The choice and use of raw materials has a significant impact on a mill’s profitability, as experts estimate that fiber alone represents between 50 and 70% of the final yarn costs.
To help spinning mills maximize their profitability, Cotton Council International launched its consulting firm Cotton USA Solutions about three years ago. Experts guide manufacturers in making improvements that will increase yield or improve production efficiency. “At CCI we have a saying: it’s not about making yarn, it’s about making money,” said Bruce Atherley, Executive Director of Cotton Council International.
A recent Sourcing Journal webinar explained how Cotton USA Solutions helps factories optimize their operations through education. Cotton USA Solutions’ five offerings include one-on-one consultations, site visits to Cotton USA licensed mills, research studies, technical seminars, and the newest service, the Mill Mastery course. These in-depth continuing professional development modules are designed to build mills’ expertise in using American cotton, with sessions available on everything from technical production to sustainability.
“During the pandemic, when all of our consultants were grounded, we really couldn’t go anywhere,” said Joerg Bauersachs, technical services manager at Cotton Council International. “We weren’t sitting at home at our desks; we recorded and wrote down all the experiences we had. The result was a best practices guide that weighs in at over 2,000 slides.
Cotton Council International technical team consultant Dr Muhammad Tausif said the modules are divided into three main topics. The first covers cotton as a raw material, including the steps to turn the plant into the bale, such as harvesting and ginning, as well as the quality of the lint and the choice of cotton to buy. Moving further down the supply chain, another unit of the course focuses on cotton processing and explains best practices for turning fiber into yarn. Finally, Mill Mastery offers modules on topics such as cotton sustainability, profitability and industrial engineering.
The Cotton USA Solutions team is able to incorporate real-world data from their fieldwork into the courses. These classes are usually held on-site at the factory, allowing for interactive discussions and almost immediate implementation of learnings. “Our goal in these courses is to build the skills of our learners and help them gain knowledge to financially optimize the purchase, selection and processing of American cotton into yarn,” Tausif said.
To date, the consultancy has organized at least 36 mill mastery courses. One of the manufacturers that has committed to this offer is Malek Spinning Mills, a manufacturer from Bangladesh that is part of New Asia Group. Malek opted to train cross-functional teams on spinning, including staff who don’t physically work in production, such as those who maintain machinery or sweep and sort cotton for reuse. “When they also participated in this program, it kind of opened up a whole different section of their brain, where they got a lot more insight into why they were doing what they were doing,” said Azizur Chowdhury, director of Malek Spinning Mills Ltd.
As a result of his work with Cotton USA, Malek made a number of changes to machine settings and fiber usage which Azizur says together added value, reduced costs, improved quality and reduced waste.
Malek Spinning Mills has been loyal to American cotton for about two decades. Previously, the mill sourced cotton from various places, but this led to inconsistencies. By using only American cotton, the mill was able to not only standardize the finished product, including achieving exact color matches between seasons, but also improve efficiency, as the machines did not need to be recalibrated. for different fiber properties.
According to Atherley, a misconception about American cotton is that it is more expensive than cotton from other geographic sources. But qualities like low humidity and less waste—or materials that aren’t fiber fluff—mean a bale of American cotton has more usable fiber. “While raw material cost is obviously the biggest part of the cost of yarn, we find that when you take the raw cotton and then run it through a spinning mill, or even go deeper into fabric, dye, the finish, the garment, what you find is that American cotton not only results in a higher quality product in the end, it actually results in a lower overall cost,” Atherley said.
Watch the webinar, sponsored by Cotton USA Solutions, to learn more about:
- Which Mill Mastery courses are the most popular
- The Professional Development Benefits of Mill Mastery for Staff
- What Malek has changed through his work with Cotton USA Solutions
- Which stage of cotton processing presents the greatest cost challenge
- How Spinners Can Take Advantage of Mill Mastery and Other Cotton USA Solutions Offerings
Watch the webinar here.