“Weaving and processing are the weak links in the textile industry.”
It’s been the refrain and shouted from the rooftops, not to mention the n number of seminars that keep on this lament. Have things changed? Yes and no. If we are talking about obsolete technology and no investment in modern plants in the previous years. Yes, things have changed.
Lot of investment has taken place in the latest machines as far as weaving is concerned. The models of machines are those that are launched today by the best of suppliers in the world market. The trend of second-hand machines with outdated technology has receded. It would be fair to say what India buys today is the best and the latest available.
Ninety percent of new capacity has been added in the MSME and in family owned and run units. So too in processing, many units have come up with modern technology and with higher capacities. The machines are many times sourced from Europe or equivalent suppliers and the plants are modern and well laid out.
Ask The Expert
If that is the case, why do I say `No, things have not changed’.
The hint lies in the question. We talk of weakness of technology per se as an industry and then we mention link. So the technology part has changed and is on par with the world. The link part has not.
To elaborate, the units still remain standalone, installed by general broad based requirement without any real product or market focus. They try to maximise their operational efficiencies in isolation to the market requirements. Since they are loosely defined and designed while being planned and installed, they lack the culture and mindset change that is required to run a modern technology unit to optimal utilisation. The owners usually remain in operational control with neither the capability nor the training to handle such modern plants. Added to their inherent fear of professionals but forced to hire, they finally end up hanging in between with neither the world class products nor the cost competitiveness to take on the mass volume market.
The casualty – product development of the fabric as a whole. The weaver is concerned with just weaving at lowest cost, not realising even that there are settings in the machine that can improve the quality of the fabric. The processor wants only those qualities that are in bulk and can provide him high production, not really understanding that value can lie in smaller runs.
The other problem that compounds it all, being isolated islands of modernisation, and publicity averse, many of their technological capabilities are not even known by the people who can really take advantage of them, the marketers.
In summation, they have become stronger in technology and potential capability, yet they remain the weak link due to lack of cultural and thought process upgradation.
The change needed?
You can’t use outdated management methods for new technology. Upgrade your own skill set and way of working to the required culture. Collaboration, with both their suppliers and their buyers. With their peers. Taking each link to form a strong chain. The ingredients are all there, it is just required to forge them together in a bond, and the two areas will be strong.