Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Cleanliness is the first maintenance task for every machine

Our service department often is asked what the maintenance requirements are for any and all of the machinery we manufacture.  We appreciate machine owner's desire to keep their investment in peak condition for maximum production and long life.  For some of our products, the maintenance list is quite low as are the suggested stocking parts.  However, as the complication of the machine increases so does the upkeep. 

Many long standing customers will brag that they have kept their machines in proper working condition for 20+ years.  While this is a testament to the design and durability of these machines it is also a good determinate of the condition of the shop.  Well maintained, but could use some updating. So, as we do appreciate the compliments and understand the owners pride of ownership, there is benefit from keeping updated tools in your shop.

Returning to the question of maintenance requirements, as machines increase in complexity the list of daily, weekly, monthly and bi-annual tasks gets longer.  These tasks will be noted in the manual that is provided with the equipment.  If the machine is equipped with computers, then maintenance tasks are available within the software and reminders for mechanical maintenance can be preset.  The use of this software feature is very helpful in managing all of the essential tasks.  Some customers use this software to schedule additional tasks within the production floor for non-computer driven devices.

The number one maintenance task for any production floor is cleanliness.  

Textile decoration as an industry is inherently dirty.  The lint from fabric floats through everything and the production processes typically require liquids that are sticky.  So lint and fibers will get stuck to everything.  The lint will also adhere to any greased or lubricated surface of a machine.  And it will get pulled into fans, fan belts and chain drive systems.  So let's see chat about havoc that can create.

  • Electronics will overheat and malfunction due to clogged fans
  • Electronic connections will degrade due to lint interference 
  • Lubricated surfaces which allow for smooth machine movement will get clogged, affecting print quality and machine operation
  • Conveyor belts will wear faster and will transfer dirt and debris onto the final product
  • Registration and indexing systems will become inconsistent due to dirt and debris and this will affect registration
  • And machinery aside, what employee wants to work in a dirty shop.  And employees are a production floors most expensive and important asset.

How clean do we suggest?  Lint free is the key.

How do you  keep a garment decorating shop lint free.  You do it by making cleanliness a top priority on the floor.  Cleanliness makes for happier employees and fewer shut downs which will increase production and profits.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Let's start with the simplest items, fan filters.  These are designed for easy on/off.  And they are used to keep the electronic cabinet fans clear of debris so that they can move cool air across the electronic components.

Then we can move to the fans.  Whether in the control cabinets or used to move air in and out of a curing chamber, they are essential to the design and function of your equipment.

Now what does all this do to internal components?  Electronic components shut down when they are too hot.  Being covered with lint will cause this.  Relays will fail, switches will stop communicating and thermal cameras will shut down.  Production stops.

What about the chassis and the mechanical items.  They appear to be pushing through but are they?  Or are you setting them up to fail?  And there are no GOODs here.  Seriously, yuck.

And what employee wants to touch these?  And if they do, how do they touch fresh garments and ship them completely clean?  

Ok, we think we have made the issue clear.

So this week, at the end of a work day, pick something and clean it.  Start with wiping down the outside, both the controls and the chassis.  Then get a vacuum and clean out the internal controls.  The whole job should take 20 minutes.  Then another day, pick another machine.  Go through the whole shop and clean everything.

Next time we will chat about those preset maintenance items available in your software.

Friday, April 21, 2023

For Brown, it is all about customer service

When a person calls Brown Mfg they get a person.  We do not use automated attendants or voice mail on our main phone system.  When someone sends an email to what appears to be a generic email address such as sales@brownmfg.net or customerservice@brownmfg.net or linx@brownmfg.net those emails land directly in a person's inbox so they can be addressed quickly and directly.  These corporate choices are based on the elemental belief that direct person-to-person interaction provides the highest quality service to our customer.  Call us old fashioned, but we get thank you comments from our customers on a daily basis.

