Quality Programmers top Remould the Textile World
Contemporary fibre, textile and apparel industries are multifaceted; high-tech businesses invested with countless competitive challenges. To deal with these, many of the approximately 30,000 textile-associated companies in the United States have brought about quality management programmes to bring down costs and better both products and customer satisfaction. A large range of high standard techniques and various levels of implementation are used; some companies still depend on age-old final-inspection methods, but other organisations can be considered among the highly developed in any industry.

Today, the fibre, textile and apparel industries make up about 7 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the United States. Together, these industries employ 1.2 million people directly and encourage more than 2.4 million other jobs. This huge industrial centre is the leading supplier among basic manufacturing industries to the U.S. gross domestic product.

During the last 10 years, textile-associated industries have invested more than $2 billion annually in new technologies and equipment. This investment has directed notable productivity growth. For instance, productivity in weaving per loom hour enhanced more than 500 percent between 1975 and 1999. This differs sharply from overall U.S. productivity, which has more than doubled since 1970.

Tackling the trade
The fibre, textile and apparel industries are enveloped by fundamental changes. Global contest is severe. Though the United States is the world's seventh-largest exporter of textiles and has accelerated exports by 15 times more than its 1970 rate, an astonishingly speedy expansion of imports, particularly in apparel, has generated an important trade deficit. The U.S. textile trade deficit escalated 10.4 percent in 1999 and made up 1.2 percent of the country's total trade deficit. The apparel trade deficit boosted 7.1 percent and now makes up 14 percent of the total. With only 4.3 percent of the world's population and 16 percent of the world's textile-mill production, the United States uses almost 20 percent of the world's textiles and obtains close to 20 percent of the world's textile and apparel imports.2

The industries' marketplaces are growing to be more complicated. Short life cycles are still and requirements for quick reply and just-in-time distribution are rising. There are still many hand-offs in the production and distribution processes, and very few companies are capable of monitoring the whole process. As competition goes on, U.S. fibre, textile and apparel companies must depend more on advanced quality, leading edge products and quick reply to customer requirements to ensure markets and to grow continuously. Discoveries in nanosciences, electrotextiles, nonwovens, medical textiles and geotextiles are imparting new optimism and new challenges. But all of the succeeding fresh products need even superior quality levels and production-control methods.

Historical movements in textile industry

The textile is one of the most ancient industries of the world. The earliest recognised textiles consist of scraps of linen cloth discovered from Egyptian caves approximately in 5000 B.C. In the western world, textile production continued a family industry till the early 1500s, when the first factories were erected. In Asia, particularly in China, centralising and standardising textile production took place as early as during the Zhou Dynasty (11th to eighth centuries B.C.). During this age, very clearly stated terms and conditions were in practice for silk and cotton fabrics. They firmly believed that quality and size of cottons and silks not comply with the set standards were not permitted to sell in markets. The later Zhou Dynasty even included distinct warp and weft touchstones for silk in the north and south because the weather and humidity were poles apart. Textile manufacturers who didn't meet these rigorous criteria were punished.
In the West, an early direction for the guarantee of quality in the textile business bears a date of 14th-century Germany. Called tuchshau (showing of cloth), the direction included knowledgeable inspectors who, together with an equal number of city council members, witnessed the whole manufacturing procedure starting at the loom, where warps were examined. If a single piece of cloth was not produced under this regulation, it could not be sold by any businessman.

As happens in most other manufacturing industries, for many centuries, quality in the textile industry was obtained through final assessment of finished goods. The last assessment was often used to generate different categories of quality, products of which were then sold at different prices. Gradually, manufacturers started to put assessment and regulation in the quality of raw materials and the production procedures.