Mah­mud Jeans Lim­ited: Surg­ing proudly with au­to­ma­tion as its key strength

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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

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