China built Monforts stenter installed in Chinese Division of a German company
German scarf manufacturing specialist V Fraas installed at its China division in Zhangjiagang City, Jiangsu Province, a Montforts Montex 6500 built in China (Monfongs) to allow the production of cashmere and woolen scarves
The stenter is with integrated heat recovery system and the Monforts joint venture machine was ordered direct from Germany and installed by Monforts engineers.
V Fraas was founded in Wüstenselbitz, a small village in Upper Franconia (D) by Valentin Fraas in 1880, and specializes in producing quality woven, knitted and Rochelle scarves that are complemented by a wide assortment of shawls and other textile accessories such as caps, gloves, capes and ponchos. The company is family owned and its V Fraas brand is well established and sells through its own stores and in retail outlets internationally. The firm manufactures also for other leading clothing and accessories brand under its private labeling division.
The design team is spread across Wüstenselbitz, New York, Paris, Düsseldorf and Shanghai, market proximity and technical proficiency are the underpinnings of the development of 500 to 700 new items annually. The vertical manufacturing capacity amounts annually to 10 to 12 million scarves and other textile accessories from the production facilities in Germany, the Czech Republic and China.
The Zhangjiagang production plant in China was established in 2003 following the opening of a total of 70 V Fraas stores over three years in China. The Chinese division, V Fraas (Thangjiagang) Textile Co. Ltd. is entirely German owned. Initially the Chinese factory was intended for the production of warp knitted and woven scarves, but there was no stenter frame. In 2006 the plant was extended and in 2009 the decision made to expand to wool and cashmere and it became clear that a new factory extension had to be built to house the stenter.
V Fraas has Monforts stenter at its German plant and has been examine the build and functions of the Germany-built Monforts and the China built Monfongs stenters and they noted no difference in quality, output or service support. Also the possibility of using a Chinese brand machine was given in the planning phase consideration and the result was that the plant would be able to make use of such a machine, however not with the quality and reliability desired, states Jergen Pittroff, executive director of the Chinese plant of Fraas. The factory has a core workforce of about 200 and further 100 temporary workers during the peak season. Most of the employees are females, including for the operation of the Monforts stenter, because they are reliable and careful. The women operating the stenter had started off in the knitting department and were specifically trained. There is one full-time operatior per shift, with another supplying backup.
The stenter is presently operating four days a week, with one 10-hour shift per day and production is gradually rising, during the first complete 12-month period since being put in operation the output amounted to around 300000 pieces. It provided a broad flexibility leading to the development of new articles. The width of the fabrics handled by the stenter range from 1.3 to 2 m, with weight per scarf ranging from 80 g to 150 g and this would equate about 148 to 277 g/m2. The needed yarns are sourced within China whereas the weaving and warp knitting are done on the premises and with the stenter the vertically integrated operation was formed.
The Chinese division faces also the rising cost for gas, electricity, water, and above all labour and therefore efficient technology is becoming ever more important, states Claus-Juergen Mueller-Yang, general manager at Fraa’s Zhangjiagang plant, and he adds that the Monforts heat recovery system is important and will become more so as the business increases. Also many customers show interest about green energy and when the use of the Monforts heat recovery system is explained, Mueller-Yang feels sure that this gives the company a very distinct competitive edge. 85 % of the production is destined to overseas markets, mainly to the U.S. and Europe, while 15 % is delivered domestically. The ration might change in the future since the Chinese market is growing, but Chinese buyers are extremely demanding in terms of both quality and price and thus, the Monforts stenter becomes vital to compete in this market, explains Mueller-Yang.