Carpet Industry Capability Map
Nature of the Industry
Carpet manufacturing is the process of inserting pile yarns into a previously manufactured base fabric to form the ‘use-surface’ and then applying one or more layers (‘substrate’) , which provides dimensional stability and/or acts as
a cushion. Carpet is manufactured from natural (mainly wool) and man-made (synthetic) fibre, using a cut or loop pile or combinations of cut and loop and is available either in broadloom (3.66 m and 4 m widths) or modular (tile) form.
The Australian carpet manufacturing industry comprises one large scale producer, six tier 2 mills and some smaller firms. The industry has an annual turnover of approximately $1.6 billion (at retail prices), employs over 3000 people in manufacturing and an additional 20 000 in the retail and distribution sector. In 2010, carpet manufacturers produced 41 million square metres of carpet, representing 63% of total market supplies.
Godfrey Hirst Australia (GHA) is the largest carpet manufacturer in the Southern Hemisphere. Other major manufacturers are Beaulieu of Australia, InterfaceFLOR, Victoria Carpets, Quest Carpets, Tuftmaster and Ontera Modular Carpets, a complete list is at page 7.
Most carpet is tufted and manufactured for the domestic market. Exports have fallen over recent years, due in part to the strength of the Australian dollar, and now account for 10% of total carpet production. Carpet manufacturing is spread across Australia, with plants in every state except Tasmania. The majority of the industry operates in Victoria. Industry Capabilities
Carpets manufactured in Australia use the tufted production method as it is the most cost effective. Woven carpet is more labour intensive and currently is not produced in Australia with the last woven manufacturer, Tascot Templeton, exiting the market in 2010. The flow chart on page 3 shows the carpet manufacturing process in Australia and lists processes typically involved. As the vast majority of carpet manufactured in Australia is tufted, the map contains only elements that relate to this process.
The major intermediate manufactured goods for carpet manufacturing are carpet yarn, primary and secondary backing, synthetic latex (glue) and topical ‘stain resist’ treatments. Primary backing is mostly woven polypropylene.
Secondary backing for broadloom carpet may be polypropylene, jute or polyester. For carpet tiles the most commonly used secondary backing materials are PVC and bitumen. Primary and secondary backing fabrics are produced overseas. Synthetic and woollen yarn is produced both domestically and imported.
Larger mills (Tier 1 and 2 manufacturers) perform all the manufacturing stages, with the possible exception of yarn production. Small manufacturers buy in carpet yarn and may outsource back coating and shearing (‘commission
Where manufacturers have chosen not to conduct a process in house, such as yarn production, they have developed access to robust global supply chains of materials.
Local Capability and Production Gaps
Australian manufacturers can produce a complete range of tufted carpets to meet any specifications of pattern, colour and usage requirement. Tufting is a highly customisable process and different yarn treatments allow for a large range of finished products.
Australia possesses all the manufacturing capability to produce the finished product, but most manufacturers do not produce yarn in-house. Yarn can be synthetic (nylon, polyester, polypropylene, acrylic), woollen or a blend of both (80%/20% wool/nylon is the most common mix). Synthetic yarn is manufactured by extrusion, a process where chips of the polymer are melted down and drawn into fibres. Australia has only one of these facilities for manufacturing carpet yarn which is Fibremakers owned by Godfrey Hirst Australia. Wool carpet yarn is produced in Australia using both the woollen and semi-worsted processing systems by Godfrey Hirst Australia, Victoria Carpets and Tuftmaster. While it is not essential to produce yarn within Australian carpet manufacturing operations as there is ample global supply at competitive prices, one advantage of producing yarn and other inputs in house is the greater capacity for innovation. Inputs can be customised more readily and there are shorter lead times on new specifications and greater opportunities for collaboration between production teams.
Australian manufacturers no longer produce any woven carpets, with the last manufacturer, Tascot Templeton, ceasing manufacturing operations in 2010. Woven carpets are more labour intensive and costlier than tufted carpets so are seen as less viable for production in Australia and most other developed countries.
In addition to finished product for sale, another important aspect of carpet production is the manufacture of samples for distribution to retail outlets and sales staff. The process usually involves labour intensive operations of sewing edging around cut carpet and affixing other trimmings and advertising material.
