2017 has flown by in what was an incredible year for the turf industry globally. Sports Labs responded to this increased activity by opening a new laboratory and becoming an innovation partner of KNVB in Zeist, Netherlands. We also began operations in Scandinavia and South America, underscoring our commitment to providing responsive, high-quality services exactly where markets demand it.

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We attribute our success to providing the services that our clients want, so we must say thank you to all our customers all over the globe for their support – we appreciate you. In testing hundreds of pitches in over 30 countries and certifying hundreds of products in our laboratory in Scotland, we provided services to all major manufacturers and many of the leading contractors.

2017 was a year of consolidation for Sports Labs as we tackled the many issues rooted in the implementation of three new global standards all activated at the same time. We also worked to complete many of our innovation projects which we are profoundly committed to because innovation is at the core of our company strategy.

2018 is the year we begin to use our player perception feedback collected from the app that enables players to share their experiences of playing on a variety of surfaces. Their direct input, backed by a detailed review of the performance of natural turf against that of artificial turf, will influence products provided to the market.

The fruits of our background work will come through powerfully in 2018 with more responsive services and the implementation of new technologies that will increase the accuracy of some of the standard tests we perform through FIFA, World Rugby, and FIH. We will inform you of these developments throughout the year in what will be an exciting time for Sports Labs.

2018 will be an equally exciting year full of challenges for all our colleagues in the industry:

Non-filled turf systems will gain ground
I predict we will see a big push for approval of non-filled turf systems. Are we there yet with this development? We will see how the manufacturers respond to the technical difficulties of meeting global standards without the need for infill.

Rubber crumb
Unfortunately, dogged by the miscommunication which pervades the rubber crumb infill materials, again we will be fighting the negative PR that the media pushes out. This infill is still the cheapest infill at this time. It might not be the best, but for now, we are not prepared for the market to move to a different technology, so we will again be dealing with the issues raised by rubber crumb.

New technology in turf and infill
Some innovations will come through this year in the form of developments of both new turf systems and new infill materials. Notwithstanding our own push for innovation, some companies are actively working to push the boundaries and challenge our current thinking. As an industry, we need this. Too many companies do not get involved in innovation, and it holds our industry back. Make 2018 a year of change for your business.

Conferences and seminars highlighting research and new technology

Some great meetings and workshops happening this year, and many excellent programmes offered up. Sports Labs will be taking an active part in many big-ticket events:

Sports Labs will also be hosting the following events this year so keep an eye on these websites for updates

To keep up to date with all the developments with turf, tracks, and sports floors are sure to subscribe to our Field Notes publication by sending an email to lisamarie@sportslabs.co.uk

Alternatively visit our website at www.sportslabs.co.uk, Twitter @SPORTSLABSLTD or LinkedIn

Let's make 2018 a year to remember.

Eric O'Donnell
Managing Director