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2013-11-25

Yarn quality and mill profitability: proven accuracy offers major benefits for spinners

Objective global trials confirm AFIS® as the leading cotton fiber testing system
Every good spinner understands the importance of testing cotton fiber quality. It's the basis for critical decisions which impact on yarn quality and, ultimately, the mill's ongoing profitability. The USTER® AFIS PRO 2 fiber testing instrument from Uster Technologies is the ideal process optimization tool, and its superior performance and accuracy is now proven in a series of independent global trials.

The production of quality cotton yarns is a complex task, so it's vital that test procedures, and instruments used, must be accurate and reliable to have any value in today's demanding textile marketplace. Accuracy, in this context, means conformity with global standard measurements, within accepted tolerances.

For spinners, fiber test results influence choices about which raw material to select and how to process it. Machine settings, production rates and waste levels are all dependent on key fiber parameters being measured and reported as accurately as possible.

Fiber testing instruments such as the latest USTER® AFIS PRO 2 are now viewed as essential tools for determining processing options, but users also need evidence that the data provided is not only accurate, but also can be matched, compared and benchmarked against measurements from others with the same instrument type.

ICA Bremen Round Trials provide independent checks on instrument accuracy
Objective, independent analysis of test performance is the best guarantee of effective results, and the world-renowned cotton authority ICA Bremen offers a regular program of methodical sampling to fulfill this need. The ICA Bremen Round Trials are conducted three times a year, involving as many as 200 textile laboratories worldwide. Each lab tests a sub-sample of material, the master-sample being tested by ICA, to compare test results from various instrument types. The labs return their results to ICA under a code number, to preserve anonymity. The statistics are evaluated and a report circulated to the participating labs, enabling them to match their test performance against the general pattern.

In this way, the Bremen Round Trials provide a regular check on the accuracy and reliability of instruments used by participants. In the case of USTER, the major instruments involved in the trials are the HVI® test system for cotton fiber classification and the AFIS® process optimization tool.

Comparisons in key parameters underline superiority of AFIS®
The Bremen Round Trials covering the latest USTER® AFIS PRO 2 instrument enable comparisons with the only major competing product in this category, the Premier Aqura. The trials include over 50 laboratories using AFIS® and about 10 using the Aqura. The AFIS® can test a wider range of parameters than its competitor, so results from the trials are best compared over the two key parameters common to both instruments.

Nep content is the first quality parameter covered in the trials. For AFIS®, the results show fairly stable variations in nep measurement, at an average of about 14%, while the figure for the Aqura is around 23%.


Variation neps of Bremen Round Trials (Source: ICA Bremen)

The second fiber parameter, short fiber content, again shows the AFIS® with a lower level of variation, at 15%, against about 22% for the competitor.


Variation short fibers of Bremen Round Trials (Source: ICA Bremen)

The Bremen Round Trials thus provide convincing independent evidence of the superior accuracy of the AFIS® versus its competitor, underlining its capability for optimum compatibility of results between different individual instruments. The eventual benefits, in terms of yarn quality delivered to the customer and improved profitability for the spinner, are a direct result of the process specifications and benchmarking made possible by the accuracy of AFIS® testing.

Real benefits for spinners and their customers
Quality in yarns depends on a multiplicity of factors, and spinners face the challenge of understanding and interpreting those factors to achieve the best quality-productivity balance. The independent tests carried out on a regular basis by ICA Bremen prove the value of AFIS® as the most reliable way of helping mills get the balance right, through the most accurate fiber testing technology available.

David McAlister, Product Manager Fiber Testing within Uster Technologies, highlights the AFIS® advantages: “With less variation and greater accuracy over the most critical fiber properties, AFIS® has proven superiority. Mills definitely need this accuracy, to help ensure their machine settings are correct, to target the most appropriate production rates and to minimize damage to their valuable fiber raw material.”

Along with the improvements in product quality, spinners will also benefit from a reduced level of waste – another vital economic aspect for any mill – and avoid the risk of off-quality product or returns from customers. 

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