Q&A with Sach Sankpal, President, Honeywell Safety Products
My background has prepared me well for my current position. I became president of Honeywell Safety Products (HSP) in April of this year. Prior to my appointment, I led HSP in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India (EMEAI) — and gained a true global view of the safety industry and the role that HSP can have in bringing innovative solutions to the marketplace. I was able to work closely with our distributors, partners, and end users and understand their needs and challenges — and how new future technologies will allow various industries to reduce risk and safety incidents and improve productivity. In fact, this, along with my previous experiences leading business while living in the U.S. and Asia, combined with my previous telecommunications and software experience, has provided me a solid foundation to participate in the advancement of the safety industry.
What is your assessment of the safety products markets in the U.S., and globally, in 2014?
The safety market as a whole is strong, it is growing, and it is evolving as economies continue to improve. Specifically, the U.S. and Europe are stable. High growth regions like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are growing, as is Mexico and other South American countries. Safety regulations around the world continue to increase, and in many geographies we do see an increased level of enforcement.
We also see an increased focus level in certain geographies on worker safety, from companies to their employees, and on advancing the concept of creating and maintaining a sustained culture of safety. That’s a powerful driver. In some countries and industries, this emerging culture of safety may in fact have an even stronger impact on promoting worker safety than government regulations and penalties.
We are investing where we see strength and opportunity and the potential to help our partners and customers raise the bar beyond minimum compliance in terms of improving worker safety.
What Honeywell safety products are seeing strong demand in 2014, and why?
In brief, there are three examples that I think illustrate both what we see could be an opportunity for strong demand and our response.
• Hearing conservation — There is greater awareness of the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss among workers, and we anticipate regulations increasing in various industries and across geographies. We’re responding by applying advanced technologies in a variety of manners — leveraging high tech electronics that enhance hearing protection capabilities and monitoring, like QUIETPRO, our intelligent hearing protection and communication system — to the development of new materials and designs that promote comfort, ease-of-use, and longer wear by workers for better protection, like our FirmFit foam earplugs.
• Footwear — where demand is strong and we continue to expand our offerings and introduce new products to meet specific industry needs. Last year, we introduced a new full range of protective footwear to cover many different industries — Oliver premium safety footwear for tough and hazardous environments such as oil & gas and mining. Our earlier acquisition of King’s Safetywear complements our existing Ranger and Xtratuf product range.
• Training and education — End-user needs continue to evolve and we are being asked by our customers to provide an end-to-end solution, so more than just product. In response, we are celebrating the first anniversary of the opening of our Honeywell Safety Customer Experience Center in Houston, Texas, and are continuing to expand the offering of in-house and off-site training and education courses — as well as introducing new training apps and other resources for safety managers and end users.
What industry segments for Honeywell safety products are seeing strong demand in 2014?
In addition to the segments that I have mentioned, one of the strongest global markets continues to be the Oil & Gas industry, due to continuing demand for energy — in North America, the Middle East, and in Europe. That said, wherever we are also seeing high industrial growth — as economies start to recover, there is strong demand for PPE head-to-toe products and solutions.
Bring distributors up to date on investments in customer training and support that Honeywell Safety Products is making.
In a recent survey we conducted with ASSE of safety managers, 92 percent said that safety training was an essential corporate investment — but just 55 percent said they had all the resources they needed for worker training. That is a large gap in meeting an “essential” need.
In terms of our investments, I would consider the opening of our Honeywell Safety Customer Experience Center outside Houston as a very initial investment in supporting our customers with training and support. This multi-million dollar and 10,000-square-foot investment features a variety of resources available to our customers, including nine worksite-environment simulators, which is unique in the world — not to mention a major statement to our commitment to worker safety, our partners, customers, and the safety industry. In the last 12 months, more than 600 workers and managers have attended our education and training sessions from around the U.S.
Meanwhile, since many safety professionals prefer to train their workers themselves and onsite, we are working closely with our distributors and partners to provide industry and geographic-specific behavior-based safety training for workers in proper PPE usage and procedures.
