Behind the Awards - Avon Protection


The 2018 ECMA for Diving & Underwater Technology was presented to Avon Protection for its MCM100 dive system. We found out more about the business and the product…

Avon Protection is a business of the global brand, Avon. Its heritage stretches back to 1885. The company began in Wiltshire, England, when Messrs E G Browne and J C Margetson acquired a cloth mill, known as Avon Mill, on the banks of the River Avon at Limpley Stoke. The owners of the mill had been timber merchants but had later diversified into the production of rubber goods.

By 1890 the business had transferred to the town of Melksham and Avon established itself as a leader of rubber-based products. These included solid tyres, conveyor belts and components for railways. Later it added pneumatic tyres for bicycles, golf and tennis balls.

During World War II Avon, together with other rubber manufacturers, engaged its resources in a concerted war effort. The factory worked around the clock at full capacity to meet military demands and twenty million gas masks were produced at Melksham.

Moving forward to the twenty first century and Avon Protection summarises itself as…

“at the forefront of supplying specialist respiratory protection devices and equipment to military forces, civil and first line defence troops, emergency service teams and industrial, marine, mineral and oil extraction site personnel. They all put their trust in Avon’ products to shield them from every possible threat, whether land, air or sea based. Avon Protections’ advanced products are the first choice for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) users worldwide and are placed at the heart of many international defence and tactical PPE deployment strategies. With extensive knowledge of customer needs, Avon Protection’s innovations are designed with the user in mind.”

We asked Avon Protection to tell us more about the winning MCM100 dive system…

“It’s a deep diving (100m CE rated), air and mixed gas, electronic control rebreather. Designed to be compatible with Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Mine Countermeasures (MCM) diving operations.

The system was initially developed, in collaboration with the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), to deliver a new long endurance, depth capable rebreather. In addition to this requirement, the Avon Protection MCM100 development has led to the production of a multi-role, electronically controlled rebreather capable of integrating with a range of military diving applications primarily focused at MCM and EOD operations.”

Editor’s Note: A rebreather is a breathing apparatus that absorbs the carbon dioxide of a user's exhaled breath to permit the rebreathing of the substantially unused oxygen content, and unused inert content when present, of each breath. A key advantage is the lack of bubbles, enabling silent diving.

And what was Avon Protection’s biggest challenge in getting the MCM100 dive system to market…

“integrating a range of new developments and technologies, in itself a complex task to implement but it also involved significant re-education for the end users, helping them understand the safety benefits and improvements in mission capability.”

Who were the key people in your company who worked on the MCM100 dive system?

  • Kevin Gurr – Business Development Manager
  • Sam Downer – Principal Engineer
  • Tom Baker – Principal Life Support Systems Engineer

And how has the industry received the MCM100 dive system?

Avon Protection announced the award of a contract to supply the Norwegian Armed Forces with MCM100 underwater rebreathers together with in-service support.  The MCM100 is a high performance, deep diving, air and mixed gas, electronically controlled rebreather which is designed for explosive ordnance disposal and mine countermeasures diving operations. This is the first significant order for this new product.

Leon Klapwijk, President of Avon Protection, said “In selecting the MCM100, the Norwegian government has recognised the high level of innovation within the product and the technical expertise of Avon Underwater Systems. I congratulate the team and look forward to working with the Norwegian Armed Forces to deliver and support this world leading capability.”

Finally, we asked what is next for Avon Protection…

Continually listening to our end users to develop and enhance our product offering.

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