Italian itema group invents itself anew and delivers
By Virginia F. Bodmer-Altura
In the wonderful surroundings of Bergamo and the special ambiente and in the mountainous area of Colzate, both Italy, itema, the Italian weaving machinery specialist has performed the secret transformation by restructuration to the adequate size and by extensive R&D investments over the last three years, to become again a dominant player in the concert of European and Japanese weaving machines manufacturers
This particular ambiente has delivered some excellent results. Already at ITMA Barcelona itema presented the first new air-jet weaving machine A9500 and has convinced many customers to buy such machines.
Now came the time to launch R9500, a complete new rapier loom with excellent performance results topping – according to in-house information – the actual offerings of other European and Japanese manufacturers. It seems that the new loom is not only enhancing the itema offering but setting new industry standards, as well as to create a new framework for itema as a company, organisational structure and new attitude to convince customers. Itema will be as of now the only brand name promoted. The motto is “Because we believe…”, a slogan that was prompted by one of Andrea Bocelli’s song that impressed itema with its hopeful message and it serves now to inspire itema’s associates in the daily work. At the same shows the new self consciousness and pride to deliver exactly what the global customers do require and in reliable and consistent certified quality.
There is also a new corporate identity with a new logo, itema, summing up the best technology developed over long years of experience based on the brands Somet, Sultex and Vamatex and a new QRP Quality, Reliability, Performance Certification proprietary technology and effective cutting-edge product design, manufacturing and delivery processes. The forthcoming new brand is itema, a practical and futuristic synthesis of all qualities and strength the company has to offer. And there is something extraordinary combined with the launching of the completely new R9500 rapier machine developed from scratch and by learning from former mistakes and errors, as the new CEO Carlo Rogara (see also his first exclusive interview granted to TextileFuture in its e-paper issue of January 2012 (PDF)) admitted frankly at the press conference in Colzate (I) on October 2, 2012. The bonus for the buyer of the new machinery is an extended full two years warranty.
Further statements of the itema mission
itema wants to be an industry leader and to offer solutions for its customer’s requirements. The company wants to develop and manufacture machines with innovative, state-of-the-art technology and to demonstrate superior, unsurpassed technical support of its products (for that additional technical staff was hired and service and training centres were opened in the major prospect markets. It is further the aim of the firm to provide quick and comprehensive service after the sale with spare parts, accessories and other services.
The development and features of the new rapier loom
The new R9500 QRP is supposed to be the smartest solution to produce all kinds of textiles and has been designed to reduce down times and get rid of costly preparation and service procedures. The quick beam-fitting system comes as a standard, and, with the anchoring systems of the DRC10 (a new in-house development), there is no need to level the panels. Another important breakthrough is that there are virtually no guards at all, which makes the usual adjusting and servicing procedures faster and easier. Heat is also more easily dissipated. All this, of course, it is still keeping the operators perfectly safe. The machine can be set on the plants floor and needs no specific foundation, another fact for cost saving. The simple, yet comprehensive, design of the NCP New Common Platform allows easy control of all technical parameters of the weaving machine. Some radical developments of the drive and transfer system provide a more robust machine which insures a consistent high speed transfer at the lowest vibration pattern.
There are virtually no limits to versatility, the new rapier loom enables the go for new opportunities and to quickly penetrate new markets. In addition, wide inter-changeability of mechanical and electrical parts with the air jet version A9500 reduces markedly operational costs for customers making use of both technologies.
The new rapier model has a sturdy, high precision machine frame, less number of parts and offers the lowest vibration pattern at high speeds, including multi frames and unbalanced styles and delivers perfect quality of fabrics. There are no stop marks and it allows the best fabric hand. There exists a forced lubrication system and the machine permits minimal maintenance requirements. The R9500 is equipped with a new electronic HI-drive brushless motor and offers lower power consumption.
The new machine entails full colour touch screen, interactive user interface and Ethernet / Internet connectivity. It disposes of an optimised shed geometry allowing additionally wide versatility and high performance. It is a user friendly machine with easy access, parts and maintenance procedures. The sley drive is fully integrated in the main cross frame to secure stability, maintenance free and provides a simple, high performance colour selector and is equipped with a powerful electronic platform.
The machine disposes of a unique rapier TURBO PROP rapier drive system, a completely re-designed version of the renowned propeller drive system. The drive remains compact with minimal moving parts for reliability and less maintenance. Additional design features: The mechanism is secured into side frame to insure stability and precision. The new carriage and winging sliders are designed with aeronautical grade alloys and direct lubrication of all sliding part as well as dynamic lubrication is standard. Customary to the design, the settings of the new Turbo Prop do not “drift” over time, eliminating the need for continual settings and adjustment by maintenance personnel. With reliable, low cost, consistent performance the new Turbo Prop embodies the true essence of the R9500.
The new SK Transfer system is engineered for high speed and versatility. It provides for a wide array of weft yarns and the system is the most advanced transfer system available on today’s market. With an ultra-light, ceramic coated, one piece design rapier, the SK system provides consistent, high speed performance by less wear. The insertion gripper is positioned very close to the reed promoting increased efficiency and dependable quality. The receiving gripper features a unique, patented opening system utilising a permanent magnet integrated within the gripper.
The newly FPA Free Positive Approach weft transfer offers a race board with no guiding elements in the shed and is the key to versatility and flexibility. It features yarn weaving ranges from fancy yarns up to Nm 1, filament up to 7000 dtex or monofilament up to 0.7 mm. It offers a perfect solution when weaving with the widest mix of yarns, or in case of technical textiles with the finest 10 den yarn or with high tenacity, multiple pick insertion fabric.
