All posts by Smart Kevlar® Team

Carolina Performance Fabrics is a market leader for welcoming transformations

Álvaro Fuentes Quintana, director of ballistic division
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a series of interviews conducted by The Smart Kevlar® Review, security, safety and defense executives from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico share their stories and talk about their experience on operating in the industry

Carolina Performance Fabrics is the leader in the Mexican market. With over 100 years of history, the company is specialized in technical textile products, structures designed to be used in products, processes or services in almost all industrial areas, such as defense and security. To reach the top, its timeline is ambitious and highlights the aptitude for changing that comes along with it to date. The origins of the business date back to 1845 and the company underwent many changes to take the prominent position it holds today.

Carolina Group was created in 1992 and joined the operations of La Carolina y Reforma, Alta Lana and Textil La Marina Group. Later, in 2002, Carolina Performance Fabrics was created with the purpose of developing, producing and marketing protective fabrics.

Business Changes

“Carolina Ballistic was created in 2008 and specializes in ballistic protection of vehicular and architectural armor,” explains Alvaro Fuentes Quintana, director of the Carolina Ballistic. The following year, Carolina Group joined its operations in two divisions: Technical Textiles Division (Carolina Performance) and Apparel Division (Carolina Apparel).

He has been closely monitoring this movement for 11 years, watching the evolution of the processes and is proud of how the materials used in each product are of high quality, which keeps the company constantly ahead. “We always use original products, which are the best we can offer to the market,” says the director. “One example is vehicle armor solutions, which are faster and have better ballistic performance,” exemplifies Fuentes Quintana.

“We are currently the market leader thanks to the diversity of products and solutions focused on vehicle shielding. We invest in new technologies to deliver the best solutions, best performance and competitive costs,” emphasizes the executive when talking about the portfolio. Changing is part of the core of the company, which already adapts its business to the opportunities and trends of the protection industry, always handling everything responsibly and working with the best materials.

Multi-threat scenario: how Brazil and Mexico deal with this matter

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Public safety is one of the fields of the highest concern to society. And in a multi-threat urban setting, care needs to be redoubled. Police officers and armed forces need to be prepared to assist and protect the population, whether in a situation of intense threat, such as a shooting, or by following a demonstration and controlling possible aggressive behavior.

Latin America

A study conducted by Mexico’s Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice compiled the 50 most violent cities in the world in 2018. Tijuana ranks first. Brazil is also on the list and appears in eighth slot, with Natal. Venezuela and Colombia are also included in this ranking.

For Mexicans, the biggest problem is the high number of homicides that have even seemed to decrease, but not due to the action of public forces but because of the fight between rival criminal organizations that enforce rules in the territories they dominate.

On Brazilian land, especially in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, criminal groups also dominate many parts of the city and represent probably the highest threat to police forces. And both scenarios have one point in common: access to firearms.

Concern Number One

Armed violence is one of the leading causes of death in Brazil: this data is part of the Atlas of Violence 2019, conducted by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) and the National Forum for Public Safety (FBSP). According to the document, 72.4% of homicides in 2017 were committed by firearm.

For Daniel Cerqueira, a researcher and one of the coordinators of this survey, “there are different types of threats. The main one is the potential diffusion of firearms.”

How to fight threats

Delimiting the most frequently occurring perimeter and surveying the area is already a good start for controlling potential dangers and anticipating actions, as well as having corporations working together. “If it is impossible to change the country from one moment to the next, it is possible to start by the street, the neighborhood,” explains Cerqueira.

In addition, you must have well-equipped and trained police who work on intelligence data. “Investment in people and equipment reflects in police with structure to act strategically for a longer period,” says the researcher.

Right equipment

“[It is not acceptable] to exchange shots with an expired vest and without tactical conditions. Also, [It takes] tactical scheme to reduce the number of victims, both police and civilians’, concludes the expert about how the current conditions of those at the front line influence the fight against threats.

Tejidos Especiales: first to work with Kevlar® aramid fiber in Colombia

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*In a series of interviews conducted by Smart Kevlar® Review, security, protection and defense executives from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico share their stories and talk about their experience working in the industry

After visiting Brazil and Mexico, Smart Kevlar® Review arrives in Colombia. Tejidos Especiales, like Inbra Filter, in Brazil, was built by the Moscoso family. Family administration has led the company to be a strong competitor in the Colombian protection market. Rocio Moscoso, commercial director of Tejidos Especiales, proudly tells her story and that of her family’s. “We have been textile workers for 30 years and in 1990 our country faced a particular situation of violence. At the time, Colombia had three armorers and a producer of bulletproof vests, which imported all of their raw materials”.

