RS Introduces UVEX Personal Protection Clothing - Ergonomic Design, Comfort and Confidence
RS have recently introduced a selection of the latest uvex safety spectacles and footwear to our range, including the new i-works safety spectacle and the popular Uvex 1 trainer safety shoe.
Sporting Heritage – Pride in Innovation
Last Summer, I visited the German personal protection manufacturer UVEX at their production plant in Nuremberg to learn about the precision manufacturing techniques they use to produce their safety glasses, and was struck by their passion to be best in class.
The keen cyclists and skiers amongst you will be familiar with UVEX sporting equipment. The company was founded in 1926, and initially focused on producing high quality protective eyewear for labourers.
The crossover from the UVEX sporting range into their protective workwear is clear, and the company’s sporting heritage drives them to be the best at what they do.
As I enter the UVEX manufacturing premises in Furth, near Nuremberg, the first sight that greets me is a podium with the company’s motto inscribed on it: “Value Follows Innovation”. Graham, UVEX Sales Director for the UK market and host for our visit, is keen to explain that the company strives to be one of the top three players in every market they compete in, using innovation and quality to “get on the podium”, as he puts it.
Shortly afterwards, I am introduced to Jana, Product Manager for the UVEX Safety Eyewear range, produced on-site here in Nuremberg, and we are ready for a tour of the eyewear factory.
As we enter the factory, Graham talks further about the company’s drive to innovate: “Unlike many of our competitors we’ve invested in the efficiency of our automation in our factories here in Germany, rather than moving production out to the Far East. Doing that may have made some savings short-term, but we felt that in the long-term we would have lost money as our quality and efficiency suffered.”
The pride UVEX take in the quality of their products, and in the high levels of precision in the manufacturing techniques used to produce them, come through strongly.
As we walk through the factory, Jana starts by explaining the processes for lens production and coating.
She explains that the company name, UVEX, is basically short for Ultraviolet Exclusion and tells us that UVEX use only polycarbonate lenses in their safety glasses because of their high resistance to impact. Raw polycarbonate already offers protection up to UV400 due to the nature of the material – UV400 meaning that it offers protection against ultraviolet light (UVA, UVB, and UVC) up to 400 nanometers, making UVEX glasses ideal for working with UV light, for example, outdoors for extended periods.
Flow-Coating Technology – Anti-Scratch, Anti-Fog
Jana proudly moves on to show us the automated flow-coating process the company has developed to prevent scratching and fogging of the lens.
The company’s drive for continuous innovation is reflected by the efficiency of their automated procedures.
A first robot places the lens into a small, self-contained cell before each side is coated with a unique anti-scratch, anti-fog formula. A robotic arm sprays “Innenlack” (Inner Coating) onto the inside part of the lens, before another second robot dries any excess fluid to avoid coatings mixing.
The lens is moved to a second cell where “Aussenlack” (outer coating) is added, before it goes through a final hardening process using ultraviolet light. This last step takes only 3 to 4 seconds, but makes the coating permanent – unlike other competing products where coatings can come off after washing.
The final step in the process is the only one that involves a human being, as each of the 20,000 pairs of lenses coated here every day goes through a final quality check before being prepared for injection moulding.
Plastic Injection Moulding with Duo Component Technology
Another innovation in the UVEX production process Jana explains to us is duo component technology.
As part of their ultrasonic plastic injection moulding, uvex have developed a process that bonds the hard materials used in their safety spectacles with other softer ones at high temperatures. The end product is flexible and resilient at the same time, and more responsive to the curvature of the user’s features. Comfort levels are higher and safety glasses have a longer working life than ones produced using traditional methods such as glueing.
This technique is used to mould lenses onto frames, for example, and allows UVEX to attach side arms via adjustable, clickable hinges – more robust than screw-fittings, and less likely to corrode.
Constant Innovation in Design
My visit finishes back across the road (and back past the podium we saw earlier) with a short meeting with the team responsible for designing the glasses, in the main office here in Nuremberg.
The company’s spirit of continuous innovation shines through again as the design team explain how they constantly receive new ideas before carefully screening them, focusing only on the ones they think will add value for UVEX customers.
The team takes inspiration from the latest sporting lines the company has launched, getting feedback from the side of the company responsible for designing sporting equipment, from sales agents worldwide and direct from customers.
Before we finish our tour and enjoy lunch in the workers’ canteen, as a parting shot (pun intended), we visit the laboratory where safety glasses are tested, where Jana shows me how the lenses used in UVEX Safety Glasses can withstand a ball bearing being fired into them at over 90 miles per hour.