It is important to have some knowledge about the textile industry before heading into the garment industry in Bangladesh. If we talk about the textile industry, it will be a big story. The apparel industry is part of this spectrum. While the textile industry is generally divided, it can be divided into four main segments. For example, the first is spinning, that is, the process of making yarn. It can be cotton or linen. But usually, cotton is used more in this case. In sporting goods, i.e. where elasticity is required but not sweat absorption, polyester yarn is used. In the context of Bangladesh, the effect of spinning is not as noticeable.
Next comes the fabric. The yarn produced during spinning is made into fabric or cloth by weaving and knitting. The next step is to dye or dye the fabric in different colors in simple Bengali. Because the gray fabric, i.e. the fabric after weaving and knitting, contains natural oils, waxes, etc., and its colors are also natural. It must therefore be removed. And that’s why the fabric needs wet processing. After that comes our topic of making clothes. The dyed fabrics obtained in the wet processing stage are then cut, balanced, trimmed, finished, etc. to produce our clothes. Needless to say, Bangladesh currently ranks second in the world for exports of ready-made garments. China is in the first place.
Let us now come to the standards of technology used in the garment industry of this country. That is if we can compete with the outside world. Or we can go for first place at the top of China! The answers to these questions depend on several factors. For example, how we source raw materials, where or what technology we use, etc. Initially, the country’s relatively cheap labor and the hands of some talented industrialists formed the basis of the garment industry in the country. Despite various difficulties and obstacles, the country’s ready-to-wear industry has managed to carve out such a special place in exports. But new entrepreneurs are born all over the world, there is a rise of industrialists.
New technologies are constantly emerging, some are semi-automatic, and others are automatic. By using these technologies, on the one hand, time decreases, on the other hand, production increases significantly. As the number of workers also decreases, the total cost of production decreases.
Countries buying from the ready-to-wear industry will always want to buy higher-quality products at lower prices. As a result, our competitive market is also slowly increasing. Because we still depend on conventional methods.
So there is no alternative to using modern technology to maintain their position in this competitive market and improve from there. But the hope is that most garment industries in Bangladesh have started using modern technology and equipment.
The technologies we use
The first thing required in the production of garments is the making of patterns. The patterns are made mainly on thick pattern paper. The symbols of the different parts of the clothes are made with this pattern paper. In this way, models of different sizes are created. In general, since this work requires relatively skilled and experienced people, time is also spent on this work.
So if we can do this job with the help of computer software, time will be saved and much less manpower will be needed for this job. Major garment industries in the country are now turning to computer-aided design (CAD) software.
With the help of this software, it is now possible to easily create patterns of different parts of different garments and save them in computer memory. This electronic copy of the pattern can be scaled again to create garment patterns of different sizes. However, many industries still use traditional methods to create models.
All the patterns for each garment should then be placed on marker paper. Marker paper is basically a type of thin paper about the same size as fabric. Cutting fabric is necessary to make clothes. So that there is less wastage of fabric during this cutting and that each part of the garment follows its specific grain, these planings are mainly done by placing the patterns on the marker paper. It is understood how much work and time can go into it.
This complex and time-consuming work is now done by computer. With the help of CAD technology in the computer, the markers are made by arranging the patterns manually or automatically in very little time and certainly with less labor. After that, using a printing technology called a plotter, the marker print made on the computer is removed and this is then sent to the cutting room for cutting the fabric.
Two things are usually important in the cutting room. The first is fabric laying, that is, the fabric is exposed from the roll of fabric and the fabric is laid out in several layers on a long table. By cutting multiple layers together in this way, more garments can be made in less time, taking much less time.
Spreading usually does not require a lot of labor. But that might waste time. Now, a semi-automatic rail system is used for fabric laying, where a single operator can do the job easily. But traditional methods are still used in most industries. What comes after the cut section is to sew the cut parts of the garment into a complete garment. This section is called the swing section. When we talk about sewing, we remember the treadle sewing machines of our mothers and grandmothers in rural Bengal. But the picture of the industry is quite different.
Here the high-speed swing is used in the clothes swing which is operated using electricity. Previously, using conventional technology was time-consuming and labor-intensive. Today, thanks to semi-automatic or automatic technology, time and labor have been reduced several times, while increasing production.
Apart from the swing, there is another subject which is embroidery. Embroidery is now done using electrical machines and computer software. A specific design, i.e. the design or logo to be embroidered, is entered through the computer software, and, using the embroidery machine, it is embossed onto the fabric.
Some clothes should be washed after being cut. For example, denim or denim items are washed to produce a fading effect. Washing clothes and our daily washing of clothes are not the same things at all. We wash our everyday objects to remove dirt. But in industry, washing clothes is mainly used to give various effects. The stonewashed effect of denim pants is primarily created by stone washing.
Then there is the pressing section, the bending section. Made-up garments should be ironed to remove unwanted wrinkles. In general, we understand it as ironing. But apart from ironing, it is possible to press in other ways. For example, pressing can be done using steam but also using a vacuum. Although there is not much use of these technologies in Bangladesh. In the garment industry, workers mainly perform pressing and folding tasks.
Are we ahead or behind in technology?
If we say how far we are in terms of the technology used in the garment industry, we can see that the technology used in some of the major industries in the country is relatively advanced. In addition, the use of modern technology also begins, changing the configuration of old-fashioned machines. But in many industries, it is still not possible to use all technologies properly.
For example, manual or semi-automatic cutting is still common in almost all industries. But automatic cutting machines are used in a few industries. Technological development will therefore play an important role in further developing our garment industries and bringing Bangladesh garment industry exports to the global market.