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25 November, 2018 12:21:07 AM

New technology cuts denim water needs

Sharif Ahmed, Dhaka
New technology cuts denim water needs

Consumption of water to wash denim fabric has reduced drastically over a last couple of years due to the adoption of modern technologies in the production process by denim producers, say denim-makers and machine suppliers.

At present, it is possible to wash a kilogramme of denim fabrics with only 180 litres of water. Earlier, it needed at least 270 litres or more of water for washing the same quantity, Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury, general manager (operations) of Square Denims Limited, told The Independent.

“Previously, it took 150 litres of water to wash one pair of jeans. Now, we use 80-100 litres of water to do the same. It has become possible only because of using modern technology, which helps to use 20–25 per cent less water,” he added.

“We use a technology named as ‘Peakwash technology’, which requires 30 per cent less water to wash denim fabrics than usual. It also reduces the labour cost because it has the capacity to dry the fabric automatically as well,” he explained.

“We are also using water-saving laser technology to wash denim fabrics that is now being used worldwide,” Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury informed.

From zero-water wash to reversible denims, there are numerous innovations happening on this front, he pointed out.

Jeanologia, a Spanish company, was one of the participants at the recently held Bangladesh Denim Expo in the capital.

“We have been supplying modern technologies to Bangladesh and across the world to increase productivity and cut the use of water in the washing of garment fabrics,” Jordi Juani, director-Asia division of Spanish company Jeanologia, told The Independent.

Previously, it took 1,800–1,900 litres of water to wash 100kg of denim garments, while new the technology washes the same amount with only 30-35 litres, said Juani.


Laser technology

Fabien Liautard, Jeanologia's general manager, said the company had come to showcase its most advanced laser and eco-technologies for fabric and garment finishing—addressing the most pressing need of the hour.

‘Jeanologia’, which develops sustainable technologies for garment finishing, presented its new ‘Laser and Eco Dynamic’ technology at the expo. Liautard claimed the process was absolutely eco-friendly.

The ‘Laser and Eco Dynamic’ technology has three different parts—laser, eco, and e-flow.

The key part here is the e-flow technology used to wash denim garments before setting them as final. Liautard said that conventional technology needed a lot of water to wash denim fabric. But an intelligent use of air in the e-flow technology had drastically cut the need for water.

“The e-flow technology sucks air into the system and transforms it into nano bubbles. These bubbles consume very little water and also use some functional elements not harmful for the environment,” he said.

Jeanologia has supplied its technology to about 150 factories out of the 2,000 that manufacture denim in the country, he added.

According to Jeanologia, today, around 25 per cent of global jeans production uses laser technology and is set to reach 50 per cent in the next two years. Moreover, currently, more than 180 laser machines are being used in Bangladesh factories. Washing experts and marketers think that the number will cross 500 in the next two years.

Mujibul Hoque, sales director of Prosperity Textile Ltd told The Independent, “We have the capacity to produce 8 million yards of fabric per month. Currently, we're producing denim products the cost of which starts from $2.2.

“The use of modern technology has increased our efficiency by around 10–20 per cent,” he said.

“We have installed a 3500 tons/day Sewage Treatment Plant to process the waste water after dyeing and finishing, with a total size of 10,000 cubic metre,” he said.

For international denim retailers and brands, Bangladesh has already proved to be an attractive place because of competitive prices, but firmly maintaining the lead-time is still a challenge the country because the buying pattern of Western consumers has changed, say industry insiders.

Market shift

When asked about the challenges, Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury said, “Bangladesh is receiving a lot of work orders amid the ongoing trade war between China and the US. Keeping to a shorter lead time is a challenge for us.”

“Now, the lead time has diminished to 40–45 days. The buyers want the products within the shortest possible time because of fast fashion. New products are coming in the market very fast and we have to cope with the changing fashion trends,” he added.

 At present, 70–80 million yards is the monthly demand of fabrics in Bangladesh. About 70–80 per cent of the denim fabric demand is locally met by 31 denim mills, he said.  

Every year, new denim mills are coming into operations in the country which is a good sign and shows the demand is increasing from famous brands, he said.

Talking to The Independent, Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury said, “Business is definitely growing and Square Denims is producing around 3 million yards of quality fabrics per month, which turns out approximately 16,00,000 pieces of finished garments.”

He pointed out that product prices had increased in China, prompting buyers to look for other sourcing hubs and Bangladesh could be one of them.

When asked about premium-quality denim products, he said that the highest standard in all production processes of sophisticated denim fabrics required additional complex processes in finishing for a truly authentic denim look.

“Our creative finishing process is a must in denim production. Therefore, Square Denims’ finishing department is equipped with high-tech finishing machinery such as roller mercerization and the double-blade foam-coating machines,” he informed.


Lead time

On ways to reduce lead time, he said, “We have to cope up with the trends of new fashion that has been changing fast. We need to constantly communicate with fashion designer in order to understand the fast-changing fashion trends.”

Maintaining a shorter lead-time was the key to higher growth of denim export, he stressed.

Square Denims also produces finished garments of which 20–25 per cent is high-end product. Premium-quality denim products sell at a rate of $4–5. Medium quality denim products are sold at $2.5–3, he said.

According to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index projection, global fashion industry sales to grow by 3.5 to 4.5 per cent in 2018.

The Western brands are facing tremendous pressure because of fast fashion. Each year, around 15 per cent retail shops are shutting down in the European market because customers tend to buy products through online e-commerce portals, said Jordi Juani.

Today, e-commerce-enabled luxury fashion had become more accessible around the globe and has become a significant part of the global economy. Maintaining a shorter lead-time was the only way to increase garment export growth, as a growing number of customers were opting for e-commerce rather than physical retail shops, he added.

In the West 90 days used to be a perfect lead-time for retailers and brands in traditional retail stores shopping system. The time had now been cut to 40–45 days because of the entry of e-commerce in the global fashion industry, said Juani.

He suggested that local fabric producers and exporters have to adopt new technology that would increase productivity. Entrepreneurs would have to introduce changes in design as well, Juani added.

 “We supply denim fabrics worth $20 million to Bangladesh in a year,” he said.




Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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