Choice machinery

31 October 2002

As well as the wet-blue operation in the Netherlands, there are the ECCO tanneries in Indonesia, Thailand and Portugal. Because of this much attention has been applied to simplifying the complex process of technology transfer. In addition to making new leathers, Ecco Holland need to be able to achieve quicker prototyping, effective scaling up and rapid and easy transfer of products to the overseas tanneries. Since the company have had a smaller centre in Indonesia for some years, the new centre in southern Holland has been built on the knowledge acquired there. The plant and machinery are essentially the same as that used throughout the group as a standard and mostly full-scale machinery has been bought rather than laboratory equipment. For retanning, some stainless steel drums are used but the main line consists of wooden drums which are felt to better represent what happens in bulk and to be easier to scale up. Hüni provided seven fully automated wooden drums, complete with pump out system and laboratory tanks for additional chemicals during the process. Two drums are double body drums made especially for Ecco with the purpose of being able to run tests where parameters can be changed and exactly the same mechanical action will be achieved since the drum is divided into two identical chambers. The choice of wooden drums is mainly to have similar mechanical action in the laboratory drums as in the wooden drums in the tannery production department. All seven drums are connected to Hüni's brand new full process control Microtan LT, enabling total process control and registering all actual steps. All steps and status are visualised on a new touch screen control panel. In addition, all manual interventions can be executed by touching the panel on the required function. A specially constructed Aquamix takes care of all water addition to the drums. Also new at the centre is the Thema dryer which allows the simulation of climatic conditions in Asia and offers detailed control of conditions throughout the drying process, in addition to featuring the new method of estimating the actual leather humidity during the process. For dry drumming Ecco have chosen the Erretre Ambra which is a laboratory machine developed for small quantities of leather and designed differently from the production machines in the sense that it allows for the simulation of the results obtained in the leather when running larger production loads. Ecco's Dongen R&D site covers 1,750 sq m with the capacity to produce around 35,000 sq ft of leather from wet-blue annually. The BLC Leather Technology Centre acted as consultants to help plan the biological, chemical and physical testing laboratories and will be involved in their accreditation. The bulk of the remainder of machinery was supplied through either Arendonk or Intermedia Holland. Intermedia were responsible for the following: * Thema laboratory pole drying unit, model TH009 PD, which consists of 100 poles. Inside the tunnel construction there are two separate drying sections, each controlled by the new Thema dry control system. To control the air conditions in the unit, the dryer is equipped with a special thermo-ventilating unit with a natural gas burner, covered by insulation panels for heat and sound insulation. Energy efficiency is extremely high. The heated air is blown in the distribution channels, one for each drying section. The air distribution channels bring the air uniformly into the two sections of the tunnel. Two humid air extraction fans, driven by motors equipped with inverters, extract the humid air outside of the tunnel. Through the use of two special infared temperature sensors, the real temperature of the passing leathers in the drying chamber are measured continuously. By this information, in combination with other data gathered by humidity and temperature probes in the tunnel and in and outlet channels, the humidity of the leather is calculated during the process until the desired conditions are reached. In this way, the final real humidity value of the leathers will be reached. * Carlessi Laboratory Toggle Drying Machine, from Fratelli Carlessi, model EC10, 3,400 x 1,800mm. The ten frames of this laboratory toggle dryer are equipped with a mechanical frame expansion. The internal dimension of the frames is 3,400 x 1,800mm, suitable for sides. The humidity and temperature is checked and controlled by several sensors. * Baggio through-feed staking and stretching machine, model Futura/Evolution - R 3200 (three heads) with a working width of 3,200mm. This through-feed staking machine is equipped with a special configuration of staking plates for each of the three staking heads, making this machine suitable for all kinds of shoe upper leathers, in crust and finished state. By a pneumatic shock absorber system, unpleasant vibrations are avoided in the R&D department. Even the noise of the staking operation remains at an acceptable level. All the latest developments in staking technology are incorporated. This machine is supplied with the new anti-static system, a belt humidifying system and a new positioning of the lower conveyor. Furthermore, this machine is equipped with optional evolution R, a pneumatic system on the first head to increase the staking intensity for the thicker and/or heavier parts, such as the neck, while the machine is running. This adjustment of staking intensity can be done in three sections on the first head, depending on whether sides or whole hides are being processed. * Reconditioned Bergi buffing line with dust exhaustion system, consisting of one electro-pneumatic buffing machine, model