By Lucas Rapi
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You can be the world leader in hearing protection and still be amazed to land in first place. Ricardo Allamelou, international director at Cotral, experienced this on Tuesday October 4, 2022.
Engaged in the trophy of the industries of the great west, the company of Condé-en-Normandie (Calvados) won the first prize in the category of industries of tomorrow. An award granted to the most advanced company in new technologies.
It was a bit of a surprise, because there were great companies and we were taking part for the first time.
A global company
The company founded in 1992 by Laurent Capellari, and which celebrates its 30th anniversary in November, is now established in 16 countries. However, it does not appear at first sight as the most high-sounding company in the Condean industrial sector. This giant is discreet. Also because its market is only aimed at professionals. The general public therefore does not really see the Cotral brand in everyday life.
Cotral in numbers
• 300,000 pairs produced per year
• 5 million ears registered in the database
• 14 different filters to reduce noise
• 31,000 companies use Cotral protections
• A presence in 16 countries and 5 continents
• More than 50 million euros in turnover
• 250 employees including 120 in Condé-en-Normandie
The success of hearing protection lies in three points.
The right protection is worn 100% of the time during noise exposure.
In order for the employee not to take it off, it must be comfortable. It is for this reason that all protections are made to measure. To do this, molds of the ears of future users are made upstream.
Second fundamental point, hearing protection must not prevent communication. “The acoustic filter is the real technology contained in the protection. It attenuates noise frequencies, but is designed to pass voice frequencies. »
Finally, everything must be economical to be competitive on the market. With a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, the protections can be widely reused and made profitable for the buyer.
Automatic hearing protectors
In its development, Cotral relies mainly on innovation. What could have made the difference in winning the prize is not so much what already exists, but rather what is happening. Today, hearing protection requires a filter that matches the decibels of the employee’s environment. If it works in a single place, it is not necessary to change the filter. On the other hand, if it has to move in places where the noise is more or less strong, it is advisable to replace the filter to choose a more suitable one. A manipulation far from being complicated to achieve, but which can be improved.
To do this, Cotral wants to integrate electronic technology into its hearing protection. “Thus, the filter will automatically calibrate itself according to the frequencies detected in the room. No need to change it anymore, ”explains Ricardo Allamelou.
Every year 1,000 cases of deafness are recorded in France. One of the most “treacherous” occupational diseases, because it is a progressive and invisible degradation. In addition, nothing can recover hearing. “The loss of hearing capacity is irreversible”, explains Ricardo Allemalou. “Amplifiers increase the sound reaching the ear, but they don’t restore hearing. In France, prostheses are used 17 years too late on average. This delay is mainly due to the stigmatizing aspect of wearing these prostheses. »
A technological development that must strike the right balance with human development. Several questions were asked to the companies in their file to be transmitted for the trophy. One of them concerned territorial anchoring. And at this level, Cotral appears to be a good student. Although the company is present in the four corners of the globe, all global manufacturing is done in Condé-en-Normandie.
We have never had a drop in staff. And we could go to China, it would cost us 20% less than producing here. But that’s not our goal.
Cotral, well established in Condé
In total, the Condé-en-Normandie site has 120 employees out of the group’s 250. A figure that is revised upwards every year. On average, Cotral recruits 40 employees per year. Last massive hiring to date, about twenty people in charge of the floor on the last project: protective glasses.
“We hired 10 people last year and it will be 11 this year. For these goggles, the challenge will be to ensure that they are suitable for everyone’s eyesight. Cotral thus retains its common thread. The best of technology, at the service of health and professionals.
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