Through automation and other improvements, new sewing equipment saves labor, reduces waste, improves designs and speeds production
Always on the lookout for ways to help bedding producers elevate their game, sewing machine makers have introduced a variety of new features to their equipment lines recently to enhance productivity, expand design capabilities and reduce manufacturing costs.
At Global Systems Group, the machinery division of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc., recent introductions include the Porter VFM-4516 Hi-Lo Flanger. Porter’s PFM-4000 machine, built for processing dense quilt panels, has been a mattress industry mainstay for 20 years, according to the company. The new VFM-4516 combines the features of the PFM-4000 with the PFM-516, which is designed for fast work on thinner materials. With the touch of a button, a machine operator can use the new VFM-4516 to switch from thick to thin goods, creating a better workflow through a flanging/ serging department.
GSG has introduced or enhanced several other machines to accommodate thicker sewn materials. They include the new Porter Ultra HC-401 heavy-duty binding machine, the Porter EST-501 with VFM-4516 sewing head and the Porter POQ-960 long-arm quilt repair machine.
“Mattress producers differentiate their higher-end products from low-end bedding with the use of thicker plush materials,” says Randy Metcalf, GSG’s marketing manager. “(But) some of the thicker materials of today’s designs exceed the capacities of standard machines and either slow the production rate, exert greater strain on the operator or lead to premature machine failure.”
With the new Porter Ultra HC-401 and other recent additions to the GSG line, Metcalf says, “customers can extend their current capabilities to produce the highly valued thicker goods.”
In addition to growing demand for machines that can work with thicker materials, GSG says mattress manufacturers also are seeking machinery that is less specialized so they can maximize productivity.
“It is not cost-effective to let product-specific equipment sit idle because a different combination of machines is required for different product types,” Metcalf says. “Most factories produce a variety of mattress styles and the production volume of each can vary widely. They need machines that can easily switch between multiple product types and fulfill the unique daily production schedules of each.”
Flexibility a key
A key trend that Atlanta Attachment Co. is seeing among its mattress customers “is the need for sewing equipment that is reliable, increases output, aids in efficiency and (delivers) better overall quality in the mattresses that are being produced,” says Doug Guffey, vice president of sales for the company, headquartered in Lawrenceville, Georgia. “Everyone is faced with the growing challenges with labor and seeking ways to ease the manufacturing process with automation and labor-saving devices.”
To this end, Guffey says, Atlanta Attachment continues to explore new types of time- and labor-saving equipment across a wide range of production functions, including sewing. With all of its machinery development, the goal is to “increase mattress output and streamline multiple processes into a seamless flow and aid in the quality of products being manufactured,” he says.
“The ability to integrate multiple functions along with automation of the sewing processes involved will continue to drive our business and give the mattress industry the needed technology to capture the increased demand within our industry,” Guffey adds. “Having reliable sewing equipment that provides clean and efficient sewing is the foundation for final product appearance, and producers’ investment in this equipment today will continue to drive the growth for their business tomorrow. The ever-increasing online direct-to-consumer model forces manufacturers to invest to stay current but, more importantly, to stay viable for the future.”
Atlanta Attachment’s latest equipment features a new patented Windows-based application that can be networked and monitored in real time as part of a complete control system for the shop floor, Guffey says.
Less labor and safer workers
Going forward, the deskilling of processes and use of integrated automation will become prevalent throughout mattress producers’ sewing operations, machinery specialists agree.
“As technology costs decline and available skilled labor becomes less accessible, automated solutions become more viable,” says GSG’s Metcalf. “The first step in the journey toward automation is deskilling the process. Ergonomic machine design that simplifies the process, making it easy for low-skilled sewing machine operators to perform the task, reduces the manufacturer’s dependence on experienced seamstresses. This helps maintain a consistent workflow rate regardless of the skill level of the staff.”
Ergonomic and technological advancements also can be valuable assets when trying to attract and retain new hires. “The appeal of an easier workload is vital to hiring during this challenging labor shortage,” Metcalf says. “Highly efficient computerized equipment also combats a common misperception of many job seekers that factory work is dull and antiquated.”
Cutting time and waste
At Bursa, Turkey-based Elektroteks, the new highly automated Hemmer machine is generating strong interest, says Chief Executive Officer Serkan Güler. “One of the most time-consuming parts of mattress production is flanging the quilted panel,” he says. With the use of thicker mattress panels, overlocking of the panels is often inevitable “because it becomes impossible to sew the thick panel by tape-edging.”
In addition, the conventional flanging process “brings a lot of extra labor and inaccuracy to the production process,” he says.
With the new Hemmer system, the flanging process is automatic, improving efficiency and reducing waste to a minimum. “It saves up to 4% of your quilted material, including fabric, foam, polyester fiber and nonwovens” that otherwise might be discarded, Güler says.
Across Elektroteks’ entire line, the company offers a robust online support network to allow engineers to connect to the company’s machines in the field and to provide on-the-spot troubleshooting and training. “We can get our global customers the answers they need quickly and efficiently,” Güler says.
At James Cash Machine Co. in Louisville, Kentucky, which recently began manufacturing several machines from the former D.R. Cash Inc. line along with its own products, parts availability and quality continue to be strong elements of its service equation.
“We take pride in being there for our customers,” says Linda Ferry, president of James Cash. To minimize potential downtimes during production, the company says it maintains an ample inventory of high-quality parts. “This is significant in that not only do our parts last longer and need to be replaced less often, but labor and downtime are also lessened when parts last longer,” she says.
In addition, James Cash modifies many of its parts to improve their operation. “Many competitive parts are not sold with this modification and must be modified by our customers, requiring labor and downtime,” Ferry says. She adds that the company’s machines continue to be engineered and produced in the United States and are designed with many modular components for easier maintenance and increased dependability.
Keep scrolling for more information about the latest news and innovations in mattress sewing equipment …
Sewing Thicker Materials
Global Systems Group, part of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc., has enhanced its line with several new machines and features designed for thicker sewn materials, says Randy Metcalf, marketing manager. New machines include the Porter Ultra HC-401 heavy-duty binding machine, designed to join thick border materials to thick quilt panels or nonwoven decking materials. This strong binder can sew through thick borders even with a vertical handle sewn into the tape line, according to the company. “As mattress designers seek new styles to differentiate themselves from the competition, they can’t be restricted by low-level capabilities of their machines,” Metcalf says.
Also new to the GSG line is the Porter VFM-4516 Hi-Lo Flanger, designed to sew thick or thin goods. It is built on the same walking foot technology that Porter International flangers have used for decades. But the VFM-4516 features one key difference, Metcalf says: It allows an operator to “easily switch between the thickest and thinnest products with the simple touch of a button.”
In addition to these new sewing machines, GSG has included new features on several other models. The Porter EST-501, a semi-automatic belt table flange system, now is available with the new VM-4516 sewing head, enabling an operator to process thick or thin goods on the same machine. The EST-501 also automatically turns the mattress quilt panel during the sewing process so the operator can produce high-quality finished goods with minimal skill and effort.
Another product drawing attention at GSG is the Porter POQ-960 long-arm quilt repair machine, Metcalf says. The strong sewing head of the POQ-960 enables operators to sew quilt repairs on the industry’s thickest and densest materials. “The ability to recover these heavy panels is a great cost-savings advantage since they…
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