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|Royal Crystal brings tech-fuelled revolution in SPC flooring tiles - illustration photo. Photo: Shutterstock|
Located in Dong Nai’s Nhon Trach Industrial Park, Royal Crystal JSC’s SPC flooring factory surprises people as no visible dust and no loud noise leave the facility’s grounds, only robotic arms can be seen quietly carrying out their work.
SPC stands for stone plastic composite, which appeared on the global stage around two years ago and is now popular for being waterproof with unparalleled durability. These engineered luxury vinyl planks use advanced technologies to beautifully mimic natural wood and stone at a lower price point. SPC’s signature rigid core is virtually indestructible, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic and commercial environments.
To create SPC flooring, calcium carbonate (CaCO3) powder, PVC resin, and additives are mixed in a machine and out comes a highly resistant plastic sheet. Through another machine decorative elements like laminated wood grain and coatings with UV paint are added before the panels are cut to size. The panels then pass through presses to complete the five final layers.
In addition to the aforementioned advantages, SPC flooring is also resistant to termites, shrinkage, and can withstand temperatures between -60 and 60 degrees Celsius. This type of flooring is now becoming popular in construction and interior design. Furthermore, SPC flooring tiles are currently sold cheaper than their wooden counterparts, making them not only less vulnerable to environmental changes than wood but also more competitive in terms of value.
SPC flooring appeared first in the US market, where it quickly conquered a market share of around 50 per cent, exceeding the expectations of almost every flooring distributor. In Vietnam, SPC flooring tiles appeared two years ago but was initially mainly imported by Vietnamese enterprises from China.
While participating in the green building materials market, according to Royal Crystal’s general director Le Quang, “Enterprises must determine their core strengths, have the resources to go long distances, and aim for large-scale exports.”
Royal Crystal is a joint venture between Hoang Gia JSC and Pha Le Plastics Manufacturing and Technology JSC, which owns a CaCO3 quarry in Nghe An with reserves of more than five million cubic metres. The CaCO3 from this quarry accounts for 70 per cent of the input material of the final SPC panels. After more than one year of research and development in cooperation with leading professors and scientists of the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Pha Le mastered the blending formula up to a point at which all stakeholders felt confident that the final product will be of top quality.
Hoang Gia is currently the second-largest cement tile manufacturer in Vietnam, with a distribution system of nearly 300 agents and more than 3,000 retail stores nationwide. The group is also exporting encaustic cement tiles to the United States, Europe, and Northeast Asia, accounting for 70 per cent of its production. Equal partners in the joint venture, Pha Le and Hoang Gia dream that besides conquering the domestic market, Royal Crystal’s SPC tiles will join the global value chain. Royal Crystal, therefore, will attempt to penetrate overseas markets, aiming to bring SPC flooring tiles to the world’s largest economies, including the US.
In addition to the high quality of flooring tiles that allows the joint venture to confidently provide warranties for up to 12 years, Royal Crystal decided to buy the keylock technology of Unilin under US Mohawk Industries in America. With Unilin’s fold-down technology, floor tiles can be assembled and dismantled by hand, without additional construction cost.
“The US has the highest labour cost in construction in the world. People have habit of changing their interior when tenants change, as well as routinely renovating their houses. Therefore, material consumption in the US market is often at the top of the world,” said Hoang Gia’s chairman Dinh Viet Anh.
After nearly nine months, SPC factory with a capacity of 8.7 million square metres per year has started operation. Royal Crystal has obtained the US’ Greenguard Gold Certification – which ensures that interior products are low in chemical emissions – to be eligible to export to the US. At the end of June, the company already deployed its first exports to the US.
Meanwhile, according to business leaders, the domestic market has responded well to Royal Crystal’s product, with many real estate developers having signed contracts to use SPC flooring tiles in their projects. Hoang Gia and Pha Le have also acquired two distribution companies in the US to prepare for the establishment of sales points. As planned, Royal Crystal will acquire two more distributors in the US to bring the total amount of partners to four. The company also broke ground on its second factory with 15 lines in Haiphong’s Minh Phuong Industrial Park.
However, Le Quang pointed out that his company is currently facing fierce competition by large-scale Chinese manufacturers. Currently, the top 10 enterprises with the largest revenue from SPC tiles are all Chinese.
“Due to the heavy and cumbersome properties of the materials, the cost of logistics remains a conundrum. Businesses must have strong resources to invest in research and development to continuously differentiate and stand out with their products,” he emphasised.