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Mission Valley Modernization Continues

Improved Quality and Efficiency Already Appearing

By Kelly Padgett


Mission Valley Fabrics has installed 57 new Picanol Gamma Rapier looms for improved quality and efficiency. Photo by John Johnson

Anticipated, positive results from the modernization project currently in progress at Mission Valley Fabrics (MVF) already are appearing. The nine-month project will wrap up in May.

Changes in the weave room at MVF include replacement of 202 old Sulzer looms with 77 new, faster looms which are being installed in groups. Already, 57 new Picanol Gamma Rapier looms have been installed and operate at 550 to 600 picks per minute.

“The new looms are looking great, and the fabric quality and efficiency is extremely good,” says MVF Plant Manager Bryan Gregory.

The final 20 looms for the weave room phase of the modernization project are air jet looms similar to those already in use at American Cotton Growers. This equipment actually shoots air across the loom to feed the filling yarn through the warp (dyed) yarn at 800 picks per minute, much faster than previous looms used at MVF. The old Sulzer looms worked at 224 picks per minute. Assistant Plant Manager Gene Bursey explains how much the efficiency of production, in addition to speed, has increased since the installation of the new looms.

“The efficiency of the Picanol looms is in the low 90s, which is excellent compared to the Sulzer’s efficiency of about 75,” Bursey says, adding that the same amount of fabric will be produced, but at a quicker rate, a lower cost and with higher quality.

“The main reasons for the modernization process is to lower our costs, which makes us more competitive, to reduce our lead time so we can fill orders faster and to enable us to produce a superior quality of fabric,” explains Bursey. Another advantage of the new equipment is its ability to manufacture complex fabrics and styles.

Off-loom take ups also have shown to be beneficial to production. The method of changing out fabric sections reduces remnants and allows for more yards to fit on each roll. Bursey says this added benefit was an unexpected, but pleasant, surprise.

In addition to the updates in the weave room, the yarn mill is home to new opening machines and cards. All 13 of the new cards are installed and operating, and three new draw frames are running. Gregory says there has been a significant increase in the consistency of sliver, the material that is turned into yarn.

To complete the current project, new ring-spinning and roving machines will be installed in late April and May, a month behind schedule due to delivery delays.

“The delivery problems so far have been almost amusing but very frustrating to us,” says Bursey, noting the shipments originated in Belgium and Italy.

Although completion of the modernization projects is a few weeks away, significant improvements affecting MVF’s financial success are beginning to show. Quality is improving, efficiency is increasing and labor requirements are declining; crucial factors in a highly competitive industry such as textile manufacturing.