What plans do you have for helping Honeywell Safety Products’ distributor network grow its sales?
We are the leader in safety and plan on remaining so. It is that commitment — and our leadership in innovation — technology, design, functionality, materials, analytics, manufacturing, and service — that we bring to our distributors and the safety industry. It is through our distributors and their value-added expertise, insight, and day-to-day presence and service that we connect with our end users, to deliver our solutions, to provide our value to the safety industry — and to continue to succeed.
We are committed to continuing to increase our investment in R&D so that we can introduce and provide best-in-class PPE technology that our distributors can deliver to our end-users. There is a lot of cool technology used in other Honeywell businesses like aerospace and specialty materials that we will progressively integrate in our PPE to better capture data, track assets and ensure compliance, and provide better fit and comfort.
Internally, we have aligned our Honeywell Safety and Honeywell Analytics businesses at the highest level — as Honeywell Industrial Safety — to provide a single global focus to better serve our distributors and partners.
We are making substantial improvements in our business processes and systems — in terms of ordering, inventory, fulfillment, finance, and service and support — that we know will help our partners be smarter, stronger, and more efficient and responsive.
What plans does Honeywell Safety Products have in the area of PPE personal customization?
Worker safety is personal. PPE must be personal as well. As an industry, the emphasis in the past on “personal” has not always been there. Thankfully, now it is more so.
Yet, the best PPE solution in the world cannot keep a worker safe if it is not worn. Workers must want to wear their PPE. To encourage — enable — this practice, there must be a positive culture of safety in place. Moreover, the PPE must allow the worker to function. It must be comfortable, easy to use, and light. There must be choices in sizes, materials, fit — and even fashion and style — to suit individual preferences and customs. Our Uvex Turboshield™ face shield, Howard Leight® FirmFit™ earplug and Miller® AirCore™ harness are great example of this strategy. All of this is “personal customization” and all are areas in which we are working hard to introduce significant leaps forward in innovation and improvement.
In the future, how do you think the PPE market will be impacted by “wearable technologies”?
There’s no doubt that PPE is becoming more technological — and smarter. Wearables are the realization of the convergence of these trends — at the individual level. Some of our PPE digital solutions already monitor the work environment for hazards, report their usage, alert the user to hazards, perform analytics, and enable intelligent communications. It’s not hard to imagine — it is probably inevitable — that many of these technologies, as well as others, will be rolled up into an offering of “wearables.”
As I said, we will continue to develop innovations in PPE that leverage Honeywell cutting-edge technology that is more convenient, smarter and not only makes workers safer, but more productive and better educated.
Do you see other issues or trends affecting the market for safety products now or in the future?
The greatest positive impact on worker safety is the presence of a sustainable culture of safety in the workplace.
While there is an increasing appreciation of the benefits of worksite cultures of safety and a trending adoption of the practice, much more needs to be done in order to achieve “zero injuries” among workers across industries and around the world.
In partnership with our distributors, we’re in a unique position to provide the PPE, leadership, education, and data management to encourage, nurture, and support this trend. And we will continue to do so — with our industry-leading R&D, people, resources, and partner distributors — for the health, safety, and well-being of workers everywhere.
Share with distributors any other thoughts, perceptions or comments you want to make regarding Honeywell Safety Products in 2014 and the future.
In the coming years, we will see exciting changes in the safety market with the integration of advanced technologies in PPE, real time information management, and even greater interactivity between the worker and his environment. Honeywell is a leader in many of these areas and has already employed most of these technologies in other sectors, such as Aerospace. As we continue to adapt these advancements to safety solutions, Honeywell Safety will remain at the forefront to bring to our partners the industry’s highest performance, best-in-class product and services.
Sach Sankpal, president for Honeywell Safety Products, a part of the Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions’ Life Safety business, joined Honeywell in 2010 as vice president of strategy & marketing in Honeywell Life Safety and most recently led Europe, Middle East, Africa and India (EMEAI) for HSP, according to a company statement.