Tuesday, 09 August 2022 14:38

Workwear innovations and smart solutions to improve work clothing

Written by  Let's Communicate

Clothing designed for a particular line of work can be an asset to working conditions and bring an extra value. Work clothes protect person's health at work and allow them to accomplish tasks more easily and feel more comfortable when doing so.Some professionals, such as firefighters, construction and chemical industry personnel, military force representatives, etc. cannot do their daily tasks without special uniforms.

The clothing industry in the EU has been competing with cheap imports from Asian markets: outsourcing and merchandising have been increasing, whereas domestic production has been decreasing. Smart and Safe WorkWear Clothing SWW project was a way to introduce mass customization and integrate IT technology into clothing industry, as well as to increase competitiveness against the new producers and cheap imports from Asian markets. The project was co-financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme.

Improving the competitiveness and business possibilities of workwear enterprises in the Baltic Sea Region

The project focused on the workwear, specifically on the heavy-duty clothes, mainly used for physical or manual work. The workwear that came into SWW attention is used in various industries, chemical plants, and those fields of industry where clothing is an integral part of the work itself.  

The effectiveness of the protective wear depends on the risks related to the line of work in question. Workwear may be designed to protect against dangers and hazards that can occur because of cold, heat, fire, and sparks.  Employees may also need to be protected against biological risks, such as chemical leaks and radiation. The workwear may also protect the personnel by increasing their visibility in difficult weather conditions (rain, fog, wind, etc.).

The global workwear market can expect growth in the coming years, though it may be slower in Europe than elsewhere in the world. One of the main changes related to workwear concerns fabric development, paying particular attention to health and safety. Research has been looking into how to enhance protective wear by treating the fabric in specific ways or applying nanotechnology in the process of its production.

Connecting research and real-life examples to create smarter workwear garments

Each country (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland) participated in the project with two pilot industrial partners and one higher education or research institute. One industrial partner was a producer of workwear and the other one was a customer using profile clothing. By using the synergy between partners, the project reached its goals. During the project, interviews were conducted and 3D body scans of 547 workwear users in Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland were made in order to create new measure tables that any company manufacturing workwear garments can use. The collected data, designed 2D patterns and virtual 3D fitting enabled the project partners to develop five customized prototypes of workwear garments for construction and chemical industry, military forces (marines and regular army), and firefighters. In accomplishing their goal, the project partners incorporated smart fabrics, for example, aimed at repelling insects, and electronic devices that enable to track the location of a person wearing the workwear in emergency situations, communicating with them remotely or monitoring their physiological parameters.

Cooperation strengthened the position of eleven companies from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland

“Looking into the future, consumer’s needs and behavior will become more complex, more technology oriented and more difficult to predict. New online technologies, such as virtual fashion shows, mobile payment infrastructure and others, help customize the relationship with the user and adapt to their needs. However, these changes must go hand in hand with the reduction of waste and pollution, the extension of the product's life cycle, the increase of its value, the efficient use of natural resources and the search for renewable energy sources”, project partner Eugenija Strazdienė from Vilnius College noted.

"The Estonian Defense Forces and Defense League are testing new uniforms that have a whole range of basic changes which help accomplishing physical tasks easier. We already see a huge difference compared to the previous uniforms and the ones using our adjustments", project partner Teele Peets from Tallinn University of Technology said.

 

Find out more on the project website

 

SWW photo 2

 

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