APS Group started the water saving revolution from 2014 for the first time in Bangladesh, now it has become an example to the world. APS dyeing unit average water consumption in per kg fabric production is 40-45 liters (total plant consumption) where, according to PaCT (a project of IFC), the average factory water consumption amount in Bangladesh has been estimated to be around 250 liters of water. Hence the savings in APS (200 litters per Kg) is the equivalent to the daily water use of two people in Dhaka. For comparison, the global benchmark for fabric production through the exhaust process is about 100 liters of water per kg.
There are lots of confusion about sustainability and how to be sustainable! There are factories in Bangladesh who are already practicing it but even they themselves are not aware on that. APS Group, one of the leading knit apparel manufacturers of
Bangladesh doing a great sustainable practice by saving a huge amount of water in knit fabric dyeing which is incredible. Recently FT research Team explored this beautiful story.
APS Group is an end-to-end apparel solution provider, started their journey in 1999 and now they have eight sister concerns. With a vertically integrated setup, the incorporation of advanced technology and a proficient management team, APS is emerging sturdily as one of the anterior business entity in the country. Their dyeing unit capacity is daily 31 tons of knit fabric.
Once 1:8 to 1:10 liquor ratio was normal for knit fabric dyeing in the exhaust process and day by day, it is reduced to 1:5 by machine design upgradation and other facilities. Now, most the dye houses follow the 1:5 liquor ratio. How water conservation in the exhaust
dyeing is not only about reducing M:L ratio, it is more about developing a process integrating machinery, laboratory, chemicals, materials, and people in the factory. With an exemplary optimization of existing resources, APS has set a new benchmark in water
conservation in the exhaust dyeing process. For light color, APS process consumption is below 20 liters and for dark color, it is 25-27 liters of water which is very much close to the global benchmark and certainly a benchmark in Bangladesh.
How APS doing it
In the year 2014, APS Dyeing Unit faced a devastating problem of water when their main
water source got stuck for some technical problems. At that time their production hampered horribly.
Md. Hasib Uddin, Chairman of APS Dyeing Unit analyzed with his team that how to reduce the water consumption. And they developed some basic
concepts of dyeing and applied some innovative idea. Reducing the number of bath, eliminating overflow rinses and unnecessary wash, optimizing outcomes with buyers expectation were key challenges APS could accomplish successfully.
I do not want to confine it within us the process we have developed, let’s think in a more versatile way and hope the whole industry would be benefitted if they really think of sustainable business.
Water consumption calculation
Considering 11 bath and after first filling, usually, fabric absorbs 2 times water of its weight till unload which is always ignored in typical factories.
The average process water consumption (rinsing dyeing machine) at APS Dyeing Unit is
about 29 liters (see figure 2). If a modern process consumes 50 liters water (only considering dyeing processes) then water saving per kg fabric is almost 21 liters which is huge.
It is not a rocket science, it is just awareness and willingness of being changed. Any dye-house who have exhaust-dyeing process can easily dye a batch within 35 liters by following this.
Water Saving: A typical water saving scenario at APS dyeing unit shown in table 1. Generally, an adult person daily consumes about 150 liters. In that sense, yearly APS saves that much water, which is equivalent to the water consumption of about 1.55 million
people in a day! Or you can fill almost 93 Olympic-size swimming pools (Olympic size pools measurement: 50m long, 25m wide, and a minimum of 2m deep) with that water.
At APS Group, they use water flow meter from groundwater consumption to ETP outlet so that they can regulate the water consumption properly. Also, they avoid the softener in the dyeing machine which reduces the water consumption and makes the reprocess easier if needed.
Energy Saving: Water saving in production process directly saves electricity (see table
3) for extracting water from underground, processing water in WTP, feeding water in the
production line and finally wastewater processing in ETP.
A rough calculation said that they are saving the almost 27m3 capacity of ETP and also reducing ETP processing cost. APS dyeing unit has a 60m3 capacity of biochemical ETP.
“Our RFT is almost 85% and we are trying to make it 90% by saving the maximum amount of water. We have also ZDHC target by 2020,” said Md. Rashedul Islam, General Manager (Dyeing & Knitting) of APS Group.
Furthermore, APS is now working how to save more water as like for light color within 16 liters per kg, for dark color 24 liters per kg fabric. They have a strong team, working relentlessly on water and energy saving.
The journey of change was not easy. They have faced many vital problems that are directly related to fabric quality and they successfully overcame these. Levelness problem, washing problem was acute and washing problem always naturally leads to
fabric impurity. That is why they changed the rinsing process by increasing the washing cycle and reducing water flow in each cycle.
“I do not want to confine it within us the process we have developed, let’s think in a more versatile way and hope the whole industry would be benefitted if they really think of sustainable business,” said Hasib Uddin, Chairman of APS Dyeing Unit.
In APS dyeing unit top notch machinery are used. They have Dilmenler and Sclavos (latest generation Athena 3A). In Athena 3A, they use 1:3.5~4 liquor ratio whereas Sclavos themselves don’t recommend below 1:5 liquor ratio, but APS is doing it very successfully and regularly by ensuring quality.
Machine operators always play vital roles in any dye-house. So, they need real support from the management because they are always concerned about the fabric shade matching and quality that leads them to use extra water which is always out of the calculation. Therefore, at first, they should be motivated and facilitated to achieve the organization goal and that commitment should come from the top management. APS has that employer branding amazingly and they are on their target as a team.