The need for speed

John Churchill
March 8, 2019

Behind an award-winning product is an innovation trail that starts in the factory with one important machine and an even more important challenge: How fast can we make it go?

ROCKWOOL France won an innovation award for its Rockplus ® Premium product at the Construction Products Election held last week in Paris, France. 

More than 85,000 people voted for dozens of products in many categories in the event, which is held annually to honor the most outstanding products and materials in the country’s construction sector.

“The research and development that goes into these innovations is for our customers’ benefit, so receiving this type of recognition from the people using our products is especially gratifying”, says Matthieu Biens, Marketing Director in ROCKWOOL France. “It’s also credit to the collaboration among our customer-facing colleagues and those doing the R&D”.  

A humble machine with a big role 

The Rockplus product is “a stone wool insulation designed for pitched roofs and internal dry lining”. Its unique combination of performance characteristics, including a very high thermal (lambda 32) and fire rating, soft texture and A+ sanitary rating is what won the praise of the French market. 

How the product came to be is a story of innovation-driven R&D, specifically in the factory and with something called a "spinner"—the unimpressive-looking, refrigerator-sized machine in every stone wool factory that spins the rock into fibers needed to create stone wool. 

Ludicrous mode

The speed of the spinner determines the thickness of the fibres, which determine the physical and performance characteristics of the insulation product. The faster the rock is spun, the thinner and softer the fibres become. 

With current technology unable to go any faster, ROCKWOOL set to work designing an entirely new spinner. Now that it's here, the Rockplus product is an indication of the value it will bring. 

With a top rotational speed of 15,000 rpm, up from the previous 9,000 rpm limit, it is a feat of engineering and innovation that took years to accomplish and effectively pushes the technology to its limits.

“Any faster and the fibres will turn to dust and the wheels will disintegrate, so we’re satisfied at this point. With this spinner we can offer customers a wider range of products including a choice of thinner and softer stone wool insulation than before but with the same valuable properties we refer to as the ‘7 strengths of stone’”, says Steen Lindby, Vice President, Group Research and Development at ROCKWOOL Group. 

“Whether it’s finding new ways to improve our customers’ lives with tweaks to existing products such as this example in France or with entirely new products like our Rockzero wall system or Rockflow water management, innovation is central to the growth of ROCKWOOL’s business. A new innovation laboratory at our headquarters in Denmark will give us even more space and tools to test our ideas, so it’s an exciting time for the business” says Lindby.