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The A-SAFE story is one of dedication, innovation and evolution. Our long record in polymer extrusion going back to the 1980s gives us scientific knowledge unmatched in the safety industry.
Our story started in 1984, a time of great economic uncertainty and high unemployment.
David Smith, a young father with an entrepreneurial spirit, was striving to forge a secure future for his family. He founded a polythene manufacturing company, and the journey from local business to global enterprise began. He began by sourcing the most cutting-edge polymer technology from around the world. With great endeavour he and his small team mastered it, then adapted it. We became an exemplary force in the rise of a new golden age of British manufacturing.
Then disaster struck. A flood. In 1989 we lost everything. The scale of destruction was immense.
Millions of pounds worth of state-of-the-art equipment lost, huge volumes of product stock destroyed, even the factory building itself was in a state of ruin. Jobs were lost overnight, lives were changed forever.
We believed in our business; our knowledge of polymer technology was world-leading then and we strive to keep it that way now.
Our product is something unique and our ethos of constant innovation kept us moving forward. So, we re-built. Commencing trade in 1992 with a new premises, new equipment, but the same unwavering ambition.
By adapting extrusion techniques we were able to not only manufacture polymer film wrap, but also invent a new solid polymer core.
Cardboard cores could rupture or break and consequently the whole film roll be rendered useless.
Our polymer core is scientifically designed and tested to safely hold extreme weights of film roll, maintaining its integrity under stresses and impacts during transportation around the world. It is also far more hygienic than card board, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. A massive benefit for food and drink facilities.
Noting our capacity to innovate and respecting our knowledge of advanced polymer technology, one of our clients came to us with a problem. Coca-Cola in Eritrea needed pallets for their product that were hardier yet more lightweight than what was commercially available. The material we developed for our plastic cores was the perfect solution.
By adapting our machinery, we created and patented the Rivlock pallet, supplying Coca-cola with approximately 10,000 bespoke robust polymer pallets.
At this time, David’s sons James and Luke had joined the business. One day, Luke realised that when a pallet was stood on its side, it looked like a plastic fence.
This moment was to change our business forever.
We started analysing the plastic fence market, but realised polymer would be too expensive compared to wood so the project was put on hold. Meanwhile, we were spending thousands of pounds on steel guardrails following advice from our insurance company that we needed to protect walkways and equipment. After repeatedly replacing and repairing the steel guardrails, and sometimes also needing to repair floors and suffer downtime losses, we had the idea of developing our plastic fence concept instead. We spoke to other companies and customers and found similar frustrations. The metal safety guardrails seemed inadequate.
With this in mind, we drew upon the entrepreneurial problem-solving spirit that David instilled in the business from the start. We adapted our machines again and through extensive research and testing, we were able to develop new fixings technology to invent the first fixed polymer safety guardrail.
We invented the world's first fixed polymer safety guardrail
Capitalising on the existing properties of our unique polymer material, we introduced a range of high tech safety features and advanced design engineering.
After rigorous scientific testing, the resulting safety barrier we developed was a revolution in workplace protection.
We didn’t stop there. With James and Luke now running the business, we have continued to innovate, constantly looking for new ways to push the boundaries of safety technology.
Now onto our third generation of guardrail, we continue to raise standards higher, year after year, adding more technology, more engineering design, and more safety features.
Today, we have local subsidiaries in 15 countries and trusted partners in over 30 countries, with our business spanning six continents. Our products are used across many industries by the world’s largest international blue-chip companies; Coca-Cola, DHL, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, IBM, to name just a few. Despite the scale of our operation, we design and manufacture everything at our HQ in the UK, giving us complete control over quality, with extensive custom-built testing equipment that goes above and beyond industry standards.
The spirit of local enterprise is instilled in our global offices, with each having an intimate knowledge of their domestic market. This gives us the capacity to meet customer needs with a personal understanding; we maintain a “Global but Local” ethos, of which we are very proud.
One of our recent concerns has been addressing the lack of a Code of Practice for Safety Guardrails in workplace environments. With our passion and knowledge of the subject, we have set about rectifying this problem.
Working closely with the British Standards Institute (BSI), and drawing upon our network with the biggest blue-chip companies in the world, we pulled together an expert steering group. We then sponsored, and were the technical authors of PAS 13.
A new, and sorely needed, code of practice to be applied across all sectors and industries.
From polymer extrusion to design engineering, technology innovations to Codes of Practice. We’re proud to be world leaders in every aspect of workplace safety, globally and locally.