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Project Aims to Improve Quality, Cut Costs and Add Flexibility At Mission Valley Fabrics

By John Johnson

Phase One of PCCA‘s modernization of its Mission Valley Fabrics (MVF) facility began in early November. The project will improve quality, decrease production costs and add flexibility. It follows a partial renovation of MVF’s dye house that was completed in late 1998.

The project also is designed to fully utilize potential synergies between the MVF mill and PCCA’s original textile operation, the American Cotton Growers (ACG) Denim Mill at Littlefield, TX.

“A great example of potential synergy between the two mills is for Mission Valley to become an overflow manufacturer of denim for the ACG mill,” explains Darryl Lindsey, PCCA’s vice president of operations. “Earlier this year, we made a commitment to expand our denim customer base, and Mission Valley has the basic infrastructure and skilled employees to assist with that effort,” Lindsey adds.

“However, we must ensure top quality fabric, add flexibility, increase efficiency, and lower our production costs to be price-competitive,” he continues. The first phase of the project is concentrating on MVF’s yarn manufacturing and weaving departments.

Opening, cleaning, carding, drawing and some ring spinning equipment will be replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment. MVF also will replace 202 looms, some of which are up to 25 years old, with 77 new Picanol rapier and airjet looms that operate as much as 3.5 times faster than the equipment they are replacing.

“These 77 new looms, along with the 22 looms that are being retained, will enable Mission Valley to produce up to 16 million yards of fabric annually,” Lindsey says. “All of the equipment we are installing will produce higher quality fabric and operate more efficiently at a lower per-yard cost and with less downtime and lost production due to maintenance.” The project also will result in less labor needed to operate and maintain the production equipment. Most of the labor reduction will occur through normal employee attrition.

Payback on the $11 million Phase One project could be achieved in approximately three to five years based on best-case and worst-case production scenarios. Future projects contained in the five-year plan could include modernization of MVF’s finishing departments, additional modernization in the yarn mill, and further renovation of the dye house and waste water treatment facility.

Lindsey also says MVF has switched from a five-day, three-shift production schedule to a seven-day, four-shift schedule. He notes the same schedule has been utilized successfully at ACG for 22 years and offers employees numerous benefits.

“The most obvious benefit is that our employees will average more hours of work per week over an extended period of time,” Lindsey states. “Meanwhile, MVF can run continuously which will improve quality and efficiency while ensuring a more stable workforce.”

“Whether we are making denim, yarn-dyed woven fabrics, or a combination of the two, Mission Valley is on track to become more competitive than ever by manufacturing the highest quality fabric at the lowest possible cost in the industry,” says MVF Plant Manager Bryan Gregory.

“This cooperative remains committed to adding significant value to the cotton marketed for our farmer-members,” says PCCA President and CEO Van May. “The most obvious way to continue reaching this goal is to ensure our Mission Valley Fabrics and American Cotton Growers textile operations, via long- term investments, are properly positioned in the highly competitive textile and apparel industries. Maintaining modern equipment is one of the first steps in this process,” May concludes.