Another customer service item that we offer is custom paint as an option for new machinery purchases.  This generates excitement for people who have their machinery as part of their customer's experience.  These businesses sometimes have a production shop as a showroom and they have a corporate color scheme to match.  Recent colors have included combat green for a customer who services military families, hot pink for an all women's shop, and red white and blue because,  well, just because.  

One added benefit item we offer is creative installation solutions.  We cater to community printers. These are typically businesses with very limited space and often owner/operators of the machinery they buy.  Their production spaces are often not commercial, do not have loading docks and many times are multi storied.  One ElectraPrint leaving this week is no exception.  This installation involves a set of stairs into a lower level with 36" doorways.  

To accomplish this task, we take the machine apart into manageable pieces.  The base, the print hub and the platen hub are all packed separately.  The heads, platen arms and accessories are on other pallets.  

Our installer has tools available to assist with moving these pieces into tough spaces and to reassemble these pieces in the final location.  Once assembled, the installer will continue with the standard installation process and training of the customer.  

Yes, this is a fun one.  But not unique.  We have many stories of fun installs.

So, if you are thinking that it is time for your shop to step up into an automatic press but you are concerned about how it will fit into your space, contact us.  Brown has solutions.  We also have over 50 years of experience at these creative installations.  We are here to assist you, person-to-person, in making your business more productive and more profitable.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Brown is our name, but we are open to other options

 An army of machinery. And some are painted Military Green.

We have done some fun custom colors in the past.  Bright pink, red, purple and blue have all popped into our assembly line as customer request.  This is our first military green.  

The whole shop for this customer will be color themed.  

If this is a feature that interests you, please contact us for information on how we can custom paint your machinery to make your production part of your showroom experience.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

2022 brings big changes for Brown

 Go big or go home.

As the old saying goes, Brown chose to go BIG this year.  We have expanded our space, our people and our product line.  We also added a few colors to the Brown machine pallet for a little fun.  With expansion comes change and a few bumps in the road.  But our staff was ready for a few challenges to get us through.

BrownDigital has a developing partnership with Brother International.  This partnership has fostered new product for the Print-on-Demand world that Brother specializes in.  The POD sales strategy is immediate delivery of one off printed items.  Garments have a large segment of that market and they require a few additional processes compared to other one-off pieces.  This rapidly expanding market requires faster machinery to keep up with the volume and Brown delivered with the DigitalLine, an exclusive product for Brother.


The size of this system required additional assembly space.  So, Brown added a Crown.  Well an address on Crown anyway.  The added space has allowed all of our production departments to stretch their legs a bit.  As an example, where the space on Stafford allowed for 2 Electraprint machines to be assembled at the same time, this new space allows for 5.  As well as multiple manual machines and curing systems.

Your staff appreciates the space and is looking forward to upping the volume to fill the new building.

The fun of the Electraprint and Brown lines has been the "choose your color" option that we have introduced.  We have assembled a variety of colors in 2022.  Bright red, hot pink, military green have been shipped as well as the tried and true chocolate brown.  Do you have a color scheme in your facility?  Need us to match it?  We are on it. 

One other expansion that is a direct result of the POD market is the addition of new software modules available for the Linx Production Software .  In addition to the already stellar workflow application, new modules for inventory management, purchasing and QuickBoook integration have been developed to fill the every changing needs of our POD customer.  Contact us for additional information on how Linx can improve the work flow and organization within your production floor.

The new space and the new offerings have made our lives a little stressful (as moving often does) but the impact of the change and the production results just keep showing us that this was a well needed expansion and that we have more room to grow.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Innovation Center at Brother International


It has been a long time coming and the Brown staff is excited to see that their hard work has paid off.  Brother International opened a new training facility at their Bartlett, TN location and the BrownDigital product line took center stage.  

This new product line has been under wraps for 2 years.  A single operator loads a garment and these garments are pretreated and digitally printed and returned to the same operator.  One guy does it all.  Amazing.

