“Even tiny tears in the fabric of a suit can drastically affect its performance, so we test our products thoroughly, using different methods for different types of PPE.”
Once inspections and testing are complete, the system accurately records any repairs that may be required, he adds. “We track which parts are used in repairing a suit by scanning a barcode. This gives us full traceability of the batches and components needed and eliminates the risk of typing errors.”
Additionally, the system allows products to be linked with each other digitally. If a customer is using a personal locator beacon together with a lifejacket, for instance, our system can help them to set the items up and connect them to each other so that we know exactly which equipment goes where.
Data makes a difference
While the RFID system tells VIKING where its PPE is, where it should be going, and what condition it is in, it also offers longer-term benefits. “By collecting information from the chips, we can pinpoint weak spots in our manufacturing and servicing procedures to improve our products continuously. If our data shows repeated issues with a cuff or a collar, for example, we can target those parts for improvement.”
This approach is part of VIKING’s commitment to providing high-quality PPE that can be relied upon to save lives. “We take great pride in the equipment that we manufacture and service. Our suits and lifejackets are often the last means of survival in emergencies, so it is crucial that they function faultlessly every time."
Technology and sustainability make a good business case
Following a competitive tender process, VIKING recently won a three-year contract to supply PPE to Serica Energy, one of the UK’s leading oil and gas companies. The deal with the United Kingdom-based offshore energy major is the second of its kind for VIKING in consecutive years.
VIKING will work with Babcock Offshore to deliver aviation suits for Serica crew in the British sector of the North Sea. The contract marks VIKING’s second major success in the offshore aviation segment in as many years, following on from last year’s agreement with CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited, which also involved Babcock as an aviation provider.
Global Sales Manager, Heather McManus believes there is a direct link between VIKING’s ongoing efforts to enhance its products and services and its impact in this specialized sector.
“Our latest aviation suit is one kilogram lighter than its predecessor, for example, and is fitted with a radiofrequency identification device (RFID) equipped to track its condition and detect any possible weak spots.”
“The use of RFIDs also cuts paper consumption significantly, improving operational efficiency while also benefiting the environment in a way that aligns closely with VIKING’s corporate social responsibility policy.
“Serica Energy is strongly committed to minimising its environmental impact, a commitment demonstrated in the fact that these suits feature reusable Velcro® straps instead of plastic packaging,” she adds.
“Those working at sea are perhaps more conscious than anyone of the impact our throwaway culture has on the oceans. Cutting out single-use plastics isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s what our customers want to see.”