By  on September 22, 1994

ATLANTA -- Boosting the productivity of their shops was on the minds of all the 100-odd embroiderers who gathered on the slopes of historic Stone Mountain, Ga., recently.

The embroiderers, who came from both mom-and-pop shops and major apparel companies, were attending embroidery machine vendor Gunold + Stickma's annual "Punchers' Conference." The event, a series of structured seminars and informal talks, is a sort of users' group for Gunold clients. The topics on the table, however, concerned all embroiderers.

"What was a cottage industry 25 years ago has turned into a big business, but there's still no place to go and learn about embroidery," commented Walter Floriani of Tehachapi, Calif.-based embroidery consulting firm Floriani, who gave two seminars at the conference. "Here, we share information we learned through trial and error. The key to success in this industry is networking -- talking out common problems."

In a seminar titled "Production Planning," Floriani, a veteran puncher, shared simple techniques for decreasing downtime in embroidery shops. Stopping the machines to rethread for the next order is the bane of most embroiderers. Many embroiderers, however, are under such pressure to get the next order produced they fail to schedule jobs that should logically run consecutively. Floriani said the situation is unfortunate because a little advanced scheduling could boost embroiderers' overall production and cut down on their headaches.

"Embroidery shops are under such demands to produce individual designs on time that scheduling goes out the window," he said, "but if shops scheduled designs that use three or four of the same color threads consecutively, they could cut downtime for rethreading machines."

Floriani said that downtime adds up. He said embroiderers can cut it further by having several employees rethread machines when colors do have to be changed.

"It might take one girl an hour

to change three threads on a 12-head machine," he said. "If I put three people on that job, it'll take 20 minutes."

Fabric compensation, or "stitchability," was the focus of Floriani's second seminar. Floriani said he has run simple tests monitoring the effects different stitches have on different fabrics at different machine speeds. The outcome is a sort of personal "recipe book" of guidelines for embroidering.

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