With the growth of artificial turf facilities around North America, forward thinking field designers and constructors need to be aware of how to maintain excellent playability and build it right - right from the start. The selection of appropriate high-performance infill materials is a key factor in field performance and one which should not be taken lightly or compromised.
Today’s reality is that the synthetic turf business has become anything but a level playing field. Intense competition has become the name of the game. There are countless combinations of infill materials applied on new and retro-fit fields across the U.S., most of which utilize silica sand and/or crumb rubber or TPE. With warranty offerings always at the forefront of customers’ requirements, virtually all field constructors have had to focus on a couple of basic field absolutes: playability and drainage. While many infill manufacturers and producers have come forward to service the synthetic turf industry some have simply put forth materials developed for other industries. In some instances, these off-the-shelf products may offer appealing initial cost savings for certain field installs – especially where razor-thin margins are a concern. However, the real value of quality infill materials needs to be viewed from a much higher level.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to infill material. Truthfully – a high quality field requires high quality infill materials.
If the moral of the story is “to get quality infill you must pay for quality infill,” how then do we address this single most anticipated question: how do field contractors stay competitive when faced with infill-quality undercutting by their competition? The answer lies somewhere in the course of best-value analysis or quite simply put: the lowest cost material doesn’t always lead to the best overall cost value for the company. Here are some things to consider:
1. Choose a supplier based on their industry experience, knowledge, QC programs, and past ability to deliver quality product
2. Look at the cost of your infill materials versus that of the entire project: how much extra cost is really added to the bottom line by buying high-quality, in-spec infill versus the potential for large rebuild & warranty costs later?
3. Evaluate your supplier’s production capacity. Will your infill supplier be able to deliver the quantities you require, when required? If contract trucking is required, will transport be available in this lane on shipping day?
4. Allow experienced third-party material and logistics providers to handle your infill procurement needs. For minimal extra cost, well-connected industry specialists can provide supply-chain strategies, guaranteed quality programs, in-spec inventory, and the freight components necessary to handle your infill requirements for you.
5. Quality infill may cost more, but ultimately adds performance value to your product marketing.
When ordering silica sand, crumb rubber or TPE for your synthetic turf projects, the use of high-performance infill materials needs to be a reflection of commitment to build quality fields. Quality infill adds only inches to costs – but yards to performance. Do it right the first time.