Protecting Employees Means Protection of ­Investment

Personal Protection: High Quality and Manufacturer-independent Professional Advice for Personal Protective Equipment

25.03.2020 -

There are numerous special and niche suppliers on the market for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This makes procurement time-consuming and expensive. In addition, there is a flood of legal requirements, a growing number of products on offer and increasing demands from the employees. In view of these developments, the Hoffmann Group, a system partner for quality tools, workstations and storage, has set itself the goal of making choosing and buying PPE much simpler.
Over the last few years, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has enjoyed a real boom in demand. The good economic situation, new legal requirements and increasing demands from the companies themselves have contributed to this. Now it is no longer a question of protecting employees. PPE should also foster motivation and identification with the company. As a result, the range of products on offer has changed. Christoph Hörmann, responsible for PPE at the Hoffmann Group explains: “Design and being comfortable to wear are gaining in importance. As the PPE market is very fragmented and the range of products on offer is growing, it’s becoming more difficult and time consuming to select and procure products. We reacted to this trend and extended our assortment to a full range of products roughly two years ago, to be able to provide everything from a single source.”

Finding a Way Through the Jungle of Offers
The Hoffmann Group made a careful selection when designing the new product range. The result: approximately 6,500 products from 60 leading manufacturers, who cover all protective areas from head to toe, from protective helmets, to work clothing and work shoes. To help customers not only select the right product but also how or where to use PPE, the Hoffmann Group has also set up a professional consultant team. “Roughly a year before we entered the market we started to recruit 80 consultants,” Hörmann explained. “High quality and manufacturer-independent professional advice plays a key role in all areas of our business and is regularly used by our customers.”
At the Hoffmann Group, there is actually not only the traditional field sales representative who covers the complete range and is constantly in contact with the customer. There are also specialists on hand with lots of experience in their respective field: technical engineers to answer any questions about using tools, workstation and storage consultants and now also PPE consultants. Initial support is provided by field sales. If a customer has a particular problem, the PPE consultant comes into play, providing cross-manufacturer support when selecting products and is a competent advisor when drawing up risk analyses and protection plans. In addition, he helps determine suitable clothing and shoe sizes, accompanies clothing tests and trains the employees on site.

Boosting Motivation and Employees’ Identification
Asked about the role of PPE in companies, Christoph Hörmann explains: “A high proportion of industrial companies today no longer regard PPE as a necessary evil and cost factor within C-item procurement to comply with legal regulations. Rather, PPE is seen as a valuable investment in employees. New materials for cut-resistant gloves, for example, are flexible, and free from steel and fibreglass. This means that they cause less skin irritation and the hands don’t tire as quickly. The employees can thus work more productively, and also appreciate the extra wearing comfort.” Visually appealing and comfortable to wear PPE also improves wearer acceptance, so that employees implement safety regulations more consistently. If employees also feel comfortable in their PPE and enjoy wearing it, then their sense of belonging to the company increases. Consequently, well-chosen PPE also promotes employee loyalty and raises employer attractiveness. In times of a shortage of skilled workers, these aspects should not be underestimated. “Protecting employees means protecting your investment,” Hörmann summarises.

Own Brand with Premium Standards
To meet the demands on PPE, the Hoffmann Group is also continuously developing its own Garant brand. The aim is, in the medium to long term, to be able to offer Garant products for the complete range. The requirements are high: Garant products must stand out from other products, either in design or by the product characteristics. Therefore, the brand is distinguished by premium quality, functionality and attractive design: 44 design awards speak for this. “Our new Garant multi-purpose gloves are not only truly silicone-free, but also produced in a silicone-free environment – hardly any other manufacturer can offer this,” explains Hörmann. “We have had our gloves tested by the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart for paint-wetting impairment substances (PWIS) in accordance with the VDMA 24364 standard sheet. PWIS compliance has now been confirmed. This means that the gloves leave neither fingerprints nor other traces on sensitive surfaces and are pre-destined for use in the automotive industry and paint shops.”

Support for Any Size of Customer
The Hoffmann Group has designed its new PPE services for any size of company. These companies have two things in common: the need for specialist advice and the desire to reduce their procurement costs. Small and medium-sized companies often need more advice as they do not have the time to keep up with the latest technical standards and be aware of all the new regulations. For larger companies, on the other hand, the advice is more complex. According to Hörmann, it is often also a question of creating cross-location concepts to standardize PPE and streamline ordering and procurement processes. “We develop cross-location and cross-national product and procurement concepts for our customers throughout Europe, helping them to save costs,” says Hörmann. “We also create electronic catalogues for them which they can integrate into their eProcurement system and in which only the PPE approved by them is displayed. In our online shop, customers can also hide any other PPE products for their employees.” With these measures, the Hoffmann Group significantly increases security for customers procuring PPE. When the Hoffmann Group receives an order, over 99 percent of the goods are readily available and are delivered within 24 hours within Germany. In Europe, the regular delivery time is less than 48 hours.

Automated PPE Procurement
In companies that want to provide their employees with simple and secure access to PPE around the clock, the Hoffmann Group is also installing goods issuing machines from the Garant Tool24 product family. With these systems, the procurement process can be partially or fully automated. At the same time, customers always have an overview of their consumption, because employees must log on to the system before a door opens and they can remove a product. As soon as the stock falls below a minimum level, the machine sends a message to the purchasing department or an order directly to the supplier. MAN Energy Solutions in Zurich has completely automated their ordering process in this way and shortened the procurement process from 5 to 8 days to 1 to 2 days. As a result, PPE is always available and process costs have been significantly reduced.

PPE procurement is becoming more and more complex. It has ceased to be just a matter of safety regulations for a long time now. As well as the continuing shortage of skilled workers, issues relating to wearing comfort and employee loyalty are coming to the fore. Valuable assistance in the jungle of offers can be provided by a system partner who offers PPE products and advice from a single source, who is familiar with modern procurement solutions and ideally also understands something about ergonomic workplace concepts. The average age of the workforce is rising in most companies, and measures to protect and keep employees healthy are thus becoming a means of protecting productivity.

With training videos for hearing and breathing protection, the Hoffmann Group is supporting its customers in complying with their duty to brief their employees:
Breathing protection:
Hearing protection:


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