Recent generations of manufacturers have begun to move toward lean manufacturing methods in an effort to reduce waste and increase productivity. This shift in production techniques, in addition to the current economic downturn, led Gribetz International to begin work on a high-volume quilting machine that would be considered the world's fastest quilter – the V16. Typical quilting machines consisted of 270 needle settings and 90 spools of thread to create a wide variety of mattress-top designs; however, this meant a lot of downtime when switching products or patterns.

Gribetz International's design challenge was to increase throughput and efficiency. Though current machines are capable of producing many patterns, the majority of manufactures were only running a handful. The new machine would have to

increase productivity by raising the machine's speed while lessening its downtime.

We started out by identifying the limitations in the marketplace and looked at what kind of design we currently had, what technology we could bring into the design, and what we needed to do to change the design, said Tony Garrett, Vice President, Leggett & Platt, President GSG/Machinery.

The engineers at Gribetz International then began discussing concepts and addressing potential pitfalls. The V16 required mechanisms that could move at higher speeds and the computing power to back up those speeds. Electrical, software, and mechanical engineers were brought on-board, both from Gribetz International and the IDEA Center, to collaborate and ensure the new machine would be able to handle high speeds and constant use.

Conceptual sketches and models were created, with ideas ranked on how they would address the issues, and development of the new quilter began.

In order to operate on a near-constant basis and eliminate waste, an unheard-of 250 components were removed from the typical quilter designs. The needle settings were reduced to 16 and the thread paths cut from 8 feet down to 19 inches. This meant the design would run smoother and longer, with simplified maintenance set-up. Dramatically improved stitching elements were incorporated to enable the machine to sew at twice the speed of ordinary machines, including Posi Trim, which would eliminate thread tails.

There are things we've done with this machine that have never been done before with a quilter, said Terry Myers, Director of Engineering for Gribetz International. The V16 quilter was launched in 2011 with announcements at tradeshows and through e-mails and advertisements. The internationally sold quilter has been extremely well received, with run-time increasing from 33% to 66%, resulting in 40% increase in panels produced by manufacturers using the V16.

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