Workshop "Smart Garmenst & Equipment" at CEN and CENELEC

On 7 September, there was a “smart” discussion at CEN and CENELEC in Brussels. Standardisation had invited to a workshop on “Smart Garments & Equipment”. Based on the standardisation request of the European Commission on smart personal protective garments that provide protection against heat and flame, the participants discussed the developments and the market access of smart PPE.

Topics ranged from active high visibility clothing, through electronics woven into textiles, to complete systems such as intelligent protective clothing for the fire brigade. The KAN secretariat, for example, provided information about the expectations and concerns of firefighters, the future users of such smart protective clothing (see KANBrief 4/16).

Standards - the right instrument

“An element that interacts with its environment” has been proposed as a definition for “smart element”. The simply illuminated LED on the high visibility vest would not fit this definition, however, if it starts to light by itself, depending on the ambient brightness, it would. Above all, smart PPE has one aim: increase the safety level of the wearer. In addition, it is fundamental that it does not create a new risk. Therefore, it is important not to design smart PPE simply as an addition of, for example, electronic elements to a “classical” PPE - the interactions of the components must be investigated and the system as a whole must be tested for its protection. Standards are the right instrument for this; they can provide for relevant requirements and test methods.

Active participation

In brief contributions, nine companies presented their developments - mainly for workplace use. Repeatedly the speakers noted that the relevant standard was missing for the market acceptance of their innovations. Customers would accept the product only with existing standards. This observation was taken up by the workshop. The standardisation organizations explained the possibilities to get involved into standardisation and to work together with all stakeholders on technical requirements and relevant test methods. At the end of the workshop, the participants discussed in smaller groups how standardisation for smart PPE could be intensified. The results will be analysed by CEN and CENELEC and will support the forthcoming standardisation projects.

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