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Industry News

South African & East African Footwear and Leather Goods, Leather and PPE industry news.

New testing facility in a country with poor environmental and safety record

Published: 31st Oct 2017
Dhaka, Bangladesh - Testing company SGS opened expanded textile and footwear testing facilities on November 1. The new facilities offer customers a full range of services for the textile and footwear industries.
SGS, which offers inspection, verification, testing and certification services, has more than 90 000 employees and over 2 000 offices and laboratories around the world.
Textiles and apparel make up more than 80% of Bangladesh’s total exports, according to the BGMEA, and, during the last decade, the leather and footwear sector has grown by more than 1000%. The opening of these new facilities will allow SGS to work with their customers at a much deeper level. The facility, with both physical and chemical testing capabilities, will give Bangladesh’s industry better access to domestic and international markets. 
  With a second testing laboratory in Chittagong, SGS provides high quality consumer product testing services throughout Bangladesh. In July, they hosted a series of five seminars to help Bangladesh’s industry suppliers understand the zero discharge goal, and waste water and sludge. -  
Tags: SGS

Kenyan tanneries embrace international best practices

Published: 28th Apr 2017
Author: Republished from East Africa Trade and Investment Hub; May 18; 2017
From May 4 - 16, the Hub partnered with its grantee IL&FS Cluster Development Initiative and the Central Leather Research Institute to facilitate a two-week leather-training workshop for representatives from Kenyan tanneries and education institutions. The training, conducted at the Kenya Research Institute, the premier product innovation and development training facility for small and medium-sized enterprises, focused on clean and efficient leather processing technologies.
Ominde Elvis from Dogbones Tannery, one of the participants who benefited from the training says,   “It has been an informative and empowering session, especially the training on cleaner production techniques. I have learnt new methods of utilizing waste products by converting them into valuable finished goods.”
  “The training was excellent. I learnt a lot, especially how to improve the leather sector using new technologies like waterless chrome tanning, and recycling chemicals in order to minimize the total dissolved solids in the effluent treatment,” said Jane Mwikali, a Leather Technologist from University of Nairobi.
The training series is part of the Kenya Leather Industry Development Program (KLIDP), implemented by the Hub’s grantee IL&FS Cluster Development Initiative that aims to increase the competitiveness of Kenyan leather products for export, and to attract investment in the sector.

55 issued, hundreds to go

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

The NRCS was previously part of the SABS. The 2 have separated, and share the same premises, but they are not co-operating with each other over safety footwear issues.

 The NRCS and safety footwear approval numbers - NRCS, SABS, and the safety footwear industry – no improvement in relationships


Pretoria (SA) – The National Regulator for Compulsory Standards (NRCS) has so far issued approval numbers for 55 styles of safety footwear, according to its latest figures.
It’s not clear how many styles have been submitted by how many suppliers to the NRCS for approval, but it would be reasonable to estimate between 300 and 400 styles and at least 25 suppliers. At the current rate of approvals, it would take 6 to 8 years to clear the backlog, not allowing for new styles coming on to the market.
Local manufacturers have the greatest number of styles but the fewest approval numbers so far.
The BBF Safety Group – overall the single biggest safety footwear supplier – has applied for most of its 180 styles, but has numbers for only 2 of them. Neptun Boot has 12 styles that require numbers, but has thus far only applied for 2 – the first in 2014, the second earlier this year – and has not had a response. Bata, which makes its gumboots locally and imports its leather safety footwear, has submitted around 25 styles, and has had 1 approved.
Manufacturers concerned at the apparent disparity – what they see as possible victimization by the NRCS – have asked the Southern African Footwear & Leather Industries Association (SAFLIA) to take over negotiations with the NRCS, the SABS and the Department of Trade & Industry, under which both fall, on their behalf.
And SAFLIA has responded. “We’ve escalated this issue from company level to association level,” chairman Noel Whitehead said. “We’ve taken it up on behalf of the safety footwear manufacturers because we believe they have right on their side, and because we believe this will have to be resolved at a fairly high government level – an avenue which is easier for an industry association than for individual companies.
“We’re taking this seriously. We need to get a satisfactory response from the SABS and the NRCS and will use all means available to SAFLIA in order to achieve a satisfactory and urgent outcome for our members.”
BBF, with its big range, feels it has been disadvantaged by the “lack of co-operation between the NRCS and the SABS over testing”. At issue is that in terms of the standard which all safety footwear has to adhere to – ISO or SANS 20345 – tests must be done on 3 sizes: 5, 8 and 13. The SABS, however, has up until recently only been testing size 8 samples, and around 80% of BBF’s test reports are only on size 8s. It has asked for either special dispensation from the NRCS on styles already tested, or that the SABS test the missing sizes at no charge. “Neither is budging,” said BBF CEO Silvio Ceriani. “At R55 000 per full test for a style, it’s not an argument we want to lose.
“Our other concern with the SABS is the slow rate of testing. We estimate it will take them between 1 and 2 years to test our samples.”
Not all are that concerned, though. “When the NRCS inspectors come to our factory, they tell us to be patient,” Neptun MD Jon Robb said. “To be honest, we’re more interested in building our brand and business globally than worrying about the NRCS.”
Importers dominate the list, both in terms of number of brands and in number of approvals, but their approval rates are patchy.
Rebel Safety Gear received its first 4 numbers in March, out of an undisclosed number of styles submitted. “We submitted our first applications in May 2014, and have sent through revised applications over time, as the requirements changed and as we understood them better,” GM Rob Gingell said.
In November, Claw Boot received approval numbers for 3 of its most important styles – out of 8 leather and 3 gumboot styles applied for.
Importer ProFit received 1 approval early last year, but completely revised its range in the last quarter of last year, and hopes its numbers will come through soon. “We’ve applied for 8 styles and have been in consultation with NRCS regularly and been to visit with them in Pretoria,” said national sales manager Nicholas Bryant. “We’ve been advised our first approval is imminent.”
“It seems that some companies with a handful of lower end, basic styles have received all or most of their numbers quite quickly,” an industry insider said. “More serious players appear to be at a disadvantage.”


