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Improved usage of coated leather by the mapping of sub-surface faults

Objective



The aim of this project is to develop a prototype system capable of detecting and mapping the flaws in leathers before the finish coat is applied. This will enable users of coated leathers to avoid hidden non usable areas resulting in fewer rejected shoes being made and an improvement in the utilisation of the leather. Coated leathers, which account for over 30% of all leathers used in the footwear industry, have had their grain surface buffed off to remove surface blemishes and defects before final surface coating. The finished material presents a uniform and almost unmarked surface which suits the footwear manufacturer who needs shoe components which are blemish free if the shoe is to meet the quality standards demanded by the customer. Unfortunately, faults which lie deep in the leather are not removed by the buffing process and these can cause significant problems when the shoe upper is stretched over the last. During this process the vamp or toe portion of the shoe is subjected to relatively high strains and this causes the deep hidden flaws to be brought to the surface and the shoe is rejected at final inspection. This is a serious problem for footwear manufacturers throughout the European Community resulting in significant losses. Rejects occur at two stages within the shoe production process - following cutting and at final inspection. Cut pieces are inspected manually to try to detect hidden flaws by pulling and stretching them under a strong light and, typically, 5% of all cut parts are rejected in this way. By examining all cut parts the reject rate of the finished shoes is around 1% of production. The total cost of wasted leather combined with the reduced value of rejected shoes represents a loss of well over 115k ECU per annum for a typical SME shoe manufacturer. The goal of this project is to provide a fault mapping system sited in the tannery. The information generated by the system will be passed together with the leather to the cutter in the shoe factory who will be able to avoid cutting critical shoe parts from those fault areas identified. This will enable shoe manufacturers to reduce waste and lower reject rates of footwear manufactured from coated leathers. In addition the project will provide improvements in quality, cutting process efficiency and the morale of the workforce.

Funding Scheme

CRS - Cooperative research contracts

Coordinator

Sanders & Sanders Ltd.
Address
Spencer Road
NN10 9AE Rushden
United Kingdom

Participants (9)

ERA TECHNOLOGY LTD
United Kingdom
Address
Cleeve Road
KT22 7SA Leatherhead, Surrey
Eleftherios Economou
Greece
Address
25,Vionos
104 43 Athens
Ger Elettronica Srl
Italy
Address
Via Dell'artigianto 26
36075 Montecchio Maggiore
Germanakos SA
Greece
Address
5,Leoforos Irinis 5
18233 Aghia Anna Rentis
Groocock & Co. Ltd.
United Kingdom
Address
Gordon Street
Nn14 2Ee Rothwell
HOLMES HALLS TANNERS LTD.
United Kingdom
Address
Sculcoates Tannery, Hull
HU5 1RL Hull
Hellenic Leather Centre SA
Greece
Address
7A,thisseos Street
17676 Athens
Loake Brothers Ltd.
United Kingdom
Address
Wood Steet
NN16 9SN Kettering
Satra Footwear Technology Centre Ltd.
United Kingdom
Address
Footwear Technology Centre Rockingham Road
NN16 9JH Kettering