Huge potential for UAE textile industry with automation

SHARJAH — The UAE manufacturers are showing increased interest in automated machinery for technical textile making unique products, according to a garment machinery expert.
“With automation in the industry, we foresee huge potential for growth in home textile, technical textile and other industries directly or indirectly related to the developments of the UAE and the GCC region,” Iskander Sultan Khwaja, Managing Director of Sharjah-based Al Borj Machinery LLC, told Khaleej Times in an interview. The company recently celebrated 25 years in business.

“In recent years, we have also been successful in convincing customers to invest in ‘automated aolutions’. We have sold ‘automated aolutions’ to a variety of sectors including home textile, car seat, tent and curtain manufacturers, and also to Arab dress manufacturers,” he said.

He said that the UAE government is facilitating development of SME manufacturing sector and Al Borj is closely working with many such projects.

Khwaja said that a common remark heard frequently is that the labour cost has increased, making it unviable for manufacturers to compete with countries with cheaper labour. However, it is a known fact that labour component is not more than 20 to 25 per cent of total cost of production in which the cost of fabric and trims are generally more than 55-60 per cent. It is also pertinent to note that although labour cost is more than say India or China, it is still much lower than the other GCC and Middle East countries, he said.

“The well-planned factories in the UAE are saving the labour cost by introducing automation, which increases productivity and ensures quality goods. With this automation not only they can reduce their labour cost, but also increase their profit margins,” Khwaja said.

And that is not all, he said. By reverting to automation factories can change the way they make garments and can have good production planning schedules, and on time shipment increases the buyers confidence

Here, he said, it is important to note that the return of capital for any of the automated workstation could be as minimal as six month in certain cases but not more than three years in any case. The UAE apparel industry has witnessed quite a number of changes in past 25 years. Al Borj has over 50 of the world’s best brands manufacturers as its partners. Juki, Gerber Technology, Texpa, Barudan, Eisen Kolb, Pegasus, Ngaishing, Miller, Organ and Tolkar, to 
name few.

Inspite of tough market conditions, Al Borj today is one of the largest solution provider for each stage of manufacturing from storage of raw material to finishing and packing in the region for various apparel and textile manufacturing segments of the industry.

It is a known fact that the traditional garment industry has moved to other countries long ago. As a step forward Al Borj studied new products to diversify its range in order to explore the potential arising from the existing facilities and ongoing developments of the region.

As a result now Al Borj sells machines to over 25 industrial manufacturing segments, from aviation to automotive and from fashion apparel to interiors. It has offices in Jordan and Kenya also.

Beside the various manufacturing sectors, Al Borj is also supporting the local fashion institutes and has been catalyst in bringing the awareness among the young designers regarding technological advances in apparel engineering. It also gives pattern designing and embroidery software training to the students from institutes across GCC.

Khwaja said that despite the increase in overheads, UAE is still a better place for business as compared to other GCC countries. He highlighted a few of these advantages, which make UAE a prime business hub.

He said that the socio-economic conditions are better than any other place in the region. It has most modern banking facilities, there are duty free zones providing one-window operations to the investors. There is no need to elaborate upon the state-of-the-art infrastructure and communication facilities that streamline administrative procedures and effective protection for investors. The UAE has the most stable political system in the region and thanks to Allah Almighty; the land is free from natural disasters and calamities.

“The wide range of options provided by free zones, absence of red tapes, no hidden costs, and above all a tolerable labour environment, availability of highly skilled, productive and hardworking labour force have made the UAE the envy of many,” Khwaja said.