Maeen Md. Khairul Akter, Managing Editor, Textile Focus
Md. Arif Iqbal, Asst. Professor, Department of Textile Engineering Management,
Bangladesh University of Textiles
The hype regarding the 50 billion issue of textile and RMG industry of our country is evident everywhere. Probably Bangladesh will eventually reach the cherished 50 billion mark by 2021, but only numbers cannot secure a sustainable future for the industry. Rather, the industry needs to strengthen its technological fundamentals to remain competitive and profitable. More and more, non-wage factors are driving purchasing and sourcing decisions among European and United States apparel companies. These determinants include capacity, product quality, workforce competency, production efficiency and labour compliance. Efforts to increase the capacity and product quality can be recognized in the contemporary factories but determination for improvement in workforce competency and production efficiency is lacking. Skills, techniques, appropriate machineries, proper information and the right network- all are intrinsic components of technology that must be developed for the sustained growth and wealth creation by the textile and RMG industry. Only increasing capacity increases flow of currency but technological development is what makes an industry rich. Though it’s an overwhelming issue for the industry, but without a proper roadmap it becomes impossible to manage the technological fundamentals of the industry.
‘Wages and productivity in the garment sector in Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States’, ILO Report.
Technology and its components
In many cases it can be marked that the knowledge of industry stake holders about the term ‘technology’ is incomplete. Only modern machineries is not what technology is all about. There are four components of technology that needs to be considered to comprehend the technological fundamentals of an industry.
As it is described in the table below the four components of technology are the technware, humanware, infoware and orgaware. It is very important to consider all the components when considering a particular technology. It’s a common scenario in our country especially in the textile industries where the stake-holders do not have proper knowledge on the proper characterization of a technology. As a result technologies are being introduced to the industry are not completely appropriate in some cases or the technologies are not utilized completely. Knowledge about the capacity of an industry to adopt a particular industry is as important as the knowledge about the technology itself.
Technology Characterization in Textile and RMG
An effective technological development requires development of all the four components of technology starting from the technoware to the skills required to operate it and the information & organizational set-up for the smooth functioning of the technology. A typical characterization in that sense can be depicted as followed.
The characterization of two different technology shows that they need different inputs for different results. A technology can be strengthened by hiring more competent workers (improving the humanware) or by hiring an experienced manager (improving the infoware). So development can be brought in different forms in different stages. This implies the importance of development need of any technology. Factory managers must have a clear understanding of the potential of the existing technology and a clear concept about the development requirement. That means the technology fundamental of any industry needs a complete management system for continual development.
Technology Management in Textile and RMG
A huge technological reformation is going on in the global textile world and the industries are moving towards a more productive and environment friendly solution. Bangladesh is one of the most important global players of textiles and apparel, and huge numbers of industries here are still unaware or reluctant to explore the new productive and eco-friendly technologies.
Bangladesh is a net technology importer as the capacity for indigenous technology creation is next to zero; especially when textile and RMG is in concern. This makes the multi-billion export industry completely reliant on foreign technology. Hence, technology management in the textile industries becomes a very important issue. But unfortunately, technology has not been officially recognized as a major factor of production in the industries. There is no dedicated department in the industries to look-over the technology fundamentals. Though the functional managers do take-care of their respective departmental technologies but a central effort to improve or develop the technology as a whole is not there.
On the other hand big multi-national companies emphasize on the issue very seriously and we often see technology managers who are dedicatedly responsible to look after the technology fundamentals of the companies.
The trend is not easy to start in the textile and RMG companies overnight but there must be a committee at least consisting members from different departments to look after the technology of the company. For that the fundamental knowledge on technology management is a must for the committee members.
Technology management process starts with a need assessment. Because, the need for different industries must be different as every industry is endowed with variable resources and operating in different market dynamics.
A typical technology management system can be depicted as followed:
Industries must develop a strategic plan for technological development parallel to its organizational goal. For example, if an industry is aimed to emphasize in productivity they should target to develop the specific components that are associated with the improvement of productivity. Whereas industries looking for product diversity must introduce technology components that is associated with bringing in new features in the products mix.
The advantage of having a dedicated team or committee for technology management is that they can do independent research or analysis in order to implement the plan. In developed countries industry throws problems or development schemes to the universities and institutes where academicians develop solutions and provide it to the industry. In our country as there is no such practice, technology or technology parts are to be sourced from outside. This transfer of technology requires a comprehensive planning, research and action.
Successful technology transfer means that it is necessary to a broad view of “Technology” to mean not only machines and equipment, but also the skills, abilities, knowledge, systems and processes necessary to make things happen. Thus technologies are meant to be total systems that include know-how, procedures, goods and services, as well as organizational and operational measures.
A technology transfer is, in reality, a structural process of learning. The key components of a transfer can be identified as knowledge derived from real-world experience together with human expertise capable of transforming that knowledge into action. Successful technology transfer requires inputs such as coordination between technology developers and users; a facilitative environment that is supportive of entrepreneurship; and networks and collaborations that provide referral links for information, finance and other pertinent resources.
The spectacular growth of textile and RMG sector in Bangladesh in recent years has dramatically changed the landscape of export composition of the country. But the industry is facing heavy competition and problems associated with enforcement of compliance laws and productivity issues. Basically Textile field is combined with various applied technology and now in Bangladesh this sector needs technological up-gradation to match with the global pace and mitigate environmental hazards. Technological up-gradation could be done by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new and innovative technologies. For that there is no way but to adopt appropriate technology management in the textile and RMG industry.