Arco product Assurance

Only Arco's own standards are high enough for our customers.

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Our mission is to influence industry standards and to develop, source and supply the highest quality products.

"Our customers tell us that product quality is one of the most important factors of our service to them, they want to feel totally assured that the products we supply them will keep their people safe. With our core purpose to keep people safe at work we are committed delivering high quality, safe and reliable products which meet or exceed our customers' expectations. To demonstrate this we have invested heavily and are now the first safety distributor to have our own, in house, independently accredited Product Assurance Laboratory." We are now taking the lead, and aim to drive improvements in quality standards across the industry. We will test products to recognised standards, and beyond. Where we think that accepted practices and standards can be improved, we will challenge them and influence change.

UKAS Accredited Laboratory

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole body recognised by Government for the assessment and verification of testing laboratories against international standards . Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates Arco's competence, impartiality and capability, and helps to underpin the credibility of testing services.

There is one symbol that is common to all activities accredited by UKAS - the Royal Crown. This signifies Government recognition. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has licensed UKAS to use accreditation symbols featuring the Royal Crown and to sub-license the use of these marks to UKAS accredited organisations. For a list of tests accredited under Arco's current UKAS schedule click here

SATRA Accredited Laboratory

It is important to us to demonstrate expertise and independence and therefore we have had our labratory independently accredited by SATRA, the world's leading authority on international legislation and testing. We are accredited for a range of safety footwear, protective glove and high visibility clothing test methods

The Five Step Product Assurance Process

"Our five step product assurance process provides absolute confidence in our product range. Customers can be assured that Arco products will undergo a thorough sampling, approval and testing regime throughout its life. Our manufacturers undergo quality and ethical audits and we only work with vendors who share our standards."

Step One

 1. Supplier Evaluation Process

Our supply chain for Arco products is assessed and monitored by an independent notified body, to ensure compliance is maintained to ethical and quality standards.

Manufacturer Quality Audits
Arco suppliers' manufacturing facilities are audited in order to ensure that they comply with our quality requirements before being contracted to produce Arco branded products. All Arco vendors are re-audited regularly to ensure compliance and constant improvement.

Manufacturer Ethical Audits
Own brand manufacturing facilities are audited independently against compliance to the ETI's Nine Principles Base Code. Plans are agreed with regular follow up to review progress and complete actions.

Proprietary Brand Vendors
We only work with vendors who share our quality and ethical standards, we have a rigorous vendor selection policy with strict criteria which each vendor must adhere to.

Step Two

 2. Product Development Process

So that we can monitor the development of new or re-sourced own brand products, we have in place a three tier sampling procedure throughout the development process which includes inspection of:

  • Approval samples
  • Pre-production samples
  • Production samples

Arco is a global business. At our Asia office in Xiamen, China we have an in-house team who work with colleagues from the UK to carry out inspections against detailed product specifications and Acceptable Quality Limits (AQL) requirements. Similar inspections are also completed at other international and UK sources of supply. Products will also be tested in our in-house laboratory.

Step Three

  3. Production Verification Process

Pre-shipment inspections are carried out prior to products being despatched from the manufacturer, either by the vendor's own quality team or by our own representatives. All Arco goods received at our National Distribution Centre and our Clothing Centre undergo Goods Receipt Conformity Testing and are inspected and tested to verify there has been no deterioration of product quality during shipment and to ensure conformity to specification.

Step Four

  4. Performance Testing Process

All products meet the relevant European Standards and to ensure the documentation is in place and recorded, we undertake an intensive regime of Due Diligence Conformity Testing throughout the year. Arco products are tested in our Satra Accredited Product Assurance laboratory or by an independent ISO 17025 approved laboratory. If a product does not meet the required standards, then we ensure that the batch is quarantined and products do not reach customers.

Step Five

 5. Market Performance Evaluation Process

Whilst our customer research tells us that our customers are confident in the quality of our products, we do from time to time have customer returns. We have a comprehensive procedure to ensure the analysis of faulty returns from our customers which enables us to work with vendors continuously improve our product range.

The Arco Product Assurance Laboratory
We have invested heavily in our own laboratory which will offer us a far greater opportunity to test during product development and beyond. This will compliment the certification and due diligence testing regime which is already well established.

Testing: hi-vis clothing

The Arco Product Assurance laboratory can undertake testing of hi-vis clothing to EN ISO 20471:2013 - 'High visibility warning clothing for professional use'. All high-visibility clothing products have to incorporate both fluorescent and retro-reflective materials. Performance specifications are given for chromaticity and luminance and also for retro-reflection as well as for the minimum areas and the placement of the materials.

Chromacity and Luminance

EN ISO 20471 7.2 Determination of colour

A spectrophotometer is used to test a piece of material from the background fabric of hi visibility clothing for chromaticity (colour) and luminance (brightness).


EN ISO 20471 7.3 Determination of retro-reflective performance

A photo-goniometer is used to test the retro-reflective properties of a material such as the tape which is applied to hi-visibility clothing. We have an agreement to test retro-reflection in conjunction with an independent test house.


EN ISO 105 C06:2010 Tests for colourfastness

A Gyrowash is used to evaluate colour fastness to washing, dry cleaning and chlorinated water of textile and leather samples.

