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Rewarding research and innovation

How research and innovation plays a central role in the revitalisation of modern business.

by Austin Simmons

SATRA has teamed up with the organisers of the UK Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show to produce the Professional Clothing Awards 2012. Our contribution will be the SATRA PPE Innovation Awards, which will look to identify the best in technical innovation, design and development in personal protective equipment (PPE). Whether the innovation is for a whole product, component or material, SATRA experts will judge the practical benefits to the user, the supply chain and, ultimately, the environment.

SATRA is accredited as a Notified Body under the European PPE Directive for EC type-examination and certification, final product quality control and quality of production for most types of PPE, including safety footwear, clothing and gloves, as well as head, fall and eye protection. SATRA’s technical teams have a wealth of knowledge and expertise, so they know how to get it right first time when it comes to research, testing and certification. This saves time and money when bringing PPE products to market, and a comment we often hear from new customers is that they wish they had come to SATRA at the very start.

It is this in-depth understanding of the safety products industry and our excellent customer service that sets us apart. The range of technical services SATRA provides to the PPE market is growing rapidly – a welcome provision, considering how strict legislation makes it a tough and confusing environment for those aiming for success with their products. Many of our PPE customers see us as the friendly face of CE marking, but with the technical edge to make things happen quickly and efficiently.

Decades of experience

SATRA has a rich heritage which stretches back to the early days of the last century. After the first world war began in 1914, technical innovation accelerated. By the end of the conflict four years later, people with vision were aware of the need to embrace technological change to improve production of manufactured products. Shoe and boot making was at the forefront of this, moving from a craft to a mechanised factory-based footwear industry. SATRA started by applying science to footwear. The original proposal for SATRA in 1919 was for the formation of an association of individual British footwear company members with the unified purpose of helping each other to move forward in 1920s and beyond. The association would provide the following three main functions:

Since those early days, SATRA has developed significantly. Today, the brand is recognised and respected in over 70 countries across a diverse spread of product sectors. Through our commitment to innovative research, SATRA has contributed to many advances in products industries. One well-known example is the boot worn by the British expedition to conquer Mount Everest in 1953 – footwear which was designed and built by SATRA to help the climbers stay safe and comfortable, and ensure that no-one suffered from frostbite.

SATRA also revolutionised footwear production with a process that became known as ‘heat setting’. This reduced production times and achieved consistent and high levels of shape retention. Heat setting was seen as one of the most significant technological contributions to shoemaking and received the Queen’s Award for Industry.

Advances made in footwear design and materials since then have led to a multi-billion dollar global industry, producing everything from mass market everyday shoes to specialist performance wear, including sports, safety and workwear. SATRA research, development and testing has helped to improve the performance, quality and safety of a wide range of products and materials the world over.

We remain committed to investing in technical innovation to help companies, large and small, established and start-up, to produce the products that future markets will demand. Modern business looks to regenerate and revitalise through research and innovation, to exploit technology to enhance products so they have a cutting edge in home and global markets. Because of the nature of a market that is constantly looking to improve safety and comfort, PPE is often at the forefront of innovative design and technical performance. In recent years, this has started to include the sustainability of products – from the use of resources in manufacture to waste and life cycles.

Valued recognition

When we considered our work in PPE and footwear generally, and the future development of the industry, the celebration of innovation and development seemed inherently right for SATRA. Our philosophy is one of people, products and planet in harmony through the application of research and innovation. Also, our vision would be that SATRA technical expertise is all about you in the products you wear or use.

The SATRA PPE Innovation Awards are open to anyone involved in the design, development, production and/or bringing to market of PPE products/components or processes in the protective clothing industry, across all segments and sectors. This could include an individual inventor or entrepreneur, an SME or a large multi-national corporation. In addition to the trophy prizes, SATRA is offering research, testing and product development opportunities to the overall winner.

We are very excited by this joint initiative and look forward to seeing it grow in future years to the benefit of the workwear and PPE industries and the wearers themselves.

Photograph shows SATRA Chief Executive Austin Simmons.

How can we help?

For further information on the SATRA PPE Innovation Awards, please visit

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 36 of the September 2011 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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