The core aspects of R&D for Vietnam’s flooring industry

December 28, 2023 | 11:04
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By investing in the production of new material lines, core rigid vinyl flooring manufacturers can achieve their profit objectives. However, only a limited number of companies can effectively narrow the gap by augmenting their investment in research.

The most recent iteration of flooring materials is core rigid vinyl. This innovative technology has five layers UV coating, wear layer, decor film layer, core layer, and pack padding and has caused a flooring industry revolution.

The core aspects of R&D for Vietnam’s flooring industry
Le Quang, coo, Neo Floor

The product is at the forefront of consumer trends in the US, Europe, South Korea, and Japan, and its superior qualities in comparison to previous generations of conventional flooring include water resistance, fire resistance, effective isolation, a variety of designs, and safety for consumers.

Neo Floor, which is a member of Pha Le Group, benefits from a plentiful supply of CaCO3 stone material (which comprises 75 per cent of the volume of the product’s core layer) and the formula for combining CaCO3 with additives, which enables the company to master the application technology for constructing core rigid vinyl floors.

In 2019, a group of professors and physicians from the Polymer Materials Research Centre, affiliated with Hanoi University of Science and Technology, initiated the development of this formulation in conjunction with Neo Floor.

Emphasising the importance of fostering research and development (R&D) to establish competitive advantages, Neo Floor is dedicating up to 3 per cent of its annual revenue towards such efforts. The R&D division serves three primary purposes: conducting market and survey research; enhancing products, technologies, and materials; and investigating and developing new products.

Neo Floor is establishing three golden objectives for 2024. First is to conduct an initial market survey, investigation, and development of new potential markets, including but not limited to Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, and South Korea. Second is to develop novel sources of competitively priced basic materials that are of high quality. And third is to introduce new technology products featuring a lightweight, resilient central layer, and advanced production technology.

Currently, R&D for core rigid vinyl products focuses on enhancing the durability of thin products, preventing surface blemishes, and reducing floor weight. As a result, prevalent core rigid vinyl R&D activities frequently focus on the formulations, stability, and increased durability of the core layer; enhancing the product’s scratch resistance, which is inferior to ceramic tiles or laminate flooring; and simultaneously refining the surface to resemble genuine wood more closely. The reduction of core weight is crucial to enhancing product value through the mitigation of shipping volume and logistics expenses.

Eco-friendly products are a primary consideration for development
Eco-friendly products are a primary consideration for development

Neo Floor’s challenge is to optimise costs, speed, and security to remain competitive with large manufacturers such as China. The company should also be receptive to information and insights from partners and competitors, as Chinese manufacturers continue to have a significant impact on the flooring industry.

At present, the number of global manufacturers capable of producing core rigid vinyl products featuring a lightweight core layer is limited. Neo Floor plans to introduce this product at the International Surfaces Event in February 2024, the largest flooring materials trade show in the US, held annually in Las Vegas.

R&D is crucial in bolstering the competitive edge of organisations, facilitating elevated technological benchmarks, fostering increased productivity, expanding market presence, and diversifying production. On the other hand, R&D can be risky investment that is more challenging to effectively control than regular production and business operations, since companies cannot predict costs. Maintaining a competitive position, however, is challenging for organisations that do not invest.

Consequently, R&D as well as enhancing and devising production processes and technology are critical endeavours that yield numerous advantages. These include establishing a competitive edge over rivals, expanding market presence, and maximising monopoly profits. In light of the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is critical for every business to encourage R&D.

Research and development for core rigid vinyl products often focuses on boosting durability
Research and development for core rigid vinyl products often focuses on boosting durability

At the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Neo Floor assembled pre-eminent experts in materials technology to form a specialised R&D block. A suitable proportion of annual business activities’ funds are allocated to R&D, ensuring continuity from the outset of product development.

Human health and environmentally favourable products are the primary considerations in the development of the company’s merchandise. The trend towards replacing traditional flooring materials like wood and natural stone with rigid core plastic flooring products is what drives this development.

These products feature various properties similar to those of natural materials, but they have superior properties, including resistance to termite shrinkage and fire spread, water absorption, and ease of installation. The composition is devoid of heavy metals, carcinogens, and formaldehyde in particular; therefore, it is extremely environmentally and user-friendly. Due to its confined operation, the production process minimises environmental emissions.

Neo Floor, a major manufacturer of core rigid vinyl floors in Vietnam, has an annual floor capacity of 26 million sq.m, which accounts for approximately half of domestic production. This lays the groundwork for the organisation to execute enduring contractual agreements in the future.

The company, which entered the construction materials market five years ago, has amassed a sufficient scale to satisfy the stringent output and quality demands of international clients.

The water-resistant properties and extended lifespan of such flooring products have contributed to their rapid global expansion, particularly in the US. Since 2019, this product line has dominated the construction materials market.

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By Le Quang

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