One big investment, thousands of bespoke orders

Kevin Chapman, embroidery supervisor
Kevin Chapman, embroidery supervisor

Glenmuir, the renowned Scottish golf clothing brand, completed a huge investment programme in December with the purchase of 16 Melco single-head embroidery machines, to improve the speed and efficiency in its bespoke embroidery service. P&P editor MELANIE ATTLESEY reports.

Earlier in 2014 the team at Glenmuir embarked on a mission to replace some of the multi-head machines used by the embroidery machinists at the company’s factory in Lanark, Scotland. The reason behind this huge investment plan was to reduce lead times on those smaller bespoke orders, thus improving the service offered to customers.

It was at a visit to Printwear & Promotion LIVE! in February 2014 that the team decided to purchase the first of its Melco machines after seeing demonstrations of them at the show. The first six were installed by the beginning of the summer and by September Glenmuir had purchased a further 10 machines, which are the newest ones on the market. The machines were purchased from Amaya Sales UK, which provided first class training and support to the staff using the machinery.

The Melco machines have replaced a number of multi-head machines which Glenmuir had used for many years.

As Jim Reid, operations manager, explains: “We have had some of our multi-head machines for around 20 years so it was about time for an upgrade. Prior to the purchase of these machines we had a backlog of small orders which we were struggling to get through quickly. It used to take us around three weeks to fulfil small orders, but now we can offer lead times of around five days on those bespoke orders and around two-three days on larger orders.”

The company’s busiest time is February to March when golf clubs are getting their club uniform ready for the upcoming season. A lot of the bespoke orders Glenmuir fulfils come in the form of personalised jumpers, individualised with names such as captain, or vice-captain.

Jim continues: “Not being able to provide a service that our customers expect was killing us, but now we are back on track.”

The installation of the Melco machines has saved Glenmuir a lot of staff downtime. Before the machines one embroidery machinist would take a fair few minutes setting up a multi-head machine ready to embroider and then would wait for the machines to complete the run, unable to do anything else as they had to watch the machines in case a thread broke – and as any embroiderer knows when a thread breaks on a multi-head machine it stops all the other heads from operating.

And now, one machinist can operate four Melco machines and if a thread breaks only one machine is affected. Another advantage of the Melco machines compared to the multi-head machines is that pre-tension for fabrics are already set on the computer system, so an embroidery machinist doesn’t have to waste time setting the tension before the machines can begin embroidering. In addition, when smaller orders came in previously, in order to complete them the multi-head machines would be reduced to just one or two heads running at once which was inefficient. The Melco machines can operate as individual single-head machines, each working on a bespoke logo or as one multi-head machine embroidering larger orders.

Each Melco machine runs at a speed of 1,500 stitches a minute and depending on the size of a logo the 16 machines can embroider approximately 300 logos a day. As Jim points out, with this speed Glenmuir is hoping that new markets will open up for the company.

Glenmuir is one of the first company’s in the UK to use the newer Melco machines. But what differences have they noticed with these newer machines? Kevin Chapman, embroidery supervisor, explains: “The newer machines use different software and have a different hook system which produces a lot better badge – you really can see the difference.”

As a result of this improved turn-around Glenmuir is now getting orders coming in from around the world. And in time Jim expects Glenmuir will have replaced all but three eight head machines with Melco single-head machines, leaving the company with enough machines able to cope with bulk orders.

And Kevin adds: “The new machines are just fantastic. Sometimes the factory is running flat out and these machines have made the world of difference to the way we operate.”

The Melco embroidery machine
The Melco embroidery machine

Glenmuir worked alongside Amaya Sales UK to complete the purchase and installation of the 16 Melco embroidery machines. Here JULIAN WRIGHT, sales director of Amaya tells their side of the story.

Our first discussions with Glenmuir began at Printwear & Promotion LIVE! earlier this year where I met Jim Reid, Kevin Chapman and Jim Hendry who head up the production facility at the company’s factory in Lanark. They were looking to add more machinery to their current embroidery production facility and we began discussing the benefits of the modular embroidery system which Melco offers. The reason for this became clear when we spoke about their increasing online business and demand for a quicker turnaround for the embroidered cresting service which they offer.

The installation and training process was something that was considered very carefully. While Glenmuir is a very experienced large scale embroiderer, most of the operators were used to a more conventional multi-head set up. The Amaya modular system is different, and although very simple to use, the transition for the operators into a new, more productive way of working, was something we needed to help with to enable Glenmuir to get the most from the new equipment.

[CROSS HEAD] A noticeable difference

That said, the improvements were noticeable very quickly. And the operators took to the new system with very little issue. I believe this was in no small way down to the desire of Glenmuir to stay ahead of the game, to allow them to offer a more efficient and speedy service without sacrificing the quality that the company is renowned for.

An initial purchase of six machines with a further 10 purchased in a matter of months shows just how much of a difference this system has helped them.

The unique Melco EMT16 (formerly known as Amaya XTS) modular system is the most efficient way to embroider either small or large runs. Many other large embroidery companies have also introduced these modular machines into their production lines. It means you never need to switch heads off at the end of an order, It means that if one head has a thread break, or a bobbin runs out, only that head stops, you do not lose total production while the operator is repairing the fault. You can, if need be run all heads on different logo’s and when personalising garments this is essential. In addition you have a machine which is 20-30% faster than any other with totally automatic tensioning.

It has been a pleasure working with Glenmuir. The company welcomed the benefits a modular system could give them right from the beginning and we look forward to supporting them for many years to come.

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