Bangladeshi apparel makers are introducing cutting edge software technology in a bid to upgrade production processes and reduce fabric waste by raising measurement accuracy.
According to industry insiders and technical experts, around 70% of the total manufacturing cost of an apparel product is fabric.
This single cost can be reduced by around 10%, however, with the introduction of new cutting technology.
“It saves fabric, time and money, and improves quality by ensuring accuracy in measurements during the cutting,” Atiqul Islam, general manager (admin, HR and compliance) of Metro Knitting and Dyeing Mills Limited, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“For example, if an inch of fabric is saved in cutting a shirt, manufacturers will be able to save 100 inches of fabric in making 100 shirts. It would give a maker a cushion and reduce production costs.”
Atiqul said it costs $250,000 to $300,000 to set software based technology in cutting fabrics. “It will take up to two years to get returns on the money invested, or within a year if it is used efficiently,” he said.
M B Knit Fashion Ltd Managing Director Mohammed Hatem explained to the Dhaka Tribune how the technology works.
“After the input of a product measurement, it analyses all the possible angles to cut the fabric so that it can ensure best uses. After analysis, the software gives a layout and marker on which the makers will cut the fabric either manually or by automated system,” he said.
“As directed by the software, we can cut the fabric with lasers, which saves times and fabric. As a result, it helps me negotiate prices with buyers as I can get a quick measurement of fabric as well as the cost.”
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Currently 30 garment factories in total are using cutting software in Bangladesh Ibrahim Hossain Ovi/Dhaka Tribune
Manasij Ganguli, co-founder of a Singapore-based Indian technology company called Threadsol, told the Dhaka Tribune that saving even 1% on fabric costs can increase the profitability of a company.
Threadsol is a supplier of IntelloCut, a cutting software which helps RMG makers increase productivity and profitability by reducing fabric waste.
“It optimizes the usage of fabric and is said to also comparatively reduce the time and labour required for order planning,” he said.
Currently, 25 garment factories in Bangladesh are using Threadsol’s software, including Beximco, Pacific Jeans, Dekko Group, Unifil Group, Fakir Fashions, Epic Group, Urmi Group, Ananta Group, and Hirdaramani’s Kenpark and Regency.
Alternative options include Lectra, a leader in integrated technology solutions for fabrics, technical textiles and composite materials which is used by Envoy Textile and other RMG makers.
“The advantages of adapting technology in the garments sector are very clear,” Envoy Textile Managing Director Abdus Salam Murshedy told the Dhaka Tribune. “It draws the attention of global buyers as Bangladesh is in focus as the second-largest manufacturer of apparel products (in the world).”
Salam, who is also a former president of BGMEA, added that the production costs of apparel products is increasing in Bangladesh due to rises in wages and raw materials, as well as new investment required for compliance.
“Introduction of technology can be a great solution to being cost effective and to remain competitive,” he said. “The global market is very competitive and it is only going to become tougher. In retaining the competitive edge in the global market, Bangladesh has to adopt new technology.”
M B Knit Fashion boss Mohammad Hatem said it was not enough to only apply the technology without proper planning.
“China, the number one exporter of apparel products, has adopted technology in the RMG sector so we (also) have to be prepared in taking the challenge. But, we lack experience with the introduction of new technology so training is very important,” he said.