosynthetic textiles are polymer fabrics typically used in the construction industry in applications such as roads, drains and other civil engineering projects. They are gaining favor on the job site because of their ability to save money by reducing construction time, material costs and costs for maintaining structures. These fabrics’ ability to improve the productivity of roads and pavements, tunnels and highways across the globe also drives growth in the market.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, especially the Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC) states that includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, is home to some of the world’s busiest and most ambitious construction and engineering work. For this reason, the geosynthetic field is popular and growing in the region.
Mattex Geosynthetics, headquartered in Dubai, is a new player in the geosynthetic market looking to cash in on the region’s enormous growth potential.
Backed by its commitment to become a world player in the geosynthetics market, Mattex is heavily investing in a state-of-the-art, vertically integrated nonwoven geotextile facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), complementing its existing woven geotextile range.
Before making the move into the nonwoven market, Mattex Group started the production of polypropylene slit film woven fabrics in 1996. The group has two state-of-the-art manufacturing sites in Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a production facility in Dubai, UAE. With the new nonwoven site, which is located in Al Jubail, KSA, the group’s total production area of the manufacturing sites has increased to 191,000 square meters. The group has warehouses and representative offices in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, China, U.S. and Africa.
An advantage touted by Mattex Geosynthetics is its direct access to its raw materials, which are manufactured next to its production sites. The company says it maintains total control over the properties from the development of the polymers, through the yarns/fibers extrusion, and the manufacturing of the geotextiles on the latest, state-of-the-art equipment.
Mattex started its production of geosynthetics with polypropylene woven geotextiles. These woven geotextiles are used for separation and stabilization of pavements and unpaved roads, erosion control, reinforcement of earthen structures and for separation and support in other civil engineering applications.
This woven range is now being expanded with the production of a wide variety of nonwoven, high-tenacity geotextiles, used in applications such as filtration, separation and shoreline protection.
To ensure the best possible product development and sustainability, Mattex has recruited geosynthetics experts, including Philippe Grimmelprez, director of sales, marketing and business development at Mattex Geosynthetics, to direct the development, manufacturing, marketing, and technical application support of its geotextiles.
Nonwovens Industry had a chance to catch up with Philippe and talk trends in the geosynthetic market and Mattex’s evolving role in it.
Nonwovens Industry (NWI): What is the latest news at your company on the geotextiles front?
Philippe Grimmelprez, director of sales, marketing and business development, Mattex Geosynthetics: Mattex Geosynthetics has invested in a new state-of-the-art vertically integrated geotextiles factory in Al Jubail, Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. The technology chosen can be considered the best currently available on the market. The polypropylene high tenacity fiber production started already in early 2013 and is being sold into the global market for nonwoven geotextiles manufacturers. In the next few months nonwoven geotextiles production will start.
Mattex Geosynthetics will produce both needlepunched as thermally bonded geotextiles on weights from 70-1200 gsm and this up to widths of 600 cm. The green field project is in the middle of the biggest polymer hub in the world and ideally located for local GCC sales as well as export around the world. This nonwoven geotextiles range will complement the woven geotextiles and agrotextiles range already in production in Mattex’s Dubai weaving plant.
NWI: How would you characterize the GCC market?
Grimmelprez: The GCC market is a relatively unexplored area and education is a crucial part of our day-to-day work. However the speed at which the area grows and learns about the advantage of using geotextiles is phenomenal. More and more quality geotextiles are being used and specified. Low quality geotextiles are being banned. Woven geotextiles, previously not known to the region, are also being used in bigger projects. Road and railway projects, shore protection, landfill and membrane protection and drainage applications still have growth potential.
NWI: What are market estimates and forecasts?
Grimmelprez: All GCC markets are doing well and we also predict growth in the Indian subcontinent as well as China. Using geotextiles as a building material is being considered more and more of a “green” alternative versus conventional construction techniques.
NWI: What is your strategy to maintain a winning edge in the market?
Grimmelprez: To offer a full product range of top quality geotextiles along with a consultancy service to give advice to present and future customers.
NWI: How is the competitive outlook?
Grimmelprez: Heavy investment in the recent years has created oversupply. The market needs some time to absorb the huge new capacity installed. Old technology and low quality products are being replaced with top quality products. We see more and more that performance is considered more important these days as opposed to previous concerns over weight.
NWI: Please describe your offerings to the geotextiles market?
Grimmelprez: Mattex Geosynthetics is heavily investing in the newest technology, R&D and staff. The aim is to reduce our carbon footprint, raw materials used and reduce logistical costs. The vertically integrated plant close to the polymer suppliers guarantees an ultra efficient set up with no additional charges on logistical costs of polymers and fibers.
NWI: How would you describe the state of the geotextiles market?
Grimmelprez: The geotextiles market has evolved extremely fast and nowadays is growing more quickly due to high performance geotextiles available in the market. The wide width material currently available on six meters reduces overlaps at the construction sites, optimizes the logistics and speeds up installation.
NWI: What factors are helping the geotextiles market grow?
Grimmelprez: Government support and the policing of the quality of the products in the market by authorities and educators.
NWI: In terms of geography, what are the global trends as well as regional trends that are shifting and shaping the geotextiles market?
Grimmelprez: Education in the mature markets offers growth potential. Emerging and frontier markets need the necessary education and governmental support. There is a huge potential for growth if the market is able to filter out bad quality materials, which give the sector a bad image.
NWI: Where and what types of investments are being made to help grow your geotextiles business?
Grimmelprez: We are investing in extra R&D, sales and training efforts.
NWI: How important is green or sustainability in the geotextiles market?
Grimmelprez: The very latest technology is being used that offers lower energy consumption than older machines. Mattex produces its products from nearby oil sources, which results in a lower carbon footprint than manufacturers who produce far from polymer sources. The use of geosynthetics in engineering projects is considered very “green” and sustainable versus projects built with traditional construction techniques. Geosynthetics can save on natural resources significantly.
NWI: What kinds of technology innovations are we seeing in the geotextiles market?
Grimmelprez: Performance versus weight. Significant ongoing research in performance improvements is being conducting. Education of the market on the advantage of wovens versus nonwoven versus geogrids versus conventional building products is also important.