Rescuers learned, when they finally made contact with the men, that one of the problems they faced was damage to their feet due, among other things, to high humidity. So the research and design team at Bata Industrials Latam went into high gear to create a safety shoe to meet the unique conditions of the miners trapped 600 meters deep in a San Jose mine near Copiapó.
One of the main challenges for the design team was the small, 8-centimeter diameter of the tube that was the only way to access the miners. Fitting a shoe inside intact was impossible. The solution the team at Bata Industrials found was to create a shoe that was collapsible and could be sent down in sections and easily reassembled by the miners.
The boots featured hydrofugated leather with high water resistance, steel toe caps, extremely flexible acrylonitrile rubber outsoles with excellent grip, insoles with a rise in the heel area to compensate for the lack of heel on the outsole, and outer socks using a specialized membrane to both keep out liquids and allow feet to breathe. Bata Industrials quickly produced and packaged these parts, which were sent down the narrow tube to the miners, who successfully reassembled and wore them.
Carlos Casanello, commercial director of Bata Industrials Europe, is from Chile, and he remembers the episode well. "All the 33 miners are always present in our thoughts, especially at difficult and tough moments in our country. It was a very special and emotional moment. I was in Mexico City during that time, and it made a big impact to see all the TV channels showing that fabulous rescue in October 2010.
"After that we found out about the great work done by Bata Industrials Chile and Latam to provide that fantastic safety shoe produced in our factory in Penaflor. That was a double satisfaction – the rescue of the miners and finding out that they were using that extraordinary safety shoe."
In a touching moment of the miners’ trial underground, one of them sent up one of the Bata Industrials shoe parts as encouragement for his wife, who was keeping vigil above ground.
The Bata Industrials team proved its ingenuity and ability to apply its technical knowledge to make an immediate improvement to the comfort and health of people in any situation.