Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Passing the quality test

Productivity, labour, production costs, efficiency, quality, logistics, environment norms, are areas that are being addressed by the industry to gain a competitive edge. This is being done by getting certifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, SA 8000, OHSAS, etc, and also by implementing certain TQM solutions, ERP solutions, etc. It is an established fact that such tools if implemented in the right spirit result in huge savings, and enable companies to meet their targets.

The Indian textile and clothing industry is realising the benefits of using such tools, and demand especially for the various certifications is going up each year. And it is not just the big and well established units that are extensively making use of these, but awareness has percolated down to the smaller units too.

For instance, Siyaram Silk Mills, a long established textile company, has got one of its five units ISO certified. Preparations to get the remaining four certified is on. Similarly, Donear Mills, another very flexible unit, conducted all the internal audits and put in place all the necessary systems and processes required for ISO certification, but did not go in for the certification, it is learnt. This is because implementing and following the system itself will start to bring in the results, point out experts.

Speaking to Express Textile, Dr A N Desai, director, Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA), said, "This is a very encouraging trend, smaller companies are also going in for certifications and audits. From the time BTRA started this service, we have helped 40 units in getting ISO-9001 certification. This year, as many as 12 companies approached us for this service, double that of last year. And many of these are in the decentralised sector."

According to him, while demand for ISO-9001 certification is good, response to ISO-14001 has not been the same. "Siyaram Silk Mills is showing interest in this certification. But generally this and SA 8000 are buyer-driven."

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hug the Sheets and a Light Goes On


WALLACE AND GROMIT take note: the next time the alarm sounds and you need breakfast in a hurry, a newfangled comforter could let you signal Mr. Coffee from bed.

With sheets and towels crowding the marketplace, rival manufacturers are striving to stand out. And in perhaps the most unusual merger of textile technology and electronics, WestPoint Home is introducing washable bedding that communicates wirelessly with lights and appliances. A simple squeeze tells dyes in the fabric to start talking.

This week the company presented smart bedding and other interactive furnishings to store buyers at its showroom in New York. One new product will be available next month: a Cinderella-theme coverlet that lights up like Broadway and makes the sound of a fairy godmother's wand sweeping through the air.

For grown-ups, WestPoint Home displayed a deep blue coverlet that keeps itself busy turning a chandelier on and off. Enabling this to work requires wiring the chandelier to an outlet, but once that's done options abound: plug in a coffee maker or a television and they will be activated too, allowing countless seconds of additional bed time in the morning.

The company's poly-fill pillows, meanwhile, can nudge you toward the land of Nod with an embedded speaker that makes the sounds of twittering birds or lapping waves. Other pillows will tune in a radio station, operate a television or hook up with an MP3 player.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Simmons Bedding Comments on Temporary Supply Chain Disruption

ATLANTA - Simmons Bedding Company today announced that two of its key suppliers of polyurethane foam have put their customers, including Simmons Bedding Company, on notice of allocation, due to a limited availability of TDI (toluene diisocyanate) in the United States, a key chemical component of polyurethane foam which is used throughout the bedding industry. The shortage of TDI resulted from the effects of the recent hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast region.

Charlie Eitel, chairman and CEO of Simmons Bedding Company said, "As a result of our just-in-time manufacturing process, we maintain minimal inventory of polyurethane foam. We are currently evaluating and implementing contingency plans to minimize disruption to our business. We anticipate that our production schedules at various plants will be modified according to the availability of supply. We expect minimal disruption to our Beautyrest and BackCare branded products, which are the majority of our sales, and will work closely with our customers to meet their product needs to the degree possible. We believe that any potential production delays will be for a limited period of time, with no long-term impact on our business."

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

United Feather & Down enters luxury linens

DES PLAINES, Ill. -- United Feather & Down is getting into luxury top-of-bed with Casa Poggesi, a new line of Italian bed linens and coordinating down bedding by designer David Poggesi.

The new collection includes various styles and constructions such as the 600-count Palazzo, 400-count Milan and 300-count Versilia in a wide range of colors and patterns. A blend of Lyocell and silk is also used in some of the down bedding shells.

In addition, the company is introducing two other collections at next week's New York Home Textiles Market: Weatherproof and Pinnacle.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Royal Velvet Revisited

NEW YORK -- The Royal Velvet bath towel is getting its second makeover in two years as the consortium group that owns it along with licensee partner, Li & Fung, is relaunching the line, accompanied by a national advertising print campaign.

Royal Velvet, the midtier and jeweled brand formerly owned by Pillowtex, was launched in February last year and soon after hit the shelves of Kohl's, among other retail chains. The towel, first sold at $9.99, was soon on clearance at Kohl's.

"There was nothing wrong with the towel, it was the price/value proposition," said Jack Toolan, executive vice president of Li & Fung USA's Home Brands Group, which includes licenses for Royal Velvet, and Cannon and Cannon Royal Family brands. "The initial problem with Royal Velvet is that we launched a towel, while we kept on talking of launching a brand. And that was a mistake."

Along with the bath towel, Li & Fung and other licensees gathered by Official Pillowtex LLC, the new owner, are introducing sheets, comforter set, coverlets, slipcovers and down comforters at the textiles market. The Cannon brands will also be launched at market.