Advanced automation for textile machinery

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The textile industry has been one of the sectors to benefit most from automation. The demand for fast, high-volume production with excellent repeatability and versatility is important to businesses making products ranging from quilts to car airbags.

Advanced automation for textile machineryAutomation technology has evolved greatly over the past 30 years – the length of time that Parker has supplied and partnered with ASCO Bettwaren AG, a company specialising in machines and equipment for processing fabrics and textiles. In the course of these three decades, the evolving automation requirements at ASCO have been addressed against a backdrop of continuous improvement to maintain competitive advantage. This has seen increasingly sophisticated hardware and intuitive programming, software and GUI come to market, all supported by factors such as greater speed, flexibility, quality and repeatability to streamline and maximise efficiency.

These gains have only been possible thanks to the close relationship between Parker and ASCO, which specialises in sewing and quilting for customers such as high-end decorators, as well as furniture, mattress and bedding manufacturers. The company's 4000m2 facility in Arth, near Lucerne, Switzerland, manufactures products that include quilts, bedspreads, curtains, mattress covers, upholstery, decorative pillows and synthetic blankets.

To help optimise production at the plant, the company relies on Parker Automated Sewing Systems (SNA) for sewing, stitching and cutting operations. SNA offers many variations of single-needle quilting in a modular concept, which means customers can first select the optimum configuration and easily add to the system as requirements grow or change.

The latest addition to the portfolio of SNA systems at ASCO is an SNA 4200 frameless, continuous (reel to pallet) sewing system with moving bridge (for quilt production). Using the SNA 4200, the operator only has to ensure the material is ready for in-feed (from three reels); the system does the rest, making it possible for one operator to run several machines.

Thread sensors and thread cutters

The SNA 4200 produces up to 4500 stitches per minute and generates a transport speed while sewing of 23m/min (55m/min without sewing). Accommodating material sizes up to 3000 x 3000mm, the system comes as standard with thread sensors and thread cutters for the upper and lower threads, frame coding and automatic collision protection, and automatic central lubrication of the guides and spindles. Users can choose between high-speed or heavy-duty lockstitch sewing heads (both with large-capacity bobbins), while further options include bobbin changers, a double-head version, additional tools (such as inkjets and lasers) and an oversized sewing area.

Simple programming is possible using intuitive and familiar Windows-based software that enables users to create or modify quilt patterns quickly and easily. Finished data sets (such as CAD files in DXF format) can easily be converted using intelligent import functions.

Parker motion control technologies are in evidence throughout SNA systems, including the following:

  • Compax3 digital servo motors
  • HLE linear actuators
  • Moduflex valve islands
  • P31 global air preparation system

Products such as these help facilitate pneumatic clamping on the infeed system, automatic sensing, straightening and tensioning, as well as automatic cutting and unloading.

Daniel Staub, Managing Director at ASCO, says: "Our mutually beneficial partnership with Parker now extends to over 30 years, and the SNA quilting machines we currently use, including frame and QLA cross-cut machines, have proven to be solid, long-lasting and highly reliable. Thanks to our close collaboration, we have learned to appreciate the extensive functions and highly practical operation of SNA systems that have helped underpin the success of our business and satisfy our own customers with quality products and service."

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