DuPont has partnered with Heriot-Watt's leading UK fashion design School to develop Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that is fit for today's changing workforce.
The collaboration between the School of Textiles and Design (SOTD) and DuPont Personal Protection aims to innovate protective clothing in line with evolving worker needs.
The demographic makeup of the workforce is evolving. The share of European women in employment rose from just over 58% in 2009 to over 64% ten years later, and is continuing to grow. The workforce is also undergoing demographic ageing with 1 in 5 workers in the EU being over 55, and is becoming more diverse due to migration.
These trends call for a new approach to PPE design that maximises variety, comfort, and ease of use. This is where DuPont's collaboration with Heriot-Watt University comes in.
The partnership has paved the way for a new research project involving a group of around 20 students and led by industrial and fashion technology expert, Assistant Professor Bruce Munro Roberts.
“Working on this collaborative project with DuPont provided the BSc Fashion Technology students with real life industry experience,” comments Roberts.
“The support for the students in terms of learning materials, sample PPE, fabrics and feedback exceeded our expectations, and overall, we were delighted to be working with this international company."
The project already generated over 500 pages filled with ideas, more than 20 prototype concepts and preliminary evaluations of the performance of the concepts.
“We are committed to continuing innovating our materials and PPE design to address the changing needs of workers around the world,” comments Valérie Pierret, Global Market Development Leader, DuPont Personal Protection.
“We decided to join forces with one of the leading fashion and textile research institutions in Europe to bring new, disruptive ideas to our garment design process.”
DuPont provided the team with a thorough overview of its current solutions, relevant market information including voice of customer research findings and key regulatory requirements for PPE. With this information at hand, the students then received a detailed brief, including information on target applications, specific parameters for success, key requirements and desired deliverables.
The students quickly got up to speed with the subject and took inspiration from sportswear and outerwear to develop innovative PPE design solutions.
“I was amazed by the volume and quality of the ideas the students were able to generate,” comments Pierret.
“Despite the challenging task they faced, the students were able to think outside of the box while complying with the stringent requirements that PPE typically entails.”
A panel of DuPont experts reviewed the project and selected three concepts, which will be implemented in existing and new product designs. DuPont will continue collaborating with Heriot-Watt University on new design projects to continue innovating PPE.