Ongoing innovation in fabric manufacturing has led to greater durability and flexibility in the material used for work apparel, and companies need to ensure that workers wear such apparel consistently and correctly to benefit from these innovations, says personal protective equipment (PPE) supplier Bramhope Group.
Some organisations still regard work apparel as a burden – financially and legally – only meeting the minimum legal requirements, says Bramhope CEO Isak Marais.
“Organisations usually start by establishing a PPE policy, followed by some degree of planning. If they really make an effort, some companies will even do comprehensive PPE profiling according to the workplace risks.”
He adds that planning based on a clear understanding of the health, safety and environmental (HSE) challenges is essential; however, some companies find it difficult to streamline and manage HSE processes and procedures effectively.
“Balancing risks and savings; sourcing and acquiring the right products, services and human resources; and providing appropriate and ongoing training are challenges some organisations are just not up to.”
Marais explains that adopting a well- designed sourcing and procurement programme is usually a good start, and can generate immediate and substantial savings of between 15% to 20% of a company’s purchasing costs.
“Sourcing and procurement should expand beyond a cost-savings mindset to include a focus on a reduction of total cost of ownership (TCO). If the focus is moved from ‘price’ and more towards TCO, companies soon realise that a cheap product is not so cheap if all the factors – such as maintenance, repair, storage and PPE administration costs – are taken into consideration.”
Selecting the most suitable PPE to be used in the correct place for the appropriate task can help increase efficiency, while decreasing risk and life cycle costs, he adds.
Through supply chain optimisation and innovation, Marais enthuses that Bramhope allows for faster time-to-market of all inventory items resulting in reduced TCO and increased profitability for its clients.
“We engage manufacturers, suppliers and all business partners to streamline the process and meet the agreed-upon variables. Although forecasting remains an essential part of our supply chain management process, we know, and are ready for demand changes, markets changes, work apparel ‘fashion’ and features changes,” he explains, adding that the company can react to those changes with enhanced speed and flexibility.
In addition, Bramhope is partnering with corporate partners to set up local PPE manufacturing plants, thereby enhancing skills development and creating job opportunities, as well as uplifting local communities. This, in turn, will create opportunities for communities to co-manage these operations to ensure self-sustaining and profitable businesses in which they can prosper.