Founded in 2009, Portuguese sports equipment brand, MKA, leverages vast knowledge of the textile sector from 30 years of sports clothing production to produce personalized sportswear. As a pioneer in digital printing and sublimation of personalized sports equipment, MKA provides its customers with innovative, refined and exclusive made-to-order products that are entirely manufactured in Portugal through a print-to-cut process. With a strong commitment to quality, MKA’s printing process starts on paper and is then transferred into fabric to ensure that the most vivid colors are shown on their products. It’s then placed in a feeder and directly enters a cutting machine to ensure maximum precision and quality. MKA is committed to producing the highest quality sports equipment for various sports, such as football, handball, volleyball, futsal, basketball, mountain biking, and roller hockey, not only in Portugal but in several other European countries.
Before 2009, the company was producing jogging suits and only then, decided to enter the sportswear market to meet the lack of personalized sportswear in Portugal. MKA is looking to increase their production capacity in order to expand throughout Europe.
The company has already expanded to Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg and is continuing to rapidly grow. In fact, the company is growing so much that in order to fulfill all the orders, they are building a new plant near Porto to double their production capacity.
Transforming to lead the market
As a made-to-order company, MKA handles many diverse job requests which means they need to have flexibility to pivot between different jobs. Additionally, with incoming orders rapidly increasing, MKA needs to increase their productivity in order to reduce lead times without sacrificing precision or causing errors.
To compete as one of the industry leaders in this segment, MKA has to transform their manual process and automate their production processes.
Made-to-order made easy
In order to successfully transform their business, MKA’s CEO, António Azevedo, contacted Gerber Technology. With help from Gerber, MKA was able to implement the industry-leading pattern design software, AccuMark, the automated nesting solution, AccuNest, and a Gerber Z1 equipped with the highly accurate scanning system, ContourVision™.
As the conveyorized cutter feeds the printed fabric onto the cutting bed, the vision system scans the graphics printed on the fabric. The completed scan is then sent to the cutter’s control station, where the outline of the image is converted to a tool path and subsequently cut. The entire scan-to-cut process takes only minutes and completely eliminates the need for cut files. As a result, MKA is able to print a pattern design on the fabric first and then quickly and accurately cut them.
With manual processes, MKA’s process took three days from start to final product and they were only able to produce 50 to 60 pieces per day. With Gerber’s integrated digital solution, they started producing 80 to 100 pieces per day.
“Implementing this technology gave us a new perspective on our entire manufacturing process, as we had the chance to improve the efficiency of our integrated end-to-end process,” said António Azevedo, CEO, MKA Artigos Desportivos.
“As a consequence, the information flows easier, we have increased our productivity and cut accuracy while reducing waste. All together, we were able to improve our lead times by speeding up the entire process without any stops.”
Thanks to this fully digital integrated solution, MKA was able to increase their productivity by 30%, improved cut accuracy and reduce waste by 20% and also considerably improve the speed of lead times without compromising the quality.