The Fabricated Geomembrane Institute
2215 Newmark Civil Eng Lab
205 N. Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
4 November 2011
The Fabricated Geomembrane Institute (FGI) is an organization that was formed to promote the positive growth of fabricated geomembranes. The FGI was designed to bring together two key participants in the fabricated geomembrane market; the manufacturers and the fabricators. Let me start with a bit of background.
The roll materials for fabricated geomembranes tend to be made by larger manufacturers where only a small portion of their output is geomembranes. These are the same manufacturers that would make roll goods for the roofing, tarpaulin, pool liner, automotive, or other markets.These larger material manufacturers did not historically promote geomembranes or support geomembrane application development. The geomembrane roll goods that they produced were an important part of their business but they rarely had dedicated geomembrane technical or marketing support.
Fabricated geomembranes also require a fabrication step where the roll goods are welded into larger panels before field installation. Specialty geomembrane fabricators transformed plastic roll goods into geomembranes by assisting their customers in the selection of materials and then fabricating the materials to fit a specific application. Fabricators are welding specialists and typically relied on the manufacturers for material technical support; manufacturers that often had limited familiarity with specific geomembrane applications. Fabricators also tended to be smaller businesses that did not always have marketing or technical resources.
The purpose of the FGI was to bring together the manufacturers and the fabricators into an organization where they could pool their marketing and technical abilities to have a larger impact in the geomembrane market. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) adds the technical research and educational outreach components to the FGI as part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In return for research funding the UIUC assists the FGI with research focused on fabricated geomembranes and technical engineering support.
The FGI was created to address an un-met need; to concentrate geomembrane technical and marketing support from manufacturers that were not always geomembrane focused and to pool technical and marketing support to help promote geomembranes through smaller fabricators. In joining together the combined resources, the goal was that all members would assist in growing the overall fabricated geomembrane market.
This is the background, but life is never quite that simple. We now have member manufacturers that are focused on geomembrane production with extensive marketing campaigns and some fabricators that are large enough to provide their own technical support. But the fabricated geomembrane marketremains widely dispersed and fractured in its approach. The FGI is attempting to focus the efforts of the member companies into a positive and effective promotional approach and create a more effective voice for the wide variety of geomembranes that we represent.
Compared to other building materials, the geomembrane market remains quite small and specialized. In the past 20 years geomembrane-focused manufacturers have been successful in getting widespread recognition for field-fabricated geomembranes and we must applaud their efforts. But we must be careful that the FGI is not seen as cutting down any other geomembrane material. There is a tendency among fabricated geomembrane participants to cut down field-fabricated geomembrane types. But many of the members of the FGI participate in both the fabricated and field-fabricated markets. Our best approach is to promote geomembranes on their merits and to not cut down other materials or installation methods. We must strive to keep negative comments on other geomembrane types out of all FGI communications and presentations.
The FGI is only one of a number of geomembrane-related organizations. We have FGI members who are active in most other geomembrane organizations such as the GMA, GRI, and IAGI to name a few. It is my goal to foster greater cooperation between these organizations and to tailor our goals and efforts to compliment the development of geomembranes without duplicating the goals of these other organizations. I think that the FGI has an important role to play and that we can find ways to cooperate and share information with other geomembrane organizations. I think that our focus on geomembranes that involve a fabrication step is a unique and an under-developed aspect of geomembranes and is an important area for the FGI to develop. I see many opportunities for us to cooperate with other organizations and to do our part to raise the overall awareness of geomembranes in the market.
I am very excited about the FGI and the potential it has for furthering cooperation between fabricators, manufacturers, and other interested parties. There is a lot of research, technical cooperation, testing, education, and promotional activities that the FGI can do that will help our members. With 49 member companies we now represent a fascinating variety of geomembrane in a very interesting market. We now need to work together in a positive way to promote and grow the use of geomembranes, and especially fabricated geomembranes.
I welcome your comments. Please email me if you have any comments or concerns.
Fabricated Geomembrane Institute
780-451-7240 (Direct Phone)