An automated handloom that can weave sensitive fiber materials seven to eight times faster than the ordinary manual loom was launched at a forum on livelihood opportunities in fibercraft in a Quezon City hotel on November 28, 2013.
The forum was convened by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority of the Department of Agriculture. It was attended by members of cooperatives, farmers and other stakeholders like entrepreneurs who manufacture various products from available fibers like abaca, pineapple, silk and other indigenous materials.
The automated weaving machine, a first of its kind in the country, was developed by Engr. James Mendoza and Engr. Rey Florogo of JRD Systems Technology, Inc. Mendoza, the founder and president, is a management and industrial engineer while Florogo is a mechanical engineer. They have vast experience in semi-conductor, electronics, pneumatics and electrical technologies.
Dr. Remedios Abgona, OIC of the Fiber Utilization and Technology Division of FIDA, said the new machine could go a long way in commercializing the specialty fibers in the country. Woven abaca, pineapple, silk and other materials have a special market in the Philippines and abroad. Piña cloth, for instance, is the favored material for high-class barong for men and women. Abaca fiber is also woven into cloth and other fibercrafts, singly or in combination with other fibers.
An operator of the automated weaving machine can produce not only 7 to 8 times the output of the manual handloom because he or she can operate three units at the same time. That means 20 to 30 times more than the output of an operator of the ordinary handloom.
The automated handloom does not only produce plain cloth. It is also capable of embroidering the woven cloth. The design can be programmed in the computer.
The available model can weave cloth with a width of 36 inches. However, Mendoza says they can also come up with a model that will produce 48 or 65 inches wide, depending on the intended use of the cloth woven.
Mendoza and Florogo said they depended on their own finances to develop their prototype. They are very thankful, however, for the assistance given by the technical men of FIDA as well as the weavers in the provinces whom they interviewed for information they could use in developing their model.
Dr. Remedios Abgona said that FIDA’s assistance was mainly the provision of fibers which the inventors used in the experimental operations of their machine. Aside from that, the inventors also appreciate the technical inputs of the FIDA experts.
Engr. Mendoza said that the idea of producing the automated machine for local fibers was initiated by a friend who was working in Cambodia. He said that the friend was engaged in making sedge mats which they export to Taiwan and Japan.
The friend told him that they needed a faster means to produce the sedge mats because their foreign buyers needed about 7 container vans of sedge mats a month. With their manual means of weaving, however, they could only make one van-load a month.
While figuring out how to go about developing the automated weaving machine, Mendoza and his partner went to the FIDA for help in sourcing fibers that they could use in their trials with their invention.
Dr. Abgona, whose work at FIDA is promoting utilization of fiber materials, immediately saw the potential of the machine that JRD Systems Technology has developed. She convinced them that they come up first with a machine for the Philippines that would efficiently produce specialized cloth using fibers of abaca, pineapple, silk and other indigenous materials. In a matter of one year, they were able to come up with the machine.
The prototype has a width of 65 inches, length of 48 inches and height of 43 inches. It has wooden housing that houses mechanical, electrical, electronic and pneumatic components.
And how much does one cost? The company, according to Engr. Mendoza, is thinking selling the machine in sets of three’s or more so that the per unit cost could be less. They are thinking of P400,000 for a set of three units.
Target buyers are individual entrepreneurs as well as cooperatives whose members are producing abaca, pineapple fiber, silk and other fiber materials like maguey.