Why Indian industry needs to go for TT in a big way

Why Indian industry needs to go for TT in a big way

Though India is the second largest textile economy in the world after China, our contribution to one of the growing textile segments is negligible, says Avinash Mayekar.

Though India is the second largest textile economy in the world after China, our contribution to one of the growing textile segments is negligible, says Avinash Mayekar.

This is the modern motto of business today. We cannot be hold back on to the products that we are good at or well known for. It is an era where new product needs are developed with every groundbreaking technological innovation. Today a product comes in and the market gets auto developed; such is the pace of the world. Change is the new constant. So it is high time for this change to give a massive blow for growth of technical textile segment in India as well.

Change and success go hand in hand. Textile, the golden industry of India, has [at last] accepted that change is inevitable, and after 15 years of knowing this, technical textile segments today, we are still thinking of this sector to be an emerging sector. No doubt entrepreneurs are now shifting from conventional textiles and thinking about investing in the future of textiles, i.e., technical textiles. However, if we see the sectors of technical textiles in which this investment are occurring, it will be no surprise that a handful of first successful segments are the ones where our reputation of being followers is simply proving to be through again.

Though India is the second largest textile economy in the world after China, our contribution in one of the growing textile segments is negligible. This is an eye opener to how much behind we are as far as technical textile market is concerned. Moreover the other hard hitting fact of Indian technical textile scenario is that we have penetrated our roots in technical textile segments like packtech (36 per cent), clothtech and hometech. If see the scenario of packtech, most of the products will be on closed down today due to ban on use of polypropylene bags as a result of rising environmental concerns. Also the monetary value of the end-products especially in clothech and packtech is sadly on the lower side.

In home textiles, we have done remarkable innovations and have become one of the key leaders in this market having a share of 11 per cent in world touching $4.2 billion in 2018-19. Naturally, with this success ratio, a lot of new investments are seen coming in this sector alone. However this again will lead to a neck competition and the higher margins will drastically reduce due to multiple existing competition of the sector. If at all one has to enter the segment then the innovation or product should be different from the masses.

As a lot of products are already produced in this segment, I would like to concentrate on innovations, which are going to happen in future in this particular segment. If we take the case of textile curtains, these curtains perform the basic function to block the sun heat and rays from entering the room in addition to the aesthetic appearance of the room. With new developments in nonwoven industry especially by using spunlace nonwovens, we can produce these curtains by using much cheaper raw material as curtains do not need much strength. The curtains are usually hung from one end and stay in one position so they should have the self-weighing properties, hence we can reduce the weight of the curtains by using spunlace technologies. The spunlace curtains would take care of the aesthetic look of the fabric having the inherent capability of creating various structures and shapes that can be embossed on the fabric. Thereby the manufacturing cost of the curtains can be minimised drastically by using spunlace technology. So the curtains, which were once being used for months or years can now be replaced after specific days or as per occasions or events due to the price benefits and even additional set of curtains can be kept to replace them alternatively.

The raw material required for producing curtains using spunlace technology can also be the by-products of textile industry like spinning waste and the short staples. The major requirement is that the fibre length must be up to 15 mm. So the cost incurred on raw material using spunlace technology is much low as compared to woven curtains. Similarly the entire spinning weaving and then fabric processing, i.e., bleaching and dyeing technologies will be completely eliminated as the fibres will be directly converted to fabric by using the spunlace technologies. This technology is now getting popular worldwide and replacing most of the applications in which strength is not the major criteria, but we need a fabric or felt which can be used as enhancing factor for that particular application.

In home textiles, the second major product is towels. Towels are of various types and they are produced by using various types of raw material, e.g. if we are catering to the American markets open-end towels are much famous. Whereas in case of European market, towels having pile loops with high quality combed yarn are preferred which makes towels softer and good looking as various designs/patterns can be incorporated on them.

With the recent trend of optimisation of raw material and using very low cost of production, I think we need to start using disposable towels, which can be produced by using nonwoven technology. With this method, we can use 100 per cent cotton or the byproducts of cotton like comber noil or flat strip. Such towels will not be very strong but will be having the essential property of absorption. It can easily absorb water or moisture and wipe or clean the body parts. These towels may use cotton or any natural raw material so it is skin friendly and will not cause any allergies to skin. There is no need to colour them thereby eliminating the use of dyes and chemicals as they will be for use-and-throw purpose. However the aesthetic look can be taken care by the self-embossed technique used in nonwovens technology.

Many developments for using this technology to produce towels are already being done. This will not only reduce the manufacturing cost but also reduce the carbon footprints, and hence will be more environmental friendly. The other innovation is using bamboo fibre as raw material for producing towel. Still there is not much research done in this area but I am confident bamboo fibre can be used in place of cotton and have good functional properties and it can be transformed into bamboo towels, which are in a great demand.

In other products like bed linens, table covers, table napkins or wall covering, many innovations have taken place. We can also use disposable textiles for these products. Various types of patterns and structures can be the design elements for the self-developed fabric.

Apart from that, disposable textiles today are no longer associated with medical textiles alone but have expanded its reach in other sectors like households and hospitality industry. All types of wipes from industrial to household are disposable. There are numerous other disposable textile applications such as shopping bags, tablecloths, towels, airline head rests, pillow cases, sorbents, sponges, garments, etc.

Top saloons and spas have also started using disposable napkins, hats, gloves and aprons to maintain hygiene and protection. The modern women today prefer an easy to carry light packs of wipes both wet and dry makeup cotton pads over traditional napkins that become soggy, smelly and clumsy after several uses. Also their make ups can be easily handled by the cotton pads or wipes avoiding stains that would have otherwise appeared on regular towels/napkins. Five- and seven-star hotels have also started adopting disposable textile in the form of napkins, towels to provide hygiene and quality products. The packaged untouched hotel brand labeled personalised goodies likes wipes, napkins entrust the customers with high standard products.

Disposable textiles having main feature of “use & throw” is highly demanded by travellers. Today monthly trip or weekend outing is the phenomenon widely practiced by youths and even mid-40 population. This constant travelling has urged the use of disposable textiles like towels, undergarments, wipes, shoes, etc. mainly due to its light weight and disposability. Being use and throw, it provides ample of space in the existing baggage for travellers during return trip and also saves their time from doing unnecessary laundry.

The global technical textile market on the other hand is dominated by meditech, mobitech followed by indutech, sportech, which are high-value products. It is time that we concentrate on such unexplored segments and use the innovative technologies to create a product line that will be the next in demand product of the future.

Conclusion

The ease of use and cost effectiveness is the major reason for growth of disposable textiles in home textile. To avoid any infections, allergies and contamination most of the hospitals also promote use of disposable pillow covers, curtains and bed sheets. Five- and seven-star hotels have also started adopting disposable textile in the form of napkins, towels to provide hygiene and quality products. The hotel brand labeled personalised goodies likes wipes, napkins entrust the customers with high standard products. Disposable textiles having main feature of “use and throw” is highly demanded by travellers. Today monthly trip or weekend outing is the phenomenon widely practiced by youths and even mid-40 population. This constant travelling has urged the use of disposable textiles like towels, which are cost effective.

The use of spunlace technology in home textiles will give a different dimension to this segment. We can reduce dyes and chemicals totally as most of the products are usually preferred in plain white shade. Disposable textiles using no dyes and chemicals can be used especially in hospitals, hotels and offices, thus contributing a small share for saving the environment.

The article is authored by Avinash Mayekar, MD & CEO, Suvin Advisors

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