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Bowling Green Spinning

Investing for flexibility in the combed-cotton ring-spun market, Bowling Green Spinning continues to upgrade equipment to best serve customers' needs.<b>By Jim Phillips, Executive Editor</b>

Winding And TwistingBy Jim Phillips, Executive Editor Bowling Green Spinning Investing for flexibility in the combed-cotton ring-spun market In an era in which the most common comments about textile manufacturing in the United States tend to be moans about business conditions and the continuing siege by imports, a few companies are quietly adapting to the requirements of the world marketplace and positioning themselves to take advantage of available opportunities.Certainly, some of these companies are large Fortune 500-sized enterprises, the names of which are household names throughout America. But many are relatively small, family-owned businesses that focus on innovation and the flexibility to be nimble-footed in production, delivery and service. Bowling Green Spinning Company, a one-plant, combed-cotton ring spinner in Bowling Green, S.C., is just such an operation.A walk through the Bowling Green plant, which is located a few miles south of Gastonia, N.C., reveals an operation that has an eye for efficiency and effectiveness. The plants venerable roving and spinning frames models from Saco Lowell, Whitin and Zinser have been meticulously maintained and upgraded over the years. While not the latest in high-technology yarn-prep machinery, the equipment more than adequately addresses the needs of Bowling Green Spinning and its customers. But where the company really shines is at the beginning and end of the yarn-manufacturing process. It is in these areas that Bowling Green has invested considerably over the past few years and can be considered as high-tech as just about any plant in the country.  Staying On Top While Keeping In LimitsOur sole product is combed cotton, ring-spun yarn, said Daniel S. LaFar III, president of the company. We have carefully maintained and upgraded our machinery over the years, and we feel it provides us with exactly what we need at the moment. We have looked at other spinning options, but we felt that our objectives were better served by focusing on other areas of the process.Indeed, when LaFar and his father, LaFar Industries Chairman, Dan S. LaFar Jr., examined the production process from top to bottom, they came up with a clear-cut plan that would modernize the plant within the limits of the companys budget and provide the necessary improvements to keep the company on the cutting edge of quality. 

