According to SGS, this investment benefits the industry by providing more objective data, softer products for consumers and a competitive advantage for manufacturers.
Already recognized as an international benchmark for testing and measuring the performance of disposable hygiene products (baby changing, feminine hygiene and all other types of absorbent product), SGS's laboratory in Oignies is extending its expertise by offering its customers – manufacturers, distributors and consumer associations – innovative technology to measure softness of a material or product.
Until now, the softness of a product was perceived only through the appreciation of panelists. A grade was awarded as a result of many manipulations of the sample. While very useful, this test, and its results, remained rather subjective.
"To complete this approach, we decided to invest in a new equipment that measures some parameters, including the level of sound fibers and material texture, to determine the softness perception of a product," explains Vincent Bernus, SGS's director of Cosmetic, Personal Care & Household.
"It allows us to industrialize and control the entire process, to obtain more objective data while increasing our quality control capabilities," says Cédric Schoorens, technical manager, Hygiene Division, SGS.
Each test protocol is unique and applies to a single product. Data interpretation is then carried out via an algorithm developed specifically by SGS experts. Tissues (handkerchiefs), baby diapers (inner/outer veil and extensible ties), feminine hygiene and incontinence products are currently being tested.
"But this is only a first step. This acquisition highlights the collaborative work of the SGS Group. Indeed, the machine can be used for other materials and by other laboratories in France and Europe," says Schoorens.
"Our goal, by 2020, is to map the entire European market and then Asia to eventually become the world leader in softness," adds Bernus.