Organisations large, small, public and private, can see the benefits of a fully managed PPE service ‘sticking to the knitting’ in an increasingly competitive and cost conscious market, doing what they do best and staying focused on their core activities.
It simply makes sense to outsource certain support functions to service providers with greater expertise and resources. Outsourcing can be more efficient, save money, spread capital investment costs, be easier to manage and reduce any risks of non-compliance with industry legislation.
For all these reasons Cosalt’s fully managed service for safety clothing and equipment is proving increasingly popular with the fire and rescue services, the military, railway operators, utility companies and businesses involved in road construction and the supply of aggregates.
Image: The benefits of a fully managed PPE service
In each of these sectors there is a requirement to keep large numbers of people equipped with specialist safety clothing and equipment so they can get on with their jobs without worrying whether their Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is fit for purpose. To comply with safety regulations it is critical that these garments are regularly serviced and maintained if they are to offer protection in the most demanding environments.
For many years Cosalt has been one of the leading suppliers of technical PPE, hi-visibility PPE and branded workwear to industrial and public users worldwide. But Cosalt’s strengths run deeper than their ability to design and develop market-leading products. The company’s managed service option is a turnkey solution that takes safety to a new level, especially in sectors heavily regulated by health and safety legislation.
Cosalt’s fully managed service began life nearly ten years ago when it was first developed for the Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex fire and rescue services. The company has gone on to successfully manage major contracts for the emergency services and rail companies including contracts that involve in excess of 18000 wearers.
This year Cosalt completed the last three rollouts on the South East and Eastern Region Fire Consortium fully managed service contract. Ten fire services covering circa 8000 fire fighters are now live on this contract, which provides fire fighters with full ‘head to toe’ protection 365 days of the year.
The specification for this fully managed service is unique, offering individual users two complete sets of firefighting PPE supported by an emergency two hour replacement service – round the clock 365 days a year. The fully managed service ensures all fire and rescue services comply with their obligations under the Personal Protection at Work Act 1992 to ensure that their staff has fit-for-purpose PPE that is adequately serviced and maintained and tracked throughout its life.
Said Carlton Greener, Managing Director of Cosalt’s Workwear division: “Our fully managed service is a partnership between Cosalt and the customer. It is based on the simple premise of delivering maximum service at minimum cost. When buying safety critical kit it is important to look after what can be a major investment. Over many years we have developed a robust system for managing every aspect of looking after a customer’s kit.
Image: The benefits of a fully managed PPE service
“Of course different customers require different levels of managed service and we can accommodate that. Our contract with the South East and Eastern Region Fire Consortium is a good example of our most comprehensive level of service but also offer parts of the service to organisations like Network Rail and Hanson Aggregates.”
A complete service
Under this type of contract Cosalt will manage the complete process of testing, sizing, fitting and supplying personnel with the correct garments. Throughout the service life of each garment Cosalt takes care of its laundry, maintenance and repair. Cosalt will provide a local stock holding facility to ensure garments can be supplied quickly and if required Cosalt offers a rapid response service with a 24/7 emergency hotline.
At the heart of Cosalt’s fully managed service is its bespoke state-of-the-art IT system. Cosalt has spent in excess of 800,000 on IT to create an advanced paperless system that can integrate seamlessly with a customer’s own enterprise, resource and planning systems.
It comprises a number of different modules that come together to provide a comprehensive management, control and reporting tool. This sophisticated technology maintains all the wearer level information required to run a contract with full track and trace capability plus integration with other supply chain partners.
Cosalt’s central wardrobe management system stores the fitting details and history of each individual wearer. It even archives information on all staff past and present. This allows Cosalt to control the number of garments issued to a wearer over an agreed period of time. Because every item that leaves Cosalt’s production line is also given a unique code, putting the garment code and the wearer code together generates a unique barcode that tells Cosalt who has been issued with what and when. Cosalt can also track the production records of each garment back to the manufacturer and the original batches of raw materials used which is important when repairing items.
The system tracks a garment for the rest of its life, from cradle to grave. Cosalt and its customer can see how many times these products have been laundered and how many times they have been replaced or repaired. This facility means regular audits can be carried out to check clothing and equipment at every customer location as well as items going through the laundry. Personnel movement is also monitored and recorded to ensure laundered garments are always returned to the correct location.
Laundry and repair
Laundry and repair is managed and controlled by a dedicated team within Cosalt using the IT system’s Garment Service Care (GSC) module. This was specifically written for Cosalt to ‘track and trace’ PPE. The Customer Services team monitor weekly collections and ensure processes are followed for the correct inspection of garments. Collections are carefully mapped out to ensure they fit in with a customer’s operations with drivers following a checklist to ensure all health and safety requirements have been complied with.