The approval numbers are not yet mandatory, and safety footwear companies can show proof that they have applied for the numbers. “The problem comes when you submit a completely new style,” said a supplier who didn’t want to be named. “Previously the NRCS would issue a temporary permit pending approval. Now, for new styles, you have to go through the entire process, and receive the approval number, before you can import it.”

Sector specialists ‘key to right shoe for the job’

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

From left – Desmond Tilly – mining and construction sector specialist; Derick Else – coastal manufacturing specialist; Mathew Shepherd – inland manufacturing sector specialist; Handré Botha – agriculture and retail sector specialist.

Pinetown (SA) – BBF Safety Group launched a new customer liaison team concept in January.
Dubbed sector specialists, the new team has consultants available for each major industrial sector – mining, agriculture, manufacturing, state owned enterprises and construction. The focus is on intensive knowledge transfer, innovation, efficiency and safety. 
“We’re responding to a very definite gap in the market,” said Ndlela Mazibuko, group sales manager of BBF. “We’ve seen that when products are returned to us, it’s because incorrect advice led to the wrong shoe for the wrong job. We intend to change that, improving safety records and saving our clients money in the process.” 
“Knowledge gets lost along the value chain,” said Peter Gerbrands, group marketing manager. “Procurement and health and safety officers are well informed, but often not experts on footwear. It’s specifically here that we aim to assist our clients.”
The sector specialists are tasked to educate, train and assist procurement departments, health and safety officers and SHEQ managers, as well as gather industry insights in order to better inform and drive product innovation. In this way answers to local industry challenges will be found and continue to be developed by BBF, rather than buyers looking abroad for solutions.  “Our focus is and always has been to stimulate local manufacturing instead of imports,” said Mazibuko.  
The initiative was developed informally over time, with some of BBF’s brands involved in creating specific products for companies, such as Consul Glass, as well as tandem projects with Eskom and Transnet.

Lebogang Mokwele – state owned enterprises sector specialist.

“Information should be a two-way street,” said Gerbands. “If we don’t have a solution, if our product offering is not sufficient, over time we will create one. Co-development towards a specific need, this is the real value of our service.” 
The sector specialists will not be tasked with making sales, instead focusing on education. Their duties will include facilitating training on ways to avoid both under-specification and overspending, insights on how to save budget by buying the right shoes, and providing knowledge on health and safety for their wearers (training they may not receive from employers).
“Currently, when you look at many of the international products, all they have to offer is price,” said Silvio Ceriani, CEO, BBF Safety Group. “Our aim is to provide much more; a service that improves safety and reduces overall spend due to specialised, individual service.”
The sector specialist initiative supports SA government’s objectives to drive local procurement, as well as their mandate for state-owned enterprises to work through small and medium enterprises. 

Kemper: Pioneer of clean air in metal processing turns 40

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

Company founder Gerd Kemper) and MD Björn Kemper

Vreden (Germany) – Kemper GmbH is a manufacturer of extraction and filter systems for the metal-processing industry capable of filtering ultra-fine dust particles from the air that are generated together with welding fumes. The product portfolio includes extraction tables for cutting processes and the entire accessory chain for work protection and air purity retention for the metalworking, electro and automotive industries. The company also offers air purification technology for various sectors.
“Our mission is a long way from being finished. The need for clean air in the working environment continues to increase,” CEO Björn Kemper said. “40 years ago we were just pleased to find that welders understood the health risk at all. At that time, nobody ever thought that we would be able to determine the size of fine dust particles by now.”
From mobile filter units through central extraction systems, filter technology for ultrafine particles, indoor ventilation systems right up to air monitoring units, Kemper has continuously been launching new innovations on the clean air technology sector on the market for 40 years now. To date, the company has fitted out more than 100,000 companies in around 50 countries over and above the main market of Germany, which still remains the most important market. The company currently employs 300 staff worldwide having started out as a one-man operation. With this background, the manufacturer is listed in the world market leader index at the St. Gallen University. 
Kemper was founded in 1977 by Gerd Kemper. At the beginning, the propagation of this technology turned out to be very difficult. In Germany, welding fumes are considered to be completely nonhazardous. Ironically, the first contract was cancelled by the workers' own veto. The workers were afraid of losing their daily milk ration - at that time a bottle of milk at the end of the shift was considered to be a detoxification method against "Monday fever", which is of course now considered to be completely without scientific foundation He did a lot of educational work, spoke in factories, lectured at association meetings, visited technical colleges. The new generation of welders carried the idea into their companies.
Kemper deepened its technical know-how in the clean air technology sector. In 1989 the company presented a new series of units for welding fumes in both mobile and stationary versions. In 1992, KEMPER developed the first compact central extraction system, the System 8000, with its own control unit. This is still considered to be the basis for further developments in central extraction systems with its building block principle, which takes individual customer requirements into consideration. The first mobile filter device with cleanable filter is launched in 1993. In the middle of the 1990s KEMPER develops the extraction arm, which has become an industry standard by now, with a flange-shaped extraction hood. This has been sold more than 130,000 times since this point.
Kemper is represented in SA by PTS Welding & Industrial Supplies. – [+27 (0)11 462 4963,,]
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