Supply of yarn and other raw materials is essential to the manufacture of carpet. There are no processes in the tufting and finishing stages that are only performed by a small number of firms. The nature of the product dictates that most manufacturing is vertically integrated from tufting onwards so all firms have capabilities required in house. Some recent events have also shown how robust the manufacturing of carpet in Australia is. Two manufacturers have had plant disruptions due to fire and natural disaster but have been able to continue production by sourcing inputs from alternative suppliers.
Given the number of suppliers available for manufacturing inputs, well developed international and domestic supply chains and the size of the industry - both in the number of manufacturers and volume produced, there do not seem to be any critical or vulnerable areas in production. However, as noted above, with the liquidation of Tascot Templeton in 2010 woven carpets are no longer commercially manufactured in Australia.
*Carpet Production – Fibre to Finished Product
Wool Acrylic Polyamide Polypropylene Polyester Fibre Fibre Fibre Filament Fibre Filament Fibre Filament Sheep Petrochemicals
Greasy Wool Extrusion Extrusion
Scouring Fibre Fibre Filament
White White Dope Dyed White White Solution Dyed
Yarn Formation via Semi-Worsted and Woollen Yarn Processing Systems
Wool & Wool/Synthetic Blends Synthetic & Synthetic Blends
Semi-Worsted System Woollen System Colouration of Fibre &
Other Fibre Treatments Air Entangling
Carding Carding and Condensing
Spinning Twisting, Hanking/ Winding
Twisting, Hanking/ Winding
Yarn Colouration, Yarn Setting & Other Yarn Treatments
(Hank or Cone Yarn Rewinding
Colouration of Carpet
Backcoating Shearing/ Cropping Carpet Tiles
Finishing, Inspection/ Repair, Cut Length Backing/ Vulcanising
Warehouse/ Distribution Cutting, Inspection, Packing
Contract Markets Residential Markets
* Provided by the Carpet Institute of Australia Limited 23-08-2010
Synthetic or ‘man-made’ fibres are popular choices for carpet because of their good properties and lower price compared to wool. There is less processing required in synthetic yarn production which results in the lower cost. Synthetic fibres are mainly made from petroleum products so their price varies with the price of oil. Acrylic
Acrylic represents a small segment of the carpet market. The fibre is similar is appearance and feel to wool, but is less expensive, more resistant to mould and mildew and it is easily dyed bright colours. The fibre is not resilient to high traffic areas though which results in it being a poor choice for most situations.
Nylon is the most popular synthetic fibre for carpet production in Australia. Nylon is the most common material for construction of carpets. Both nylon 6 and nylon 6-6 are used. Nylon has excellent resilience and wear characteristics. It maintains is shape well and when treated can have excellent stain resistance. Nylon can be dyed topically or dyed in a molten state (solution dying). In carpets Nylon tends to stain easily because it possesses dye sites on the fibre. These dye sites need to be filled in order to give Nylon any type of stain resistance.
Polypropylene (Olefin )
Polypropylene (Olefin) is used to produce carpet yarns because it is inexpensive. The fibre is not as resilient as wool or nylon so larger looped styles tend to mat down. Smaller looped styles wear quite well and are suitable to heavy use areas. Polypropylene can be difficult to dye.
Polyester is one of the least expensive fibres to manufacture. Polyester is very easy to dye bright colours but the fibre is not resilient and doesn’t hold its shape crushed resulting in poor wear characteristics in high pile heights.
Fibre or Filament
Carpet yarns can either be produced as staple fibre or continuous filaments. Staple fibre yarns are made from fibres that are produced in short lengths and then spun and twisted together to form long threads of yarn. Bulk Continuous Filament yarns are actually long filaments of fibre that are plied together to form continuous bundles of fibre. Wool is a staple yarn but synthetic yarns can be produced as BCF or staple. BCF carpet does not shed the small fibres as staple yarns do but staple yarns offer more styling options.
Extrusion is the process of making fibres by forcing a polymer through small holes. Australia has only 1 extrusion facility operated by Godfrey Hirst which makes Nylon 6 white and coloured fibre, polypropylene fibre and triexta
The colour pigment is mixed in when the polymer it is still in its liquid state. As there are no ‘dye sites’ on the fibre, the resulting carpet is more resistant to stains and more resilient in general. Solution dyed fibre has superior colour fastness and colour consistency and won’t fade as readily.
