In recent times, globalisation has become a trend across many industries and companies across the world. It has taken shape across the protective clothing industry too. Why is this the case, and what does it mean for our industry?
Recognising our common needs
Across the globe, end users are united by common needs. All end users want protective clothing that is comfortable, cost-effective, and of course, provides the highest levels of protection. There are, of course, certain variations based on location — for instance, hotter areas will want lightweight garments, while colder regions will require heavier-weight garments that insulate wearers from lower temperatures. Despite these variations, all end users ultimately want the highest quality protective clothing which is both pleasant to wear and protects the wearer.
Globalisation as a unifier of norms
Within the protective clothing industry, globalisation means that we can have one fabric that complies with different standards around the world. These standards are known as norms, and are made by country and/or region. For instance, in the EU, EN standards are in place; North America has NFPA standards; Australia and Asia use a combination of EN and NFPA; and Russia and China have their own.
Buyers must always undertake a risk analysis, which is where they check the applicable norms. Previously, when manufacturers focused on certain regions, there would be different norms per country. For instance, German manufacturers used to have their own norms. Now, in order to simplify the process, German manufacturers comply with broader EU norms.
A more cost-effective and universal solution for end users
Norms from different countries can share up to 80-90% of the same key elements. As such, manufacturers are moving into a globalised approach whereby the most demanding norm covers other norms. This approach allows for a more cost-effective and universal solution for end users. They will save on purchasing costs, avoid excessive complex buying processes for their international protective clothing, and be able to secure the same look and branding for their garments internationally. As such, they can work easily across regions rather than having to adapt to multiple norms in different countries.
One fibre, many countries: globalisation in action
Suppliers around the world have caught on to the benefits of globalisation. DuPont™ and Teijin have created flame-resistant aramids that are the same everywhere in the world. Japanese supplier Kaneka has followed suit with a globally-homogenous flame-resistant modacryclic, while Lenzing® has created TENCEL™, which now leads the worldwide protective clothing market as a sustainable alternative to cotton.
Changing our approach
At TenCate Protective Fabrics, while we have always have a good global footprint, we previously focused on regional markets. Going forward, we are developing a new approach, switching from regional markets to global segments: industrial safety, emergency response and military. We recognise that at the end of the day, end users all have the same common needs, and we strive to meet those needs across international borders.
Want to find out more?
To find out more about global trends, including globalisation, and how they affect the protective clothing industry, why not have a read of our Trend Report.