If repairs are necessary only original fabrics and components are used. Pre-set cleaning codes ensure garments are washed correctly and with the right type of detergent. The system logs every laundry cycle and repair so it is easy to see when a garment will need replacing.
Stock holding and planning
A key benefit of the managed service option for customers is that responsibility for holding stock or transporting items to different site locations can be passed on to Cosalt. For the customer, this reduces operational costs and spreads expenditure on clothing and equipment over the life of the contract. Cosalt holds product at its UK National Distribution Centre in Barnsley and if required this can be supplied very quickly through a local service centre facility. In addition, customers can opt for Cosalt’s rapid response service, which offers a 24/7 emergency call-out service.
Underpinning this service is a detailed stock IT-based planning system that covers raw materials as well as finished garments and takes into account both manufacturer and raw material lead times. As well as its overseas production facilities Cosalt’s own GORE® licensed and Article 11B certificated production facility in Barnsley is able to meet urgent requirements if required. This is an invaluable back up for ensuring target lead times are always met.
All the data held on Cosalt’s wardrobe management system is accessible to customers through the company’s bespoke ‘ExtraServe’ extranet which can be accessed over the internet from anywhere in the world at the click of a mouse button.
Customers can log in to place orders, exchange delivery directions, log queries, request replacement garments and generally manage their account. They can see at a glance how the service is measuring up to agreed key performance indicators and by using ExtraServe’s online reporting information can be downloaded to generate management reports.
ExtraServe can also work in conjunction with Cosalt’s XML-based message system which can be used to exchange invoices and payments and provide a complete electronic trading solution. This reduces input errors, saves time and is more environmentally friendly because there is no paper involved. What is more, order processing can be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By using ExtraServe customers are able to take decisions based on clear, concise up-to-date information. This is helping them improve safety, increase efficiency and drive down their overhead costs.
Cosalt has also developed an XML-based message system which is used to process customers’ electronic orders, exchange invoices and payments and provide a complete around-the-clock electronic trading solution
Tried and tested
Explained Carlton Greener: “This is what makes Cosalt unique. Our ‘Fully Managed Service’ offers everything a customer would require to manage a contract with ease. Customers benefit from a reliable and fast system that can be used to track and trace products from ‘cradle to grave’ through our wardrobe management feature.
“A customer can log on to our network, order their requirements and have them delivered to a specific address. We can then invoice in exactly the same way via the customers’ own internal networks.”
As part of the fully managed service Cosalt will hold quarterly meetings with the customer to discuss how the contract is going, resolve any outstanding issues and discuss new design and technical innovations that might be relevant to the customer’s business.
Steve Brown, contract Manager with East Sussex Fire Authority believes a managed service is definitely the way forward for the fire industry. “We have been a customer for many years. With a fully managed service you can be sure all fire fighters are equipped with PPE that is fit for purpose and fits correctly. If a fire fighter needs replacement kit it can be with him in two hours thanks to Cosalt’s emergency response service. Standard laundry turnaround is seven days. Cosalt takes responsibility for all of this, which saves on our time and resources.
“In fact I do not think we could go back to a traditional supply-only contract. We pay an amount per annum per firefighter, which is indexed linked, so we can budget accurately. One of the key benefits is track and trace. It would be hard for us to do this ourselves and ask firefighters to keep detailed information on the number of laundry washes and repairs.
“From my perspective as the manager of the contract it works very well. The ExtraServe system is invaluable, especially in the way it helps with compliance. We can log new starters and see where items are in the system and if they need to be chased. We can record items lost in an incident and look at the levels of pool stock we have available. We would not be without a managed service now. It would be a step back in the dark for us. Generally speaking the market has moved on and utilising the benefits of a fully managed service is clearly the way forward for our industry, as I am sure it is for other business sectors.”
ECFRS Deputy Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley, Director, Service Support, believes the managed service contract with Cosalt represents great value for money. Essex is saving on time and resources from opting for the fully managed service.
Commented DCFO Eckley: “The managed service is liberating resources to be better deployed elsewhere. The bottom line is that we have seen an uplift in how we manage the provision, laundry and delivery of our PPE while reducing costs.
“With Cosalt we have just one contact to deal with so we are not chasing different companies in a supply chain. I don’t have to worry about the risks and costs of holding stock. I don’t have to worry about putting a disaster recovery programme in place. I don’t have to worry about maintaining people 24/7. I don’t have to worry about putting QA procedures in place to check the laundry and garment repairers are doing things correctly. All of this is managed for us by Cosalt. These are the benefits of outsourcing and having a fully managed service contract.”
Workwear’s offices in Stockport are well positioned for easy access to the motorway network, Manchester airport and the national rail network. The company’s National Distribution Centre is in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. This provides secure warehousing, stockholding, distribution and manufacturing facilities.
The company operates to the highest standards and is accredited to the quality standard BS EN ISO 9001 and the environmental management standard BS EN 14001.