What if each item of equipment had a passport?

One of the great things about our data-driven age is the amount of information we can get on everything. From the calories in your breakfast cereal to the second-hand value of your car, information is just a few keystrokes away. And this is just the beginning.

Take personal protective equipment (PPE). Until recently, the most you might know about this was a) whether it was yours and b) where it was.

But since this equipment is essential for safety, it’s useful to know a bit more, like how much it has been used, by who, and for what. The ideal would be for every item to have its own passport: a record of its travels through life.

That ideal is rapidly becoming possible thanks to the advent of smart PPE management platforms such as Papertrail. This technology allows you to keep a track of every inspection from purchase to disposal, along with any extra information you may feel is useful.

This data can help you make decisions about what material to use for given tasks, for example, or when you may need to start thinking about ordering replacements.

Linking this information to each item of PPE is the first step in the ongoing evolution towards the Internet of Things, when intelligence will be embedded into everyday items.

In future, PPE items will be able to tell you where they are and what they are doing in real time, communicating via sensors and sending alerts when problems occur. We’re not quite there yet, but the passport concept is a good indication of the direction of travel.

Find out more about smart PPE management

Where PPE meets the Internet of Things

There’s a comment in the A+A international trade fair and congress programme that we couldn’t agree with more.

“The use of new materials and of smart and innovative approaches enables solutions to be developed that substantially enhance safety and the protection of health,” it says.

We back that sentiment 100% because at Papertrail we are working hard to increase the penetration of such smart solutions in the market.

As we mention in a recent white paper, adding intelligence to personal protective equipment (PPE) systems can help improve safety not only by making it easier for asset owners to check on the status of equipment, but also by improving quality control.

“Smart PPE systems can be integrated with manufacturer inventory databases so equipment data can be imported seamlessly and easily,” the paper says.

“This integration allows equipment owners to create and maintain a ‘digital certificate of ownership’ that registers every significant point in the lifespan of an item, from purchase through to disposal.

“Such certificates could be invaluable in quality control, for example in helping prevent the sale of fake items or in giving reassurance to buyers of second-hand material.”

More widely, smart systems such as Papertrail represent a step towards a future where every PPE item can be tracked, queried and evaluated in real time, as part of the Internet of things.

It’s an evolution we are very excited to be a part of, and hope to discuss more widely at A+A in Düsseldorf, Germany, from October 17 to 20. See you there.

  • Visit Papertrail at A+A at the DMM (Hall 6/F40) and SingingRock (Hall 6/C48) stands.

How smart is your PPE management system?

Being smart is all the rage these days. You have smart watches, smart cars, smart TVs and even smart cities. But what about smart personal protective equipment (PPE) management systems?

According to a new white paper from Papertrail, smart PPE management is a reality now… and could be bringing benefits to your business today.

“These systems use automated remote data entry to create a permanent, one-time, cloud-based record of each PPE item, which can then be updated at any time with inspection records posted on site via a mobile device,” says the paper.

Doing this makes it easy to comply with the demands of professional bodies, meet standards for legal inspections, cut compliance administration, reduce risk for clients and workers, prevent equipment supply bottlenecks and extend the lifetime of PPE equipment.

A move towards smarter PPE management is being driven by shortfalls in current record-keeping approaches, which include spreadsheets and even paper-based files. These soak up administration time and are prone to errors.

Smart PPE management systems, on the other hand, can help cut administrative workloads by more than 90%. At the same time, the white paper notes, the volume of PPE that organisations must handle is increasing.

Research shows the global PPE market could increase at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% between 2017 and 2022.

Much of this increase is down to corporate use: at the start of 2014 more than a million businesses and 10 million workers in Britain alone were estimated to carry out jobs involving some form of work at height every year.

Finally, tougher health and safety regulations means there is more of a duty on organisations to show that PPE equipment has been maintained and checked according to relevant standards.

Moving to a smart PPE management system can allow you to create and maintain a ‘digital certificate of ownership’ that registers every significant point in the lifespan of an item, from purchase through to disposal.

Furthermore, says the white paper, such smart systems are expected to grow in value over time, as they increasingly evolve to receive and manage status data from future generations of connected PPE devices linked to the rise of the Internet of Things.

“Indeed, over time these smart PPE systems are expected to become the foundation for much broader platforms that can be used for a wide range of applications, from inventory control through to safety compliance,” it says.