Interview with Moez Dahmani, Sales Director for Western Europe and North Africa.
"There is a clear opportunity in liquid waterproofing systems."
As a specialist in raising awareness of Tecnopol's products, Moez Dahmani, speaks regularly with all types of specifiers looking for solutions for their projects.
In a few years polyurea has revolutionized the way of waterproofing roofs and exteriors, do designers know the virtues of polyurea?
In recent years, designers have increasingly valued the use of polyurea, due to its fast reaction and drying time. It adapts to any shape, no matter how irregular it may be, offering good chemical and mechanical resistance superior to other waterproofing products.
One of the most outstanding advantages of waterproofing with polyurea is that it offers excellent resistance to abrasion, wear, compression and tear; in addition to other qualities such as thermal resistance, electrical insulation, density and watertightness, it also offers good flexibility at low temperatures, resistance to acid or alkaline media and good adaptation to most substrates.
Is there a common nexus in the way you project in the different countries and markets you work for that makes a difference in the type of products or solutions you offer them?
The dynamics of the waterproofing systems market is conditioned by different aspects of which I would highlight four:
The growing demand for cost-effective and efficient waterproofing systems.
Waterproofing systems are an important part of construction projects, providing various benefits including protection against UV radiation, chemical resistance, heat resistance, waterproofing during the rainy season, durability and strength; which helps to increase the service life of structures. In addition, these systems must be easy to install and labor-saving, which helps reduce repair and maintenance costs in the short and long term. Waterproofing systems based on Polyurea and Pu Elastomers are lightweight and easy to transport and install, and offer a 25-year CE category W3 service life. In addition, their environmental impact is lower in relation to systems based on PVC, EPDM, MB and TPO.
Compared to other waterproofing alternatives, the installation of Polyurea and PU systems do not require less labor and are faster to install, reaching 1000m2 per day. This makes them an excellent option for residential and commercial sectors.
Limitations: potential environmental and health issues
Compared to Polyurea and PU elastomers, the use of PVC, EPDM, MB and TPO waterproofing membranes poses more environmental risks during processing, manufacturing, transportation and even during installation, and also presents several health risks; for example, when applying bitumen-based membranes, workers may be exposed to volatile fumes. Prolonged exposure to these fumes can cause health problems. Although there is a changing trend towards POLIUREA and Pu membranes, bituminous membranes still represent a significant share of the market among other waterproofing membranes. This means that a large portion of workers, especially in emerging economies, are vulnerable to their exposure. The processing and manufacturing of these waterproofing systems requires more energy resources and damages the environment by releasing toxic fumes and VOCs into the atmosphere. However, the proper use of respirators, protective clothing and environmentally friendly alternatives mitigate these factors.
Challenge: Volatility of raw material prices
The raw materials used to manufacture waterproofing systems are mainly extracted from crude oil. Crude oil is one of the important energy sources that contributed to 27.3% of global primary energy consumption in 2015, according to BP's Statistical Energy Review. The average spot price of crude oil reached USD 52 per barrel at the end of December 2016 from a low of USD 29.8 per barrel at the end of January 2016. The crude oil price is on a recovery path and stabilized in the range of USD 55-60 per barrel in 2017. However, due to the current pandemic situation, countries banned both domestic and international travel. Which has led to a large drop in demand for transportation fuel, further affecting crude oil prices. However, oil prices are expected to increase due to renewed demand from China. Due to fluctuating crude oil prices, raw material prices for waterproofing systems are also affected.
Building structures are the largest consumer of waterproofing systems.
Building structures are areas that exclude roofs and walls such as balconies, basements, foundations, retaining walls, storage rooms, subway constructions and others. Structures are often exposed to stresses such as exposure to water, exposure to groundwater chemicals, uneven static forces, temperature variations, biological influences and others. Waterproofing these structures provides effective, long-term protection against these exposures and ensures effective protection of building structures.
What challenges do you face in today's waterproofing market, both in Western Europe and North Africa?
In general there is a growing demand for waterproofing systems which is due to the search for cost effective and efficient materials in new building construction or else in the refurbishment and maintenance market in the EU, it is the same trend in emerging countries although the growth is not in line with the market inertia, this decrease is basically due to the Impact of COVID-19 on the waterproofing systems market, waterproofing systems are mainly used in the construction industry. The pandemic has affected this industry. Blockade in various countries and logistic constraints, rising cost of international transportation, supply chain disruptions, limited availability and rising cost of various raw materials, low liquidity of companies...all these factors have adversely affected the industry. Companies are forced to re-evaluate their strategies to serve this industry during this period of crisis.
Are there any type of works in which you work on a very regular basis, such as building rehabilitation, public or sports facilities, parking lots, etc.?
In general and as a result of the multitude of uses and the polyvalence of the polyurea and PU membrane, as waterproofing or floor covering Tecnopol is active in multiple types of building applications. To cite some of the fields in which we are most required: Roofs and decks in residential or industrial buildings. Water treatment or wastewater treatment plants. Balconies, basements, foundation foundations, retaining walls. Bridges. Railway and subway systems. Marine loading docks and harbors. Concrete canals and dams. Industrial floors. Parking structures and parking lots.
As a result of the pandemic, telecommuting and digital work has become widespread, what are the disadvantages and advantages for you?
Telecommuting is a way of working that allows a person to develop his or her professional activity outside the premises of the company with which he or she is contracted. This trend is expected to reverse after the COVID-19 crisis, where many companies have been forced to implement it.
But teleworking also entails making fewer trips and travels to visit worksites, projects and being able to give direct on-site technical assistance; in addition to some minimal occupational risks, amplified by distance and isolation, it is important to maintain social ties, manage time and workload.
How do you see the economic evolution of both markets and Tecnopol's presence in them in the short term?
After the conclusion of this crisis, the market is expected to revive and increase the demand for waterproofing systems, moreover, "I see a clear opportunity in the creation of environmentally friendly waterproofing systems for green buildings". Waterproofing systems are increasingly subject to VOC content requirements and an involvement in environmental conservation; many manufacturers have invested in R&D and are providing more and more solutions, with a minimal environmental and human footprint. Manufacturers are increasingly accrediting their products with green certifications for use in sustainable construction projects.