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‘Automation is the crying need for apparel industry…’

Customer choices are changing rapidly, they want value-added product and in this regard, automation can offer value addition in garment products.

H N Ashiqur Rahman, General Manager, Brother International Singapore Pte Ltd.

Bangladesh RMG industry, the second largest ready-made garment exporter in the world, has scrambled many challenges and still it is overcoming many hard situations. Now the industry is moving forward with the latest technology. Many apparel millers are using the latest technology for better productivity to cope up with fast fashion trends. Machinery companies also continuously working on bringing new featured machinery. H N Ashiqur Rahman, General Manager, Brother International Singapore Pte Ltd, is one of the most well-known professionals, working as a technology provider for more than a decade in the apparel industry. Recently he shared his views on apparel trends, technology, and market in a recent conversation with Textile Today.

H N Ashiqur Rahman GM Brother International Singapore Pte Ltd
Figure 1: H N Ashiqur Rahman, GM, Brother International Singapore Pte Ltd. in conversation with Textile Today.

Textile Today: How do you see the transformation of the Bangladesh textile industry in terms of Garments trends and technology?

H N Ashiqur Rahman: Thanks for your thoughtful question. You know the entire textile industry is mainly sewing based. Our factory owners give capital investment for ends product operation process which means sewing and finishing section. So, industry transformation depends on how sewing technology is shifting. I have been serving in this industry for the last 15 years. Once upon a time, I saw sewing machine was operated by button, extra sewing thread was cut manually by helper and oil leaking from machines. At present, the technology is shifting rapidly. Now we are using computerized sewing machine, auto trimming system, direct drive technology, and digital flexibility feeding system. The industrial sewing machine has changed the way of whole clothing industry operation. It has increased the speed of production, which is unmatched with the speed of hands. Because of the technological revolution, now we have bargaining capacity to achieve a higher price in case of high-quality product.

Textile Today: China is the giant player in the textile manufacturing industry worldwide, though they are closing their basic garments manufacturing industries and Bangladesh is trying to grab that market. So, how do you see the prospects of Bangladesh textile and apparel market in future?

Ashiqur Rahman: Bangladesh textile and apparel industry is continuously growing and looking for new opportunities. In July-August 2018, our export growth increases more than 10%. In the last five years our factories went through massive changes and now maximum factory introduces themselves as a compliant factory. Seven out of ten green factories of all over the world are in Bangladesh.

Automation can offer value-addition in garments product for the international market. Brothers understand this trend and we have already started to supply IMB automation for the industry.

H N Ashiqur Rahman, GM, Brother International Singapore Pte Ltd

In 2017-18, export earnings from the RMG sector is USD 30.16 billion, posting a 9% growth in the last fiscal year. I hope after five years; our industry growth will be double. Because last few years buyers were slow to place an order due to ongoing safety inspections in the apparel sector. But now they are changing their mindset as the safety inspection has almost come to an end showing significant progress and that restored buyer’s confidence to place more orders here. In addition, Bangladesh will be the next popular hotspot of apparel sourcing after China.

Textile Today: What is the recent innovation of industrial sewing machine and how does it helps the industry to increase quality and productivity?

H N Ashiqur Rahman: Industrial sewing machines are updating day by day. Many companies are adding new features to increase productivity. For example, they are using direct drive technology, it reduces the two-thirds portion of total energy while the needle is running. In past, there was no such energy efficient technology. Another addition is auto-trimming technology, using this technology we can cut up to 3mm or less as per as buyer requirements. It is a new innovation for the industrial sewing machine. I can also add, in the past, the rate of needle breakage was higher but the new innovation of technology reduces needle breakage percentage and also increases the rate of production.

Brother sewing machine
Figure 2: A Brother sewing machine in operation.

Textile Today: Day by day, the whole supply chain is getting compact and technology replacing the workforce. Do you think automation is a threat for garments workers?

H N Ashiqur Rahman: I think automation creates an opportunity to expand our garments industry in terms of productivity and value-addition. It’s true that, naturally human involvement will decrease in cases of automation but our worker’s efficiency will grow. Workers salary also will be increased. Customer choice is changing rapidly, they want the value-added product. Automation can offer value-addition in garments product for the international market. Brothers understand this trend and we have already started to supply IMB automation for the industry. In this situation, automation is the crying need for the industry to sustain the business.

Needle breakage is an acute problem for the sewing machine, it hampers productivity hugely. But Brothers DFF technology reduces the possibility of needle breakage nearly 50% compared to previous technology.

Textile Today: What is the latest addition ‘Brother’ offering to the apparel industry?

H N Ashiqur Rahman: Brother is a 110 years old world-renowned sewing machine manufacturing company having worldwide operation origin from Japan. It is continuously doing R&D to introduce new solutions for the textile and apparel industry. In the apparel industry, what ‘Brother’ do is always an example for others. Recently Brother introduces a new single needle machine called S-7250A with new technology DFF (DigiFlex Feed). This DFF system is the latest solution for our apparel industry. This technology offers 3mm remaining thread after sewing. Needle breakage is an acute problem for the sewing machine, it hampers productivity hugely. But DFF technology reduces the possibility of needle breakage nearly 50% compared to previous technology. This machine is integrated with complete sealed aluminum oil tank, which will reduce oil stain problem and unnecessary expenses of the factory.

The most beneficial feature ‘puckering free sewing quality’ is possible with this machine because of the adaptation of DFF technology as this machine can change the feed motion depending on sewing material and process.

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