Durst Alpha 330 in operation at Union
Fabrics (Private) Limited, Karachi
“Durst offers competitive technology with greater productivity
and energy efficiency”
by Muhammad Aslam Khan, Textile Consultant.
What steps had you taken in the
weaving industry in the 1990s in order to survive?
We started in late 1998 and early 1999 as a business of
commercial sizing which is the back process of weaving. There
was a big gap in commercial sizing because at that time wider
width had no sizing. We started out with locally manufactured
machines and now we have the largest market share of commercial
sizing in the S.I.T.E. industrial area.
Then we moved further and kept reinvesting in the company. We
established other units and invested in Airjet weaving capacity
that further supported our growth. For the last three to four
years we also started a business in textile processing. Today we
make complete bed sheets for the export market and digitally
printed fabric for suits for the local market, particularly the
brand Khaadi, for whom we are now the biggest supplier in
We started the local business because margins in exports were
squeezed and we were looking for a new opportunity, which the
local fashion industry provided.
The successful model for growth in the local market is to
have a good supply chain model rather than to produce everything
What, in your opinion, has been
the reason for your success?
We are in the conventional textile sector and most of the
bankruptcies also occurred in this sector. So, this segment has
been suffering badly. We are proud of the fact that in the
post-quota phase after 2005, we started growing when most of the
industries were declining or stagnant.
Instead of giving up and moving abroad or investing in real
estate we decided to invest through BMR. First and foremost, we
have to impart skills to our industry, secondly achieve
economies of scale and thirdly, we have to be competitive,
efficient and invest in high tech equipment in order to avoid
wastages and leakages, in order to survive and thrive in the
That particular strategy has paid off tremendously. Firstly,
we needed to grow to be able to compete with the big players.
Secondly, we wanted to do BMR in the right technology so it pays
off in long-term. We decided to move into printing business
after successful investment in our weaving capacity with state
of the art airjet looms.
We were at a crossroads in 2014-15 when we purchased this
mill which was Union Exports from the bank because the previous
owner had defaulted. After buying this mill, we made the
deliberate decision not to invest in the rotary machines and
decided to go for only digital printing, which I believe is the
future. Instead of going for the flatbed, which many of our
competitors had recently installed, we opted for the latest
digital printing machines.
Despite our capital constraints, as we were not as big as
others, our third Durst machine is now being installed and we
are already planning for the fourth machine for 2019.
Mr. Shoaib Jadoon, Manager Digital Printing -
Processing and Mr. Yousuf Agha, Head of Operations,
Union Exports Private Limited with Mr. Mustafa
Ashraf, Managing Director, Mustex Corporation.
What were the reasons you
invested in the digital printing business? And what are the
basic advantages of digital for home textiles?
The world is changing, and converting to the short runs, the
designers need lacs of meters. In this context, the quality also
improves and the replacement of digital technology is the
flatbed technology. Thus, the wastages are also 14% to 15% and
now with costly yarn one cannot absorb that heavy percentage of
The digital printing gives you the flexibility of short runs
with the reduction in printing time and most importantly is the
affordable cost of digital machines, which is three times what
it is today. In the past, the printing cost was very high, but
today due to a combination of advancement in the digital
printing and less wastage, there is now a competitive edge over
the flatbed printing. The time has come that the flatbed
technology is considered quite obsolete.
In the next phase, the rotary machine will also be outdated
in near future. However, it is not easy to replace the huge
capacity of the rotary with the digital one. Today some
companies are still running flatbed because there are different
perspectives for different users. The dynamics have changed and
those who have invested in cutting-edge technology are reaping
the rewards. That is why we have heavily invested in digital
printing technology by Durst and continue to do that with the
fourth machine to be installed very soon.
Durst Alpha 330 installed at Union Exports Private
Can you tell us about Durst’s
specific strengths and features that made you decide for this?
In the layman’s terms when we talk about digital printing, it
is all about the registration and sharpness of the designs. In
these two things, Durst is far superior to other machines. This
is the general perspective from the user’s point of view.
In terms of the aesthetic appearance of the output, few
machines can guarantee the results that Durst can deliver in
this context. Apart from just the great visual results, Durst
machines are also extremely robust with excellent features.
