Why we need local development during tough economic times

With a history in occupational footwear over 120 years, it would have been excusable for Africa’s largest manufacturer of safety footwear to spend these pandemic years consolidating the existing products; instead BBF Safety Group has forged ahead with its plans to introduce and expand its range of head-to-toe Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

BBF Safety is an integrated workplace safety solutions provider that helps customers create safe working environments. 

South Africa in Lockdown

26 March 2020 was the start of one of South Africa’s greatest economic and health challenges as the global pandemic settled on our doorstep.  BBF, as an essential supplier of various PPE was in a fortunate position to continue running certain operations, albeit at reduced levels.

As business started to get back to some form of productivity, BBF Safety Group took a conscious decision to drive forward with its range developments and within the two years since that first lockdown was announced it has managed to consistently launch new products and enter new categories.

Putting its best foot forward

In the safety footwear portfolio, Bova brought to market the Trax 2.0 range, an update to the game-changing Trax range which launched a decade ago in development with an expert podiatrist to ensure optimal comfort and fit in a tough safety footwear offering.  The updated range introduced a new sole unit that maintains the best aspects of the previous Trax range, but provides significantly improved flexibility and durability at flex points, reduction in the average weight to save the wearer’s energy exertion, increased slip resistance, and improved natural foot action for better circulation. Bova also took the opportunity to bring in more contemporary styling along with the superior comfort and ergonomics.

Amathole Lime

Lemaitre Safety Footwear launched five brand new styles with a further five redesigned for more modern appeal.  These launches introduced technical features such as sealed seams, climate-control comfort footbeds and penetration-resistant insoles to provide S3 rated safety on a number of the new styles. New options in a PU/Rubber sole also introduced a tougher, more durable sole unit into the Lemaitre range with higher heat resistance than the traditional PU/PU sole units. 

Filtering Face Pieces

Nikki facemask

The FFP2 and N95 rated face masks received a lot of press during the pandemic, with a number of unscrupulous deals dominating headlines.  At that stage the locally manufactured Nikki FFP2 face masks had been servicing the South African industry for more than a decade, and BBF was able to increase production and supply without the exorbitant price hikes seen in other instances, despite a genuine shortage on raw materials.  Furthermore, BBF expanded the Nikki range to include a duckbill and a flat-fold variant.  Along with these all being FFP2 rated (the officially recognised standard in South Africa), BBF is licensed with SAHPRA as a manufacturer of these masks for use in a clinical environment.

Working at Heights

Bova harnesses

Bova Safety Wear successfully launched into the Working at Heights category in 2019 with its locally designed and manufactured harnesses, lanyards and accessories.  Through the lockdown period the innovation team were working on new ranges to simplify the selection of harnesses and related equipment based on functionality; staying true to the Bova ethos of engineering fit for purpose PPE solutions.  In September 2020 Bova released its new harnesses: the Excavo, designed with all the functionalities for underground mining requirements; the Agilis, a multi-purpose rescue harness suitable for various environments; and the Gordian, a rope access and advanced rescue harness. Complemented by lanyards and other equipment, these ranges introduced a number of well-considered design configurations to ensure multi-functional benefits within their designated environments.

Bova Arc

Thermal Protection

With ongoing developments into specialised thermal protection ranges, the Bova brand was able to launch its new range of PPE for protection against the hazards of an arc flash in early 2021.  Bova Arc brought to the market a range that provides essential Inherent Flame Resistant (FR) protection in a lightweight, comfortable and breathable workwear solution.  This fully certified range is locally manufactured with significant investment in further localisation up the supply chain.

Local Innovation is key to the economy

The driving force behind the ongoing developments despite the uncertain times was both to ensure business sustainability and the realisation that the South African economy needs local manufacturers to continue to innovate and grow.  With the State of Disaster recently ended, now more than ever the country needs a strong local manufacturing sector, and industries actively looking to support them.

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BBF Safety is an integrated workplace safety solutions provider that helps customers create safe working environments.
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Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za