Manual Needle Assignments are History
on High-Tech Production Floor
As high-volume embroiderers (HVE) get smarter about improving productivity, they start to look at every possible manual operation in their job process that can be eliminated. One long-standing manual operation, that of assigning (or, "teaching") needle numbers for downloaded patterns, is now a thing of the past at one such HVE.
Historically, patterns have been stored with embedded stops or color changes, codes that cause a machine either to stop for a needle assignment, or to change to a specific needle number, thus changing thread color based on how the design was punched. When a pattern was downloaded to a machine, the operator had to assign the correct needle numbers based on what color thread was currently mounted on each needle. Any embroidery floor manager who has had to scrap an order because of a wrong color knows how nice it would be to eliminate this step. Thanks to an interesting project VeriStitch took on recently, this sort of manual needle assignment is now a thing of the past, at least at one HVE we know of.
In 2004, VeriStitch embarked on a custom programming project with one of our longtime customers who was building a new embroidery distribution center from the ground up. Our job was to integrate the Delta Industrial Sewing Network (Delta ISN) with other master control systems that handle garment movement and warehouse management. One of the more interesting things to come out of this work was the elimination of manual needle assignments by machine operators.
While we're not at liberty to divulge the customer's name nor much of the architecture that went into the system, we can say that this is one of the most interesting technological advances we've seen on the embroidery production floor in quite some time. Such a "teachless" embroidery machine network is enabled by the following technologies:
- A master system that can manage per-order thread assignments (color ways) for each pattern. Such a system can be custom programmed by technical staff or an off-the-shelf system such as EmbTrak can do the job.
- An embroidery machine network that can exchange information with the master system. Delta ISN is the premier candidate for such a system interface because of our support of the custom requirements of our HVE customers. We welcome such custom work and have successfully integrated with EmbTrak as well as in-house systems developed by HVE technical staff.
- The embroidery machines must be able to accept needle assignments in their stitch code.
With these basic elements in place, the master system simply messages the machine operator what the thread setup should be via the Delta Terminal, and Delta writes the needle numbers into the stitch code on download.
If you would like to know more about how you can eliminate manual needle teaching on your production floor, feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you toward that goal.