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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Surry Chemicals Creates Brilliant Results for the Garment Industry

Surry Chemicals offers a powerful HMI for large hosiery manufacturers as part of their rapid bleaching solution.

  • Surry Chemicals provides a rapid bleaching solution to large garment manufacturers.

  • The sophisticated HMI for the chemical machines offers large companies a granular view of the process, and allows fine control of the machine operation during production.

  • The HMI greatly reduces operator error, and enables plant managers to control production costs. This application can also be easily customized to serve other large hosiery manufacturers with minimal development time.

Figure 1: One production line in the Hanes plant runs 110lbs of socks at a 120 second cycle time, twenty four hours a day, six days a week



Organic and synthetic fibers are not naturally a consistent shade of white. Imperfections in the fibers and the result of the handling process means that fibers used in the garment industry must eventually be bleached to produce a brilliant, even shade of white. For large hosiery producers such as Hanes, consistently producing the exact shade of white for a particular line requires a controlled dose of chemicals that will deliver the same result for every batch of socks produced.

Surry Chemicals produces the chemical and mechanical technology to ensure that large garment manufacturers are able to treat their garments with carefully controlled and monitored chemicals, and that each batch can then be tracked for quality assurance. When a large clothing manufacturer likes Hanes searches for a chemical supplier to deliver a solution, they expect reliable results and the ability to track and analyze the product as it moves down the production line.

Figure 2: With the machines located in Honduras and El Salvador, it was important for Surry Chemicals to build in secure remote access so that they could monitor and service machines from their US offices.

The Challenge

Surry Chemicals has been producing patented chemical products and equipment since 1974. Surry was very successful in creating specialized chemical mixes and developing equipment for major manufacturers, but as customer expectations rose, Surry was quick to adopt the technology that would enable them to offer a much richer chemical solution to the garment industry.

Prior to the development of an HMI for their chemical equipment, there was no way to gather or store data for each individual batch. Useful information could not be effectively collected. When Hanes asked Surry Chemicals to develop equipment to bleach the socks for their El Salvador plant, Bryan Ogletree, the systems control engineer for Surry Chemicals, began developing an HMI that could meet the exacting standards of a major garment manufacturer.

Data collection was critical to the process. Hanes has many lines of hosiery, and each line requires a different formulation of Surry’s patented chemical mixes. The HMI would have to be able to access a database of stored recipes, and ensure that the correct recipe was used for each batch of socks in production. Hanes also required incredible precision in monitoring, with accuracy down to 100ml, and a tolerance of only plus or minus 5%. In addition, the customer required very granular knowledge of costs, meaning that the data would need to be constantly analyzed and then the process would need to be adjusted to eliminate waste and additional costs.

When searching for a stable HMI platform robust and feature-rich enough to support a large operation like Hanes, Surry Chemicals first developed a proprietary application that could be used for other systems. However, they quickly discovered that it lacked features that might be necessary in the future, and Bryan Ogletree searched for an HMI platform that would enable them to develop a robust, feature-rich application that would remain flexible for future projects, and produce a result that was visually refined enough to attract large clients.

Figure 3: The machines are able to guarantee accuracy down to 100ml of chemical product, and a tolerance of only +/- 5%.

The Solution

Surry Chemicals created a hardware and software solution for Hanes that enabled not only the treatment of hosiery to specifications, but added additional supervisory and analytical functions to the systems.  

As the socks are brought in, the operator takes a ticket from the knitting side of the process. By scanning the ticket into the system, the operators are able to ensure that the correct chemical mixture is added. The socks are then weighed, and loaded into the machine. The InduSoft Web Studio system tracks each ticket, and automates the correct process from among twenty different stored recipes containing nine different chemicals and varied wash times. Information is collected during the process and stored in the database. As socks come off the line, they receive a new ticket that makes it possible to track them to the end of the production line.

Because the plants are located in Honduras, Surry also needed access to the application from their home offices in the United States. By setting up remote access to the application via a remote thin client, it’s possible to view and control the machines from thousands of miles away. However, security is still an important concern, and as a precaution, remote control for the InduSoft Web Studio application is limited to one remote operator on one computer, with several layers of protection to ensure that only the authorized individual accesses the machine operations remotely.

Data from the machines, however, is available to operators and managers at the Hanes plant, enabling them to make decisions, and further control costs of operation. By analyzing the time spent in production and the amount of chemicals used, it’s possible to continue to adjust the machinery and chemical formulas to produce the best possible results with the most efficiency.

At this time, one production line in the Hanes plant runs 110lbs of socks at a 120 second cycle time, twenty four hours a day, six days a week. Three lines are currently in operation.


The Results

Implementation of the system provided immediate benefits. With access to granular information, it was possible to analyze the process for performance indicators that could then be adjusted to produce a better product and manage costs. Because recipes are stored in the database and driven by a ticketing system, there is much less operator error during the process.

Surry Chemicals is able to constantly develop the application for use in other factories, and may expand the application to serve production lines for t-shirts and other garments. Thanks to InduSoft Web Studio, it was possible to create an application that is flexible enough to serve as a template for other plants in a variety of industries that employ the same bleaching system.

Figure 4: Thanks to the robust capabilities of the machine HMI, it’s possible to customize the application for use in a variety of large garment manufacturing facilities.

For more information contact your local distributor or InduSoft directly at info@indusoft.com or 877-INDUSOFT (877-463-8763) or 512-349-0334.

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