By Industrial Print magazine Staff
Part 1 of 3
End-to-end automation in a manufacturing facility means less waste, more profit—something any business can get on board with. Companies from all verticals benefit from automation technology, whether it is through software solutions or hardware. When all of these solutions integrate seamlessly with each other, it really takes automation to the next level, harnessing efficiency and productivity on the shop floor.
Clothing manufacturers are one example of users benefiting from automation technologies. For example, with limited capsule collections and multiple seasonal introductions, it is challenging to keep pace with the every-changing cycles. To do so well, manufacturers rely on sophisticated technology.
Based in Northern Portugal, in the town of Felgueiras, Longratex specializes in the manufacture of baby, kids, and women’s clothing—managing both of its own brands as well as outside businesses. Founded in 1988, the company has been involved in the clothing business for over 30 years. Its main markets are in France, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.
Through its efficient manufacturing process, Longratex maintains a production capacity that exceeds 60,000 units per month. This means providing over 600 retail stores in Portugal and the U.K. with high-quality, affordably priced products. Two of its own brands are Patachou—an accessible luxury children’s fashion brand for babies and children ages zero to 14; and Sophia Kah, sophisticated couture for women.
Helping make all of this possible is AccuMark, AccuPlan, AccuNest, and Paragon from Gerber Technology, a Lectra Company. These solutions service Longratex’s production chain end to end, allowing it to manufacture over 2,000 pieces daily in addition to offering customization.
Gerber AccuMark is a two-dimensional (2D)/three-dimensional (3D) CAD solution. It is a robust pattern design, grading, marker making, and production planning software. The AccuMark 3D version elevates design, offering realistic virtual renderings directly from 2D pattern data.
Gerber AccuPlan is a spread and cut planning tool that boosts production efficiencies and bottom line performance by leveraging existing libraries and databases and automating the marker planning process. Some of the processes it automates include calculating materials required for each work order, processing multiple orders simultaneously, and generating reports based on cost, cut plan results, and fabric consumption.
Gerber AccuNest is an automated, high-speed nesting system that uses powerful algorithms to analyze multiple nesting solutions and yield the one with the highest material utilization. The solution is designed to respect all material constraints applied to pieces such as directional rotation, tilt allowances, and spread constraints.
Gerber Paragon is an automated high-ply cutting system for apparel. It offers ease of use for inexperienced cutting operators, with an interface that guides users through each step of the process and automatically adjusts parameters according to specific job types and materials. The cutting system is integrated with AccuMark CAD and automated spreading systems.
“The full integration of our Gerber cutting room with the AccuMark platform was essential when we decided to launch our own brands seven years ago. We were adding more small series and even customized elements. We needed an integrated solution to increase productivity and responsiveness,” explains Paulo Campos, GM, Longratex.
One Step Ahead
Since implementing the Gerber solutions, Longratex increased productivity by 50 percent, improved its fabric economy by three to five percent, and boosted efficiency by about 50 percent.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the clothing manufacturer had a leg up on the competition. It was able to leverage its many Gerber digital technologies to implement a flexible and agile workflow. One way it did this was by integrating an online ordering system, one that called for customization, shortened production cycles, and accelerated time to market. The technology also allows for the ability to mass produce when necessary.
Campos credits the Gerber solutions with helping Longratex weather this “new digital era. Gerber has responded fully to our needs of training, assistance, and innovation, which encourages continuity in the business relationship. Through the new solutions presented to the market challenges, Gerber has given us reason to believe that it remains the right technology partner.”
Longratex illustrates what is achievable when a manufacturer turns to automation technologies—both software and hardware. It was one step ahead of the game when it implemented Gerber’s solutions pre-COVID-19, and able to leverage its experience quickly as new paths in manufacturing took hold.
The next part in this series looks at a furniture manufacturer benefiting from end-to-end automation.
Sep2021, Industrial Print Magazine