Matthys Group in Waregem (Belgium) has specialized in designing and building innovative, custom-made machines for more than 60 years. In that time the company – which now employs 120 people – has built up a solid international reputation for quality and its solution-oriented approach. The upgraded M-WARP, a sectional warper containing Siemens components, is the most recent example of this.
It's no coincidence that Matthys Group is based in West Flanders, a region traditionally known for its flourishing textile industry. The machine manufacturer has grown steadily and has also managed to adapt itself to the changing market. Nowadays Matthys Group operates both within and beyond the textile sector.
Changing ideas into machines
“End customers are more and more demanding personalized, custom-made products”, says Herman De Roek, sales and operations manager at Motiv, the robotics and automation subsidiary of Matthys Group. “So nowadays our machines must be suitable for different kinds of products, and the requirements for flexibility, reliability and capacity are markedly higher. In close consultation with our customers, our machines are also adapted to their specific requirements. Hence our baseline: ‘Changing ideas into machines’.”
Together with project engineer Marc Vanhevel, Herman is one of the driving forces behind the M-WARP: an advanced sectional warper that has recently been the subject of a comprehensive upgrade.
What is a sectional warper?
This machine is part of the weaving preparation process, in which the yarn is prepared for the weaving machines. The term ‘sectional’ refers to winding the yarn in different sections, often in accordance with a specific pattern. The sections are then transferred to a weaving beam.
With a sectional warper the yarn is wound onto a drum using a warping table. This avoids that the yarn opens up during the warping process.
“The displacement of the warping table in respect of the drum must be very precise”, explains Marc. “At the same time the drum keeps revolving at around 1000 meters per minute. It seems simple, but the many fast-moving parts make a sectional warper an especially complex piece of technology.”
“Because sectional warpers allow small runs and offer possibilities for various yarns, they are very popular with many manufacturers”, says Marc. “That’s why in 2016 we decided to further improve the M-WARP: everything needed to become even more flexible, more reliable, safer, and preferably more ecological too. With the new M-WARP we wanted to meet our customers’ specific and changing needs even better.”
To achieve the improvements they had in mind, Marc and Herman approached various technology suppliers. Herman: “From the outset, we were looking for a partner who could offer us the complete picture, from power supply and motors through to safety and connectivity. Our preference is to work with as few suppliers as possible to create a sense of shared responsibility. Siemens had all the equipment in house, as well as the expertise we were looking for. Furthermore, they have an international network, so customers all over the world can talk to them quickly.”
With the new M-WARP we want to meet our customers’ specific and changing needs even better.Marc Vanhevel - Project engineer, Matthys Group
Connectivity and compatibility
“It’s important for us to be able to offer our customers a high level of service”, explains Herman. “That’s why we opted for a single diagnostic network that allows remote service: a nervous system for the machine. In that way the customer can be sure that his machine can be monitored anywhere in the world.”
When selecting the network controllers, also connectivity and compatibility on the customer side was considered. “More and more customers are asking us to integrate the possibility to add third-party applications, for example to analyze yarn. Siemens SIMATIC PC-based controllers do not only allow this, they also ensure that you can smoothly connect new technologies to the existing machine.”
The backup ensures that the system stays live, even if the power fails. The machine does stop, but afterwards you can continue again as normal where you left off.Herman De Roek - Sales and operations Manager, Matthys Group
Reliability and safety
To say that reliability is important when it comes to sectional warping, is an understatement. “When the motor blocks while beaming thousands of yarns, that batch is usually lost. For expensive yarns, this soon results in high costs”, says Marc.
As one way to prevent this, the team turned to Siemens SITOP power supplies with backup batteries. These power supplies are connected to the grid as well, but diagnostics for the machine are not dependent on the stability of the grid. Herman: “The backup ensures the system stays live, even if the power fails. The machine does stop, but afterwards you can continue again as normal. This prevents unstable behavior, which can result in critical faults and unsafe situations for the operators. To guarantee safety even further, we have also opted to use the highest possible safety standard for this machine.”
Energy recovery during braking
A less obvious question: how do you now combine flexibility and reliability with energy efficiency? “An unbelievable amount of energy is lost when the machines brake”, says Marc. “We wanted to find a way to recover that energy. Siemens SINAMICS frequency converters are ideal for this: the latest version of the M-WARP is able to recover the maximum amount of energy during braking.”
Thanks to the SINAMICS frequency converters we can recover the maximum amount of energy during braking.Marc Vanhevel - Project engineer, Matthys Group
At WARP speed around the world
Currently about 40 M-WARP machines are up and running, with customers from Mexico to Vietnam. And the success story shows no signs of coming to an end yet: at the moment we are working on five units simultaneously at Matthys Group, which required an expansion of the team.
“During this process it’s important for us to have a partner who can offer a total package, and who is also able to provide the necessary support at all times, both to us and to our customers. One of Matthys Group’s basic principles is that we think proactively together with our customers. And that’s also what we expect from our suppliers. With Siemens, we have found a good partner here”, concludes Herman.