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Fast Turn-around time is key to reliability in Supply Chain- How this Indian Apparel Company delivered products in a record time of 12 days

    by Team Sage Sustainability

    In Conversation with Mr Bala Harisudhan, MD Raagam Exports, a company based out of Tiruppur India, that took a short lead time by its client as a challenge and delivered on an even shorter time period of 12 days.

    Indian manufacturing companies have started building competitiveness as their USP; Many companies are competing on cost and quality, however there is one key spoke in this wheel which is Time. How many textile and apparel sector companies’ are able to make it their strength.

    What is the standard turn-around time or lead time in textile garment business.

    From the initial Purchase order to final shipping of the garment the lead times vary for different countries as well as between the knits and woven. The standard lead time in 1990’s was 100 plus days, which shortened to 90 days as a thumb rule while the range is between 60-90 days. Lead time is the time that is taken by a company delivering the garment from the date of release of purchase order to the day of shipment of the garment/product.

    Why are brands looking for shorter lead times?

    Fast Fashion is about testing the market at the beginning of the season and based on response, gearing up for satisfying the demand. The brands are looking for faster deliveries and reorders as products are picked up by the customer for only that season.

    Handling a challenging lead time?

    Raagam Exports was set up as a business in 1987 in Tiruppur and has specialization in cotton knitted garments. The company has amongst its clients some of the leading brands based out of USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Austria and The Czech Republic and amongst its clients the names are NEXT of UK, Inditex (Zara and Bershka) and Desigual of Spain. Mr HariSudhan, MD, Raagam Exports explains that it started with Inditex

    In 2006, Inditex was looking for a 28 days lead time, for 100,000 units. “We were hesitant, although we have inhouse facility yet contracting the lead time from three months to 28 days was a stretch for us, but we took it as a challenge and delivered it on time.” With this delivery Raagam exports secured a repeat order, which was 21 days for 50,000 garments and by prioritizing production and through proper planning that too was delivered.

    Then in 2009, Spanish brand Desigual, which specializes in bold prints, with different colours were looking for fast turn-around timing. There are 13-14 components to these garments with chest printing, multiple design elements although patterns remain the same. This order for 5000 pieces was delivered in 15 days on a 20 day lead time. “This was the benchmark and surprising for the client as for ourselves” says Sudhan with an emotion that is a mix of excitement and pride.

    The story does not end here, next this company delivered to NEXT UK in the shortest lead time of 12 days over a 21 days lead time for 7000 garments. “This was very challenging, but we tested our system for an even shorter lead time,” say Harisudhan.

    How did Raagam Exports achieve this lead time against the standard of 90 days.

    Mr Harisudhan attributes this success to a number of factors. Proper planning, advantages of having ready stocks, in-house processing facility and finally the optimum use of technology are some of the important factors that help in prioritizing production to match the challenging timelines. Even during lockdown, the company used collaborative platforms such as slack to optimize the process. He also added that the team was actively involved from the planning, outlining the issues and challenges and also resolving the challenges. From Feb 2021, they are planning to shorten the lead time from 90 days to 60 days for all clients. The teamwork has made this challenge a possibility for Ecoline.

    Bala HariSudhan is a B Tech in Fashion Technology and while that is an advantage for apparel business, the real focus is his customer-centric approach and understanding the customer requirement. Accepting challenges and planning well and executing in time is an advantage. and understands the nuances of the business very well.

    Additionally, the company meets 70% of its requirement from Renewable Energy which is 3MW solar and 1.25 MW wind, As processing is done in house, focus on Zero Liquid Discharge has helped company plan water and other resources well. ZLD is in place. While focusing on the short turn-around time, Mr. Sudhan is equally passionate about sustainability. He said they have set Sustainability Targets which they will achieve by 2022. They are also working in partnership with ITF to achieve GreenCO rating by CII-GBC in near future.

    Raagam Exports is setting an example of a high environmental benchmark and high reliability which makes for a reliable supply chain partner. Knowing the customer requirement and making use of the technology and resources, the company is confident of using the Post-Covid Opportunity and the surge in the market towards festive season to best of its advantage.

    Interviewed by Dr Shashi K, Manju Sendil Kumar