Parents with growing families understand how easy it is to fill a shoe cabinet. Yet even serial shoe shoppers should spare a thought for those in charge of supplying footwear for Ford’s research and development, production and customer service facilities in Germany.
Ford had to foot the bill for a whopping 27,916 pairs of shoes for employees in 2010, an annual requirement that isn’t measured in feet and inches. And with 18,426 pairs bought for its Cologne-based staff, Ford was the city’s biggest purchaser of footwear in 2010. For the man in charge of ensuring the Ford’s Cologne workforce is properly equipped to perform its role safely and comfortably, Stefan Gandelau, Safety Engineer, Safety Department, there’s no time for loafing. “If we have issues with our shoes then we spend all day thinking about our feet and not about our work,” says Gandelau.
“Everyone at the plant is happy to wear shoes that are right for their feet – boots made for walking and working. They have to be worn for eight hours a day, so Ford colleagues want light but strong shoes. There are even orthopaedic options available for those with specific requirements. We look after our staff from head to toe.”
As a result, Ford employees in Cologne can choose from a range of safety shoes. Boots, shoes and trainers in unisex, women’s and men’s designs are available, including the ‘Lexa’ shoe from van Elten and ‘lady sports’ by uvex. In fact, 17 styles of shoe are available from four different manufacturers. There are also safety shoes able to resist 200 Joul dropped from a height of one meter to protect the wearer’s feet.
Ford employees continue to benefit from their safety shoes away from the workplace, as they can keep old pairs when new ones are issued.
On average, Ford’s employees require a single new pair of shoes each year. The new “motion style” safety shoe from manufacturer uvex proved the most popular item in 2010.
“The range of footwear on offer to Ford’s employees ensures that, as well as being safe, they also look and feel smart, making a considerable contribution to employee well-being,” said Martin Chapman, operations plant manager, Cologne.
Although Ford’s German facilities boasted the healthiest appetite for footwear in 2010, Ford employees across Europe required more than 46,000 pairs of shoes. The UK had the second highest demand at 6710 pairs, followed by Spain (4500), Belgium (4188), France (1500) and Romania (1278).
With footwear in such high demand across Ford’s European facilities, those tasked with ensuring Ford employees stay safe and stylish have little time to put their feet up.