Japanese giant manufacturer BROTHER is a leading technology provider in the Bangladesh apparel industry. Recently, the company appointed a Bangladesh-born Country Head for the first time. H N Ashiqur Rahman, newly appointed Country Head of Brother Bangladesh, Brother International Singapore Pte Ltd, is one of the well-known professionals, working as a technology provider for more than a decade in Bangladesh apparel industry with high dignity. Recently Ashiqur Rahman shared his views on apparel trends, technology, and market challenges in a recent conversation with Textile Today.
Textile Today: Congratulations to you for becoming the new Country Head of brother Bangladesh. What is your feeling for being the first Bangladeshi Country Head for a top Japanese company like Brother?
H N Ashiqur Rahman: Bother is a 112 years old Japanese company, always provides equal and fair opportunities to all its employees so that they can devote their merits and abilities for the growth of the company and also for personal career development. In brother, each and everyone is treated with dignity irrespective of nationality. And my case is an example.
I see this is as another responsibility as well as opportunity. Of course, working in Brother Bangladesh is a matter of pride because the Bangladesh market is strategically very important for Brother.
Textile Today: We all know that brother is one of the leading technology providers in the garment industry. So, what is your vision and plan to support the industry more intensively?
H N Ashiqur Rahman: Currently brother is focusing on industry building by cooperating with Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers to mitigate and overcome the challenges. As we believe we will survive if this apparel manufacturing industry survives. Bangladesh is a premiere market for brother. Though in terms of market size China is the biggest but in terms of growth Bangladesh is at the top.
Brother Bangladesh does not work like another sewing machinery provider; we work really closely – in partnership – with the garment manufacturers of Bangladesh to find solutions to increase/maximize productivity with existing brother sewing machines.
We are working on increasing the capacity building of the industry. That is why we are arranging huge number training, seminar, symposium for the garments industry fully free of charge.
You see one of the acute challenges of Bangladesh textile and apparel industry is lack of productivity, which is currently around 30-33% only.
Recently Brother has introduced the Internet of Things (IoT) in Bangladesh, which will figure out the bottlenecks of a machine and remove it. It will automatically increase productivity without adding any additional costs by 30%, brother test results showed that.
The most interesting fact is Brother has developed some parts of its R&D (Trial demonstration) in Bangladesh. Assessing the scenario brother provided the best technological solution according to the needs of Bangladeshi readymade garment (RMG) industry.
Also, we are training maintenance technicians in factories to solve sewing machine problems in-house. Whenever there is a problem with a machine, factory technicians will be able to solve the problem by themselves. That will reduce their production loss. Brother is investing heavily in that.
A huge number of seminars and symposiums are conducted to engage Brother’s global experts from Japan, China, Vietnam to find new solutions. After implementing these solutions the Bangladesh apparel industry will be able to overcome the current crisis.
Textile Today: In this critical situation of the Bangladesh garments industry, how brother can help the factories by cost-effective technology to be more efficient?
H N Ashiqur Rahman: If a garment factory makes a garment with US$ 5, then after implementing our IoT solutions garment factories will enhance a maximum of 30% to 35% productivity. This is how per piece production cost will be reduced. The factories will be able to make the garment in US$ 4.
Also, we are providing training to build efficient technical manpower to instantly solve machine related problems.
Brother also launched new automation systems with collaboration with IMB. That also helps the industry to generate more productivity and increase efficiency. Generally, automation is a bit expensive and to solve this we have added some value-added device (VAR) for the owners who cannot go for full-fledged automation. Like in the existing sewing machine if you add a low-cost small device then the apparel factories will not have to change their existing machine setup. However, productivity will increase significantly. At the same time, they can make more value-added products using this device and technology. That will help them to increase product prices and more bargain power with the buyer.
Brother is not looking for profitability at the moment. Rather we are working closely to ensure the survival of us, manufacturers, workers and the garment industry. In the market, the available other software price is are over a hundred thousand dollars. Whereas our IoT is available at US$ 10000.
Textile Today: What are the latest innovations of brother that can attract the manufacturers?
H N Ashiqur Rahman: Worldwide brother is a leading technology provider including IT, photocopier, fax, printer, sewing machine, etc. all the parts like motor, head, PCB, parts making machines, etc. When brother makes everything in house it makes the machinery long-lasting that can ensure the quality and reliability that attracts the manufacturers.
We are continuously doing Research and Development (R&D) for new innovation to meet the demand of the industry.
Textile Today: As brother is developing in the productivity arena and others to take the Bangladesh RMG industry forward. What are the plans for this new year?
H N Ashiqur Rahman: We understand that, if the garments factory has the power of bargaining with the buyer, then only they can survive. With the high bargaining power, they can do better negotiation with a better price from the buyer. To get the bargaining power they should make more value-added products with high efficiency and brother is working in this direction.
First of all, the Bangladesh RMG industry has to come out of the current challenges. So, to come to the question, we will help remove remaining obstacles wherever we can – like increasing bargaining power, capacity building, productivity, training, etc.