DELTA GROUP ON TECHNOLOGICAL PATHWAY TO BECOME THE LEADER OF BANGLADESH’ DENIM INDUSTRY
Getting the right manpower in garment factories sometimes is a challenge. Specially, in a country like Bangladesh where over 4 million workforce is churning out garments day in and day out, the challenge is even bigger due to the rise of automation.
In 2014, Bangladesh set RMG exports target of US $ 50 billion to be attained by 2021. However, with the current resources, technology imbibement and capacity building, the garment export industry of the country presently stands at US $ 29.21 billion and the industry is very sceptical about the fulfilment of this target. The Delta Group, led by Engineer A.K.M. Faruque Ahamed, Chairman & Managing Director, is one amongst such groups which is contributing significantly to take the country’s vision forward by setting up new garment factories, creating new jobs and adopting automation. Team StitchWorld goes deep to find out the company’s vision and strategy for the future.
In order to sustain and then become profitable, the garment industry needs to defy all the conventional business practices and old methodologies. The Delta Group– a US $ 190 million group– is following the same mantra as it has developed itself as a composite group having knitting, dyeing, finishing, sewing, printing, embroidery and washing units – all under a single roof. The Group is already producing knitted garments in its sister concern, The Delta Quality Fashions Ltd., whereas its highly automated denim factory The Delta Quality Denims Ltd. will become fully operational by June 2018. According to Rupak Chakraborty, Director (Operations & Marketing) of both the companies, most of the denim factories in the country are old. “It’s tough for them to change interiors, switch from manual operations to automation and improve the infrastructure substantially in the same premises. But, we are probably one of the few factories which has laid the foundation of a whole new automated denim set-up by challenging ourselves,” shares Rupak. With the installed technologies, Delta has reduced human intervention, salary burden and has improved the flow of processes to a great extent. The infusion of the latest automated technologies is also helping the company to maintain the quality desired by the buyers and that too at a much lesser cost than the market price. This makes Delta a trusted company in the market in an era where most of the manufacturers are cribbing about losing orders due to their failure at keeping the unit prices of garments low and, at the same time, to be able to maintain a high quality level.
As we are a new entrant in denim, it was important for us to have advanced technologies, otherwise we won’t be able to compete with the renowned and already existing denim factories.”
- Rupak Chakraborty
According to Rupak, the entire operations, right from cutting to packaging, are automated in the newly developed Delta Denims. The cutting division has spreaders and cutters used are of BOK which is a leading Chinese player in this segment, making the cutting process both efficient
and effective. “Though, in the market, there are other renowned brands too in the cutting segment, my decision of opting for BOK is paying dividend to me as I am able to save at least 30 per cent cost in cutting division today,” claims Rupak.
Further, the company has carved a niche for itself through a gamut of Euromac jeans automats as Delta’s production floor constitutes 88 sewing lines and each line has around 54 machines. “We have a capacity to produce 2500 - 2800 pieces of jeans per day per line,” shares Rupak stating that with manual intervention, the company would have needed 65 workstations with at least 14 helpers while currently it is operating on just 54 workstations with just 4 helpers, saving the cost of 11 workstations and manpower which is commendable.
Delta Denims has automised the packaging division too where final packing of the garments is done by blowing air in poly bags. Hence this division of the company is also saving the cost incurred on humans.
Besides, Delta will invest US $ 1,00,000 in ERP in order to strengthen its production and washing planning of 88 sewing lines.
The benefits that Delta is reaping today are surely going to increase its two new garment units to become fully operational. However, installing technologies and bringing the best out of that has never been an easy task for the company. Explaining the company’s view point of investing so much in automation, Rupak comments, “As we are a new entrant in denim, it was important for us to have advanced technologies, otherwise we won’t be able to compete with the renowned and already existing denim factories which are more than 20 years old in Bangladesh and plenty in number.”
Unconventional yet enticing shopfloor practices making Delta surge ahead
With the way business is shaping up in Bangladesh, the factory owners are inclining more towards the concepts which help in improving shopfloor management as well as efficiency. Going one step ahead, Delta is utilising the available data in the most optimum way as it believes that the systematically arranged data can help the company become better in pre-production planning stage, and thereby in the subsequent processes.
Taking a different route from the conventional practice where a merchandiser handles the data entry task of a new garment order, Delta has hired a ‘Business Analyst’ to enter the data in its ERP software. Rupak, in a confident tone explains, “Suppose you have the following data – 10,000 pieces of Inditex, Bottoms, SMV 15 minutes, delivery date 60 days from today. As per standard practice, the data is fed in the software and then we know if it is telling us the right time slot of accomplishing the order within the next 60 days. It will tell us the available time slots as well as the ways we can manage the order amidst the already running production. Even if we are overbooked, the machine will suggest to distribute it on multiple lines even if it’s just a work of 2 lines. I will lose efficiency here. Hence, we need a business analyst who will understand the business right from the start to the end and will know how to play with this data so that I do not lose my productivity.”
It’s a fact that machine requires data to be fed into
it and this is where Delta has improvised. “Now what we do is either we prepone all bookings and approvals or reshuffle all the lines so that we don't lose money on new orders and on the other hand, we also do not decrease productivity on already running orders. This is what an efficient business analyst can do for us,” boasts Rupak.