Thank you to Brother International for the opportunity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Getting creative during the supply chain crunch

For anyone who is chasing garments of every type and style, we understand your pain.  The supply chain issue is applicable to everything from ramen noodles in the grocery store to automobiles.  It is not just the finished products, but the raw materials and the sub-assembly items.

So what to do?

Get creative, that's what.  We have had conversations with customers who tell us that they have called 7 vendors to fill one order.  Or that they have converted brands to fill the order and told the customer that the original brand was unavailable.  Or they have had to start from scratch with the sale to find items that would fit both the customer and the supply chain issues.

Well folks, it isn't just shirts.  Anyone who needs a new car will know of the shortage of electronics that has stopped car production.  Or chat with someone in the foam industry and they are out of the base chemical to produce styrene box inserts.  Or try to find copper wire to install new power drops into a facility.  The list is long and diverse.

In our world, we struggle with it all.  Electronics to wire to small basic switches.  The largest eye opener is DC motors.  The screen printing industry, as a US whole, uses the same couple of motors on all conveyor ovens.  It has been this way for over 30 years, so all of the ovens in the field also use these motors.  Guess what.  They are not available.  So we have had to get creative.  We have sent customers to motor repair shops.  We have offered used motors at a drastic discount.  We have upsized motors and sent additional mounting brackets to make them fit.  We have found alternates that need new brackets but will work.  Anything to keep our customer's production running.

Just like you, we are going to great lengths to keep our customer's machines running.

Changes coming?

China, who is is one of the US largest trading partners, continues to shut down full sectors of their country.  While this continues the world will see additional shortages depending of what items are produced in those sectors.  

We want our customers to be aware that supply chain issues run deep but that the Brown team is working diligently to keep your shop operating at the top level. 


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

POD production? It's where the world is.

Our roller coaster world has made traditional printing businesses  take another look on how they generate orders.  When schools and restaurants were closed, many of our community printers had to consider other avenues for revenue generation.  The world of online shopping became essential for all decorators, whether one off orders or bulk.  These orders can be challenging to pull into standard community printing production management.  

The old school paper production tickets are messy and confusing for small orders.  Barcode systems that can function for both small and bulk orders are cleaner and more efficient than sheets of paper floating around a production floor.  Scanners at each workstation can pull up all order details within seconds and connect directly with shipping software.  With Linx Production software, the barcode will also drive the printers, laser engravers and sublimation systems.  

Wait, what?  It can connect my online to my production machine and back to my shipping software?

Yes, Linx Production software can do all that and with additional modules it can connect to QuickBooks® and manage inventory and purchasing and print bulk orders.  That is a lot of features that every shop needs in the world of POD.  

While much of the US is opened back up schools, businesses and events, the online store is now a required element to a business.  Many businesses who used to allow sales people in their doors are now preferring to look online and connect through teleconference platforms.  These options allow higher time flexibility for the buyer and keeps additional people out of their workspace.  With the latest variant wave, this is a required element.

So how does Linx Production software do all that?

Beginning at a web store, information for an order is pulled into Linx and a barcode is assigned. This information includes garment data as well as art and print locations. The PNG artwork is ripped for the DTG as well as scaled for garment size and print location. For other print mediums, the art is converted to match the requirements of the output device.  The operator loads the item, scans the code and the output device has all the information needed for production. Print specifications are preset by the user as well as pretreat and cure requirements.

Orders can be sorted by all major factors. This aids in purchasing, product picking, pretreat scheduling and customer management. At shipping, a binning system allows for gathering of multiple items of an order with notifications when an order is complete. In the QC department, if a product does not pass inspection, the barcode returns to th production schedule for a reprint.

A QuickBook plug in will also connect your orders directly to your billing department. Inventory modules are available for small and large users.  Custom API connections are available to give full flexibility to your production needs.

How do you  get started?

Lins Production Software
Call BrownDigital today for information on pricing and how this system can be used in  your shop.  It is quick to install, simple to learn and will speed up order processing for small or bulk orders.