The productivity of the machine was one of the prime factors
that forced us to make a decision in favour of this machine. We
have been able to achieve higher productivity and quality at a
lower cost with Durst machines.
How does the Durst machine manage
this higher productivity?
The increase in productivity is due to the flexibility of the
processes. So, for example, with this machine, we can run it on
the single pass as well as on double pass. The entire
productivity depends on the number of passes. This machine is
capable of producing on single pass what many of its competitors
cannot produce on double pass.
While keeping the cost of production constant, the output
increases by as much as 30% with no compromise on quality, when
shifting from double pass to single pass.
I must add here that even the best of the machines and
technology that are capable of the highest productivity and
results are rendered useless due to poor after-sales service.
We have seen a remarkable change since Mustex Corporation took
over as their agents in Pakistan. The vital after-sales service
has become a part of the picture with both the local as well as
the Italian service staff readily available to help us with any
issues faced in the production.
What is the future that you
foresee for your company with this investment
in Durst machines?
Two years back our production ratio was 25% in home textile
and 75% was still grey fabrics. Today, our ratio is 40% in home
textiles and by June next year we will grow upto 50% in home
textiles and 50% in grey fabric. Our target is to grow in the
home textiles, till we reach the ratio of 65 to 70%. We are also
importing T700 and T800 yarn from Europe and also do large
volumes in organic textiles. With it, we are also working in
long staple length in yarn, in which we made very high
We import yarns from China, Turkey, Egypt, and Turkmenistan
when needed. We have also bought Jacquard machines as well as
machines for mattress stitching and we are now working for the
American market with this technology. If you want to survive you
have to give value addition to the sectors.
Right now we are at 2.5 million metres per month, but our
capacity is 3 million metres. We are also flexible enough to
shift from weaving to apparel and apparel to bedding, because we
have to be extremely flexible and adaptable as it is a matter of
survival. We are also establishing a new unit for Pret because
the future trend is of Pret and we hope to achieve great success
with our our investment in Durst machines.
If your approach is positive and you make good decisions then
you are certain to be successful.
Exports Private Limited will reach to the highest level of
production with outstanding results.”
Yousuf Agha, Head
of Operations, Union Exports Private Limited.
Yousuf Agha has recently joined Union
Fabrics as the operations head. He has an experience of 20 years
having worked in the leading textile companies in Pakistan such
as Mustaqim and Gul Ahmed Textile Mills. Agha is a graduate of
the NED University and has completed his post-graduate degree
from National Textile University. Soon after he also completed
his MBA program in Marketing. As the new head of operations, he
is highly appreciative of the investment made by Union Fabrics
in the world-class machinery such as Durst. He believes that
with the state of the art equipment and a leaner efficient
production, Union Fabrics will reach an even higher level of
optimal production and customers service with the outsatnding
According to Agha, “In the textiles, we
must do something different than others to stand out. A
medium-sized company such as Union Exports must be different and
unique with a faster turnaround time than other players who may
have better economies of scale due to their size. The key is a
swift turnaround and flexibility to adapt to the fast-changing
customer requirements. The customer base today is not the same
as before with an increasing focus on customization. Today, the
quality must be good with shortest possible delivery time at the
lowest possible price. This in return would require production
at the highest levels of efficiency.”
Yousuf Agha believes that the investments
in Durst textile digital printing machines will help Union
Fabrics to achieve the goals of optimizing production levels as
well as keeping the customers satisfied with the quality, speed
and the price.
Alpha 330: Multi-Pass Printing by Durst
The new Alpha Series features different configurations and
print widths for the digital printing of fashion garment and
apparel, home textiles and upholstery.
The Alpha 330 is Durst’s flagship for the industrial
production of home textiles; with a maximum printing width of
330 cm, households and decor products such as duvets, linen,
tablecloths, curtains and drapes, as well as advertising
materials such as flags and banners can be printed in their full
Depending on the number of print heads, the production output
can vary: fully configured with 64 print heads the Alpha 330
produces up to 460 running meters per hour and the Alpha 190 up
to 620 running meters per hour.
Magnetic Linear Actuator
The print carriage, engineered by Durst, is equipped with
magnetic linear actuation to achieve the highest precision print
results. The carriage and print bridge form the basis for this
precise, flawless, sharp-edged output, with 2 micro-meter