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Matthias Windmöller

2017-05-19 President of the MMFA - Multilayer Modular Flooring Association Interview

"Our meeting in Porto was a big success"

In this interview Matthias Windmöller, President of the MMFA, talks about the success of the MMFA General Assembly 2017 in Porto and share his vision about trends in this industry, as well as the MMFA's achievements and future plans. 

How would you describe this year's MMFA General Assembly?

Our meeting in Porto was a big success. We had two compact days packed with project work in our technical and market development groups, with intensive discussions and highly interesting lectures. The locations at the Hotel Solverde and at Amorim were just perfect. – And so was the organization by the Amorim team in Porto. So in the name of the members, the executive board and the secretariat we would like to cordially thank Mr. António Amorim and his entire staff – and here especially Mr. Diogo Marques – for their hospitality, their generosity and their organizational support in connection with our meeting. They all guaranteed that all our attendees were able to enjoy an impressive and diverting event. They made us feel at home and took care of us in the best way imaginable. Complemented by the strong content of the different lectures and discussions we surely enhanced the basis for the future success of both our product category and our association.

Regarding the themes presented and discussed during the sessions, which would you point out as the main conclusions?

The market for MMF products keeps growing, and the MMFA wishes to play a positive and pro-active role for the successful development of multilayer products in the future. In our market development group we aim to improve our overall assessment of global markets, and with our regular MMFA statistics we will provide more market transparency for the sector. Furthermore we will continue our work towards the worldwide implementation of high quality standards for the innovative multilayer products. And we look forward to a positive und fruitful partnership with the newly founded MFA Multilayer Flooring Association in North America. We were very happy that MFA president Harlan Stone accepted our invitation to come to Porto, and in return I as the MMFA president received an invitation to join the first MFA member meeting in the US later this summer. Together our associations can make a bigger difference for modular multilayer flooring worldwide. To give customers peace of mind, only the best quality products should be able to assert themselves on the market.

“The flooring market has been literally ‘exploding’ during the last couple of years, and new products have been popping up like mushrooms.”

How would you define nowadays' flooring industry?

The flooring market has been literally ‘exploding’ during the last couple of years, and new products have been popping up like mushrooms. Although the sales figures are pleasing, the rapid pace of product developments and the ensuing consequences are under close scrutiny by the MMFA as they make the product spectrum for MMF flooring even more confusing. Completely new structures have appeared, as well as modifications to existing product compositions and new developments in click connections. Standardization is struggling to keep up with the changing product landscape. So the MMFA is all the more resolved to fight for the implementation of consistent, high quality standards for all MMF products across the board.

After this assembly, what would you point as the biggest flooring trends in Europe?

Rigid MMF products are becoming more and more popular, and we register a slow but constant growth of class 2 products (polymer core) in Europe. We also see a growing demand for water-resistant products which are perfect for use in different areas not only in private kitchens and bathrooms, but also in the commercial sector.

What do you think that companies must do in order to keep growing in this market?

Never stop improving your products!

Which materials and technologies do you think have the potential to improve and bring new solutions to this industry?

As for technologies, industrial digital printing is one of the big future technologies for the industry. And when considering new and promising materials, there is a lot of development to be seen e.g. in bio-based polymers which are economically friendly and help to optimize the performance features of the MMF products.

“Cork is one of the fascinating hidden champions for so many sectors, I can’t even start to rank the most valuable characteristics.”

Concerning cork, which cork characteristics do you value most? Do you agree that cork is past, present and future material for the flooring business?

The diversity of applications – far beyond the flooring business – the top performance and also the important factor of sustainability makes cork probably one of the most amazing materials to work with. The presentations we all had at the Amorim plant were extremely impressive. Cork is one of the fascinating hidden champions for so many sectors, I can’t even start to rank the most valuable characteristics.

On your website, you describe MMFA as an international platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences between producers of multilayer modular flooring and their supply industries. Could you give us some examples of MMFA's achievements?

The MMFA experts join forces in many ways: We are actively leading the way with our own research and are committed to developing up-to-date, practical solutions. Ultimately, we want future consumers to be reassured that they will only get products with reliably tested characteristics.

We actively contribute to the work for the international CEN and ISO standards, and we have already published several MMFA technical bulletins, e.g. Underlay materials under MMF floor coverings, Installation of MMF floor coverings or Cleaning and maintenance of MMF floor coverings.

In view of the growing diversity of mixed products on the market, some of the test methods used so far are no longer adequate – in some areas, completely new test standards need to be developed. We want to take on the leading international role here by carrying out our own research work and using the collective expertise of our MMFA members.

Recent examples of our own MMFA research are our findings regarding new parameters for testing locking strength and temperature resistance. All results from the project will be channeled directly back into the CEN for the continued development of content for standards relating to multilayer and LVT. In this way, the MMFA will be contributing towards international implementation of uniform quality standards for modular multilayer flooring, for the purpose of safety in handling and use.

The MMFA is also working on a new and comprehensive pilot project “Hot Spot” concerning upper surface hot spots on MMF flooring – a situation that can occur in practice through solar radiation, e.g. with floor-to-ceiling glazing. The aim of this research is to work out new, practical test methods for floating MMF flooring installations, taking into account the different click systems and a variety of underlay materials.

“We wish to play a positive role in the future development of multilayer products.”

Can we ask you to share with us MMFA's plans for the future?

Our main goals are to continue our expansion course by acquisition of new members, to establish a close cooperation and mutual exchange with the MFA in the US, to promote clear structures and transparent markets – that includes the refinement of our MMFA statistics – , and the improvement of our market intelligence. With a higher number of producers reporting their sales volume, we will be able to document more comprehensive sales figures for modular multilayer flooring, thus allowing the Association to compile a more accurate analysis of the market situation and global trends.

In the technical field we are aiming for the highest standards and top-quality products worldwide, follow our research projects (e.g. ‚hot spot‘), we want to elaborate new test specifications & requirements and contribute to international standardization work. Continuing the development of international product standards is a vital pre-requisite for allowing safe and high-quality MMF flooring to assert itself in future, in all markets if possible.

Members of the MMFA are fully aware that there is still a great need for clarification on modular multilayer flooring (MMF). The intention here is to achieve high standards of quality and knowledge, across as wide an area as possible.

The MMFA maintains a cooperative dialogue with other associations in the flooring sector and its associated lines of industry. We believe that all players benefit from these detailed technical exchanges. We wish to play a positive role in the future development of multilayer products.

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