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June 2, 2015
At the Singer plant in Brazil, 180 million sewing needles are produced per year. Atlas Copco plays a key role in the manufacturing process.
For the past century and a half, Singer has been known around the world for its sewing machines. The U.S.-based company has been operating in Brazil since 1858, when it became the first multinational to set up shop in the South American country.
Singer’s factory in the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba is strategically important for the company, as it produces some 180 million needles a year that are exported to Singer plants in several other countries, including one in Shanghai, China.
In the manufacturing process, carbon steel needles pass through an oven heated to 800 degrees Celsius (1 470 Fahrenheit). The heat treatment, called tempering, strengthens the steel. Oxygen is removed from the oven and replaced with nitrogen to produce an inert atmosphere.
“If even a small amount of oxygen gets in touch with carbon steel in a such a high temperature, corrosion affects the material immediately,” says Reginaldo Fernandes, a Production Supervisor at the Singer plant.
In the past, the Singer factory in Indaiatuba had to buy liquid nitrogen, transport it to the plant and store it on site. But the company recently introduced new technology that allows the plant to produce its own nitrogen.
The factory had been using Atlas Copco compressed air systems for more than 25 years, so naturally it turned to the same supplier when it was looking for nitrogen generators. Besides having a reputation for reliability over time, Atlas Copco was also able to guarantee a purity greater than 99.99% for the gas. The purity helped to reduce the amount of product that had to be discarded, Fernandes says.
Next, Singer plans to install Atlas Copco air compressors with variable speed drives throughout the factory to reduce its consumption of electricity by as much as 35%.
“Beyond the competitiveness and productivity gains that these solutions provide, we are also very pleased to be able to increase sustainability, make better use of natural resources and reduce our production of greenhouse gases,” Fernandes says.