Selecta 18, working width 1,800mm, and one dedusting machine, model Arosia SPZ/L 18 (with long conveyor for connection to buffing machine, three heads), working width 1,800mm. The Bergi buffing machine, model Selecta, is the last generation of Bergi's buffing machines. All the different motors such as for the rubber roller for the transport speed, the oscillator, the conveyor belt and even the big buffing roller are equipped with inverters. This makes the machine very flexible and controllable for every type of leather. This flexibility is necessary to obtain particular effects such as suede, nubuck and brushing off. To transport the buffed sides without any folds through the dedusting machine, the buffing machine has a leather correcting device for the exit conveyor. Folds in the leathers are corrected automatically before the dedusting operation. The dedusting machine is connected with a central dust exhaustion and collection plant, placed in the same department. The anti-static filter sleeves are specially chosen for very fine leather dust to avoid emission problems. Cleaning of the sleeves is by a compressed air system. At several points in this department, flexible cleaning hoses can be connected with the central exhaustion plant, to vacuum clean the floor around the different production machines. To reduce the noise level in the department, caused by the blower of the dedusting machine and the ventilator of the exhaustion plant, a special soundproof box is constructed around this equipment. * Bergi through feed ironing machine, model Finilux 'S' 31, with a working width of 3,100mm and including a Tanmac detaching device. To obtain a good flat feed-in of the leather, the machine is equipped with a special system of two conveyor belts to provide a good spread of the hides during the passage through the pressure group. This system has its own drive, which can be changed in speed independently from the speed of the felt conveyor of the pressure group. This newly developed through feed ironing and glazing machine is specially designed to give the leather a mirror-like glazing effect by the touch of the heated chrome roller. The novelty of the Finilux-S is the thickness adjustment between the pressure roller and the heated chrome roller. For this reason, the chrome roller has its own drive unit with a separate speed regulation to create a special kiss plating effect. This allows the delicate leathers to be ironed without crushing the grain. The ironing cylinder is heated by thermic oil. By a special internal lung inside of the roller, the accuracy of the temperature along the ironing roller is extremely high. The machine has an integrated heating system with electrical heat exchanger and circulation pump. The maximum temperature of the roller is +/- 170°C. The heating unit is provided with a timer, so it can be heated up before work commences. A thermostat to maintain the preselected temperature completes this unit. On the ironing roller, a special detach roller, supplied by Tanmac, is mounted. This detach roller can be lifted from the ironing roller by pneumatic cylinders. This peels off the hides from the heated ironing roller. * GER electronic area measuring machine, model Loto/Synchro 3200, working width 3,200mm. This machine is equipped with rollers that enable the operator to spread the skins during the measurement process to obtain the maximum surface reading. The infrared photocells in the rollers are mounted only 20mm from each other. This accuracy is very high compared with other machines. Because of the infrared system, there are absolutely no negative light-influences from other light sources on the measurement. The transport speed of the machine can be regulated by an inverter. One of the latest developments of GER Electronnica is the double head stamping unit (zip version) to stamp the measured area on the flesh side of the leathers. Beside the measured size of the leather, a six digit code (for example for order number or date), which can be programmed through the processor of the machine, as well as the Ecco logo, can be stamped on the leathers. Arendonk's contribution Arendonk International Tannery Machines BV supplied the following machines: * Dose laboratory drums * Dose six drum matching table * Arendonk conditioning machine * Arendonk hand spray booths with drying table * Ge.Ma.Ta Starplus S, the first and only reverse machine capable of working soft leather in reverse. The Starplus S has a patented enhanced feeding mechanism for reverse coating, complete with a pneumatic safety device which immediately stops the machine in case of overload due to the rejection of any of the leather. There is also a spreader to be used in synchro and reverse in order to feed and spread soft leathers avoiding any folds and a special brush assembly to detach soft leathers that could stick to the outgoing conveyor belt. The doctor blade is fastened to a rigid support with pivot mounting to ensure more precise and smooth movement and everything is pneumatically driven to compensate for the wear and tear of the blade. * Poletto spraying and drying line with innovative spraying technology and the most up-to-date and best tested air cleaning system * Soldani polishing machine * Escomar vacuum dryer 'with trick system' - European patented system that can dry at low temperatures without extremely cold cooling water for condensation of the steam. Instead of 3°C Escomar can work with 25°C of cooling water * Flamar sammying and setting out with two felt sleeves * Flamar-Tomboni hydraulic press with special kiss plating system for ironing.

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