Manufacturers’ Monthly spoke with the team at industrial workwear supplier Blackwoods about their updated Workhorse range and due diligence program embedded within the company.
Producing personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic has played a key part in Australia’s unprecedented manufacturing activity this year.
While masks will continue to be an essential PPE item, protective clothing for those who work in challenging environments such as construction will also remain important.
Blackwoods, a major industrial supplier with 142 years of experience supplying tools and equipment to businesses across Australia, has updated its tailored range.
Nine years ago, the company decided to create its own exclusive workwear range tailored to Australian industrial businesses, called Workhorse.
While the original range was released in 2014, this year the Blackwoods team saw an opportunity to update the range, bring in new and improved features to the clothing and take it to the next level of comfort and safety.
The brand now has new clothing for night and day wear. While adhering to Australian standards, the team explains how the range holds safety and comfort at its core.
Quality, compliance and responsible sourcing manager for Blackwoods, Sarnia Hobson, said the company has maintained independent accreditation to the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System framework.
“We saw this as a positive step forward to gain accreditation in order to continually maintain and improve the quality of our processes and customer service delivery,” she said.
Blackwoods has a supplier risk management program in place for strategic global and national brands with regular collaboration governed by a category team to ensure that they are continually delivering against their customer needs.
“Understanding supplier commitments and performance across multiple operational areas such as responsible business practices, quality and compliance and sustainability, allows us to better support our customer expectations and coupled with our in-house technical expertise and site visits, delivers on our customer objectives.”
Blackwoods is committed to continuously improving the quality, ethical and social compliance practices within their exclusive brand manufacturing facilities, to deliver sustainable solutions that protect our brands and the well-being of workers and their communities.
This is also echoed in the engagement and messaging with strategic national brands.
Factories producing Blackwoods exclusive brand range such as Workhorse Workwear undertake regular quality and technical assessments and audits by the company’s quality team.
Quality performance at factories is continually monitored, and by utilising customer feedback mechanisms, Blackwoods are able to continually improve their exclusive product range.
Blackwoods has in place a governance framework to ensure its Quality and Ethical Sourcing Program is executed and monitored in line with agreed strategy and process.
“Blackwoods opposes the use of modern slavery practices and are committed to the ongoing journey of reducing and eradicating the risk of modern slavery practices in our supply chains,” Hobson said.
KPIs such as independent audit frequency, timely assessment/remedy of compliance criticalities and training deliverables are reported annually and published via the Wesfarmers Sustainability Report which is independently audited.
Apparel program manager at Blackwoods, Cahal Callanan, said the company wanted to provide a “real value proposition” to large industrial businesses who needed workwear to protect employees.
As part of the new range the team is developing new products with a stretch element.
“One of the main factors in the new range was to add in more stretch fabric, so it fits to workers bodies and allows more movement for people on site doing these active jobs. They are working eight to ten hours each day of really solid work, so if their uniform can fit and move with them it makes them more comfortable and efficient,” Callanan said.
Workhorse has also recently launched a new range with high visibility as a focus.
Instead of using day-time high-visibility colours, such as yellow or orange, the range is made from white fabrics. This was implemented as white is the most naturally luminescent colour and contrasts well in dark environments.
National category and sourcing manager of Apparel and Footwear, Leigh Eam, said the safety aspects of the designs across the Workhorse range is what makes it unique.
“White really does stand out in a dark environment and in addition with our biometric tape applied to the garments a person is really visible,” she said.
Biomotion retro-reflective tape is another element of design for the nightwear range that is crucial to improving safety.
“Usually you may only get one band of tape around the leg and arm for visibility. But to increase this, with our new range we added two bands on either side of the joint on the leg and arm and this makes it easier to identify which direction the person is moving in,” Eam said.
She says there is also an ‘X’ configuration across the back of the uniform so machine operators can easily identify which way a person is facing.
“With two bands featured on the arms and legs of the clothing, each band moves when a person is walking and people can clearly see the motion of that person. I think this range that Cahal has created really focuses on the fit-for-purpose needs for night works.”
Tailored for Australia
The entire Workhorse range uses Blackwoods’ expertise by listening to its customer support staff to identify what unique needs Australian industries have.
“Getting direct information from workers about what they need helps us to develop the right product for them and that has been reflected in this range,” Callanan said.
One aspect that is central to Workhorse’s range is the use of 100 per cent cotton fabric.
“Australians love wearing 100 per cent cotton and we know that the Australian high-visibility standard has been modified to allow workwear ranges to use the natural cotton that Australians want,” he says.
“There are also a range of other factors like clothing vents to combat heat and collars that can be pulled up around the neck to protect from the sun. We created clothing with these elements, and they are intrinsic to our workwear range.”
Call Blackwoods at 13 73 23 or visit www.blackwoods.com.au