Standards put Bata on the front foot


Delivering a quality product to customers is critical to Bata Company (NZ) Ltd, which is why their PVC gumboots are made to the key Standard for all safety footwear.

Tony Harmer, Operations Manager for Bata New Zealand, which manufactures the gumboots at its Owhiro Bay factory in Wellington, says meeting the requirements of AS/NZS 2210.3:2009 Occupational protective footwear – Specification for safety footwear gives the company confidence.

'I know that when we put our boots on the market, because of the Quality System Requirement that we work to, our customers can have complete confidence in our product.'

The Quality System Requirement (QSR) means all Bata gumboots have to meet certain Standards, which include a 200-joule drop test (where weights are dropped on the toes), slip and oil resistance, durability, and penetration resistance on the sole.

As well as quality and safety, another important aspect of the Standard for Bata is traceability.

'From the time a customer places an order to the time it goes out the door, we have traceability,' says Tony. 'We know which batch of materials was used to make the boot, what day it was made, even who was working the machine at the time, so if there is a fault, we've got a record of it and we can fix it.'

Bata is an international company, which was registered in 1894 as the T & A Bata Shoe Company in Ziln, Czechoslovakia, employing 10 cobblers. Today, Bata employs over 30,000 people with 5,000 international retail stores and a presence in over 70 countries.

Bata New Zealand was formed in 1948 with the first factory opening at Owhiro Bay in 1951, producing slippers. By the 1960s, they had up to six factories around the country with about the same number of warehouse distribution centres.

During the 1980s, there was a worldwide trend to relocate factories into Asian countries. Leather production in New Zealand was deemed unprofitable so by the 1990s Bata's warehousing and production was consolidated to the one factory at Owhiro Bay making PVC gumboots. Today Bata New Zealand produces over 200,000 pairs of boots a year, imports other Bata brands, and is the New Zealand agent for Rieker, Via Nova, and Ferracini.

Recently, Bata made a major investment by buying a million dollars worth of the latest manufacturing technology.

'The new technology means we will be able to respond to the needs of the market quickly, and provide our customers with new innovative products. The gumboots we produce are specifically designed for the New Zealand foot, which is bigger and wider than in other countries. We will also make a size 15; no-one else in the Bata organisation makes gumboots that big!' Tony says.

Tony believes Standards play an important role in New Zealand industries and although it costs money to make sure the systems they have are kept up to scratch, he believes it's well worth it.

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Jayne McCullum
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