At that moment, DuPont was looking for a local company to work with Kevlar® and “we were selected to start the weaving process,” points out Moscoso.

Protection Industry

Since 1995, the company has been active in vehicle and personal protection and working with DuPont means having the best product at hand. “DuPont is a very well-known company worldwide for its technological innovation and high-quality products,” says the executive.

One attribute that the director emphasizes is the responsibility with which aramid fiber is produced and handled. “Everyone who comes in contact with Kevlar® has done it responsibly, generating a lot of trust in users because it is a product whose main purpose is saving lives,” she says.

Trends, challenges and opportunities

Looking at the future, the director indicates lightweight materials and integral solutions in the field of vehicle armor as business trends. And moving forward, she lists local challenges to overcome: unregulated ammunition, specific threats, and new competing materials. But the challenging side also opens up opportunities, as the “regional market continues to demand civil and government protection,” she concludes.

Successful DNA: InbraFiltro Group stands out with family tradition and innovation

Reading Time: 4 minutes

* In a series of interviews conducted by Smart Kevlar® Review, security, safety and defense executives from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico share their stories and talk about their experience on operating in the industry.


The series of interviews start with Claudia Candido, Marketing and Relationship Director at InbraFiltro Group, a Brazilian company that the Candido family history in its DNA. With 40 years in operation, the company was founded by Jairo Candido, Claudia’s father, and chaired by her mother – who founded InbraFiltro with Lourival Candido, Claudia’s cousin and president of the company since 2017. “In 1988, my deceased mother, Edi Candido, then president of the Group, was invited to bring aramid fiber to Brazil for ballistic use, as we were already working with a derivative of industrial filtration material, and she took up the challenge”, she says.

In 1979, operation in the textile industry consisted of the production of filters and industrial technical fabrics. Since then, the business has expanded to life protection, security, and defense market with a focus on modernizing its industrial solutions and processes. “We always try to be at the forefront of this scenario. Thus, today, despite the bureaucracy of the industry’s inspection and control agencies, we seek to perform in innovation,” explains the executive.

It is currently one of the largest Brazilian manufacturers of life protection equipment with solutions such as helmets, shields and bulletproof vests, as well as vehicle armor and special materials for military apparatuses.

Claudia Candido in the weaving of InbraFiltro Group in 2008. Photo: Helena de Castro

Challenges and Opportunities in the Field

With a more than consolidated operations, the director recognizes the adversities that the Brazilian market presents and works to overcome them. “When we talk about Brazil, the biggest challenges are bureaucracy and lack of resources to adequately equip the forces. As a result, we have  limitations in investments in innovation. Because we live in a country in which security scenario requires higher protection, we need to find ways to meet this market demand,” she highlights.

The security and safety scenario in Latin America are increasingly promising, despite the obstacles, and companies operating in this industry play an important role in product creation. It is a field that demands investments in research, development, and innovation.

Industry Trends

“According to the current scenario, the trend is for materials to be increasingly resistant and light for the prevention of organized crime, which uses military weapons,” she says.

Claudia continues the legacy left by her parents alongside a qualified team and highlights that entering this field was a natural decision. She began at the age of 20 and remembers with great joy the beginning of her professional life in the family business, a time that she emphasizes was very pleasant and with a lot of learning. “My entry in this field turned out to be something organic. Starting young gave me a lot of courage to take the risk. Today, I am very proud to be part of the history of ballistic protection in Brazil,” she concludes.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Field

With a more than consolidated operation, the director recognizes the adversities that the Brazilian market presents and works to overcome them. “When we talk about Brazil, the biggest challenges are bureaucracy and lack of resources to adequately equip the forces. As a result, we have limitations in investments in innovation. Because we live in a country which security scenario requires higher protection, we need to find ways to meet this market demand,” she highlights.

The security and safety scenario in Latin America are increasingly promising, despite the obstacles, and companies operating in this industry play an important role in product creation. It is a field that demands investments in research, development and innovation.

Industry Trends

“According to the current scenario, the trend is for materials to be increasingly resistant and light for the prevention of organized crime, which uses military weapons”, she says.

