For a short time now two hundred female employees of the Dutch Natural Gas Company (NAM) in Assen (NL) have been wearing new protective clothing. The clothing line (blouse, trousers and overalls) was specially developed and manufactured by Vandeputte Safety in partnership with Alsico. The denim-look blouse is based on TenCate Tecasafe® qualities. Professional and protective clothing tailored to fit women – it seems a matter of course, but in fact is isn’t. Actually women always wear the same models as men and the only difference is in the size. Vandeputte Safety is busying remedying this and in the process has called on the knowledge and materials of TenCate Protect. Just like Ten Cate, Vandeputte wants to make a difference for the customer. And with the blouse for NAM they have certainly succeeded.
There is a growing demand for personal protection resources with an optimal fit for women, Kathleen Wellens and Aletta van der Zee tell us. They are the Communication Manager and Market & Business Development Manager respectively at Vandeputte Safety. There is a clear increase in the number of women in professions that were traditionally labelled as typically male. It is not only the professions that these women practise that have altered; women of today want protection that is just as good as that of their male colleagues, but they want to be able to retain their femininity while doing so. Companies like NAM with a traditionally male workforce are being confronted with this issue. In a market where it is becoming ever more difficult to attract qualified personnel, you can stand out as an employer with a fashionable yet comfortable outfit for ladies. ‘Often there is only standard clothing available, which makes the ladies look as though they’ve been stuffed into a sack of potatoes. This does not provide optimal protection because the sleeves and trouser legs are too long.’
Vandeputte Safety supplies both NAM (50% Shell, ExxonMobil) and Shell. Gina Djajapermana (civil engineer, NAM) started a project which was about how you can make major differences through small changes. ‘She concentrated her attention on personal protection resources. Vandeputte Safety amd NAM looked at what they could provide in terms of safety, comfort and cut. They wanted a denim look, which is why they asked TenCate if they could create it – and they could.’ A committee of NAM female employees opted for a tailoured blouse in blue denim, made of an inherently flameresistant, antistatic quality. With an eye to safety, they opted for a concealed button fastening and cuffs without buttons. There is also a new shirt for the men.
‘At NAM we have looked at how we could make a difference for the end-user in terms of satisfaction, safety and design. The female employees – the end-users – were involved at every stage of the project. The materials used are good when it comes to protection and comfort. The design is by Alsico, one of the top five buyers of materials in multi-risk. One of the requirements was also that the product could be delivered quickly.’ The result is such that, on the strength of this blouse, Vandeputte even wants to include it as a standard in its range. This can be used at companies that are too small to contribute to the development. ‘We compile a basic package to which the customer may add details, such as a logo and a coloured facing on the thigh or button strip.
‘We are currently engaged on a project making trousers also using Tecasafe®. We have asked TenCate for two versions, one with rip-stop and one without. With rip-stop an extra thread is worked around the fibre in the material. This results in a kind of latticework of checks. Rip-stop makes the material 25% more expensive but it does give greater protection. The question is now what NAM will choose after the tests. The problem with trousers is often that everyone wants and needs something different. Our aim is that they should fit 85% of people well. Standard ladies’ overalls will also be designed for Shell based on TenCate Tecapro®. The overalls will also be included by Vandeputte as a standard item in the Tecapro standard colour of charcoal.
They are both positive about their contacts with TenCate. ‘We are close to the end-user and TenCate has the knowledge of the materials and a lot of possibilities to carry out tests. There is a great demand for multi-risk and stretch fabrics. TenCate materials fit in perfectly with this. We always get a clear and honest answer from Karin Klein Hesselink of TenCate Protect. When it comes to large projects, we also invite TenCate because they are best placed to provide rapid and correct information about upcoming technical developments.’