Daniel LaFar III (left), president, and Dan LaFar Jr., chairman, have made flexibility the cornerstone upon which the success of Bowling Green Spinning Co. is built. The primary objective of the company is to be highly flexible in order to maintain the capability of meeting the demands its customers. The bulk of Bowling Greens product line is used in the knit apparel market, and the companys yarn is prominent in the offerings of some of the worlds foremost names in fashion.If there is a word that describes our company, its flexibility, the younger LaFar said. We decided to focus on a specific area of competence and serve that market to the best of our ability. That enables us, within the framework of our core competency, to be as flexible as possible in meeting the needs of our customers. We feel like trying to be all things to all people would be a weakness for us. It would cause us to spread ourselves so thin that we could not adequately serve the market we serve best.To that end, the company, over the past few years, has divested itself of a rayon operation and discontinued open-end spinning.When we looked at upgrading machinery, it became apparent that our needs and those of our customers would best be served by looking at the front and back of the process. So we have concentrated on opening and winding.We havent over-leveraged ourselves, LaFar said. Weve upgraded a little at a time. Obviously, we would like to upgrade the whole plant overnight, but prudence demands otherwise. Opening And Winding Upgrades
The first step of the process was upgrading opening and cleaning equipment. Bowling Green installed a Cleanomat CVT system from Charlotte, N.C.-based American Truetzschler Inc., as well as a Truetzschler Dustex DX dedusting machine.We eliminated about five steps in the opening and cleaning process with the installation of the equipment from Truetzschler, LaFar said. We felt like we had been throwing away a lot of good fiber, so it made a great deal of sense to upgrade and become more efficient in this process.In winding, an older series of machines was replaced by new Orion-series winders from Charlotte-based American Savio, part of the Itema group of companies based in Italy. The Savio machines are manufactured in Italy by Savio Macchine Tessili.We were spending a great deal of money in maintaining the older machines, LaFar said. There comes a time when you have to make sure youre getting a return on what you are spending.We felt, as well, that, as the last process in the plant, we had to put the yarn in the most presentable package possible, verify the reliability of the package, and ensure it is defect-free. The combination of Orion winders from Savio and Loepfe clearers would do just that.The Orion series from Savio is among the newest generations of automatic winders on the market. It features a computer-aided package that maintains constant control and adjusts yarn tension throughout the winding process.Impressed with the offerings from other companies as well Murata and Schlafhorst, in particular Bowling Green made its final determination based on the dual-lot availability of the Orion winders.Daniel and I, along with Robert Montgomery [plant manager] saw several plants with the Orion installed in Italy. The quality, speed and control were impressive, said the elder LaFar.Added the younger: Our machines represent Savios only dual-lot stand-alone machine installation in the United States. We do not link spinning and winding. It limits our flexibility. That was the real selling point to the Savio machine. It enabled us to maintain flexibility in manufacturing. We can use two yarn counts on the dual-lot machines and dedicate any number of spindles to those separate counts.Bowling Green installed six Orion winders, three of which were the dual-lot machines.As weve said before, it all comes down to flexibility for us, LaFar said. There will always be a certain percentage of goods that will change quickly because of fashion. It is our goal to be able to adapt to those changes and help our customers get products to market quickly.While Bowling Green Spinning is a supplier to a number of noted brands, the company is also positioning itself as a supplier to a number of the quick response, foreign-sourced programs, LaFar said.We feel our flexibility allows us to compete in this arena very favorably, he said. Made-To-Order CapabilityAs a result of the companys dedicated quest for flexibility, Bowling Green Spinning maintains almost no inventory. Were almost a made-to-order company now, LaFar said. Thats the thing that will continue to set us apart being able to quickly respond to the needs of our customers with a quality product that few others can or will produce.As a small, stand-alone company, however, Bowling Green considers the worlds economic and political climate to be of utmost importance. Recent trade concessions to Pakistan in exchange for military privileges in the war on terrorism concern the company, as does the phase-out of quotas in 2005. But both of the LaFars are confident that Bowling Green will continue to carve out its niche and remain successful in the face of increased competition.There will always be a niche as a high-quality, quick-turnaround, quick-response supplier, LaFar said. And that is exactly what we are. New Winding Equipment Improves QualityIn the high-technology yarn preparation arena, news is dominated by the latest offerings of new spinning technology.Obviously, any process that speeds both the production and quality of yarn deserves attention. But the methods and techniques of converting roving to thread arent the only determining factors of production quality and efficiency. Often overlooked are the automatic winding machines and the accompanying clearers that encompass the final stage of the spinning process.Ultimately, the winding stage is the final opportunity to inspect and correct material for defects, as well as for creating a vehicle for effective presentation of the yarn to customers.
Savio introduced its Orion series of winders at ITMA 99 in Paris. That introduction, according to one Savio executive, changed the rules of the game. Savio developed the Orion based on a thorough analysis of customer needs, the company said. The aim was to improve the total quality of the wound package, reduce overall process costs and increase manufacturing flexibility.At ITMA in Paris, the Orion was introduced in two models, E and I. The Orion E is an independent winding machine, and the Orion I has an automatic bobbin loader than can be linked to spinning frames. The Orion series is also available in a dual-lot configuration in which two separate yarn counts can be wound on any number of dedicated spindles. The frame for both models is available in six- or eight-head sections. The number of heads per machine ranges from a minimum of six to a maximum of 64 in steps of two. Take-up speed ranges from 400 to 2,000 meters per minute (m/min). Now, with worldwide acceptance of the Orion design, Savio, a unit of the Itema Group in Italy, has introduced two additional models, the Orion M and the Orion L.Both encompass the same features as the original Orion models but have different levels of support automation. The Orion M is an automatic winder with manual bobbin feeding and manual package doffing. The L model has manual bobbin feeding as well, but includes automatic doffing.Another machine one that was the talk of the recent 7th OTEMAS in Osaka, Japan is the new 21C Process Coner from Japanese manufacturer Murata (See Spinning In Control, TI, December 2001).One of the key issues of the new Muratec brand winder is its Perla system for reducing hairiness, said Bill Gray of Murata of America Inc., Charlotte, N.C.The new Perla Hairiness Reducing System comes in both mechanical and air derivatives. The Perla-A, an air system, can be used in conjunction with Muratas tension-control system to reduce hairiness at up to 1,800 m/min. The Perla-D system employs a disc-type design and can operate at up to 1,200 m/min. The D system shows a higher hairiness-reducing effect than the A model, according to Murata executives.Of the other major manufacturers of winders, Schlafhorst has as its flagship the Autoconer 338, which, according to the company, features constant yarn tension, driven by the companys balloon controller, electromagnetic yarn tensioner, and Schlafhorsts proprietary Autotense yarn tension sensor. SSM Schr Schweiter Mettler AG, Switzerland, features among its winding offerings: the PW1-W preciflex precision package winder for filament yarns and silk; and the CW1-1 cone-to-cone winding machine for weaving, warp knitting, and circular knitting operations. New to the market for American Sahm Co. LLC, Greenville, S.C., is the 240E winder targeted toward flat and circular loom warp packages, as well as the 2000E take-up winder that can be used to retrofit most spinning lines. Barmag Spinnzwirn, Germany, has developed the babyASW900 winder. Compared with the conventional ASW winder, its dimensions are significantly smaller. It can especially be used for winding up BCF as well as PP-FDY and POY yarns.An oft-overlooked element in the effectiveness of winders is the technology for clearing defects. The Loepfe Yarnmaster® clearer detects foreign fibers, neps, short thick places, long thick places and thin places as well as splices. A long-standing offering in the area of clearers is the Uster® Quantum Clearer from Zellweger-Uster, Switzerland. January 2002