Guarriello was determined that Ultimate would, from the onset, pay premium wages and fringes in the area, and would thus have access to the cream of the labor market. " I wanted the word to get out that Ultimate is the best place to work", he says. Consequently, he personally interviewed more then 300 applicants for Ultimate's present work force.
How successful has the employee search been? Textile World, on two occasions, has been greeted at Ultimate's front door by the same sign that essentially reads, "Thanks for your interest, but we are not taking applications today." Management's drive to cement that reputation with employees is also apparent in the physical amenities, ranging from impressive locker and shower facilities adjoining the restrooms to a kitchen in the employee break area that most homeowners would envy.
The current operating schedule is four 12-hour shifts plus an 8-hour shift on Friday for the present volume of about 100,000 yards per week, all building from an average lot size of 1,500 yd.
Typical of his attitude toward his employees, Rocky says he would rather pay overtime to fewer employees, thus providing them with benefits of an expanding business, than to hire more employees and start up another shift.
A dyehouse is not where you go to cool off in the summertime, but Ultimate has gone a long way to optimize ambient conditions and plant habitability. Working with a local mechanical company, Ultimate installed a system that can bring up to 40,000 cfm of outside air. The system includes air louvers on the east side of the building for pulling in warmer air on cold winter mornings. All jigs are vented to relieve heat in the summertime, and the system is augmented by fans at night.
Ultimate's production flow is in an efficient "S" layout, starting with "BATCHING". This consists of laying out various styles in lots and entering roll tickets on a tracking computer. Like much of Ultimate's machinery, the unit is custom-made, incorporating several major features of various machines.
All batching is onto A-frames, a key ingredient to material handling. Plant engineering personnel are engaged in an ongoing project of building A-Frames. They've built 24 and will build another 30.
The next stop is the Kleinewefers Textile Machinery (KTM) Saturator, controlled by a color services (U.S. rep: Symtech) chemical feeding system. Its software program lists chemicals by number. Formulations are entered by code and can be accessed by fabric style, type and weight. The unit has two 200-gallon tanks, plus pre-rinse and post-wash cycles to prevent line contamination. After rinsing, a blast of air clears the line.
A-frames wind wet fabric from the saturator and move to a hydraulic spin station, where they slowly turn for two hours or so. This step eliminates the heavy rolls assuming a bottom-heavy condition and thus place unwanted stress on fabric constructions.
Next comes the KTM Supra Nova wash range, which features exit-to-entrance, full counterflow in each of four compartments. Ultimate management likes the machines modular concept, which permitted specifying exactly what was required for washing the fabric ranges the plant would be processing.
At the heart of Ultimate's operation is an installation of 6 dye jigs. All but one of the production units are custom designed to Guarriello's specifications. The fifth is a JM unit; the latest addition, a Mezerra sample jig (U.S. rep: Symtech) to alleviate the problem of smaller sample-size lots consuming production jig dyeing time. The Mezerra will dye lots of 300 yds or less.
Each jig carries instrumentation that optimizes the careful attention that Ultimate's operation requires to minimize re-dyes and deliver top quality. The plant is proud of its on-shade, first-time hit rate of better then 90%. "When we're off, one add usually gets it ".
Rocky believes in the computer for color, but he says it's vital that you consider it a tool. To realize its maximum benefit, you still have to know something about dyes, because it's going to provide you with choices, and you still have decisions to make, based on your knowledge as a dyer. In most cases, a new dye formula can go right from the computer into production.