By Lyndy Stone
American Cotton Growers (ACG) is now prepared to face the ever-changing denim market. After three months of construction, ACG’s new dye range is now complete and ready for action. This latest addition offers more versatility, capacity and flexibility to ACG’s dyeing process and overall operation.
The more up-to-date dye range provides some unique features not found on the original range which has been in operation since 1976. One feature is its steamer that allows the dyeing of different shades and better “locks- in” the color onto the yarn. The new range also has a much improved process control.
“It will allow us to monitor conditions like pH, conductivity and reduction online while the machine is running,” says Danny Davis, plant manager.
When the older dye range encountered problems during operation, it often had to be shut down to repair the problem. The new range has an accumulator which gives technicians an additional two minutes to correct problems before the machine shuts down. Another feature of the new range is it automatically mixes the dyes. Since personnel no longer have to mix the dyes manually, it increases the dye uniformity in the yarn and decreases the chance for error. The new dye range also has an additional dye vat compared to the older range which has seven. Both dye ranges will be used as demand for denim improves and to dye yarn for Mission Valley Fabrics which currently is developing light-weight denim products.
“Our weaving capacity has not changed,” Davis says. “This will actually keep us up with the weave room and will enable us to be more efficient in our current environment.”
While the two ranges may not always be operating simultaneously, efficiency still is expected to improve. Davis says while one machine is down, workers can prepare the other. This is especially helpful since the current styles now are done in small lots and short runs. Also, since one machine will be paused for a period of time, technicians will have more time for maintenance or to make adjustments. One of the ultimate advantages of the new dye range is its ability to handle new, more difficult styles.
“The way we used to dye yarn was to run the same shade all the time,” Davis explains. “Now with all of the changes, the new range gives us greater capacity.” According to Larry Lundberg, dye range superintendent, styles with dark and light shades will be easier to run on the new machine since it allows for more control. “The big thing we’re working on now is a ring-spun style with a unique dye job on it,” Davis says.
“It is more difficult to control and match shades on,” Davis explains, since the darker styles have twice as much color as normal styles.
The second range also brings some additional employees to the Dye Room. Lundberg says one additional mixer was hired for each shift, and one dye range foreman was promoted to a technical assistant. “We’ll probably have to hire a few more,” he adds.
With all of the changes occurring as ACG continues to modernize and expand, Davis notes that all employees’ jobs are becoming more complex.
“Our goal, if anything, is to learn to adapt to all of the changes in the marketplace and be proficient in those changes,” Davis says. The new dye range is another step in that direction.