For over 85 years, leading trade supplier William Smith has been manufacturing reflective signage products that are used primarily for road traffic signs and safety markings for commercial and public service vehicles.
These products are based on reflective signage technology developed by 3M, a company with which William Smith has forged a successful business partnership. Reflective signage is of course most often used for traffic signage, and although the primary purpose of reflective materials has remained static, 3M are continually examining new ways in which they can improve upon the quality and performance. “3M are constantly innovating to ensure our products and solutions meet customer needs, and new technological developments are a critical part of this,” says Katherina Lewis, Segment Marketing Manager - Traffic Management, at 3M Traffic Safety and Security Division.
Some of these products include the development of protective overlay films that can be applied to the signs to reduce the effects of vandalism such as graffiti, or stickers. The Series 1150 Protective Overlay Film (POF) can be applied to the sign face at the time of manufacture, and should the sign be defaced, the overlay will act as a buffer to prevent damage to the actual sign itself. This can be incredibly useful in signs that are affording a lot of direct sunlight, as continued exposure can bond the graffiti to the sign ir-reparably, calling for a complete removal.
According to Katherina, there are many benefits to 3M reflective signage solutions, including the amount of light returned to the driver from products such as signs, road studs, road marking tape or vehicle conspicuity solutions. “This better enables drivers to have the greatest amount of time to make any changes to their driving, i.e. take an exit, keep within the lane/road, or spot a vehicle faster in the dark,” she adds. However, some of the high performance products are better suited to some roads than others. “A drawback is that our products perform so well that in very rural areas, they may be too bright for the environment.”
Helping drivers stay safe on the roads
BS EN 12899; 2007 became mandatory two years ago this July, and William Smith has successfully achieved accreditation covering the manufacture of vertical fixed road traffic signs as well as attainment of the latest CE Mark.
Due to its full compliance with these standards, William Smith is able to provide other sign manufacturers yet to achieve this accreditation with the facility to provide their customers with signs that are fully compliant. “Our products meet all relevant CEN performance standards and are backed by what are recognised as among the most comprehensive currently available,” reveals Chris Bradley, Marketing Manager, William Smith. “The requirement means that any road traffic sign erected on a public highway must be manufactured in accordance with this CE Mark standard or it can be legally and forcibly removed.”
For the manufacture of permanent road traffic signs, William Smith specifies 3M reflective and non-reflective materials, all of which have the same CE accreditations. These include 3M Scotchcal 7725 and 100 series of non-reflective films that are compatible with 3M Diamond Grade DG3, 3M High Intensity Prismatic (HIP) and 3M Engineer Grade Reflective Sheeting products as part of 3M’s renowned MCS (Matched Component System) warranty.
A major contribution to road safety is of course visibility, and reflective marking tapes from 3M can assist with this. These products can not only be of interest to customers in heavy goods transportation, but can even be utilised by sign makers themselves when using large vehicles to transport products to site of installation.
3M Diamond Grade Vehicle Marking Tapes 983, 997 and 997 are reflective tapes that enable the owners of heavy goods vehicles to meet the requirements of ECE 104, a mandatory European vehicle safety standard that was introduced in July 2011. The standard has established guidelines for the use of retroreflective safety markings in order to make HGVs over 7.5 tonnes and trailers over 3.5 tonnes more visible to other road users, thereby reducing accidents and invariably saving lives.
All 3M Diamond Grade retro-reflective marking tapes are fully ECE 104-compliant.William Smith applies them to both rigid and curtain-sided vehicles that are subject to the requirements of this standard. The markings clearly outline the rear and sides of a vehicle, making them visible to other road users at night for up to 1000 metres.