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ITMA | November 2015

Thies magic via task compression

Integrated robotics replaces hard manual labour. High-tech equipment like the ultra-efficient iCone yarn dyeing machine from Thies can reduce the error rate in dyeing plants dramatically and diminish harmful work as well. In many of these factories, the dye is still brought to the preparation vessel in buckets by the operators - to ensure that the correct mixture is supplied for dyeing the next batch. While this is still standard practice in many factories in Asia, for example, in state-of-the-art machine parks, the work is done by robots. Thies GmbH is a market leader in this segment - and systematically continues to compress tasks in all production workflows as well as in the finished products. Marketing expert and Joint Director of Sales Jürgen Brockmann explains how function integration works at Thies GmbH. The company has manufactured bleaching and drying equipment as well as yarn and fabric dyeing machines from its headquarters in Coesfeld for 123 years.

How does function integration work in a VDMA member company like Thies GmbH?
It is no secret that yarn dyeing is an extremely complex process, and a great deal of work goes into ultimately achieving a world-class right-first-time rate with regard to the finished goods. A certain degree of automation is essential for this, which means we must minimise mistakes in the operating procedures and automate system in such a way that the process can be carried out without hitches. To do this, we have to address the entire dye weighing and dye delivery systems - processes which, in most dyeing plants in the world, are still carried out by hand. And as a result of our technology, the number of factories where these process steps are automated is growing.

What exactly are the error sources that automation is intended to eliminate in this context?
Wherever people work, mistakes are made: dyes are not added in the ordered quantity, or they are not at the right temperature. Sometimes they are not even delivered to the dyeing machine when they are needed. The dye delivery system itself also represents a possible source of errors, making it difficult to achieve perfect dyeing results. We try to remove this from the equation by automating everything from weighing to delivery.

How does that work specifically?
The dye silos receive a signal from the control system, which might order, for example: Dispense 30 grams each of red, yellow and blue dyes! Upon receiving this signal, the dyes are automatically weighed, dispensed into a container and transported to a dye dissolving station. Here, the dye is brought to the required temperature and then runs into the dyeing machine at the correct time. Before dyeing, the product undergoes the bleaching process. The same thing happens here with the chemicals. For bleaching too, the chemicals must be delivered to the system by a pump in exactly the right quantities, at exactly the right temperature and at exactly the right time. The same applies for solids such as salts and hydrosulfite for vat dyeing, for example. This method is capable of achieving very high levels of colour authenticity. And the procedure for ensuring that the liquor is introduced into the dyeing machine in the best possible condition is similar.

The recently developed yarn dyeing machine, iCone, features many energy-efficient functions....
The iCone has been on the market since 2014, and it works extremely economically with an optimised liquor ratio. This means that it needs less water to bring the dye or the chemicals into the fibres. The guidance system has been redesigned, which has enabled considerable savings to be made. One advantage is that the liquor flows through the coil bodies

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