Evolution of weaving looms:

History of weaving looms can be traced back to 17th century. The first power loom was invented by Edmund Cartwright in 1785. Originally Power looms were with shuttle, and they were very slow. But as the industrial demands for faster production accelerate, faster looms without shuttle came in use in early part of 20th century. As developments and innovations take place, various types of looms were developed for faster production. Today, Air-jet, Water-jet, Rapier and other computer operated looms are used to maximize production of special materials.

Indian scenario of weaving looms:

Though weaving is one of the important sector for Indian textile industry, it has not been given due attention like spinning sector. Moreover structure of the industry plays a major role in making it competitive. Nature of this sector is mainly unorganized. The sector consists of fragmented, small and often, un-registered units that invest low amount in technology and practices especially in the power loom, processing, handloom and knits.

India has world’s largest installed base for looms. There are approximately 5mn looms in the country. India has 1.8mn Shuttle looms which is 45% of world capacity, and 3.90mn handlooms which is 85% of world capacity.

Power loom

The power loom sector produces more than 60% of cloth in India and textile ministry’s estimation says that more than 60% of the country’s cloth exports originated from that sector. With its employment of 4.86mn workers, the power looms sector comprised approximately 60% of total textile industry employment.

As per textile ministry of India up till March 31, 2006, the power looms sector — which produces various cloth products, including greige and processed fabrics — consisted of 430,000 units with 1.94mn power looms. The ministry projected the number of power looms to rise to 1.95mn in 2006-07.

But modernization in looms is less and Indian industry still lags significantly behind US, China, Europe, Taiwan etc. (Texmin, 2005). Most of the looms we have currently in country are shuttle-less. There are less than 15,000 modern looms, whereas traditional looms are in large numbers. Value addition and the manufacturing of fabrics according to customer’s compliances, is not possible due to obsolete technology of looms.

Shuttleless looms:

Shuttleless weaving looms are up to three times more efficient than shuttle looms, but the penetration of modern shuttleless loom is very less. In 2001, there were some 27,000 shuttleless cotton looms in Indonesia, 21,000 in Thailand and 10,000 in India. In world share of shuttleless looms India ranked 9th. Following chart shows comparison of shuttleless loom proportion of India with other countries.

As described in the chart India has lowest number of shutteless looms among all competing countries. While competitors like China and Indonesia are far ahead in this modernization. USA and Russia has highest proportion of modern shuttleless looms.

Challenges and Adversities:

The Indian loom industry is small scale unlike industry of China and Taiwan and therefore incurs high co-ordination cost.

Higher power tariff is also one of the biggest challenges this industry is facing. Unlike spinning industry weaving loom sector is mostly concentrated in small areas of nations, where power fluctuation is a matter of routine. Productivity also gets affected time to time by fluctuation in power in such areas.

Through Technology Up-gradation Scheme (TUFS) Government is trying to modernize these sector and make import of latest technology looms easier and affordable. Still India lags behind in productivity due to outdated technology and low penetration of shuttleless looms.

Advance technology installation demand skilled labor to understand and install such facilities, shortage of skill labor is also a roadblock in adaptation of new technology in weaving loom industry.

Technological Developments:

Along with increasing trend of importing new technology shuttleless looms, there is, however, a recent trend of investment in setting up hi-tech, stand-alone mid-size weaving companies focusing on export markets. For example groups like Shanmugavel Group of Dindigul, Tamil Nadu is planning to install 200 new airjet looms and has already placed orders for 30 airjet looms.

TIFAC- (India’s leading institute which focuses on textile machinery upgradation) is partnering with Indian textile manufacturing industry to invent new generation of High-tech weaving looms. Some of the products developed by these joint efforts include a rapier shuttleless loom (4-weft colour), which is developed to suit for Indian condition with M/s. Sree Andal & Co., Komrapalayam. The width of this rapier loom is 72" with speed of 250 rpm.

A project for the development of air-jet and 8-weft colour rapier loom was also taken up with M/s. Industrial Engineering Works. This company with cooperation of SITRA is developing some modern age indigenous looms like Air jet, Rapier and Dobby which can be fit into Indian industrial conditions well.

Conclusion:

The powerloom sector occupies a pivotal position in the Indian textile industry. Though current growth of this sector has been restricted by technological obsolescence, fragmented structure, low productivity and low-end quality products, in future Technology would play a lead role in this sector and will improve quality and productivity levels. Innovations would also be happening in this sector, as many developed countries would be innovating new generation machineries that are likely to have low manual interface and power cost. Indian textile industry should also turn into high technology mode to collect the benefits of scale operations and quality.

To reap benefits of these developments Indian powerloom industry has to prepare itself for drastic technological changes and will have to focus on area such as Technology upgradation: modernization of Power loom Service Centres and testing facilities; Clustering of facilities to achieve optimum levels of production; Welfare schemes for ensuring a healthy and safe working environment for the workers in future.


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