Mahmud Jeans Limited: Surging proudly with automation as its key strength
In 2015, Bangladesh overtook China to become the top denim supplier to its biggest market, the European Union. The country is also the third largest supplier of denims to the US after China and Mexico. Seeing the recent development in Bangladesh, especially in denim manufacturing, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the denim category is giving confidence to the country's garment sector as it looks forward to clock US $ 50 billion in garment exports by 2021. Mahmud Group, having a turnover of US $ 120 million, is considered one of the most progressive denim companies in Bangladesh and is always setting milestones for others to follow. Team StitchWorld unfolds the company’s strategies.
Dhaka-based garment manufacturer, Mahmud Jeans Limited, produces 60,000 denim bottoms per day. That’s a whopping per day output compared to that of many other jeans manufacturers who claim themselves to be big but actually are working to get even one-tenth pieces per day output in countries other than Bangladesh. “We are inaugurating our new unit in May and then our daily combined production will be 2.5 lakh jeans,” claims Gazi Mahbubul Alam, Director, Mahmud Group.
Mahmud Group, with a vertical set-up in denims from spinning onwards to jeans manufacturing, has many firsts to its credit and this started with its strong belief in automation. We all know that over the years, machines have taken over the last surviving manual job of cutting and sewing of jeans which humans performed for hundreds of years. Mahmud installed Vibemac machines for jeans manufacturing almost a decade ago when other jeans giants were not so open for the same.
“When I bought Vibemac machines in 2008, everybody said that it's a waste of money. I am proud today to prove others wrong as, in the present
When I bought Vibemac machines in 2008, everybody said that it's a waste of money. I am proud today to prove others wrong as, in the present circumstances, you cannot even imagine to make a factory viable without investing in automation.” - Gazi Mahbubul Alam
circumstances you cannot even imagine to make a factory viable without investing in automation,” says Gazi.
The other first of Mahmud Jeans has been its realisation to rationalize human intervention by imbibing and implementing many systems, and system governed tools. The result is for everyone to see and emulate. A few years ago, the company used to have a man-machine ratio of 1:2.4 but now it has brought its man-machine ratio down to 1:1.8 in 2018 and it is further working strenuously to reduce it to 1:1.6 in the coming months. Supporting the low manmachine ratio concept, Gazi avers, "Earlier, there used to be a lot of helpers in sewing units, but now the mode of transportation within the factory has changed. Movable tables and conveyor belts are doing work more effectively, so human intervention has to reduce in order to become more profitable."
Another reason for Mahmud Jeans rationalizing the workforce has been its understanding that the women workers hold 80 per cent of share in Bangladesh’s garment industry and they contribute in it for a short period of time. Explaining the same, Gazi says, “There are less chances of women workers coming back to the factory once they get married due to family pressure. So, instead of searching for workers, I went for more automation to reduce human involvement and, at the same time, to be more productive and deliver quality.”
Timely deliveries, building all operations in-house under entirely compliant conditions, being competitive in pricing and a significant emphasis on quality have always kept the company ‘scoring’ high among all its buyers. Scoring also has a physical attribute and that relates to buyers rating its vendors. Scoring 80 per cent or above ensures a business of three years for the company from the customers. Interestingly, from Kmart, the company has got 98 marks, the highest among all the denim manufacturers. “The ranking parameters are environment factors, compliance factors, workers and management factors, salary, shipment, sample service, lead time and contribution to the profit margin and we have done exceedingly well in all these areas,” comments Gazi.
In today’s time, the buyers are constantly asking to reduce the unit price, whereas the cost of production for the manufacturers is going up because of the increase in the input cost and also because the buyers are preferring to work in socially and environmentally compliant factories. All these reasons in a combined way increase the financial load on the manufacturers. In such circumstances, the only available path left is to increase productivity by having a complete control on the entire supply chain.
“Since we have our own denim mill, it gives us the leverage to control the price. Also, we have a mechanism due to which we are somewhat immune to the price fluctuations of the fibre. Thirdly, even after this, if the rates seem high to the buyers, we work with them and explore ways and means to bring the cost down by way of twitching the length or changing the seam style or removing some operators all together,” explains Gazi.
However, amidst such capacity expansions, Mahmud Jeans has not ignored the social and environmental obligations. It’s a fact that jeans finishing and washing require soft water and to mitigate this, the company has invested majorly in a technologically advanced ETP which is provided by the Italian pioneer Sigma to preserve and treat the rainwater. The installed ETP is spread over 25,000 square feet area and is 35 feet deep. “Technology for innovation, sustainable processes and better control of quality are the focus for further investments,” concludes Gazi.
Timely deliveries, building all operations in-house under entirely compliant conditions, being competitive in pricing and a significant emphasis on quality have always kept Mahmud Jeans ‘scoring’ high among all its buyers.
Gazi Mahbubul Alam, Director, Mahmud Group in a lighter mood at Apparel Resources office
Mahmud Group has installed Kuris automatic cutting machine in one of its factories