Claudia continues the legacy left by her parents alongside a qualified team and highlights that entering this field was a natural decision. She began at the age of 20 and remembers with great joy the beginning of her professional life in the family business, a time that she emphasizes was very pleasant and with a lot of learning. “My entry in this field turned out to be something organic. Starting young gave me a lot of courage to take the risk. Today, I am very proud to be part of the history of ballistic protection in Brazil,” she concludes.

DuPont and Carolina Performance Fabrics: dynamic problems require dynamic solutions

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ryan Reed has dedicated the past 15 years to projects related to life protection and solutions for industrial processes regarding defense, mainly to US military and Allied Nations.

Currently, as vice president of development at Carolina Performance Fabrics, he believes his experience in the segment can make a difference. “I have worked in several programs, from vehicle infrastructure for personal protection for the United Nations to US military e Allies”, affirms Reed. And he highlights the importance of implementing his expertise in Mexico.

Differences between markets 

One of the main differences between American and Mexican markets relies on the application of technology for life protection and defense. “The matter in Mexico is local, and it is good to be able to see the impact of what we are doing on the streets, airports and terminals we go through every day”.

The executive also believes that, for this specific market, staying at the forefront of technology is very important. After all, “the world is always evolving, everything is very dynamic. You never know if today´s problem will be the same the next day. Therefore, companies with great global experience, such as DuPont and La Carolina, need to foresee problems”.

Technology

For the current scenario, thinking about the evolution of materials, it is important to develop a partnership that will bring excellence to all the productive chain. “The vertical integration DuPont and La Carolina have is unique because of their combined capacity of product development and application of ballistic testing, for example”, says Ryan.

Automotive shielding: overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Executive with vast experience in marketing and business management, Mariscal can be considered an expert in delivering results and developing people. With these abilities, he has a very wide view of what the market of protection and defense is like.

 Scenario: challenges and opportunities

Automotive shielding represents one of the largest opportunities within the segment of life protection, especially when it comes to technology, in South America and worldwide.

However, the biggest challenge is to reduce weight and, at the same time, increase protection against any type of threat: from piercing objects to grenades. “Another topic that is important to mention is how to make these solutions available to all consumers and the general public”, says Mariscal while reinforcing that DuPont´s products are available not only for politicians, but for everyone who would like to benefit from what automotive shielding has to offer.

Latin America and the protection industry

In another interview for Smart Kevlar Review about the potential of the ballistic market in Latin America, the executive spoke about overall perspectives. “It is a very dynamic industry where the main factors to rely on are: solutions to reduce people´s fatigue, in a way that protection can be comfortable and balanced considering weight and durability, without loss of movements while fighting threats”, concludes Mariscal.

DuPont plays a central role in the Latin American protection market

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Ramón Mariscal Leal, Latin America Sales Director and Head of Regional Construction and Safety at DuPont, spoke with Smart Kevlar® Review about the potential of the Latin American ballistic protection market. According to him, not only the countries in Latin America, but “the world is facing many levels of threats against shrapnel, weapons, ammunition and sharp objects”.

Therefore, police forces and the common population must be protected against these dangers. With a global vision, the executive reveals that the industry is moving towards affordable solutions for different types of publics, developed with modern technological resources.

The Smart Kevlar Review: What are the prospects for the Latin American protection market?
Ramón Mariscal:  The ballistic protection market is growing. The world is facing many levels of threats against shrapnel, weapons, ammunition and sharp objects.

SKR: What are the protection solutions available on the market?
RM: Our police and military riot reaction forces and army teams have a variety of applications and features according to the risks. We are very aware of this scenario and developing technologies to meet the needs and protect against each of the different dangers.

SKR: What is the industry’s main challenge in Latin America?
RM: How to ensure that we bring innovation from different parts of the world to Latin America and that products are at a global level of competitiveness. It can be said that DuPontTM bridges this gap between products from international markets such as North America, Europe and Asia, and customer needs.

SKR: How do you look at the market today?
RM: It is a very dynamic market where the key factors to rely on are: how does the solution help to reduce people’s fatigue, how can protection be more comfortable and with the right balance of weight and durability to minimize fatigue from the police forces without losing movement while fighting the threats.

