The Textile Laboratory Evolution

The Textile industry has see many changes in the last 25 years,  one of the most fundamental changes has been the globalization of the industry, with the move to new geographical  centres such as China, India & Bangladesh.

Along with the geographical change there has also been a change in the way the industry works and this is especially true in the area of laboratory services.  In the 1990’s and 2000’s many company’s simply relied on their service providers, dyestuff companies, for their laboratory services.  With the changes that occurred in the industry,  optimization of the dyestuff business, the increase in the smaller dyestuff providers, coupled with the need for shorter lead times,  the requirements to undertake laboratory colour services in-house increased.

The textile laboratory once seen as an expensive folly has started to show some value and is now seen to be an integral part of the process and the cornerstone of any modern and professional operation.

It is accepted that manufacturing companies require laboratory services, the size and form is dependent on the company size and the requirements of the business.  The availability of adequate laboratory facilities and their associated technical back up undoubtedly increases the technical credibility of an organisation and such laboratory services can be considered as and important sales aide.

The modern factory will have the potential to work in different areas, loose fibre, yarn, fabric and garment, in many cases a single laboratory will have to service all these production areas. The equipment and personnel within the laboratory will have to be able to process multiple fabric styles with different processes.

The need for a flexible working attitude and technology to meet all requirements is essential.  To have a truly successful laboratory careful consideration of these requirements must be undertaken and assessed before any purchases are made.

The establishment of suitable laboratory facilities cannot be undertaken without some financial expenditure, the value of such services to a company is immense, in terms of the introduction of new products and processes, together with significant cost savings, to mention a few areas where they can be effective.  The cost of a dyeing laboratory is relatively small in terms of pence per metre or Kilogram of material produced.

The development of the fast fashion and just in time management systems that developed in the last two decades induced textile producers to develop “quick response” manufacturing,  so that changes in fashions or orders could be quickly met, meaning that repeat orders could be achieved and the stock inventory is kept to a minimum.

Right First time (RFT) and Just in Time (JIT) processing are essential to maintain a minimum stock level while still being able to adjust to changes in the requirements of clients as they respond to fashion trends.  Reprocessing of fabrics to achieve the correct colour results in financial penalties with the cost of reprocessing adding 30-40% to the cost of a final product.

With the modern business facing small margins and short lead times, reprocessing both in terms of financial cost and time penalties are costs that a business cannot afford.

The evolution of the textile laboratory for both colour and QC continues and the importance of the laboratory in the modern factory will only continue to increase as the pressure on the business increases.

 

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