Yarn is produced by combining two or more BCF (filament) fibres together. Fibres are bound together using air jets. The process is used to obtain special effects in the yarn and is sometimes referred to as heathermix. Semi-worsted or Woollen system
Woollen spun yarn is a bulkier yarn than yarn produced by the semi worsted system. It is commonly used to produce berber, tweed and heather carpet styles as well as axminster woven carpets. Semi worsted yarn is commonly used in loop pile and twist pile carpet constructions. Semi-worsted yarn has gone through more processing that woollen spun – blend, card, draw and spin - and has longer average length of fibre in the yarn. This leaves it thinner and smoother than woollen spun yarn and is used in very dense carpets. Semi-worsted yarn is generally more expensive because the longer wool fibre is dearer than the shorter fibre used to produce woollen spun yarn. Godfrey Hirst
Australia produces wool yarn using the woollen system, with a plant located in Benalla, Victoria.
Victoria Carpet Company operates two plants that produce both woollen and semi-worsted yarns located in Victoria at Castlemaine and Bendigo.
Tuftmaster have their own plant to produce semi-worsted yarn at Preston, Victoria.
Blending, Carding, Drawing, Spinning, Twisting, Hanking and Winding
These are the processes involved in turning fibre into yarn. Different fibres are blended and aligned to form a yarn. The yarn is then wound onto cones for storage.
Yarn Colouration, Yarn Setting & Other Yarn Treatments
These steps involve further processing of wound yarn after the spinning process. Yarns can be space-dyed (spots or long streaks), texturised, heat-set and many other treatments to produce the desired qualities of the finished carpet. Yarn Rewinding
Rewinding is the process of winding finished yarn from smaller cones onto larger bales holding multiple threads to be used in tufting machines.
Tufting is used to manufacture carpet due to the lower cost and efficiency of production. The process involves threading yarn through a primary backing material and forming the pile of the carpet in loops. These loops can then be cut to form cut piles if desired.
Tufting machines are versatile, with different pile heights and the ability to produce cut and loop piles in the same carpet, producing a wide range of carpet styles.
All carpet manufacturers use tufting in Australia. The alternative method of weaving carpets is more labour intensive and the last plant in Australia ceased operation in 2010.
Colouration of Carpet
White carpet can be dyed or printed if desired. Post-tufting colouration is advantageous as it allows manufacturers to keep lower stock levels and be quickly able to meet customer demands for new orders of coloured carpet. Companies that have wet carpet processing operations (‘wet mills)are Godfrey Hirst / Feltex, Tuftmaster and
Victoria Carpet Company.
Godfrey Hirst / Feltex, and Ontera Modular Carpet have facilities similar to a large ink jet printer, to continuously
Carpet tiles generally have a tufted or bonded wear surface and an engineered d backing to ensure dimensional stability. . Carpet tiles are also called modular carpet and are usually used for commercial and contract markets. Manufacturers producing carpet tiles in Australia are Godfrey Hirst / Feltex, Ontera Modular Carpet and
Backing / Vulcanising
Carpet tiles have an impervious backing, generally made from PVC or bitumen that is applied at this step. Cutting, Inspecting, Packing
Carpet tiles are cut and packed into boxes for distribution. Tiles are marked on the reverse side to assist in installation.
Finishing, Inspection/ Repair, Cut Length
Carpet is inspected for imperfections and can be hand repaired by skilled workers. Required lengths are cut from rolls for customer orders.
Carpet for commercial and contract markets has different requirements than residential use. Carpet can be installed as tiles to allow for easy replacement in heavily trafficked areas and carpets for large contracts like hotels can be custom designed and can be made from premium materials.
This market is for decorating homes and the usual product is 3.66 or 4.0m broadloom carpet in a range of fibres. Wool and wool blends are typically used by the upper end of the market.
Godfrey Hirst Australia / Feltex
Produce their own wool and synthetic carpet yarns.
