Digitalised equipment is required to monitor quality

Digitalised equipment is required to monitor quality

Before any textile product reaches the marketplace, it is necessary to test the materials to check the quality. Today, manufacturers and retailers are expected to create and supply products that meet or exceed the minimum legal requirements. Quality also means the product is safe to use and meets the “claims” as stated by the product manufacturer. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Anitha Jeyaraj, Deputy Director – Softlines, Connectivity & Products, SGS India Pvt Ltd, highlights on various aspects of quality and steps to be taken to enhance quality checking processes.

Before any textile product reaches the marketplace, it is necessary to test the materials to check the quality. Today, manufacturers and retailers are expected to create and supply products that meet or exceed the minimum legal requirements. Quality also means the product is safe to use and meets the “claims” as stated by the product manufacturer. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Anitha Jeyaraj, Deputy Director – Softlines, Connectivity & Products, SGS India Pvt Ltd, highlights on various aspects of quality and steps to be taken to enhance quality checking processes.

How is SGS helping textile companies maintain high quality? 

In India, SGS is capable of executing a full spectrum of services, from sample pick through testing, which are trusted by brands and retailers. Our experts have a broad and detailed understanding of consumer goods and retailing and can help you build a stronger and more resilient business with the potential to grow and surpass competition. We offer a wide range of services, like testing, inspection, and audits which also include training to suppliers and client’s internal staff, manual review, and consultancy service.

Globally, SGS is the world’s leading testing, inspection, verification and certification company with more than 93,000 employees strategically located around the world. We work throughout the supply chain providing specialised business solutions that improve quality, safety, productivity and reduce risk. Our network of over 2,600 offices and laboratories helps customers navigate the increasingly regulated world by offering local expertise on a global scale.

SGS offers one stop services for testing and product certification, including CE marking and the SGS Independently Checked (IC) Mark. An innovative way for manufacturers and retailers to generate confidence and trust among consumers, the SGS IC Mark brings transparency to the complex world of product testing and regulation compliance for textile products. It offers reassurance that a product has passed independent, third-party testing and provides consumers with independently verified proof that a product has passed certain criteria, allowing them to make more informed purchase decisions.

We take pride in our resources and infrastructure, carrying out world class testing at accredited laboratories to help textile companies deliver and maintain high quality products to meet customer expectations.  

What are main parameters (criteria) used to measure quality in textiles (for fabric as well as apparels/garments)?

SGS provides a full range of testing services for finished products, materials and/or components based on defined standards, regulations and buyer performance requirements. Parameters for measuring quality include fibre composition, functional performance, colourfastness, and physical and mechanical performance such as tensile strength, pilling and abrasion. Other critical measures include flammability, label review, claim verification, children’s safety testing, and restricted chemicals, which in addition to quality measures, are also government regulated in many countries.  

In general, we recommend testing based on country specific regulations, performance expectations for the product, including product and chemical safety requirements. When developing a testing program, protocols or manual review, we suggest testing at various stages, such as fabric, garment, trim, product development or bulk production testing, to ensure the whole production process is under surveillance. Besides, to support our clients, SGS has developed an innovative, efficient and cost-effective approach, a Product Chemical Screening Program (SGS PRS 400) to verify restricted substance compliance in their products for global markets. It is flexible and can be tailored to the requirements of individual brands, markets, product categories and client preferences. 

How can textile companies achieve highest level of quality assurance throughout the supply chain? 

With a great belief that “Trusted means Tested”, SGS is engaged with textile companies to deliver desirable garments that consumers trust, and that meet sustainability goals as well as supply chain requirements. In today’s fast changing and complex market, SGS can help textile companies to ensure that both supply chain and products stand out in the market. 

From raw materials to finished products, brands and retailers in the textile industry are facing pressure to improve environmental performance. SGS has developed several verification programs to support the industry. For example, our vegan verification and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) programs. We screen for GMO to ensure non-GMO cotton is used for producing organic textile products. In addition, laboratory testing is used to check for the presence of chemical residues in finished products. Detection of chemical substances over acceptable limits means that an “organic” claim cannot be made.

