On 1st March 2020, the world’s largest commercial fibre testing provider, AAFT- Fibre Testing Laboratories, changed its name to Art Of Fibre. This name change coincided with the company moving its head office from Australia to Ireland, while focussing its operations in the UK and Europe. Its Australian laboratory was sold in June 2019.
AAFT drew its origins from Countrywide Wool Testing (CWT), a fibre testing service that commenced business in 1999 and originally specialised in the testing of wool from Australian merino sheep.
In 2005, CWT created a new service with the name Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing (AAFT). At first, the primary focus of AAFT was the testing of alpaca fibre, but soon was expanded to include other natural fibres such as exotic breeds of sheep, goats, rabbit, vicuna and musk ox.
The business plan of AAFT was that it become a valued contributor to the industries it provides a service to. With this in mind, AAFT was responsible for initiating the ‘Premium Alpaca and Alpaca Ultimate’ fleece consigning and marketing schemes (which continue to operate today) and the ‘Ultrafine Bale’ scheme that successfully injected alpaca into the luxury fashion trade. AAFT also carried out research and trials aimed at enhancing the commercial viability of the global alpaca fibre industry.
In 2005, AAFT expanded its operations by installing a laboratory in the UK. This service quickly gained popularity and very soon became the dominant fibre testing and analysis service in the UK and Europe.
In 2016, the Managing Director of AAFT, Paul Vallely, was asked to steer an inquiry into the viability of the Australian superfine merino industry. Leading on from the eventual report, the business was contracted by a major Italian fashion house to establish a supply chain for superfine merino under stringent animal welfare criteria. This supply chain remains in operation.
In 2019, AAFT sold off its Australian and New Zealand services in order to concentrate its service delivery in the northern hemisphere. A new laboratory was consequently established in Finland to service the EU sector.
On 1st March 2020, AAFT changed its name to Art Of Fibre.
Technology used by Art Of Fibre
Art Of Fibre utilises OFDA2000 technology in all its laboratories. The OFDA2000 has been continually evaluated against other commercial fibre measurement equipment, and in our opinion, remains the most effective method of testing and analysing fibre for genetic improvement, animal husbandry, marketing and value adding.
The noted feature of the OFDA2000 is its ability to measure the whole length of fibre thereby producing an historical account of the micron variation along the growing season. This information has proven to be highly valued for husbandry as it provides an account of the nutritional intake of the animal over the season and for genetic purposes as it provides an insight into the animal’s inherent sensitivity to environmental factors.
The fibre traits measured by OFDA2000 included mean fibre diameter, standard deviation and coefficient of variation of fibre diameter, curvature, standard deviation of curvature, variation in diameter along and between fibres (‘SD Along’ and ‘SD Across’), fibre length, ‘coarse edge micron’, ‘comfort factor’, maximum and minimum micron, ‘finest point from the tip’. The OFDA2000 also provides distribution histograms and linear ‘along fibre’ micron profiles. Recent upgrades allow the 2000 to be used to effectively measure ‘across fibre’ variation in order to target genetic indicators of fibre uniformity.
Art Of Fibre has developed an internal ‘Quality Control’ program to ensure its equipment maintains superior levels of accuracy and precision. All its devices are subjected to manufacturer’s standards of calibration during operation. Further, it’s OFDAs are tested against each other to identify any inconsistencies with any one device. In addition to this, all Art Of Fibre’s OFDAs are subjected to operating and calibration checks by the manufacturer on a regular basis.
To ensure our stringent service delivery standards are achieved, all Art Of Fibre technicians undergo an initial assessment and training regime followed up with ‘on-the-job’ training and an annual technicians’ seminar. Further, they regularly receive information and procedural updates.
Art Of Fibre’s services
The services currently provided by Art Of Fibre include:
- Comprehensive programs of measurement for all types of natural fibres
- Professional consultancy covering the interpretation, adoption and application of fibre measurement data
- ‘Across Herd’ data collection and collation of objective fibre information for use by associations and breed societies.
- Provision of training seminars and workshops covering fibre measurement, genetics, fibre marketing, fibre classing and fleece evaluation.
- Grid test measurements to support fleece competitions
- Support with establishing fibre marketing initiatives
For further information, contact Paul Vallely on firstname.lastname@example.org