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Q&A: Vanessa Rae, Knauf Insulation

by Jennie Ward

As Knauf Insulation has announced changes to its range of products, Total Contractor puts the questions to Marketing Director Vanessa Rae, discussing the changes in more detail, as well as getting her thoughts on wider sector issues and opportunities.

So, Vanessa, tell us about the changes to the product range…
We have redesigned our product packaging to ensure it’s not only easily identifiable but simplifies product choice for our customers.

Products are colour-coded by thermal conductivity groups and essential features such as non-combustibility are more prominent. This gives customers the information needed to make an informed decision and ensure they use the right product for the right application.

Our industry-leading compression packaging has been upgraded so now customers get even more product per pack or per pallet than before. This makes it even more efficient to transport, store and handle our products and reduces the products’ carbon footprint too. Packaging will also use a minimum of 30% recycled content, and less ink so it is even easier to recycle.

Above:We’ve colour-coded our whole Glass Mineral Wool range by thermal conductivity group.”

“Our customers want to select the right product for the right application quickly and easily”

Knauf Insulation’s new packaging is clearly designed to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but how will it bring efficiency to buying decisions?
Our customers want to select the right product for the right application quickly and easily. To help them do this we’ve made product names bigger and clearer, plus we’ve colour-coded our whole Glass Mineral Wool range by thermal conductivity group. Key information, such as non-combustibility, thermal and acoustic performance, and the fact it’s manufactured with our unique bio-based binder ECOSE Technology, are also more prominent on the packaging.

Above: Rocksilk is the new brand with a fresh look for the Rock Mineral Wool range.

We’ve also launched Rocksilk, a new brand with a fresh look for our Rock Mineral Wool range and discontinued the Earthwool brand to simplify the brand structure.

This means it’s easier for our customers to see at a glance that the product provides the thermal, fire and acoustic performance they need, so they can get on with the job faster.

Are these changes in response to customers or are they a company-led initiative?
Both. We’ve listened to our customers and have taken on board their feedback. They told us they want maximum efficiency. By redesigning our packaging, we are helping to ease buying decisions by putting the information they need front and centre. Onsite, they can select the right product for the right application without having to read the small print.

We are also being proactive and introducing changes designed to pre-empt future needs. Knauf Insulation has a long history of innovation and a track record in sustainability. We have looked to build on this by making our products as environmentally friendly as possible.

Knauf Insulation is doing a lot of work around sustainability and product benefits such as ECOSE Technology, but why should people on the tools care?
We’ve all seen TV programmes about the impact of plastic and carbon emissions on the environment. Sustainability is becoming a priority across the whole supply chain. Architects and specifiers factor it into designs and homeowners are asking whether construction products are environmentally friendly, so people on the tools must consider it too.

While it’s difficult to eliminate plastic packaging from construction sites, we can make it more sustainable. We have introduced a new packaging film which is made from a minimum of 30% recycled plastic. Our new designs also use less ink which, together, makes the packaging even easier to recycle.

These sustainability improvements also have real benefits for the installer. Take compression packaging for example. We can now compress our Glass Mineral Wool rolls to a tenth of their original size. This means we can fit more product into the truck, so there are fewer vehicles on the roads and less packaging is used per m² of insulation. All of which helps to reduce the carbon footprint of our products.

For contractors and installers, more product per pack means each pack goes further. So fewer deliveries to site or trips to the builders’ merchant are needed and there’s less handling on site. All of which means you can move onto the next job faster.

Similarly, ECOSE Technology, our unique bio-based binder, is kinder to the environment and the installer. So yes, installers who use products with ECOSE Technology really do care about it. ECOSE Technology contains no formaldehyde or added phenol and is made from natural raw materials that are rapidly renewable. It is also 70% less energy-intensive to manufacture than traditional binders. But what installers like is that it is soft to touch, easy to handle and generates low levels of dust and VOC’s – it improves their overall experience of Mineral Wool insulation.

Above: Knauf Insulation’s new packaging simplifies product choice for customers.

“Providing products is not enough; installers and contractors need technical services and support to help them deliver compliant, high-performance buildings cost-effectively”

Price has traditionally been a key driver for construction product choice, is this changing?
Price will always be important, but as the market demands higher performance, we’re finding customers are increasingly thinking in terms of value instead.

This means looking beyond thermal performance alone when choosing insulation. What other value does the insulation bring to the project? How does it minimise the risk of fire and its spread, or reduce noise pollution and disruption? What contribution does it make to the building’s carbon footprint?

That concept of value also influences which manufacturer a customer chooses to buy from. Providing products is not enough; installers and contractors need technical services and support to help them deliver compliant, high-performance buildings cost-effectively.

For example, our Technical Support Team is on hand to give our customers free advice on regulations, products and energy performance.

Knauf Insulation’s new packaging also adds value by making it easier to choose, use, transport and handle our insulation products. We’re giving customers more product per pack or per pallet, which helps to increase efficiency. Then there’s the sustainability benefits of a lower carbon footprint, a reduction in the use of plastic packaging and packaging that’s even easier to recycle.

So, while price may factor in the buying decision, it’s not the whole picture as there is so much more that contractors and installers need to consider. Ultimately, our latest changes to the Mineral Wool product range are another example of how you always get more with Knauf Insulation.

www.knaufinsulation.co.uk

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