SKR: How do you see the automotive armor business?
RM: Automotive armor represents one of the greatest opportunities for innovation in the Latin American market and in the world. For over 30 years, the market has been served with one type of armor, one type of production. DuPontTM is working on bringing three or four types of innovative products based on coaxial technologies, new resins and impregnations that help solve major challenges in this industry, such as reducing vehicle weight so that engine and inside wear to be minimized. Another major challenge is to increase protection against piercing objects, grenades or any type of threat being faced. And the third is to make these solutions accessible to all consumers. DuPontTM armor not only protects politicians or other high-ranking people, it is accessible to all audiences. We are about to launch three or four automotive-focused products that will revolutionize weight, protection and accessibility.

 

How the protection industry responds to threats?

[:en]Marcelo Fonseca, DuPont Latin America Defense Sales Leader[:]
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In order to understand how the protection industry is empowering itself to deal with threats, Smart Kevlar® Review spoke with Marcelo Fonseca, DuPont Latin America Defense Sales Leader. He highlights the relevance of product development through innovation and talks about exploring the opportunities that the market presents.

He also addresses the appreciation of end-users, such as the military and the police, as well as what to expect from the next generation of bulletproof vests and preferences on automotive armor.

The Smart Kevlar Review: How threats drove the protection industry in new product development?
Marcelo Fonseca: The protection industry, like others, is driven by challenges, having seen the much commented subject in July of this year, the 50th year anniversary of the first man to walk on the moon. For this event, almost all the materials used in the clothing of the astronauts were provided by DuPont. Specifically, products that serve the military and police, such as Kevlar® and Nomex®, respectively, as the ballistic and fire protection industries have been demanded by numerous government entities for employment in many conflicts, including wars. And it was based on this scenario of extreme threats that have developed over generations of Kevlar® and Nomex®, for over 50 years in the global protection market.

SKR: How has the protection industry responded to today’s threats?
MF: The industry that traditionally values innovation and delivers quality and durable products respond well when demanded by end users who treasure safety and have a real appreciation for life protection. However, few end users, the military and the police have expert staff and generate demand for products that go beyond mere compliance. And for companies like DuPont , that are aiming at the cutting edge of problem-solving technology, these are the opportunities that interest us.

Clear proof of how we value the direct dealing with the end user is the fact that in Brazil, we maintain an Innovation and Technology Center to support the demands from Latin America. In the labs of this center, the routine is to challenge the technical and operational requirements of end users and thus help the local industry to certify the most modern products in line with the practices of the governments of major world economies.

SKR: In a multi-threat scenario, such as the ones in urban conflicts, how will the next generation of vests deal with different types of impacts?
MF: Vests have long ceased to focus solely on protection against the usual projectiles of revolver and pistol weapons. They also protect against special piercing ammunition; they can withstand the firing of higher-caliber machine guns and rifles, as well as protect from shrapnel from different explosions, increasingly common with the use of makeshift devices, typical of what we call ‘dirty war.’ There is also the chance of developing ballistic vests that protect from stab wounds or other sharp objects or even be fully fire resistant.

Besides the versatility of being able to customize the level of protection, we can also develop vests, as well as helmets and ballistic shields, which result in less trauma to the human body when impacted. This increases the survival rate by minimizing the risk of internal bleeding, generated not by puncture, but as a result of the spread of shock waves on the combatant’s body. Low trauma anti-ballistic products are key to the user’s health, directly impacting a greater ability to combat.

SKR: What are the pillars that support the search for new solutions in the fields of security and protection?
MF: The search for new safety and protection solutions is based on the level of protection, durability and price, so that it is possible for massive adoption by all safety agents.

Regarding the level of protection, it is essential to consider the most likely threats that prevail in each region and not simply to rely on international standards, which often refer to threats that are not representative.
Concerning durability, DuPont encourages the end user to demand aging testing by differentiating our commoditized solutions that meet minimum requirements and are often tested and approved only as a new, unused item.
Finally, price, this is an inexorable pillar that we must keep in mind: there must be a portfolio of solutions that allows the manager to scale his budget to protect all of his troops.

SKR: What can be said about trends in this industry when it comes to short- and medium-term solutions?
MF: In Brazil, and throughout Latin America, there is a very particular trend, which is the growth by armor of civilian vehicles that does not change the features of vehicles. This is due to known levels of insecurity that persist in certain urban centers. Solutions for this market have long been dominated by Kevlar® and there is a trend to look for thinner and lighter solutions to ease installation and reduce the loss of vehicle originality.
For body protection, the short-term trend is the search for lighter solutions, which does not always represent more comfortable solutions for the user. Medium-term trends will ensure better ergonomics and durability, as well as reduced trauma, even when multiple impact resistance is required, including special ammunition.