Speaker Interview: Pavel Holub, Director Global Innovation, Armacell
In the lead-up to Foam Expo North America taking place this month in Novi, Michigan, we caught up with Pavel Holub, Director Global Innovation, Armacell. His long-awaited leadership panel session delves into material and equipment cost within the foam industry and the operations that can be put in place to reduce these in a reach towards better, more sustainable material use.
In his speaker interview Pavel gives us insight into his expectations of future green and bio foams, key market drivers and why he is looking forward to Foam Expo North America 2019.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities – what do you see as your core focus for the immediate and long-term future?
Since early 2018, my team has led the global innovation activities of Armacell. We define, develop and implement the mid- and long-term innovation strategy and strengthen our technology leadership position in the market. Armacell is recognized as an industry innovator, having developed the flexible elastomeric foam insulation category in the late 1950s. Today we are a multi-materials company offering best-in-class equipment insulation solutions including flexible polyethylene, polyolefin and polypropylene foams, as well as post-consumer PET foams and, more recently, next-generation aerogel technology. Going forward, my expectation is to see multiple forms of green or bio foams being commercialized and gaining customer adoption, as well as alternative automated production methods becoming more relevant.
What are the biggest challenges/opportunities you face as a business and as a sector?
In general, there are three main drivers in our markets: performance improvement, regulatory/legislative change and environmental aspects. We have significant global megatrends driving the growth of our business forward. These include, for example, the growing demand for lightweight materials, urbanization, the globalization of the cold supply chain, acoustic comfort and vibration control and – probably foremost – energy preservation.
What do you see as the best and worst parts of your role?
As in every company and among people in general, the challenge is to convince people to take a long-term view – anticipating upcoming changes and adapting to them. On the other hand, it is very exciting to drive change, and rewarding to see the change in the mindset of people around you when they realize that they can actually do it and deliver positive results.
What new innovations do you see as integral to the future of the foam industry?
As outlined earlier, there are three key drivers within our markets: performance, regulatory and environmental. This implies either the improvement of existing technologies or the development of new technologies – any new solution addresses either a customer or a market topic.
I am really excited and would like to highlight Armacell’s progress in post-consumer PET foam and other new products that we are displaying at this year’s Foam Expo in Booth 908.
Have you and your company been affected by legislative change concerning blowing agents; and if so, how have you tried to overcome the challenges?
Not yet. However, in today’s climate you have to be vigilant about any environmental and regulatory trends that may affect your business in future. We are observing and evaluating potential future regulatory changes and proactively adapting our R&D and innovation strategy accordingly.
What topics are you looking forward to learning more about at Foam Expo North America 2019?
I am always excited to see new inventions, products and technologies. I am looking forward to meeting with customers and colleagues and discussing opportunities, challenges and the future direction of our industry.
Pavel will be speaking in the 'Leadership Panel: Reducing Material & Equipment Costs while Improving Foam Capabilities' session on Tuesday March 26, 10:00am, Track 1