This week we are continuing our series on the biggest industries WARE serves. Our previous installments explored the forestry and paper industry and the distillery industry. Today we wanted give you a look into the textile industry.
The textile industry, and subsequently its use of steam and boilers, has evolved over the past two centuries. Textile production pertains to the creation of fabrics for household and industrial applications such as apparel, crafting, military, and institutional uses.
History of the Textile Industry
For a brief history of the American textile industry, textile mills were an integral part of the Industrial Revolution. Samuel Slater's power loom led to the birth of the very first American factory right after George Washington became President. By the time the Civil War began, there were over 1,200 cotton factories and 1,500 wool factories across America. Pennsylvania and Connecticut housed major textile mills that were fueled by gigantic furnaces. Because the furnaces were prone to overheating, boilers fueled by oil and generating steam eventually eclipsed the inefficient and potentially unsafe furnaces in textile plants.
Energy consumption varies in the different areas of textile production such as spinning, fiber production and refinement, weaving, dyeing, and finishing. However, a great deal of energy tends to be used in the entire production process particularly when it comes to dyeing fabric.
The Textile Industry Today
In spite of the large amounts of energy used to make textiles, there isn't a lot of steam usage in textile production compared to the other energy sources utilized like electricity and gas. Boilers must be efficient in textile plants because while the amount of steam isn't that vast, it must be transported over long distances and at many points throughout the plant. High pressure and small diameter pipes employed with water-tube high-performance boilers with pressure-reducing valves (and expansion joints in areas prone to thermal expansion) are the most efficient option for textile plants so that steam leaks aren't as likely.
Live steam is used the most in the dyeing process. The amount of steam being used heavily fluctuates depending on how much fabric is being dyed and the depth of pigment. While water-tube and once-through boilers frequently used in textile production are designed to retain little water and scale buildup, a steam accumulator is recommended in dye areas to prevent boiler malfunctions since they can't react to sudden load changes that can occur during production.
The Textile Industry by Region
Though the majority of textile production was moved off-shored to southern and eastern Asia, textile plants have been reemerging in the Deep South in recent years. Georgia, Louisiana, and the Carolinas currently house most of the newer textile plants but there is also an emerging presence of the industry in Tennessee, Kentucky and as far north as Virginia. Cotton is the main product being processed into yarn and fabric for household and industrial use like diapers, furniture cleaning cloths, towels, and t-shirts.
Cotton was once a staple of the Deep South's manufacturing sector, and is emerging again since Asian imports have increased in price due to higher tariffs, rising wages, and transportation costs which have made it cheaper to buy cotton made in the U.S. today. Automation is more prevalent in today's textile mills than yesteryear's, but they still rely on quality boilers to get the job done.
WARE has experience serving companies in textile industry. Contact us to learn how we can serve your company in the textile industry, and stay tuned for further installments covering the different industries that we serve!
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