It was announced late last year that Envision Dallas secured a nearly $14 million contract over three years with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to produce more than 280,000 Army Combat Uniform (ACU) trousers. The ACU Trouser is an official military garment approved for active duty use by the U.S. Army and Air Force.
The contract will help to expand the manufacturing operations at Envision Dallas and create new employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired. Currently, there are five employees on the line who have been working in the Dallas sewing department already: 3 full-time and 2 in training. Each person will be cross trained so that they will be able to perform all tasks needed to make the ACU trousers. Within the next two years, Envision Dallas will have at least 50 employees who are blind or visually impaired working on the ACU trouser production team.
The team is making about 400 pairs a day and will be on track to sew an average of 1,800 pairs of trousers a week! As production progresses, there will be other tasks the department must do to produce the trousers, and there will be a need to hire new employees or transfer from other departments. Depending on experience, managers will train those new employees to sew or operate the other equipment as needed.
There are 36 different sizes of trousers that Envision Dallas will be asked to produce. Each size difference brings its own challenges to the team as the patterns are different in size, as well as how they must be sewn together. That said, the team has taken on each challenge with grace and has learned from it. They have worked together as a team to ensure they are making the best pair of ACU trousers for every Army soldier and Air Force airman.
Steven Amigh, Product and Project Manager at Envision Dallas says, “With new processes and new equipment come new ideas. During our training process, everyone has been vocal about what works and what doesn’t. To that point, we have modified sewing equipment, added fixturing and continue streamlining the handling of the trousers to increase our work output. All these small tweaks add up to faster times and make it easier to sew. Everyone has a great positive attitude and are eager to learn.”