Tighten up on your production to prevent downtime

Glenmuir's workshop
Glenmuir’s workshop

With over 30 years’ experience in the embroidery industry Amaya Sales UK’s managing director, Peter Wright, is well placed to provide advice on preventing embroidery machine downtime and increasing profit.

Just take a walk around your production area and check how many of your embroidery heads have stopped, for how long and why.

The most common thing that I see when visiting an embroiderer is the amount of downtime in their production area. I see a multihead stopped while the operator frames up the next run, there is no excuse for this, they should be ready to swap over as soon as the previous run has finished. If the design has a small amount of stitches then more frames should be purchased so that several runs can be framed in advance.

One way to combat downtime is to start replacing your fixed multihead machines with a modular system. These machine are much more efficient and can drastically reduce your downtime and increase your production by at least 50%. Companies such as Glenmuir started the change over two years ago and the company has seen its efficiency increase greatly. Its order turnaround time has been reduced by more around 75% on both small orders and larger runs. Glenmuir had over 140 heads a few years ago and has now reduced this to around 50 but with increased production.

Some other area’s to look out for:

Needles

Needles are very cheap to buy but I often see them being saved for re-use when they have been changed from sharp to ball point for example. Throw them away; needles are a very important part of quality and production. If the needle becomes blunt or slightly bent then it will cause bad quality and possible thread breaks. Thread breaks stop the machine and cost money so don’t penny pinch on the cost of a new needle. Depending on the machine usage, try and change them every month.

Thread

The next area that can cause down time is poor thread. Try and purchase the best thread at the best price. Even the most expensive thread cost very little in relation to the amount used in a design. So use the best thread available and cut down drastically on thread breaks and improve the quality of your embroidery.

Bobbins and bobbin cases

The same as the top thread use a good quality bobbin thread. This will give you greater consistency of tension and less thread breaks. On a multihead machine change all bobbins at the same time.

Always have spare bobbin cases available so if you need to clean or change them, they are readily available.

Backing

Again a good quality backing will save you pounds on lost production and will help give you perfect embroidery. Poor backing that does not support the garment correctly will cause poor quality embroidery and will cause thread breaks.

Digitised designs

Poorly created designs will increase the possibility of threads breaks and of course will affect the quality of the product. There are many digitising companies out there now so try two or three of them until you are happy with the quality. Years ago these companies would test their designs on a machine before they were sent to the customer but unfortunately now, because of the falling amount they can charge, this does not always happen. So you should always run the design and check before putting into production.

Maintenance

Last but not least is the maintenance of your machines. This is vital if you want trouble free running of your machines and with as few thread breaks as possible. Your equipment costs a lot of money so please show it some respect and keep it running to its optimum level. Some customers will scrimp on maintaining their machines but it could cost them hundreds of pounds in parts and lost production when a break down occurs. Try and have your machines serviced once a year, preferably by a recognised supplier who is experienced on your equipment.

So, to sum up, try and tighten up on every aspect of your production and if you feel you could do better, change the way you work.

Arrange a demonstration on a modular system and compare the way you are working. The secret of the system is the operating software that controls the way you can change from a single head to a multihead operation.

Call some of the larger embroidery companies that are using this system and ask their opinion.

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