All drapilux fabrics for the Maritime division have been certified in line with the European Marine Equipment Directive (MED). This states that the international conventions on maritime safety require flag states to ensure that the design, construction and performance of a ship's equipment meet certain safety requirements and to issue appropriate certificates. To this end, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the international and European standardisation organisations have developed performance and testing standards for certain types of marine equipment. The requirements for flame retardancy and the testing standards for textiles are also regulated here.
Following a revision, Directive 2014/90/EU came into effect in its new form on 18.9.2016. The regulations, which also include a more stringent conformity assessment procedure, aim in particular to ensure traceability of the articles used in the event of damage. For example, each product that is marketed under its own trade name, must be tested. For textiles, this means that every item in a product family must be tested accordingly.
On ships, fire safety is particularly important. Preventive measures are indispensable, as there is no possibility of escape and only limited fire-fighting options. The legislation is based on the resolution of the IMO. “The EU defines the special requirements that textiles have to meet in the FTP Code 2010, the Fire Test Procedure Code,” stated Frank Wiedemann, Head of Quality Assurance at drapilux. If a fabric passes these tests, it is certified according to Module B, the so-called product certification. “In addition to Module B, there is also Module D, awarded to drapilux,” explained Wiedemann. This not only contains specific product certifications, it also includes the auditing of the quality assurance system. To this end, an annual inspection of the manufacturing process is carried out by a notified body (certification body, e.g. BG Verkehr, Maritime Safety Department. If certain raw materials play an important role for the functionality of the product, their manufacturers are also audited by a notified body. “Consequently, the production of flame-retardant Trevira fibres or yarns, from which drapilux produces its maritime fabrics, is also audited by the aforementioned certification body because the flame-retardant modification in the fibre molecule is an important prerequisite for the textiles made from it to be able to meet the fire requirements of FTP Code 20210. The audit at Trevira ensures the traceability of the products back to the raw materials used, i.e. in the case of Trevira CS textiles to the fibre polymer,” said Anke Vollenbröker, Director Marketing & Business Development at Trevira.
Prior to the new Directive coming into force, Trevira had the opportunity to support its customers in obtaining the necessary certificates beyond its own production audit. Nowadays, each product that is marketed under its own trade name must be tested. “Consequently, we had to have our items from the Trevira CS collection and our manufacturing process audited ourselves,” explained Frank Wiedemann. “This was done in 2018, and 87 curtains and drapes, as well as 13 upholstery fabrics made of Trevira CS were certified.”
The audit involves different tests. The conditions are based on the intended use of the product. Among other things, curtain fabrics are inspected to see whether the fabric burns from the centre to the edge, the extent of the afterglow, whether the cotton element ignites and whether there is a superficial flame. In addition, the average duration of charring is measured. In the case of upholstery fabrics, the test looks at whether a smouldering cigarette or propane gas flame develops a smouldering fire, or whether the textile ignites.
Thus, both the manufacturing process of the fibres or yarns and the textiles and production at drapilux comply with the Marine Equipment Directive. Auditing and certification at every stage of the production process increases safety of life at sea. In addition, liability can be better determined. “This results in a very safe textile product that can be used globally on cruise ships without a second thought,” summed up Vollenbröker. Wiedemann reaffirmed: “Certifications for drapilux according to Modules B and D are valid in all European countries in accordance with an EU directive. Furthermore, drapilux has so-called U. S. Coast Guard approval for individual product certifications (Module B). The drapilux certificates are thus recognised worldwide, and the textiles can be used on all ships without any problems.”
Frank Wiedemann is also responsible for ensuring compliance with international fire safety standards at Schmitz Textiles, and responds to enquiries concerning REACh - the European Chemicals Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. REACh is considered to be one of the strictest laws worldwide regarding chemicals.