The company has two plants for producing synthetic yarn. Fibremakers in Bayswater, Victoria, produces synthetic fibres including Nylon 6 white and colour fibre, polypropylene fibre and triexta fibre made from Sorona? renewably sourced polymer for use in its carpets. The fibres are extruded, twisted and air-entangled. The Riverside Textiles
plant in Geelong, Victoria, twists and heat sets yarns and also has a ‘space-dying’ facility to colour nylon yarns.
The company also operates a spinning mill for woollen yarns at Benalla, Victoria. Benalla Spinners blend, spin and
woollen system. The plant produces both single and multi ply yarns. heat set yarn using the
The company’s main production facility in Geelong carries out carpet wet processing operations e.g. dyeing griege
Godfrey Hirst / Feltex produces both broadloom and modular carpet.
The company is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest carpet manufacturer. They are vertically integrated and produce
both broadloom and modular carpet in a wide variety of styles. Being vertically integrated enables the company to constantly innovate production methods and products.
Located in Picton, NSW.
Produces tufted carpet from finished, bought yarn in the form of carpet tiles only.
Tuftmaster produces its own wool carpet yarn using both the woollen and semi-worsted systems and buys in synthetic yarn for its carpets.
The company’s woollen plant is located in Preston, Victoria and has the capability to also dye and heat set yarns. The company suffered a major fire affecting dyeing and spinning in January 2011 and is currently purchasing all yarn until damaged plant and equipment is restored.
Established 1970, Tuftmaster manufactures quality pure wool and wool blend, as well as solution dyed nylon tufted carpet for both residential and commercial applications.
Prior to the fire Tuftmaster employed 130 people and produced around half a million linear metres of carpet per annum. The company is replacing fire damaged plant and equipment and plans to be fully operational again before the end of the year.
Uses bought, finished yarn to make wool, solution-dyed nylon and polypropylene carpets. Both cut and loop pile in broadloom only.
In loop pile Quest produces a range of level and multi level options and has the capacity to produce an unlimited variety of sculptured loop pile products in solid or multi coloured effects.
Produces wool, wool blend and synthetic tufted carpets mainly for residential and contract use.
The company is vertically integrated and spins its own woollen yarns but buys imported synthetic yarns. Victoria Carpets has evolved from being a woven manufacturer to the manufacturing of tufted carpets. In 1993 Victoria Carpets purchased the assets of the Castlemaine Woollen Company, allowing the manufacture of single and multi ply woollen carpet yarns using blending, spinning, semi worsted spinning and heat setting. The company’s Bendigo plant also contributes to the manufacture of these yarns using the same methods.
Ontera Modular Carpets
Located in Northmead, NSW.
Uses bought, finished yarn.
Produces Nylon 6,6 cut and loop pile carpet tiles. Onetera is owned by Cavalier Bremworth, a New Zealand based
carpet manufacturer that exports woollen carpets to Australia.
Beaulieu of Australia
Located in Ormeau, Queensland.
Synthetic carpets, loop and cut pile for both residential and commercial markets. Beaulieu previously owned and operated a polypropylene extrusion plant, which was sold several years ago and has since closed. Edwardstown Carpets
Located in Edwardstown, South Australia.
Uses bought, finished yarn.
Manufactures wool and Nylon carpet and distributes imported carpet tiles. Edwardstown Carpets uses New Zealand wool to manufacture its carpets.
Northstate Carpet Mills
Located in the Molendinar Industrial Park on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Uses bought, finished yarn.
Produces commercial and residential cut and loop piles using solution dyed Polypropylene and Nylon Northstate service Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific.
Located in Fremantle, Westwools uses bought, finished yarn.
Loop pile Wool, Nylon and polypropylene for both contract and residential markets. Lower value synthetic carpets are sourced from a related company located in Thailand.
T.S.T Carpet Manufacturers (Aust) Pty Ltd is a manufacturer, distributor & wholesaler of automotive, commercial & domestic quality carpets and also a wide range of matting products.
Established in 1981 it created a niche in the automotive after market supplying mouldable carpet for the replacement industry.
Located in Richmond, Victoria.
Produces woollen carpets aimed at the premium end of the market. Both cut and loop pile. Chaparral Carpet Mills
Located in Seaford, Victoria.
Buys in finished yarn and produces tufted carpets using polypropylene, wool and wool blends. Sunrise Carpets
Buys yarn. Sunrise Carpets undertake contract tufting for other firms.