Q&A with Taco van der Maten
Tell us a little bit about your work at Malvern Panalytical.
Malvern Panalytical is a leading provider of scientific instrumentation and solutions for the measurement of elemental concentrations, crystallographic structure, molecular structure, remote sensing, rheology, particle size, particle shape, particle concentration, and more.
I started here in 2006 as a product specialist and immediately immersed myself in our customers’ needs, asking what makes the various industries “tick” and what is important to our clients. This led to a major theme in my career of figuring out where and how we can create solutions that add value for our customers.
How are standards important to your company?
There are two main ways. First, we use standards to design our instruments and make sure they’re safe to use and comply with environmental regulations. Secondly, our solutions help our customers comply with the standards that are important to their customers.
It’s an essential part of our business to be involved in standardization organizations like ASTM International. This involvement helps us get ahead on global trends in the various industries we serve. Essentially, ASTM standards help Malvern Panalytical see the future so that we, in turn, can help our customers see their future.
How did you get involved in ASTM International?
I became involved in 2006 when the regulation of hazardous substances [RoHS] was going into effect in Europe. Stakeholders in ASTM International were asking how they could help standardize the measurements of toxic materials in polymers. And I just dove into it, not knowing what to expect.
But I was amazed by what I experienced, from the first moment on. I discovered that during ASTM committee weeks, you meet your competitors, your customers, and regulators. The whole field of play is there. Being new to standardization, my fellow members and the ASTM staff were very accommodating, and helped me learn the rules, so I could get better knowledge of how standards are developed, how meetings and the standards development process work, and more.
Being on the committee for hazardous substances [F40], I realized that their work was important to other industries, such as plastics, catalysts, and petroleum. This led me to join ASTM committees in these areas. I learned so much more about the ASTM process, but it also really expanded my network, my interaction with customers, and it brought me friends and good business relations. It’s been an extremely valuable
journey in my career.
Since we’re on the topic of careers, can you talk about the benefits an emerging professional can realize by participating in ASTM International?
When you first come to ASTM International meetings, it can be intimidating. But it is also extremely valuable. Participation in ASTM provides industry context, contact with customers, and friendships. It also brings you valuable insights from other industries, which you may not expect, but that you’ll be able to take back to your own company and industry.
One of ASTM’s greatest organizational opportunities is connecting with emerging professionals. These young people are the future for us. They’re bringing in new ideas, and we need to capture that and encourage their involvement in standardization.
To this end, ASTM International launched the Emerging Professionals program, where we bring the next generation of committee leaders into meetings at our expense to learn not only how to develop standards but also how to be a good leader. That’s important succession planning for ASTM, of course, but it also brings so
much value to the careers of the young professionals themselves.
Attention to the next generation is relevant to our global cooperation efforts. For example, while Europe’s population is aging, the populations of developing countries are quite young. We need to be able to connect with these people, or else we will not be able to play on the international field as effectively as needed.
What is your perspective on ASTM International’s global cooperation program?
ASTM International’s global cooperation efforts are extremely important. Many of its stakeholders’ customers are global. ASTM must be global, too. From my perspective, because The Netherlands is a very small country, we need to have an international market to survive. For that matter, the many multinationals based in Europe need to be able to talk to one another, and ASTM standards are the perfect language for that. ASTM International helps businesses, regulators, and other organizations around the world communicate with their customers and partners.
I’m happy to say I’ve been around the world with other ASTM International members and staff to visit businesses, government officials, regulatory agencies, and trade associations. We show them how ASTM adheres to the WTO [World Trade Organization] principles for international standards development — such as openness, transparency, coherence, and others. We discuss with them how ASTM can help not only commerce, but how we can help solve societal problems, like rebuilding after a natural disaster. And these organizations understand that ASTM is a frontrunner in standards development. It makes me feel fortunate to be part of the success that is ASTM.
Can you talk about innovation as it relates to standards?
Standardization aids innovation in a number of ways. ASTM International’s growing place at the forefront of innovation is exemplified by our creation of the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, where we collaborate globally with organizations from Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The center’s work at the bleeding edge of 3D printing technology means that standardization will be incorporated into that technology as it develops. This departs from the traditional model of bringing standards into the equation after the innovation process has led to some entrenched processes.
In addition to our deep involvement in 3D printing, ASTM has become a home for other areas newly looking for standardization. Look at our exoskeletons and exosuits committee (F48) and another on cannabis (D37). Developments in these areas are very important for society — for people’s health and wellbeing. We have to be in those spaces, and we are.
Standards themselves are at the forefront of innovation, but as an organization, ASTM International innovates in how we serve our customers through services related to our standards, and even our Compass platform, which connects industry and standards organizations in a totally new way.
How does Malvern Panalytical use the Compass platform?
This platform is so valuable for Malvern Panalytical because it connects our company globally, which ultimately means that our international customers can trust the consistency and quality of our products, and that the results our products deliver are compliant within the international community. Compass gives every branch of our company the same access to the same standards, but in addition to that, the collaboration tools help us work together as a team, no matter where we are located.
Do you have anything else to add?
It is a humbling and exciting honor to be part of this organization, with its hard-working and dedicated members and staff.
Building on the great job my predecessors have done, I hope I can contribute to two topics that are close to my heart: increasing our international exposure even more and helping the next generation of professionals further on their professional journeys. Their journey is our journey, and their success is our success.
Last but not least, I am looking forward to meeting many of you personally during the events and committee weeks in the coming year.
Taco van der Maten is marketing manager at Malvern Panalytical in Almelo, The Netherlands. He is responsible for the global chemicals sector, including the oil, fuel, petrochemical, and polymer markets. Malvern Panalytical is a worldwide player in the materials characterization markets, ranging from building materials, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metals, and mining to nanomaterials and batteries.
An ASTM International member since 2006, van der Maten is chairman of the committee on declarable substances in materials (F40), which develops standards for the evaluation of materials and products for regulations (RoHS, REACH) and the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and similar requirements. He is also a member of the committees on petroleum products, liquid fuels, and lubricants (D02); plastics (D20); and catalysts (D32).
In 1985, the year he graduated from the Dr. Ir. W.L. Ghijsen Institute in Utrecht with a degree in analytical chemistry, van der Maten became a research chemist for Heineken. He then worked as research chemist service delivery manager, and business development manager at Royal DSM N.V. in Sittard-Geleen, The Netherlands, before joining the Malvern Panalytical staff in 2006.
Almelo, The Netherlands
Formed by the merger of Malvern Instruments
and PANalytical in January 2017, Malvern Panalytical manufactures instruments that measure a wide variety of chemical, physical,
and structural properties across a broad range
of industries, including:
Automotive and aerospace
Food and drink