Whether it’s 3-d cad designs, e-commerce websites for small businesses or new manufacturing processes, jewelry businesses of every size and segment are exploring new and exciting possibilities that promise to transform their operations. Technology is also helping to define a new future for the security of jewelry operations, especially with regard to enhancing the impact resistance of showcases and the strength of safes.
Today’s merchandise-display showcases commonly employ laminated safety glass in their construction. These glazing materials only provide minimum impact resistance when force is applied. In the wake of recent smash-and-grab attacks on high-end retail jewelry stores, there’s been a growing interest in improving the performance of impact-resistant materials used in showcase construction.
What might jewelers see next? Thankfully, research and development over the last several years has helped drive new standards and materials used in showcases. Better yet, variations of these materials are available today. For instance, in the event of a physical attack, laminated glass can be held in place by an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB). This is effective because the PVB is sandwiched between two or more layers of glass. Laminated glass comes in a variety of thicknesses with a variety of interlayers of different gauges. The thickness of the gauge of the interlayer (lamination), as well as the thickness of the glass, help determine impact resistance.
Underwriters Laboratories, LLC rates burglary-resistant safes according to the length of time the safe will resist burglary attack. For instance, the highest rating is noted as TXTL 60 X 6. This signifies an explosive, torch, and tool-resistant safe that withstood a UL safe attack for 60 minutes. But what if a safe were constructed in such a way that it could hold up against an attack for a much longer duration? That could be a possibility if the construction of a safe included the material known as graphene.
What might jewelers see next? Graphene is a single molecule sheet of carbon atoms that’s pliable (like rubber), can conduct more than a thousand times the amount of electricity as copper, and possesses amazing strength. Its properties were first discovered in 2002, but since then, scientists have been unable to turn these 2-D molecular sheets into 3-D, every-day applications — until now.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a structure 10 times stronger than steel, but only 5 percent as dense! The team at MIT believes the geometries of this configuration could help graphene become a substitute for steel and concrete, which would apply to the construction of safes. Unfortunately, safes that incorporate graphene technology are likely years away, and even then, will probably be cost-prohibitive. However, innovations with regard to cost-effective safe construction using new applications of existing materials are already under way.
Remember, these are all potential applications the security industry is exploring. Still, as quickly as technology is moving, it’s not a bad idea to keep your pulse on new and innovative ideas. After all, the next big thing five years from now may not even have been thought of yet!
David Sexton has over 35 years of experience in underwriting, risk management and loss prevention with Jewelers Mutual and is currently the vice-president of loss prevention. For more information, see jewelersmutual.com or call (800) 336-5642, ext. 2118.
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 edition of INSTORE.