What keeps you up at night? Are you like Goldilocks and are growing tired and at the end of your rope when searching for the “JUST RIGHT” solution to your FR work apparel program? But what exactly does the popular children’s story “Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears” have in common with Fire Resistant (FR) work apparel? Why of course, it is the constant extremes of having too hot – too cold porridge compared to the heat exhaustion and frigid side-effects industrial workers experience while wearing FR uniforms. It is also the too hard – too soft nature of the Three Little Bears’ very own beds, compared with worker’s FR fabric comfort preferences. And let’s not forget the constant procurement battle of knowing what size budget to throw at a uniform program, similar to Goldilocks trying out papa’s, mama’s, and baby bear’s chair fit.
But what if I could tell you that your FR fairytale could come true? RPS invites you to take a chance and knock on the door of new FR fabric possibilities. Challenge everything that you know to be true in soaring hot summers with soaring heat-stress cases. Today’s market can no longer support buying expensive super-fabrics promising to perform “JUST RIGHT” with their FR synthetic blends. Instead, our industry needs a hybrid solution offering the best of durability, breathability, and yes, I said it…affordability.
Introducing GridLock. This lightweight 5.4oz cotton fiber FR blend fabric is hitting the mark, where HSE, Operations, and Procurement professionals can all agree to get behind.
But first, let’s understand how the story began. Summer 2018 was a scorching one. Industrial businesses requiring workers to wear FR uniforms found themselves on the losing end of keeping hands happy and comfortable, without going broke on their work apparel spend. RPS Manufacturing Solutions was intently listening to the industry as a whole, constantly looking for best practices to lean on. What we found is that safety and procurement teams were doing business as usual and falling back on the “way we have always done it.” Essentially you have three choices. You either ante-up and commit to expensive synthetic blend FR fabrics, you comply with a cotton-based 88/12 middle-weight FR fabric, or you likely find something in the middle but have to compromise on durability, cost, performance, or comfort. In true RPS style, we decided this is not good enough. Workers and industrial companies, such as the energy, construction, mining, etc. sectors deserved more. More air permeation to feel cool, more softness to wick sweat, and feel like you’re wearing street clothes to work, more durability to reduce cost-of-ownership, and finally all of this at a budget-friendly price point.
Deep in the forest, RPS Solutions started putting together all of the key players in our GridLock story. Doing business, the way we have always done it was not going to get the job done this time. We needed to stretch our minds, stretch our resources, and challenge FR norms. First, Arvind Limited. Arvind Limited, a fashion and textile powerhouse, joined forces with RPS to conduct research and development in knitting just the right fibers into the FR yarns to eventually innovate today’s GridLock FR fabric technology. Leading India’s textile industry since 1931, and manufacturing for brands such as Timberland, Levi’s, Hanes, Patagonia and Gap, Arvind knew the value of developing fabrics that make people’s lives easier and more comfortable. Next, RPS needed to ensure the utmost in protection and quality assurance of our new light-weight summer-savvy fabric. Knowing one of our goals was to cut costs, we were not willing to sacrifice overall protection, so we called in the best who founded the world’s first FR chemistry.
Solvay, a global leader of science and chemical technologies, since 1863, stepped up to the plate. Solvay pledged their FR polymerization to GridLock. This exclusive FR chemistry, called Proban, not only ensures the ultimate in FR protective qualities, but also demands the best performance in fiber durability, lightfastness, and industrial washing stability. Together, Arvind, Solvay, and RPS Solutions put our Three Bear heads together to bring industrial safety the perfect finished FR garment to combat the hot summer heat and hence reduce heat stress incidents.
Disappointed, yet not defeated on our first attempt, RPS was busy working with the labs at Louisiana State University understanding how to keep a human’s core body temperature cool, to be able to engineer military-grade cooling vests. After another couple runs at prototype fabrics and some LSU key learnings, RPS began field trialing today’s 5.4oz Gridlock fabric composition to test our new theories. Was it going to be too hot, too cold, too hard, too soft, too big, or too little after truly experiencing real work conditions for months at a time?
Selecting what we think is one of the toughest working conditions in the market, we gave our sample garments to drilling contractor floorhands and had them work in blazing temps while tripping in oil-based mud. For weeks on end, these garments were worn, washed daily, saturated in oil, mud, and grease. Worker testimony amounted to GridLock is a GAME-CHANGER! Workers expressed sincere appreciation for someone “finally doing something about FRC heat stress.” Floorhands said that they “could actually feel a breeze coming through their FR workshirt as they stood on the rig floor.” And finally, one floorhand said, “if you think you are going to get this trial coverall back, you are going to have to fight me for it.” Upon evaluation of the worn garments, it was evident the rip-stop grid pattern woven into the fabric helped durability by resisting tearing when puncture occurred. Best yet, because it was an unintentional surprise, the inside of the garments closely resembled new unworn fabric, meaning that the heavily oil-stained garment’s exteriors resisted OBM from saturating. It was an instant win for floorhands. It works, it really works!
Back in the product engineering wooded forest; RPS, Arvind, and Solvay went back to work, making sure NFPA 2112/UL compliance and science-backed up the wear trial studies. Here, we commissioned several third-party labs to test the true performance of GridLock. Fall 2019, Vartest concluded GridLock’s air permeation (how well a textile allows the passage of air to flow through it) compared to leading FR fabric blends’ performance. First and foremost, Gridlock’s air permeation score more than quadrupled airflow, from the industry-standard 7oz. 88/12 FR fabric. Next, Gridlock out-performed the summer go-to 6oz knitted jersey FR fabric. Still more, it outperformed expensive blends that have attempted to check all the boxes, and finally, it scored comparably the ever-popular and bank-breaking lightweight 4.5oz. synthetic blend, at half the cost.
Fast forward to today, summer 2020. RPS Solutions invites you to learn more about our best-in-class, unmatched GridLock, powered by CrudeFR by clicking here. Today is the day to challenge the status quo and solve both heat stress and FR budget challenges with new BREATHABLE, DURABLE, and AFFORDABLE solutions. With GridLock, your teams will be cool and live “happily-ever-after.”