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A myriad of entrance mats21st of September 2013
Shape mats, logo mats, anti-fatigue mats – these and other refinements of the simple entrance mat are becoming increasingly common. But is their appeal growing, or do most customers simply require a functional matting system that keeps the dirt off their floors?
Matting, like many other aspects of life today, is becoming increasingly complex. When choosing an entrance mat for an office, retail outlet, hospital or other facility, the chief aim will be to keep the building clean and ensure the reception area maintains a smart appearance.
But matting companies are increasingly offering more novel products such as shape mats, logo mats, industrial matting and anti-fatigue mats. But are people actively seeking such products, or do most customers simply want a mat that will keep their floors clean?
In fact a matting company should consider themselves lucky if any thought at all is put into the choice of floor covering according to 3M European market development manager Richard Jones.
“People don’t tend to think about mats very much – they are a low-involvement purchase and often an afterthought, even though every building will have one,” he said. “Most people basically simply want a mat that works.”
He says the bulk of the company’s customers – around 80 per cent – require a durable matting system that will absorb water and trap dirt. “Most of the market is made up of mats that offer a combination of fibres: fine fibres for moisture absorption and coarse fibres for scraping the dirt off shoes,” he said.
However, he adds there is a definite market for products such as logo mats in environments where it is important for the customer to put their brand across. “This market is growing, but only by a few percentage points every year,” said Jones. “Logo mats tend to be required for specific occasions such as major sporting events.”
He says there is also a market for cushioned anti-fatigue mats in areas where people need to stand for long periods at a time. “These are popular in kitchens, behind bars and on production lines for example,” he said.
3M now offers a more specialised product in the shape of a series of aluminium-framed mats for use in high-traffic and wheeled-traffic environments. The 3M Nomad Optima Plus range is available in three formats - closed construction, open construction and in a slim version – all of which are aimed at busy areas such as airports and large shopping centres.
The open construction mat allows the dirt to drop through the aluminium rails. The mat can then be rolled up to allow the dirt to drop out. The closed construction version, on the other hand, can be cleaned using a powerful vacuum cleaner which means there is no need to roll up the mat.
According to country manager at Mountville Mats Pieterjan Defoort, logo mats are the company’s fastest-growing sector. “The variety of mats on the market has grown rapidly in recent years,” he said.
“They were historically only used to stop dirt and moisture from entering a customer’s facility, but they are now used for a variety of applications.”
He says the fact that printing resolution capability is now better than ever has produced an upsurge in logo mat sales. Mountville Mills recently introduced high-definition logo mats that can be printed at 5,776 dots per square inch.
“These mats are photo-realistic and we can print in up to 16 million colours,” said Defoort. “Many customers use these mats for advertising and promotion purposes – perhaps even incorporating a photograph of their latest products rather than merely featuring their company logo.”
According to Defoort customers are also increasingly demanding products that are more environmentally friendly, such as mats made with recycled materials. Shape mats are another growing trend, he says.
“Today’s architects use many different types of revolving door and this is why irregular-shaped mats and entrance systems are growing in popularity,” he says. Mountville’s WaterHog Eco Elite rolled mats are designed to fit into any entrance system and the company also offers WaterHog matting in an entrance tile format. This system is typically sold in high-traffic areas such as airports, schools and hospitals.
According to Defoort, anti-fatigue mats are the company’s second-fastest growing sector. “These types of mat used to be made of PVC foam and were only available in large rolls,” he said. “But we at Mountville have developed a complete series of linkable tiles for any industrial application.” This linking mechanism is said to allow customers to custom-fit their anti-fatigue mats or install them in very large areas.
“A vast majority of mats are still rectangular in shape, but this trend is shifting to more custom-fit products,” he said. He claims that an increasing range of customers are choosing to install specialised matting systems.
“WaterHog products tend to appeal to image-conscious customers who want to combine high performance with style, while anti-fatigue mats work well in industrial applications and anywhere where employees need to stand to do their job,” he said. “And logo mats are used for a wide variety of businesses and shops.”
Superior Manufacturing Group marketing manager Giselle Dirckx says logo mats, shape mats and anti-fatigue mats are all important to her company’s business.
“Logo mats that have been custom-printed with a company logo or welcome message will reinforce a company’s brand and provide a good first impression for people entering the building,” she said. The printing technology on the company’s Notrax’s BrilliantStep logo mats allows for three-dimensional effects, fine lines and colour shading according to Dirckx. The mats are available in custom sizes.
The company also offers a range of anti-fatigue and safety matting under the Notrax brand along with a matting system aimed at food production and food service environments. “This will increase safety and help to avoid the problem of slips and falls while also preventing contamination through the use of antibacterial treatments,” said Dirckx.
Logo mats growing trend
Another innovation from Superior is the Notrax Oct-O-Flex which has been purpose-designed to cope with wheelchairs and other wheeled traffic. “This incorporates small drainage holes that allow rain and snow to drain away in outdoor applications while also being suitable for wheelchairs,” she said. Bevelled edges and an anti-slip surface are additional safety features of the system.
Senior PR at CWS-Boco Madeleine Pilpin says logo matting is becoming a growing trend. “This is the case even where dust control mats are concerned,” she said. “A coherent corporate image suggests professionalism and ensures brand recognition while supporting long-term customer loyalty.”
CWS-Boco offers logo mats in 99 standard colours and more than 600 shades. These can incorporate brand logos and other design elements.
“There are still a huge amount of standard mats circulating, but the market share of more individual mats is rising,” said Pilpin. “Approximately two-third of mats are standard mats whereas logo mats make up the remaining third.”
She says shape mats are a relative newcomer to the market but are showing promise as a market sector. “With the possibility to freely individualise forms, colours and designs, providers can
meet customer demand for more individuality, fresh colours and modern designs,” she said.
She adds that industrial mats are becoming increasingly common in tough environments such as production halls. “These come with special anchoring and the ability to absorb dirt from vehicles used in production areas,” she said. “They are also strong enough to survive contact with forklifts and sudden braking.”
The company offers anti-fatigue mats which Pilpin claims will react even to slight movements. “These have positive effects on the joints and the blood flow which makes standing more comfortable,” she said. “They can be used wherever staff are required to stand for long periods such as in hotel reception areas and trade shows and can prevent tiredness, back pain and leg muscle problems.”
So, do most customers want a specialised matting system or merely a product that keeps out the dirt? “Customers want both,” said Mountville Mats’ Pieterjan Defoort. “They want a product that is stylish – but one that also offers the high performance of an industrial matting system.”
Pilpin adds: “There is a growing demand for more individual mats whether in terms of their shape and colour or for mats that have an individual design, special logo or slogan.”
And according to Superior Manufacturing Group’s Giselle Dirckx, factors such as tougher legislation and new building codes have made such additional features of entrance matting systems more important.
“The entrances of buildings today need to be up to code I order to prevent slips and falls while also being accessible for wheelchairs,” she said. “Meanwhile there is increasing pressure to reduce the financial impact of entrance cleaning as well as the environmental impact of using cleaning chemicals. And since it is becoming increasingly important to prolong the useable life of interior flooring, many companies are under pressure to install a multi-functional entrance matting system rather than just an ordinary mat.“