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Value of technical service rises in dyes & chemical sector

Jul '12
Dr Sanjiv Kamat
‘Cost & environmental impact’ are presently the key drivers of the dyes and chemical industries. However, ‘technical service’ has turned important, due to lack of knowledge and skills among technicians, said a top official of the UK based – Society of Dyers & Colourists (SDC).

Fibre2fashion spoke exclusively to Dr Sanjiv Kamat – the India-based Global President of SDC. SDC was formed in 1884 in the UK and is a non-profitable charitable organisation, with the prime objective of disseminating knowledge about Colours and Coloration to interested parties.

Textile dyes and chemicals are one of the biggest pollutants harming the environment. When asked as to how SDC addresses the concerns, he said, “Though the Society was formed mainly to address knowledge issues of the textile industry, today it no longer restricts itself to textiles.

“Hence, the activity of the SDC relating to the environment is about helping a broad range of people to understand coloration and its impacts much better and deeper. The "Colour Index" for example is referred to by users, legislators and academics (and is published jointly with the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colourists).

“This is a unique on-line resource which tells the user about the chemistry and properties of the listed products. Members of the Society also get many opportunities to network amongst knowledgeable persons in coloration and thereby contribute to addressing such industry impact issues”.

When quizzed if there was sufficient awareness about eco-friendly ways of textile processing and finishing, he replied by saying, “Personally I feel that the awareness is restricted to only those who are interacting with progressive multinational companies (MNC’s). It is for this reason that people should enroll as members of SDC to develop and grow their awareness.

“The SDC has also been conducting seminars and workshops in India on a regular basis including coverage of eco-friendly technology. Furthermore members have access to the "Knowledge vault" and web based seminars and also the "Colourist" and e-newsletter to keep upto date and informed in such areas.

“The SDC also holds an annual international design competition which has a sustainable strand to its theme. Through these means of communications, the society ensures that the member is updated on what is happening in and around the industry, in terms of new developments, environmental issues and sustainability”.

Speaking about the technological trends that shall govern the textile dyestuff/dyes/chemicals market, he said, “Future trends would include reducing the utilities used in manufacturing with special emphasis on the environmental impact. In the UK for example, WRAP has just released a report entitled “Valuing our Clothes” which highlights that, over 90% of the water footprint of UK clothing is overseas, in areas such as India and China.

Saving in water, energy and process cost are the order of the day. Therefore, looking at this, last year, SDC arranged a 1-day conference in Dhaka, on issues relating to water. Already, washing machines, using little or no water are available in the market. Supercritcal carbon-dioxide technique for dyeing polyester fabrics is now commercially practised.

“Digital printing is also gaining importance. So we are already seeing changes. Organisations which do not see these changes and adapt will struggle and perhaps eventually be out of business. A large amount of automation is also being seen on the shop floor machines and processes. This leads to optimum use of water and energy”.

Explaining about the key drivers of the dyes and chemicals market, he said, “Cost and Environmental Impact are presently the key drivers. However, technical service has also become more important, due to lack of knowledge and skills in the technician population.

“With an explosion of information and new concepts being introduced by suppliers of colour/machine manufacturers, the knowledge gained in college is no longer sufficient and there is a need for continuous up-gradation. I see an important role for SDC here. The Society's qualifications and training programmes are an important means of keeping pace, with the changing requirements of any organisation, which wants to stay ahead.

“Recently SDC has been training local Indian trainers for such programmes and the first training sessions have been held with more planned for the future. SDC has also recently produced two more ‘free to download’ best practice guides, which are available on its website which help professionals gain knowledge and skills”.

On the subject of the key challenges confronted by the dyes/intermediate industry in India, he said, “Raw material costs are becoming an issue. Most of the key raw materials are being imported for economical reasons and the fluctuation of the US dollar in terms of Indian rupees is impacting the price.

“The variation in the dollar exchange rate compared to March has seen the prices of products going up, though the basic raw material cost in dollar terms has been more or less the same. Globalisation also means that product prices are now open to all and with little or almost no product differentiation; brands are not able to fetch their prices unless they can provide "perceived" benefits.

“Once again the SDC with its unbiased image, is playing a major role, by providing a platform where users can interact with multiple suppliers and peers, in assisting to arrive at the best possible decisions and producing value for money and low environmental cost products as opposed to simply cheap products”, he concluded this interesting interview by saying.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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