Bangladesh is fast growing as a major apparel accessory-producing hub as manufacturers continue to make large investments in new machinery and technology which cut the production cost by 30–40 per cent. Local manufacturers spend millions of dollars to buy modern machinery every year.
Abdul Kader Khan, president of the Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGAPMEA), told The Independent that almost 100 new factories are coming up every year fully equipped with new technology and compliance with factory norms.
He said around 250 factories have been using modern machines and technology to meet international demands.
State-of-the-art equipment helps reduce the production cost by 30–40 per cent and raises productivity, he added.
“We have installed a collar stays machine. It helps the collar to ’stand’ on the neck a bit before it folds downwards. Earlier, it used to take 10–11 workers to make 70,000–80,000 pieces of collar stays. But now, the same production can be achieved by only three workers with the help of automatic machines," he cited an example to showcase the benefits of latest technology.
When asked about the price of such machines, Khan said the manual dice costs Tk. 1,200, while the dice used in machines costs Tk. 3,500.
But the higher cost is spread out because a machine can yield a large volume and eventually increase efficiency, he added.
Carton machinery used for producing packaging material cost between USD 500,000 and USD 2,000,000. They are costly but efficient in the long run.
However, small factories cannot afford such machines. Manual carton-making machines cost USD 100,000–USD 120,000.
It takes 50 workers to produce 8,000-10,000 cartons with manual machines, whereas automatic machinery can produce 15,000-20,000 cartons with only 25 workers.
“In order to compete in the global market—this includes reducing the lead time and meeting higher demand from international consumers—we must eventually shift from human-powered machines to the auto-powered ones,” said Kader Khan.
Jack Bangladesh Ltd, established in 2003, is a leading producer of industrial sewing machines.
Golam Kibria, assistant manager (sales and marketing) of Jack Bangladesh Ltd, told The Independent: “We have eight main product series like spreading machines, automatic cutting machines, lockstitch, overlock, interlock, special machines, automatic pocket-welting machines and energy-saving motors. All of these are widely applied in apparel, footwear, luggage, furniture and leather industries.”
He said these sewing machines ran on servo motors, saving energy up to 71 per cent. These machines bring down electricity consumption to Tk. 50 from Tk. 150, he added.
The net export earnings of the garments accessories and packaging (GAP) sector was USD 7.10 billion in FY2017–18, up from USD 3.07 billion in FY2011–12.
“More units are being established as we have to meet a growing demand for accessories created primarily by the expansion of the RMG sector. Accessory-makers and packagers supply about 30 types of products to the RMG sector,” said Kader Khan.
“Around 95 per cent of the accessory products are being produced locally. Only 5 per cent are being imported,” he added.
The current level of investment in this sector is approximately Tk. 35,000 crore, said the BGAPMEA president.
He also said a resolution of the compliance issue, corporate tax reduction, policy support, separation from the RMG sector, recognition as an accessories industry, and the creation of a national database would help this sector double its export earnings by 2021.