An expert perspective on creating a bright future for the dyeing industry
With over forty years’ experience in the dyeing business, Harald Gruenewald has built up a level of experience and expertise that is second to none. We interviewed the Business Development Manager of Classical Textiles at Tanatex, to delve into the insights he can share about driving time, cost and environmental efficiencies in the dyeing industry, a highly competitive sector.
What are the greatest changes you have seen in your career and what are the greatest challenges facing the dyeing industry?
I have seen phenomenal evolution during the course of my career. Dyeing machines have developed dramatically over that time and the latest ultra-short liquor ratio dyeing machines have led to really impressive savings of valuable resources like water, energy and process time as well as delivering significant improvements in the exhaust process. Dyestuffs and auxiliaries have also undergone radical changes which have resulted in greatly improved dyeing techniques.
But simply evolving isn’t enough. Growing awareness of the impact of the textile industry on climate change has fueled demand for an environmental revolution. All businesses must now factor this into their growth plans. For dyehouses, this pressure is coupled with heightened demands for speed from a rapidly expanding global population. However, I believe these new challenges can be met. Dyehouses have great potential for further improvements. In the next five to ten years, I expect them to speed up polyester dyeing times still further and become more resource efficient while improving margins. It all boils down to mindset and precision.
How important would you say innovation was for the future of dyehouses?
In my experience, dyehouse managers that are aware of the need to innovate are the ones that thrive. If they stick to “business as usual”, in the belief that they’ll survive the current revolutions, their competitors will soon prove them wrong. But, I should add that, making changes doesn’t have to be complex. For example, shortening the polyester dyeing process is relatively simple if you know what you’re doing.
And where does the lab fit into this brave new world of innovation?
Insight-led innovation is essential. The world’s leading dyehouse managers spend considerable amounts of time in the laboratory, deepening their knowledge and understanding. The lab should be your go-to place if you want to optimize your dyeing processes. Close co-operation between laboratory and production teams will help determine exactly the right recipe, matching precisely the right dyestuffs and auxiliaries to accelerate your dyeing processes.
Optimal performance depends on precise understanding of your situation, specifically the machines, resources and polyester blends you are working with. Lab technicians will help you find your sweet spot and deliver the balance between speed and quality that will achieve perfectly dyed polyester textiles faster, using less resources. Never be afraid to invest in lab analyses. Neglecting them will cost you dearly in water, dyestuff and time.
To what extent can science help dyehouses eliminate inefficiencies.
Achieving “Right-First-Time” processing depends on precise understanding of the material to be dyed, on the selected dyestuffs and auxiliaries, on the type of dyeing machine and other resources. Optimizing production processes means ensuring that materials spend as short a time in the dyeing machine as possible, reducing idle times to a minimum. Comprehensive preparation work collaborating with lab technicians is essential to achieve this. Not only can the lab tell you precisely how much time is required to heat up the machines without harming the materials, they can also reveal those minutes when nothing is actually happening. Eliminate this wasted time and you’re a long way towards creating a more efficient dyeing process.
Are there some specific examples of efficiencies you could share?
Polyester Cellulosic blends present particular problems to dyehouses. Blends with cotton or viscose can lead to extreme process times. These have been as long as twelve hours in the past. However, we have developed the PERFECT Dyeing concept which has greatly reduced idle times and improved productivity. We have reduced the time required after polyester dyeing using Tanede LR. This reduces the rinsing required and removes the need for neutralization saving water, time and energy. Following the dyeing of the cellulosic element, our compact after-treatment, Tanapal PURA, reduces the number of washes required. In addition, it lowers soaping temperatures from 98°C to 85°C. This unique approach can save you around 2 hours of valuable process time. Not to mention significant qualities of water and energy.
Do you think the environmental pressures on the textile industry are going to have an impact on dyehouse margins?
I think many businesses assume that doing what is environmentally right will have a negative impact. But I believe that embracing environmental concerns will deliver real economic advantages. Dyehouses that invest in lab-based knowledge to drive resource efficiency and seek out alternative auxiliaries that don’t harm the environment will, ultimately, outperform their competitors. They will save both the planet and their reputations, and develop healthier, longer-lasting relationships by addressing their customers deepest concerns.
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