The new rapier loom has a double option for the weft cutter to fit all weaving requirements. For simple wefts, customers can choose the newly designed Rotocut. For more complex styles and/or multiple weft configurations, a unique electronic cutter is available on request. Utilising innovative technology and controlled by the microprocessor, independent cutting times can set for each weft/colour, thus a precise tool that works to increase efficiency and minimise waste.
The weft yarn selector is available for configurations for 4, 8 or 12 colours, it is completely re-designed to permit the maximum in versatility and reliability, it is maintenance free, driven and controlled by the microprocessor. It allows fine tuning the stroke of the selected finger and promotes a gentle movement and works to eliminate interference with adjacent wefts. Its compact design allows the selected weft to be presented in close proximity to the cutting position, insuring firm control. The device is easily accessible for weaving and maintenance personnel and is reducing downtime for weft repairs and style changes.
The new rapier machine offers a complete range of key configurations for numerous applications. All weaving machines are equipped with an electronic warp let-off and fabric take up. The gearing system is in an oil bath; pick density can be changed via the on board microprocessor. Multiple beam applications are all electronically controlled.
The R9500 utilises a standard motion both for selvedges and leno binding (ISD electronic device) and is designed for speeds in excess of 1000 rpm. A wide range of options for selvedge formation is available, in addition to standard cutters, a melting device and mechanical and air tuckers are available. Other than routine cleaning frequencies, the brushless motors eliminate the need for maintenance and adjustments. The ISD provides independent setting of the harness crossing and basic shedding patterns through the on-board user interface.
The dedicated software has been designed to prevent stop marks. Quick start/stop of the machine, with correct positioning of the reed is guaranteed, thanks to the direct drive motor. The software can be easily modified to address complex construction demands. All in all measures to minimise off-quality fabric.
Electronic weft tensioning is available on request. However, with the smooth controlled weft insertion of the R9500, the use of this electronic device is generally relegated to assist in processing weak, fragile yarns or in adverse weaving conditions. The device is programmable through the user interface and is eq1uipped with a self-cleaning system to prevent dust accumulation.
Constant increases in machine speeds lead to an increase in generated heat and the increasing importance to consider precautionary investment for cost avoidance, however the R9500 design and construction provides maximum head dissipation. Itema offers a reliable electronically controlled cooling system (Loom-cooler) as an option to efficiently remove much of the heat generated by the machine to recover the thermal power downstream to be used in other processes.
The R9500 MAESTRO weft control is innovative, unique and only offered by itema. It provides full digital processing of each weft by the NCP Processor and sensitivity adjustments are defined by each individual position. It implies that any weft defect created by the weft selector/rapier will be avoided. For example, the machine will stop before allowing the wrong weft or double filling to be inserted.
Further details can be had from the itema website www.itemagroup.com
Anti-cyclical move by itema
Even though the company had to reduce in the past three years employment from 1300 to 800 (thereof 400 globally) and amid the difficult market conditions the owners have permitted the investment in the development of the new A9500 air-jet and the R9500 rapier jet under the impression that this will permit the itema group to prosper in the future and to regain worldwide leadership. The fixed costs were continuously cut since 2009 to become more competitive. The turnover in 2011 amounted to EUR 225,49 milion and EBIT was EUR 24,29 million and net profit amounted to EUR 10,59 million. In 2011 around 3000 looms were sold. Carlo Rogara stressed the fact that there are no commitments with banks which allows the company an autonomous direction. Actually the main markets are China, Turkey, India as well as Africa and South America. In China weavers are mostly interested in projectile weaving, whereas India’s weavers bet on air jet looms.
The R&D team amounts to 40 people, thereof 10 in Switzerland. Their concept was to design new products that deliver added value to the customer’s bottom line and to offer a performance above the one of the other offerings in the market and based upon quality and reliability and of course tested for six months in the market through pilot customers. Also versatility formed part of the concept and by using the experience of the different products from Somet, Vamatex and Sultex and to continue to offer the ultimate machines with the three technologies air, rapier and projectile, as well as group knowhow in various technologies to set new industry standards and let itema become No. 1 in the market. Rogara is convinced that the R9500 marks a new milestone and an industry reference point.
The first orders are on hand
With pride itema announced the first two orders for the new R9500 rapier machines by Getzner Textil, Austria (for its WR Weberei Russikon AG in Switzerland with 75 employees) and by Vicunha Têxtil, Brazil (for their Maracanau plant in the state of Ceará).
Getzner produces yearly around 10000 different patterns and the company is – according to in-house information – one of the world’s most creative manufacturers of fashion fabrics for shirts and blouses and Armani, Hugo Boss and Lacoste have partnered with Getzner Textil AG. For the Swiss plant Getzner has ordered 16 R9500 rapier looms in 210 cm working width and in a jacquard version. The new machines will be installed later in the ongoing year, and they will produce high quality damasc fabric. The companies are longstanding customers of both Sultex and Vamatex and are expressing their confidence in the technology and knowhow of itema.
Vicunha operates since over 40 years and represents one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world and is a leader in various segments. The major production in weaving is denim and twill in plants in Brazil (states of Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte, as well as in São Paulo) but also in Argentina and Switzerland. In all plants there are around 1000 weaving machines installed. The company enjoys a prominent position in domestic (e.g. they actually produce 32 % of the Brazilian production of Indigo Denim Fabric) and international markets (gaining market share) and has ordered now 30 itema R9500 waving machines with a working width of 210 cm.