Cathy Millien, a maritime safety expert after 41 years at Plastimo, shares her views on the major developments in the sector.
Cathy Milienne, who joined Plastimo in 1979, is in a privileged position to oversee the evolution of the marine safety equipment sector, in which the Lorient-based brand is a major player.
She shares with us her thoughts on the changes in this area.
How has your understanding of maritime safety changed since you started in the industry?
I think it has to do with changes in daily life.
When I was a kid and we were rollerblading, we didn't wear elbow shields, knee guards, or helmets.
Today we cannot imagine a child riding a scooter without a helmet. Security is everywhere and every day.
When you put your fluorescent vest on your bike in the city, no one asks the ridiculous question.
It's the same with the lifejacket on board the boat, whereas 10 years ago we were afraid of the eyes of others.
Nowadays, the lifejacket is perceived as a piece of personal equipment that you carry in your bag, just like boots, gloves or a jacket with a watch. Security - no options.
How does this affect product design and sales?
Today, personal safety is more and more dependent on clothing.
For the lifejacket, we are working on style, appearance and colors, but also on ergonomics.
We think about weight, neckline, strap so that the weight is well distributed and does not weigh down the neck.
15 years ago, our thinking was almost exclusively operational: the vest was supposed to let you swim and be noticed ...
But you still had to wear it, not put it in the trunk!
Today, in addition to the mandatory functionality, we take care of the impact of the material, the color edging, we follow the trends and high-tech materials together with the designers working in other outdoor activities.
These are all elements that make the vest efficiently wearable.
The liferaft is also an interesting communication product.
It's not a very pleasant product: you are obliged to buy it, it costs money to buy it, it costs money to repair it, you trust it without knowing what is in the box and hope you will never use it!
But we are far from the inflatable garden pool: it is an extremely technical product, every valve, every flap has a precise function and with impact force, we have no margin for error.
It is also a product that the Plastimo design bureau is working on a lot, but innovation is not visible ...
So when I have the opportunity to explain it all or comment on the production while visiting the factory ... I enjoy it: there is so much to discover on the liferaft.
What, in your opinion, are the main changes in the field of maritime safety that have taken place in the sector during your career?
The first is the evolution of the vest with the advent of the ability to inflate it.
It has become more comfortable to wear, and its price has dropped significantly. Thanks to this, people began to wear vests.
Other equipment is an individual distress beacon.
It has become almost standard.
Solo beacons have received the same miniaturization as the phone that went from GSM in the 1990s to the cell phone today: the same evolution with more performance, less clutter, and less cost.
You no longer need to do without it. All in all, there is no excuse!