However, improving productivity does not just depend on data management. Sensing the fact that managing a factory is a very complex game, both verticals (garment divisions) of the Delta Group are extensively working to lower the impact of critical elements such as buyers’ pressure of reducing margins that can break or make a factory. Delta Fashions has dedicated some specific numbers of lines to the specific products. 10 lines have been dedicated to chinos whereas, cargos are being manufactured on 15 lines. Interestingly, no other products are ever diverted to these lines neither are more lines assigned to these products in order to balance the lines and the production of other products. “Our strategy also includes the line allocation and, according to us, this is the only way to sustain in business else you are out,” asserts Rupak.
Further, the factories have implemented proper quality systems as per standards that have helped Delta reduce the rejections. In fact, the Defects per Hundred Units (DHU) at Delta currently stands at just 4 per cent, which is quite an appreciable figure. “Generally, people have 7 per cent DHU which is not at all reasonable. Right planning, right tools, right SCM...are keys to bring the DHU down,” explains a positive Rupak.
Training of manpower plays key role in growth
Getting the right manpower in garment factories sometimes is a challenge. Specially, in a country like Bangladesh where over 4 million workforce is churning out garments day in and day out, the challenge is even bigger due to the rise of automation. In this scenario, Delta believes to hire only those people who are at least diploma holders and matured enough to handle the expensive sewing automats. “I do not assign sewing and monitoring task to the operators who are not diploma holders as it can cost severe damage to the expensive machines,” says Rupak focusing on the company’s belief that it’s a ‘Right Man’ behind the ‘Efficient Machine’.
Further, once the employees are hired and have spent some days in understanding the mechanism of jeans automats powered by Euromac, Delta sends them to Euromac’s office in China for one month so that the machine’s inventors can guide and train these manpower in the correct direction. Considering that training is a necessary element, Rupak confirms, “If I invest in machines, first I should know how to run them. I cannot depend on the technology providers to come to our factory and guide us. I have bought the machines, so it's my responsibility to run them and fix them up.”
Efforts towards being a sustainable garment unit are exemplary
Bangladesh’ garment industry is rapidly and perpetually evolving as far as sustainability in the garment operations is considered. Being a part of this evolution, Delta is also strengthening its responsibilities towards achieving sustainable goals by making its garments’ washing eco-friendly. The washing unit in Delta Denims has a staggering number (90) of washing machines
“Being the top technology provider in the market does not matter. What matters the most are the recent trends. Unless and until you go to fairs, you really don’t know what’s in the market. I went to China to attend some fairs and got to know that I have used every A-level machines, whereas I could have chosen B-level too which provides the same quality at a much lower cost. Then I consulted in the market. People who were using B-level machines, were quite satisfied with their efficiency. Thereafter, I reconsidered my budget to bring the cost down,” says Rupak Chakraborty.
including renowned Yilmak (Rain Forest), Tonello and Jeanologia. “I believe I cannot buy everything that is best. But I bought best in jeans washing as before washing, jeans is just a dead indigo fabric. Quality of a bad denim fabric can be enhanced if treated on the right machine,” shares the young Director (Marketing & Operations).
It is pertinent to mention here that the water and colour ratio in Delta Denims is 1:3 as compared that of 1:6 in other denim factories in Bangladesh. “We have washing floors which are almost dry and this puts a stamp on our efforts towards sustainability,” speaks Rupak proudly.
The Delta Group is aiming to become a US $ 300 million Group by 2019 and it believes that, by 2021, it will touch US $ 500 million turnover.
Furthermore, the fabric wastage in Delta is collected at a centralised place only to burn it and convert it into steam. This steam is then reused for garment dyeing and processing. “We know how to make the best out of waste and this is helping us to recycle the wastage, thereby, saving cost to a great extent,” informs Rupak.
Projects in pipeline
Since Delta Denims is planning to become fully operational in June 2018, a few of the operations which were not in the pipeline to be carried out before are now being given their due focus. On top of these operations is the finishing division. Delta is looking to buy tunnel finishing machines from China by June. Also, it is establishing 36 lines of shirts and Rupak is in talk for the same with MAICA, the Italian pioneer in shirts’ automation and Ngai Shing, China’s shirt finishing giant. “With so many technologies and so many brands, we are proud to claim that we are generating a good business for us as well as for the technology providers,” avers Rupak.
Spread in a massive area of 2,56,332 square feet, including two 6-storeyed, one 5-storeyed and one 3-storeyed building, the Delta group is aiming to become a US $ 300 million group by 2019 and it believes, by 2021, that it will touch US $ 500 million turnover.
“Today our garment business stands at US $ 110 million and we are propelling it to clock more than US $ 350 million figure by next 3 years,” concludes the young Director confidently.
The Delta Group team visited the Ngai Shing booth during Garmentech ’18 as it looks to diversify in shirt manufacturing
Delta has installed laundry machines powered by Tonello and Yilmak
Engineer A.K.M. Faruque Ahamed (L), Chairman and Managing Director with Rupak Chakraborty, Director (Operations & Marketing), The Delta Group