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Making the most of SATRA membership

Considering the wide variety of reasons that lead to footwear brand owners and retailers of all sizes becoming members of SATRA.

by Christine Powley-Williams

SATRA was established in 1919 to provide a research and technology organisation. It was member-based and registered as a non-profit distributing limited company. The members of the association were expected to make a contribution based on the value of their businesses, guaranteed for five years.

A number of requirements were identified, including the need for a central source of information – a body to research new ideas and a testing facility that could fulfil a number of criteria, including:

The footwear industry soon realised the importance of SATRA’s research programmes. This led to the development of new technologies and test methods that went on to greatly increase footwear quality and production efficiency.

Our original purpose still holds true today, and the principles developed those many years ago remain our guiding philosophy. All surplus income is invested back into the business to continue to benefit members. Membership income continues to underpin an active research programme that has yielded many internationally-recognised production methods and testing concepts.

Today, we have over 1,600 members in some 74 countries. These organisations consist of brand owners, retailers, component producers, tanneries, sourcing companies and finished goods manufacturers. Product and manufacturing innovation within industry drives SATRA’s research programme to investigate new footwear materials and processes, as well as wider industry issues. Research findings are reported through the pages of SATRA Bulletin magazine – a technical resource excusive to members that is funded by the SATRA membership scheme. The printed edition of this journal (which is published 11 times per year) provides a wealth of technical articles written by our experts, as well as covering pertinent industry news. The online version (accessed via www.satra.com/bulletin) now features over nine full years of published technical articles solely reserved for SATRA members.

More than just testing

SATRA is responsible for the creation of many footwear test methods. All SATRA test methods have the prefix ‘TM’, followed by a number and the year of issue. We are an active standards committee participator and have encouraged the incorporation of many SATRA test methods into BS, ISO, EN and ASTM standards. Our research and development programmes have led to the creation of industry guidelines which are exclusive to SATRA and utilised only by qualified experts. These guidelines enable our teams to interpret test results and provide advice to members about the suitability of their products and materials for a given application.

We are a leading provider of footwear expertise and employ experts in footwear components, leather, constructions, fitting, comfort, development and international compliance.

What is the value of membership?

Expert footwear advice – SATRA’s shoemaking knowledge has become a valuable resource for footwear professionals at all levels. Whether as video call or telephone advice, a visit to our offices to discuss a particular issue (often free of charge) or a more in-depth product evaluation, our experts assist with the development of materials, production processes or products, and also offer support to evaluate consumer and supplier returns. SATRA personnel are often able to quickly identify solutions that save members considerable amounts of money and anxiety.

Over the years, SATRA’s advice has led to the successful resolution of thousands of consumer and supplier disputes. From customer service staff through to buying departments, we can assist members throughout the dispute procedure by providing a recognised expert conclusion to support communications or legal proceedings.

Legislative and regulatory advice – SATRA’s technical staff chair and participate in numerous standards and regulatory committees. As such, they ensure that these forums receive sound technical advice and test methods that can be implemented practically. This means that SATRA is always abreast of change within industry. We can provide members with advice on regulations such as the European REACH requirements or the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). Members have full access to our consultants via email, video or telephone when in need of technical support, and many also visit the laboratories in the UK and China to discuss problems face-to-face. Of course, our staff regularly travel to visit members or present seminars in the regions where our members are based.

Chemical compliance – SATRA’s highly experienced chemists not only deliver advice to members, but also have the ability to perform ‘non-standard’ testing to assist in troubleshooting. This can often include cases where products have reacted or changed during shipping or storage.

SATRA’s chemical experts are responsible for the creation of our restricted substance list (RSL), which details footwear-related chemicals that are banned or restricted by quantity. Not only does the list define each chemical by legislation, requirement and test method, but it also highlights in what materials these chemicals are most likely to be present.

 

Our highly experienced chemists not only deliver advice to members, but also have the ability to perform ‘non-standard’ testing to assist in troubleshooting

Supplier specifications – SATRA assists many brand owners and retailers with the update or creation of supplier manuals. These are used to communicate the quality expectations and performance requirements of the brand prior to entering any supply agreements. Our technical input on specifications has proven invaluable to many companies in the face of increasing market surveillance and injury claims. A meaningful and appropriate specification demonstrates technical awareness and is considered a step towards fulfilling due diligence.

