Roger Gilmartin of TriBlend Consultants and Custom Technical Solutions

Roger Gilmartin of TriBlend Consulting elaborated on how the US cotton perfectly meets the needs of all the segments of the cotton garment supply chain.

Roger Gilmartin of TriBlend Consulting.

The common supply chain denominators are consistency, high quality, quick delivery, efficient machine and labour productivity, no waste and above all low cost. It is important to note that the spinners want consistently clean cotton with known technical parameters to optimize operating performance and yarn quality with no foreign fibre contamination.

The knitters and weavers want cotton yarns with the quality parameters that give optimum downstream performance. This means yarns that combine the strength and extensibility that produces the minimal machine stop that is the basis of world-class fabric quality, machine, and labour productivity.

For dyers and finishers, it means the high-quality greige-goods for the ‘right first-time’ dyeing essentials for repeatability and lowers energy cost. Therefore, the cloth with minimal processing defects from yarn, knitting, weaving, dyeing, and finishing limits cutting table waste, reduces final garment inspection and repair issues and the re-working that creates most of the problems that contribute to missed delivery targets.

The textile supply chain is not vertical and every speed bump caused by yarn and fabric quality problems are the major cause of shipping delays.

And then what do the brands and retailers want? The reduction and, if possible the elimination of all the above-mentioned factors.

The major paradigm shift in retailing that we have seen in the last 5 years has placed ever-increasing pressure on spinners, fabric and garment manufacturers. The quality and low cost have always been a given factor, but now the necessity for minimal inventories and reduced lead-time make the life of the textile and RMG manufacturer doubly difficult. “Right first time” manufacturing and speed to market is a key competitive advantage and a major challenge for supply in this region.

Roger Gilmartin shared some of the key results of the two studies: One is in 2017 where  US cotton was compared with the fibre from India and the CIS, and a second case study in 2018, a follow-up study which compared US fibre against cotton from Brazil and West Africa. 

The chosen mill partners in both the studies were completely vertical manufacturers of knitted garments in Bangladesh. Both studies demonstrated the US cotton, both technically and financially, clearly outperformed the comparison fibres.

Yarn Manufacturing:  In the early stage of processing, we saw little significant difference in the performance of the three kinds of cotton other than the higher production efficiencies of the West African fibre in drawing process, despite marginally higher breaks per machine hour in that process.

In both Simplex and Ring, US cotton productivity was significantly higher, thus  eliminating the Brazilian cotton as a serious competitor to the US fibre for Bangladeshi spinners due to both the quality and manufacturing performance of the fibre.

Foreign fibre contamination: The major problem of foreign fibre contamination contained in the West African and Indian cotton begin to appear even in the greige fabric before dyeing and finishing. There was also minor foreign fibre contamination problems in both the CIS and Brazilian fibres that only showed after dyeing of these fabrics.

In both studies, there was no foreign fiber contamination observed in US cotton yarn greige or finished fabric. The superior manufacturing performance of US cotton is demonstrated during subsequent garment making.

Knitting and processing: It is common knowledge that fibres are also lost during knitting and subsequent processing. Therefore, in the dyeing and finishing analysis, we can see the fibre losses. The loss of fibre during dyeing and finishing process in of US Cotton shows that the fibre loss with US Cotton was only 4.8% as against 6.7% for Brazil and 9.8% for West Africa.

Garment manufacturing: Then in the garment manufacturing stage, patterns that were generated by Lectra software are then cut by hand. During finished cloth inspection, faults in the fabric were highlighted with small identifying marks and then project partner re-inspected all garment components after cutting, before sewing. After sewing, consultant and sewing department QC inspector together examined all garments.

Some waste is generated during the cutting process, for example, cutting around any holes and other major defects. The statistics showed that fabric made with US Cotton generated the least amount of waste. After sewing, every garment was inspected by the head of the production in the presence of our company Triblend Consultants.

The inspection methodology followed a  three-step procedure. The inspector first looks at the front of the garment from the chest to the neck, then the chest to the waist - these are the two most important areas - finally, the total that is also examined, but is of less importance.

During the financial analysis, to calculate the financial impact of the manufacturing performance of each fibre we calculate clean cost at the exit of every process. This takes the cost of each fibre at the entry point of a process and the value of the fibre at the exit point, afterwards the cost of fibre loss is added back to the original input cost.

The demands made by every segment of the textile supply chain can be met by choosing the right US Cotton. In all stages of the textile supply chain, greater efficiency, less waste, higher quality, fewer rejects in fabric and garments and eventually lower cost were clearly demonstrated as advantages associated with the US Cotton.

In the financial analysis, the simplistic methodology ignores other important cost elements such as energy, labour productivity, and machine efficiency that are added throughout the manufacturing process. The detailed proprietor cost information was not requested by the mill partner. We believe that the methodology is a very conservative estimation of the financial value of one cotton over another. It is an attempt to emphasize the importance of calculating real value against apparent opening price advantages in the raw material purchasing stage.

It is important to note that through every stage of the process after spinning the inherent quality of the US fibre gains in value. At the finished garment stage, the US cotton has 18 US cents per pound advantage over Brazilian cotton. The gap would rise to 64 US cents per pound with West African cotton.

The results of TriBlend two studies and other CCI research projects to mills around the world continues to have a positive impact. Roger Gilmartin concluded that feedback from Cotton Day attendees and the management of the companies visited in SE Asia has confirmed the validity of CCI’s research. We had visited a mill after representation of our research at a Cotton Day in Pakistan which encouraged that mill to carry out a study of their own. They very kindly allowed us to share their results. In their study, they compared US cotton with Indian cotton in the production of Ne 20/1 carded and Ne 40/1 combed 100% cotton yarns.

Our company studies and the one carried out independently by the US cotton customer in Pakistan have clearly demonstrated that the demands made by every segment of the textile supply chain can be met by choosing the right US cotton for the products to be manufactured. In all the stages of manufacturing, we saw greater efficiency, less waste, higher quality and fewer rejects in both fabric and garments at a lower cost.


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