Safety is a matter of survival, especially in risky scenarios such as driving. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1.35 million people die each year as a result of road traffic accidents, a dramatic figure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has, ambitiously, aimed to halve by 2020. The risks are higher in the case of motorcycling, skiing and mountain biking. For more than 40 years, Italian company Dainese, founded by Lino Dainese, has been working on protecting the human body in these situations.
Dainese has constantly invested considerable resources in innovation well beyond merely the field of textiles. This has led them to develop an airbag for the human body, called D-Air: the project has since been scaled up to become D-Air Lab to accommodate new innovative developments. “We are an innovative startup which aims to develop projects outside the sports world based on the protective technologies developed by Dainese, because it became clear that all this know-how could also be applied to help people in everyday activities,” explains Vittorio Cafaggi, CEO of D-Air Lab. The company is even participating in a collaboration with NASA for the Mars 2030 project.
The company’s mission is to apply D-Air Technology to human activities where there is the need for protection against traumas caused by impacts, torsions, compressions and falls. “The application of air bags to the body has required significant modifications when compared to those used in automotive technology, both in terms of the electronics, and in particular with regard to the deployment algorithm, and from the perspective of pneumatics,” Cafaggi explains. “Also integrating the system into a garment presented numerous challenges in terms of ergonomics and comfort. The solutions developed have culminated in ‘smart clothing’.”
"Innovation means giving a concrete, reliable and sustainable response to theas yet unsolved problems relating ed to the protection of the human body that have yet to be resolved"
Vittorio Cafaggi, CEO of D-Air Lab
Smart clothing for risky situations
After suitable adaptation, smart clothing can be used in all situations where there is the risk of trauma caused by impacts or falls, for example, “in the case of workers who operate at heights,” Cafaggi continues. This is precisely the use case developed with Enel, in the Safety Jacket project.
“We started collaborating with Enel when, having seen the technology, the Group decided to contact us,” explains the CEO. The Safety Jacket project began in the Enel Innovation Hub in Pisa, and “its aim is to provide protection for employees working at heights by means of a D-air® system, specifically engineered for operative personnel working in thermal power plants.”.
By using the jacket, operators are ensured maximum protection in the event of a fall from a height of less than 2 meters when a harness is not required. The jacket also protects against the effects of pendulum impact when operators are working higher up and the use of a harness is mandatory.
These jackets have been used by operators from Enel's Renewable, Distribution and Generation business lines, and its adoption represents a very important example for companies all over the world that prioritise the health and safety of their employees. “The safety of those working in our assets is our top priority, something we commit to each day. In order to further improve on the excellent results already achieved, we need to harness all the tools that technology makes available to us, continually question what we are doing, and think in an innovative way. The technology we are testing with Dainese and D-Air Lab is a very important step in that direction,” explains Nicola Rossi, Enel’s Head of Innovation Global Power Generation.
A strong determination to improve safety
“D-Air Lab and Dainese consider the collaboration with Enel to be strategic for the development of additional, more specialised versions of the Safety Jacket,” says Cafaggi. The Enel project is one part of an extensive development programme in which D-Air Lab is working alongside major companies to apply D-air® airbag technology to various fields of activity, including support for the elderly and individuals suffering from medical conditions who are at risk of falling, as well as protecting children in cars. “The prestigious involvement with Enel provides D-Air Lab with great credibility in the market,” he adds.
According to D-Air Labs, the Enel Group’s emphasis on innovation, in particular in the field of safety, was “demonstrated firstly by the clarity of their objectives and then by the determination with which they tackled the operational stages.”
Undoubtedly, safety is of utmost importance to the Group, and this will be on show for all to see at our event Leading the Tech Revolution: Here and Now with Enel, on 27 November in Milan, where. D-Air Labs will be presenting their latest developments.