Appearance and Shrinkage

EN ISO 6330-2012 Domestic washing and drying procedures for textile testing

A Wascator is used to determine shrinkage and appearance after washing.
A Wascator is a standardised European washing machine which has long since established itself as the standard reference washing machine for textile laboratories.

Testing: safety footwear

The Arco Product Assurance laboratory contains a complete set of test equipment to allow tests to be carried out to the requirements of EN 20345. This specifies basic requirements for safety footwear used for general purpose. Additional optional elements may also be tested such as particular hazards on specific flooring. The standard includes tests against mechanical risks, slip resistance, thermal risks and ergonomic behaviour. Testing is carried out in accordance with ISO 20344 the standard specifying methods for testing footwear designed as PPE.

Impact resistance

EN ISO 20344 5.4 Determination of impact resistance
EN ISO 20344 5.16 Determination of impact resistance of a metatarsal protective device

The Impact Tester is used to test a piece of footwear's capacity to protect the foot against falling objects or 'drop hazards'. Safety Footwear is tested to several different levels of protection. The ability of the protective toecap to protect the toe area is measured, the weight, velocity and the resulting energy of a falling weight is determined and the resulting compression on plasticine inside the toe area is measured.

Tensile Tester / Compression resistance /
Penetration resistance of the sole

EN ISO 20344 5.2 Determination of upper/outsole and sole interlayer bond strength
EN ISO 20344 5.5 Determination of compression resistance
EN ISO 20344 5.8 Determination of of the dimensional conformity of inserts and the penetration resistance of the sole
EN ISO 20344 6.3 Determination tear strength of the upper, lining and/or tongue
EN ISO 20344 6.4 Determination of the tensile properties of the upper material
EN ISO 20344 8.2 Determination of tear strength of outsole

A Tensile Tester is used to test a number of different elements of the standard including the compression resistance of the toe cap and the penetration resistance of the sole. In the case of compression resistance, the tensile tester is used to exert of a force of 15kN onto the toe cap and the resulting compression of the plasticine inside in the toe area is measured.

Slip resistance

EN ISO 20344 5.11 Determination of footwear slip resistance

The slip resistance tester simulates conditions encountered during walking when slip is most likely to occur and measures the slip resistance between the sole of the footwear and the floor.

Electrical resistance

EN ISO 20344 5.10 Determination of electrical resistance

The electrical resistance tester measures the electrical resistance of antistatic or conductive footwear. A piece of conditioned footwear is placed on a metal surface and filled with metal spheres and an electrode placed in amongst them. A voltage is applied to the footwear through the metal surface and the resistance measured.

Water resistance

EN ISO 20344 5.15 Determination of resistance to water for whole footwear

The dynamic water penetration tester measures the resistance of footwear to water ingress. The tester flexes two independent pieces of footwear after lowering them in water contained in separate tanks, it simulates the trough test where the wearer walks in water. A count of how many times the piece of footwear will be flexed is programmed into the equipment.

Testing: gloves

The Arco Product Assurance laboratory contains a set of test equipment to allow tests to be carried out for the mechanical testing of gloves to the requirements of EN 388:2003, Protective gloves against mechanical risks. Tests can be conducted to measure a glove's resistance to abrasion, blade cuts, tear and puncture. Where necessary it is possible to measure cut resistance beyond cut level 5 to International ISO Standard ISO 13997.

EN 388:2003 Protective gloves against mechanical risks: This standard is intended to assess a glove's ability to protect against mechanical hazards. It includes a series of four tests which measure the glove's resistance to abrasion, cut, tear and puncture. Mechanical Hazards are associated with the handling of rough or sharp objects that could abrade, cut or pierce the skin, such as glass, thin metal sheet and masonry blocks.

Resistance to abrasion

EN ISO 388 6.1 Resistance to abrasion

The Martindale Abrasion Tester is used to test the abrasion resistance of all types of material used for protective gloves in accordance with EN 388. It is the internationally-accepted test equipment for wear of fabrics, and it is also used for determining the susceptibility of fabrics to pilling. Samples are cut from the palms of gloves and are subjected to rubbing against glass paper until a sample wears and a hole appears. The performance of the sample is measured in the number of abrasion cycles before sample breakthrough.

Blade cut resistance

EN ISO 388, 6.2 Determination of blade cut resistance

The Circular Blade Cut Resistance Tester measures the cut resistance of a material in accordance with EN 388 (Clause 6.2). A test sample is cut from a glove and is clamped in a holder, which is placed onto the machine. A circular blade is gently lowered so that it touches the sample. The blade rotates whilst moving back and forth across the fabric, and when it penetrates the sample, the machine automatically stops. The number of cycles of the rotating blade is used to determine the cut index,

BS EN ISO 13997 Determination of resistance to cutting by sharp objects

The Cut Resistance Evaluator can be used to measure performance up to and beyond cut level 5 and is therefore suitable for the testing of highly cut resistant materials.

Tear and puncture resistance

EN ISO 388 6.3 Determination of tear resistance
EN ISO 388 6.4 Determination of puncture resistance

The Tensile Tester carries out tests where extension, stretch and compression against distance are required. The tear resistance of a fabric is defined as the force to tear the fabric and puncture resistance as the as the force required for a needle to break through the material.


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