Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
Current cotton and yarn situations in leading textile manufacturing countries like India is compelling the textile industry to go for diversification. India has been promoting the technical textiles sector for nearly two decades. The history of this effort in India can be well traced by this scribe as a personal witness. As the co-chairman of the India Committee of the USA-based INDA, Association the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry organized its first nonwoven technical workshop in Mumbai in January 2007 that was followed by a major business event, “Link with India.” Probably, this event was ahead of its time as the technical textiles sector was getting started with wide spread awareness then. Currently, India is going on a high gear to push technical textiles forward due to the stressful situations faced by the spinning sector due to cotton price volatility and supply issues.
“Margin in the spinning sector has been eroding and today one can say it is non-existent in most of the mills,” stated Prakash Vasudevan, director of Coimbatore-based The South Indian Textile Research Association. Those mills that have invested in wind power and modernization are surviving, but still needs to focus on diversification, added Prakash Vasudevan.
This scribe has been emphasizing on developing a converting sector base for technical textiles. Investing in infrastructure to produce roll goods (fabrics) will be fruitful, if there is a base to absorb huge production. Vasudevan added that there is a need to have specialized converting sector. He further added that exploring the market and strengthening the marketing aspect should take priority. In this scribe’s opinion, there is an immediate need to create a flow channel for technical textiles fabrics (downstream), that can be translated into value-added products, used by consumers. Additionally, creating collaborations between advanced nations in this field such as Germany and United States will pave the way for growth of this sector. Recently, this scribe has enabled a joint effort between a Chennai-based WellGro Innovations and Lubbock-based E Innovate, LLC, which has resulted in the debut of TowelieTM oil sorbent nonwoven wipe in the United States’ market.
Technical textiles sector is getting attention by entrepreneurs as well as conventional players. Santhana Thirumalai, an IT expert who has moved back to Coimbatore from the United States is exploring the advanced textiles sector to diversify their family-based weaving and agriculture activities. More information on the type of products needed and how to go about developing those products must be made available for the new entrants.