Footwear training – SATRA delivers industry-leading training courses worldwide and offers an events schedule from venues in China, Europe, the UK and the USA. A range of training options is available, covering single topics (such as fitting) through to recognised qualifications such as SATRA Accredited Footwear Technologist (SAFT). Footwear courses are only available to SATRA members and can often be tailored to suit specific needs.

 

For many years, SATRA has delivered industry-leading training courses around the world. These have recently been supplemented by an ongoing programme of live webinars presented by our experts on a variety of key footwear-related topics

SATRA’s ongoing programme of live webinars presented by our experts on a variety of key footwear-related topics are increasingly gaining popularity with members around the world. Hundreds of online attendees have taken advantage of this new provision, all of whom have the opportunity to pose questions during the presentations and either hear a live response at the conclusion of the session or receive personalised emailed advice – which is particularly valuable when confidential information is being discussed.

SATRA intends to continue with live webinars to supplement the on-site training events that will resume once travel restrictions are eased and it is responsible to do so. These webinars are presented on specific days at 10:00 BST and often repeated at 16:00 BST for members in North and South America. The subjects being covered include ‘footwear discolouration problems’, ‘common failures in safety footwear’, ‘slip resistance in footwear soles’, ‘footwear breathability – moisture management’ and ‘advanced ageing procedures for footwear’. Please visit www.satra.com/resources for full details of the SATRA webinar programme and a number of other online resources, including recordings of expert presentations on a variety of subjects and access to the comprehensive online library of SATRA Bulletin technical articles published over the last nine years.

Advanced testing – We continue to develop new test methods to support innovative products or materials that fall outside of normal testing procedures. These developments have led to the creation of advanced test methods which remain available only to SATRA members, including thermal rating, climate rating, advanced moisture management, biomechanical abrasion and artificial ageing.

Innovation and research – Many brand owners have successfully created new footwear concepts and technology using SATRA’s research and development capability. Scientific expertise coupled with shoemaking knowledge makes SATRA the ideal partner when developing new product or problem solving. Our facilities include prototype design and development, microscopy, 3D printing, thermography, pressure mapping, climatic simulation and scientific support.

In the eyes of many members, SATRA is often considered an extension of their own development team, offering out-of-the-box thinking supported by in-house technology and knowhow. Recent developments for members include digital last assessment, colour or area measurement via digital imaging technology and footwear fitting aids.

Standard testing – We have the most comprehensive footwear testing capability in the world and perform an extensive range of footwear tests for members. From SATRA test methods to ISO and ASTM, the testing includes expert conclusions on findings utilising SATRA’s guidelines. Expertise goes beyond pass/fail results and offers members the possibility to learn how performance or product characteristics could have been improved.

Fitting and comfort – Our fitting experts deliver sizing and comfort assessments across all styles and sizes of footwear. Fit assessments have grown to become a requirement for many brand owners before commencement of production is approved. Members have access to advice on international sizing methods and data, as well as full pre-production assessments.

Mystery shopper – SATRA recognises that some members perform their own market surveillance, and therefore offer a ‘mystery shopper’ service where possible. Bespoke testing packages are available which can involve our staff collecting footwear from local stores and performing a preselected testing regime.

The service often includes a random selection of test methods from a brand owner’s specification and is viewed as a screening exercise. Results are reported back to members and include expert recommendations.

SATRA production management systems – SATRA understands that at all levels there is the responsibility to use materials more effectively, as well as reducing waste, pollution and manufacturing process time. SATRA’s management systems – such as SATRASumm, VisionStitch and TimeLine – are designed to help in these key areas, and can be installed into members’ production facilities.

‘Basic Shoemaking’ – SATRA’s Basic Shoemaking book covers all aspects of footwear manufacture and has proved popular with brand owners and retailers as an office guide. It is available at a significant discount to members.

A confidential resource

It is obvious that times are changing. The demand for new products is increasing rapidly and the need for cost-effective compliance has never been more important. SATRA membership provides an unrivalled technical resource that offers members a confidential service.

How can we help?

Please contact the membership team (membership@satra.com) for further information on all SATRA services available to member companies.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 34 of the September 2020 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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