It’s fitting that Koroyd, a brand that protects life in motion, should apply the propulsive momentum gained in sectors as diverse as snow sports and cycling, aviation and automotive child seats to its developments in industrial protection with brand partners including PBI Height Safety, Protos, Studson, and now General Electric.
Working with GE’s PPE division via Caco Abbo, its exclusive licensee for the Americas (South, Central and North), Koroyd’s new ANSI Z89.1-standard helmet advances functional head protection in hazardous environments like construction sites.
Koroyd has transformed the traditional hard hat into a modern safety helmet: compact, comfortable and lightweight, with improved balance and stability and a radically reduced ride height that significantly lowers its center of gravity. It demonstrates clearly Koroyd’s full-scope design capability and provides compelling evidence of an internal culture hardwired to innovation.
“By utilizing Koroyd’s Crumple, Absorb, Protect technology, we’ve designed a full system that passes the ANSI Z89.1 test but with a much lower profile. Our installation and shell attachment has reduced ride height to just 30mm. Currently, in some helmets, it’s more than 50mm,” says Senior Industrial Designer James Rogers.
There are numerous benefits of having a low ride height safety helmet. Firstly, it optimizes its use in confined spaces. A helmet that must be removed before working in an enclosed area is, clearly, self-defeating. Aesthetics matter too, promoting corporate identity and reducing the self-consciousness that can inspire the helmet’s removal, even temporarily.
The GE-Koroyd helmet utilizes a soft-press pad, similar to those in cycle helmets. Its benefits are manifold: increased hygiene with an antimicrobial, machine washable pad, a system that improves comfort by spreading load and, in tandem with the helmet’s reduced center of gravity, increasing stability.
A Blank Canvas
The most remarkable innovation in the GE helmet’s interior, however, is the integration of Koroyd’s unique tubular core: a patented technology available in various diameters, densities and polymers. EPS foam is entirely absent from the design. In this regard, the challenge of modernizing the hard hat offered a blank canvas.
The GE helmet utilizing Koroyd technology dispenses with the thick dome of EPS found in helmets across a variety of sectors. Instead, Koroyd developed a system to attach its patented material directly to the shell and another to mount the Retention Cradle. The helmet’s low ride height owes much to this bold innovation.
“Typically, with other products, in bike sports, for example, we understand what works and how we can improve an established system. Developing a cage system to fix the Koroyd material to the hard shell of the GE-Koroyd helmet presented an engineering challenge that was very satisfying to resolve,” James reveals.
The pleasingly simple exterior complements its compact profile. Styling fell under Koroyd’s remit, as well: a familiar requirement for a company that offers its brand partners a turnkey design-and-build solution. For the GE-Koroyd helmet, Koroyd designed two shells. The Class G or standard shell, for example, has the broadest application.
The Class E shell protects electrical workers against trailing wires. Despite its closed design, a host of features combine to keep the wearer cool, whatever the task’s intensity: the Koroyd core’s open-cell structure, a raised center section to contain it, the absence of EPS and the Retention Cradle’s web-like construction.
Like the helmet Koroyd developed with Protos, the GE-Koroyd helmet has an ecosystem of optional protective accessories, including a full-length polycarbonate impact visor and a mesh visor suitable for underground and forestry work. The accessories attach externally, complementing the helmet’s low ride height and facilitating its use in confined spaces.
Finite Element Analysis was fundamental to the helmet’s development. Koroyd’s model, proven in a host of successful products, inspired Research and Development Engineer Mathilde Nais to afford virtual development a significance unique in any of its design projects. Such was her confidence that Koroyd opened tooling based on her simulations.
Further, the FEA data enabled a twin-track approach to development. Mathilde’s simulations of different shell materials and thicknesses, Koroyd specifications and geometries supplied James with the required volumes and, ultimately, supported a design that is both protective and lightweight: essential qualities for a helmet that might be worn all day.
Results from Koroyd’s laboratory correlated with Mathilde’s virtual explorations. The prototype design, already optimized to achieve an ambitiously low ride height, had increased the “safety margin” typically included to mitigate the risk of expensive modifications to tooling. Physical tests, however, validated the data’s accuracy. “It was pretty exciting,” Mathilde says.
“Being able to test in our own laboratory is very valuable. It’s important to see what’s happening rather than have to rely on others who might not consider certain information to be important. Independent laboratories want test results that pass, but we want to understand why a test has passed.”
Development was iterative, but few revisions were required. Koroyd’s approach – logical, sequential and founded in the premise that each new version must be better than the last – encapsulates the refusal of its engineers to accept anything less than the optimum solution, while continuing to meet strict deadlines. Excellence by default.
A New Reality
The GE-Koroyd helmet has been realized with impressive speed and will be unveiled at the National Safety Conference in San Diego, California, on September 19, 2022. Koroyd achieved a “very expedited timeline” thanks to its engineering expertise and FEA capabilities: manifestations of a team culture in which innovation is prized.
Companies like Koroyd are creating a new reality in which workers can expect the same standards as cyclists or skiers. It’s hard to imagine a business better able to drive performance in a sector where concerns for weight, ventilation, comfort and usability have often been sacrificed to compulsion and necessity.
James identifies two influences on a new generation of attractive, desirable, high-performance industrial helmets: increased regulation and greater user awareness. Workers are demanding better protection, and legislators are backing them. The GE-Koroyd helmet – compact, comfortable and equipped with a sophisticated impact absorption technology – is surely in the vanguard.