By Emma Matkin
With the addition of Denimatrix and continuing advancements at the American Cotton Growers (ACG) denim mill, the Textile Division at Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA) is working hard to sustain positive cash flow and maintain a steady work environment despite the rough economic times.
American Cotton Growers: Weaving efficiency, a key factor in textile mills, has increased in the last six months as ACG achieved 92.24 percent weaving efficiency compared to 90.53 percent in fiscal 2008. This is a significant and remarkable increase by weaving efficiency standards.
Bryan Gregory, PCCA’s Vice President of Textile Manufacturing, explained that weaving efficiency is probably the best indicator ACG has to indicate how well the mill is running.
“The higher the weaving efficiency, the lower the overall operating cost,” Gregory said. “It is kind of like the grade on a report card; anything over a 90 is considered pretty good.” Even though productivity is on the increase, the economy did cause a great impact on ACG.
“It was a very tough year for us. Business was slow,” Gregory said. “We took more downtime (92 days) than we have taken in several years due to slow denim sales.”
The denim mill also went through a major change when the operating schedule was cut from a seven-day, four-shift operation, to a five-day, three-shift operation on March 23.
“The reduction in force from seven days to five days was difficult,” Gregory said. “We regretfully eliminated 159 hourly jobs and 13 salaried positions.”
Despite the economic hardship, ACG has managed to report other positive results. In addition to improved weaving efficiency, improvements also were achieved in beaming yards, up 15 percent per hour.
The Yarn Manufacturing Department at ACG also successfully changed its cotton blending philosophy from cotton blending at draw frames to blending at the bale laydown. The new blending method will provide much needed flexibility.
Product Development produced 385 samples this year, and new technology was added to maintain shrinkage control which will, in turn, improve yield as well as improve fabric performance. ACG is the first denim mill in the world that automatically measures, monitors, and truly controls shrinkage.
Gregory said the mill is running better than it has in the past 10 years. He said the employees at ACG have “really stepped up and committed to running the mill as well as possible during these rough economic times.”
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of our people. They just keep giving all they have,” Gregory said. “At the end of the day, it’s the people that make the difference – and ours are the best.”
DENIMATRIX: The main goal and major reason for the creation of Denimatrix always has been vertical integration. As PCCA continues to promote this concept, Denimatrix President Carlos Arias has noticed apparel customers are beginning to understand the advantages of total vertical integration.
Total orders at Denimatrix have exceeded expectations, and a large majority of them are represented by Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Inc., Rock & Republic, Buckle, Banana Republic, and Guess.
Operations at Denimatrix are beginning to expand in the Cut and Sew, Dry Process, Wet Processing, and Packaging and Finishing stations. Growth in direct, indirect, and administrative labor also is projected to increase to meet demand.
“Denimatrix has continued to develop according to plan. We have been able to reach our production goals and expand our customer base,” Arias said. “We are confident that we will be able to grow the participation of ACG fabric in our orders which will strengthen the synergies for PCCA.”
Being able to wear a pair of jeans or to know the denim you are buying is “friendly to the environment” and made from American-grown cotton gives the customer a more special and personal experience. It is another result of the exciting synergies between ACG and Denimatrix.