SGS in India has complete capability for services for the entire supply chain, from raw material, REACH, factory wastewater and accessories testing, through MRSL for the chemicals used and root cause analysis to help the suppliers to overcome issues/failures, to chemical management and HIGG verification, we offer these services and many more to address any specific concern.

Specifically, SGS Chemical Screening (SGS BRS300-2020) is an advanced, innovative and novel solution for commercially available chemical formulations used in the textile, footwear and leather supply chains. This is used to screen chemicals commonly used in textile and leather wet processing, raw materials production, machinery maintenance, wastewater treatment, sanitation, etc. SGS’s panel of multi-disciplinary technical experts in the field of textile and leather chemistry has researched and assessed the relevancy of all target analytes to ensure the scope of the screening covers the list of substances applicable to the industry.

Why is the need for safety and quality paramount in textiles industry?

Customers have moved from the mere requirement of “quality of the product” to a need for assurance that products are safe, result from responsible production and support sustainability that goes beyond simply complying with regulations.

This drives manufacturers and retailers to demonstrate their ability to focus on creating and supplying products that meet or exceed the minimum legal requirements. Also, regulatory compliance in many countries requires comprehensive restricted substance testing on products, chemical management and discharge of wastewater.

Before any product reaches the marketplace, it is necessary to test the materials to check that the properties have been improved or have not been degraded by faster, more intensive, production methods. Our knowledge and expertise will help manufacturers reach new heights on issues such as climate change, pollution, product safety, and quality. In the end, it’s only trusted because it’s teste          

Big apparel brands often have many small & medium scale companies in their supply chain. What kinds of challenges these brands face for maintaining quality? What are probable solutions to overcome them? 

The textile production cycle starts with the delivery of raw materials. If the materials are incorrect or sub-standard then it is impossible to produce a high-quality final product. The biggest challenge in the textile industry is the incoming materials. These are checked for the required properties so that unsuitable materials can be rejected, or appropriate adjustments made before production begins.

To overcome quality challenges, SGS strongly suggests a testing plan from raw material testing, which is very important to ensure a safe product, to fabric stage testing, to identify potential defects before the finished garment is produced. In addition, to meeting regulatory requirements, testing of finished textile products is key to ensuring product quality. To help our clients to improve their supply chain quality, we have developed holistic chemical management solutions to help their suppliers to establish best practices during production to maintain their product quality. Also, SGS has a digital and data platform – a one-stop platform to manage client’s testing programs globally. Through data analysis, buyers can make timely decisions with action plans based on the facts.

How important is traceability in textile business? 

Traceability is one of the foremost necessities to achieve sustainability which illustrates the whole life cycle of a product from the raw material to the consumer, to disposal and recycle. Traceability evidence not only conveys the source location but also demonstrates a product’s impact on the environment and people. It is very difficult for brands to have supply chain transparency if traceability initiatives are not initiated from the raw material producer. SGS closely monitors changes in the market as we work with leading industry’s groups to conduct pilot projects at manufacturing sites to set up baselines.

What kinds of equipment and technologies are general used for quality inspection and testing purposes? 

SGS labs are state of the art facilities with the latest equipment and highly accurate analytical instruments such as GCMSMS, HPLC, LC-MSMS, ICP-MS /OES, UV Spectrophotometer, UTM, Particle filtration tester, CO2 Analyser, Flame Photometer, Digi-Eye system for inspection and testing purposes. Virtual sampling – colour assessment is one of the latest technologies we have adopted to manage the colour supply chain virtually, from anywhere in the world, without the need for physical samples. Our laboratories can capture a true image of samples which can then be accessed anywhere through cloud sharing.  

Why are modern machineries important for maintaining quality across textile value chain? Can modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) enable companies to manufacture high-quality textile products? 

The latest equipment has features connecting various production segments for centralised and on-time production control. An innovation that has emerged in the industry is automation and introduction of artificial intelligence in textile production. Remote monitoring of the production through networking and robotics, which includes quality analysis and collection of data, is growing. Accurate, digitalised equipment is required to monitor quality across the textile value chain. Automation and digitalisation can enable companies to a large extent and help them to manufacture high-quality textile products.

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