The 2019 rendition of the A+A was the year’s biggest health and safety event. CHARLEEN CLARKE reports that it was also the best

The A+A, which takes place every second year in Düsseldorf Germany, is always massive. It’s best to get a good night’s sleep before arriving at the show – and comfortable shoes are a must! There is so much to see and do, there are so many experts to meet and engage with, and there is so much to learn about the latest trends, products and services pertaining to safety, corporate security and workplace health … it’s an enormous but truly worthwhile event.

The most recent exhibition was more of the same, but it was even bigger than before! For the first time since its inception in 1954, it occupied 10 exhibition halls (remember what I said about those comfortable shoes?)

The team from AJ Charnaud launched the Alu-Safe dual protection (DP) molten-metal splash D3 E3 garment at the A+A Trade Fair.

A total of 2 121 exhibitors from 63 nations – occupying more than 78 000 m2 – were crammed into those halls where they met and interacted with over 73 000 trade visitors (of whom one in two came from abroad).

Strong emphasis on PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is always huge at the A+A, and the most recent fair was no exception – with around 1 100 exhibitors displaying PPE.

“The volume of the German PPE market rose from €1,92 billion (around R31,33 billion) in 2016 to €2,23 billion (around R36,39 billion) in 2018. The PPE market continues to profit from companies’ rising preparedness to better protect and educate their employees,” notes Birgit Horn, director of A+A 2019.

Other factors favouring PPE sales are the rising numbers of older workers, for whom the market offers more and more solutions, the implementation of modern assistance systems in production, the growing interest taken in social and ecological manufacturing conditions, as well as the development of disposal concepts for protective gear.

One of the companies displaying PPE was Showa, which showed its glove range. The company promoted its Eco Best Technology, an innovation that gave rise to the world’s first biodegradable nitrile glove.

It also told visitors about its Breathex Foam Technology, a dual latex coating technology that allows the Showa 306 glove to be both breathable and liquid-resistant. The Showa 306 provides premium grip and dexterity with breathability in dry or wet environments and in all outdoor conditions.

The Dromex team promoted the company’s Arc range, which is made from Dromex’s Arc Protective Technologies fabric blend.

The company also promoted the Showa Duracoil Series, which features a liner that is engineered by tightly wrapping multifilament polyester around a cut-resistant fibre, then reinforcing it with high-performance polyethylene. The technique is very important to user comfort; if not done correctly, the fibres will irritate the skin. This technology creates a premium lightweight yarn that offers comfort, durability and an increased cut protection.

Another interesting trend at the most recent A+A was the increasing sophistication of the occupational health and safety sphere. Virtual reality abounded, as did collaborating robotics (cobots), exoskeletons and special apps.

The Sweet-Orr team launched new safety boots at the A+A.

For instance, Universal Robots showed its latest cobot, the new UR16e. It has a 16 kg payload capability. At the Universal Robots stand, we learnt that more than 37 000 cobots are in use every day, relieving employees of monotonous, repetitive or health-endangering tasks.

Japet Medical Devices, a French biomedical company, displayed the Atlas, an exoskeleton that offers users complete freedom of movement while helping to reduce back pain.

Shezi Industrial Holdings/Neptun Boot launched a new range of lightweight leather industrial safety boots.

Also on the subject of reducing pain, BakkerElkhuizen exhibited the Evoluent D, a stylish vertical mouse. It is said to assist stiff forearms, sensitive wrists and/or tense muscles that so many people experience after a day of working behind a computer.

Aeris, on the other hand, presented new standing seats, the Muvman Industry and Muvman Industry ESD, which relieve the strain on employees and do not restrict their freedom of movement. These seats automatically adapt to the user. This is made possible by a soft integral foam with an integrated flex zone that adjusts to the user’s weight and sitting position.

Four companies from South Africa

There were four companies from South Africa at the A+A this time around, namely A J Charnaud & Co, Dromex, Shezi Industrial Holdings/Neptun Boot and Sweet-Orr.

The team from AJ Charnaud launched its Alu-Safe dual protection (DP) molten-metal splash D3 E3 garment at the A+A Trade Fair. It exceeds the CAT 2 (or PPE level 2 protection) level for electric arc flash protection, it’s flame resistant, very comfortable and can be washed at home. It offers outstanding protection against molten-metal splash (both white and red metal). AJ Charnaud is a long-time exhibitor at the A+A; it first participated some 20 years ago. The company is now exporting to over 60 countries.

Dromex was exhibiting at the A+A for the first time this year, and visitors appeared very impressed by its factory, which employs 500 people. Dromex promoted its Arc range, which is made from Dromex’s Arc Protective Technologies fabric blend that has been engineered to offer protection against the thermal hazard of arc flash. Also on display was the Dromex fire workwear and PPE, which includes boiler suits, balaclavas, goggles, gloves and boots.

The Showa 306 glove provides premium grip and dexterity with breathability in dry or wet environments.

Shezi Industrial Holdings/Neptun Boot, the leading manufacturer of safety footwear (from PVC gumboots to safety boots), launched a new range of lightweight leather industrial safety boots. The SafeLite boots boast leather uppers and dual-density polyurethane soles. Offering full safety protection to the toes, these boots are hard-wearing, offer excellent grip and are slip-resistant. Neptun is a regular exhibitor at A+A; this was its sixth appearance at the fair.

Sweet-Orr launched new safety boots at the A+A. This is a new field for the proudly South African company, which has made its name in the field of protective clothing. It was the second time that the company exhibited at the A+A, and the team was pleased with the level of interest from visitors from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia. As Denver Berman-Jacob, executive director of Sweet-Orr, commented: “Exhibiting here for the first time started us on a journey; this is all about building relationships.”

Speaking of building relationships, the next A+A will be held from October 26 to 29, 2021. See you there!

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