Value addition is an important aspect of the apparel trade with different applications in embroideries being one of its significant elements. Today, the scope of embroidery machine seems limitless with sequins, beading, ribbons, cording, etc. all possible with one machine. Among the leaders in embroidery machines Tajima Industries Limited of Japan, with over 140 patents, has been marketing its Tajima brand of embroidery machines since 1974
In 2009, the company has done away with its agent in north India creating a direct manufacturer customer relationship and that has changed many things for them. At one end it simplifies operations, while also raising new challenges. The company’s Managing Director Noboru Ito was in India recently in connection with a private show held at Okhla, New Delhi to showcase their latest technology. Team Apparel Online met Noburo Ito and Robert Jedrek, General Manager, Tajima for an exclusive interaction about their business in India and their latest offerings.
AO: Why a private show to interact with the industry this year and not an open platform like the GTE?
ITO: This year we decided to experiment with a new format as the Garment Technology Expo has become repetitive over the years. So we decided to host a private show instead. Whenever we exhibit our products, we give a lot of information to our customers about the market, the trade, the product and its value, etc. We want them to buy our machines, to enjoy our machines and be successful. At a public show, we really don’t know who we are talking to but we still give our total energy. We are also oblivious of the fact that whether at the end of the day if the gentleman really can purchase our machine or not. In a private show, we can hold it closer to ourselves and make a better judgment with a more targeted audience. Having said that, this does not mean that we are displeased with Garment Tech or that we won’t be participating in it next year; we have had good business there and might go back. As of now, we just wanted a change.
AO: Why should a garment exporter buy a Tajima? It is an expensive machine. Give me a few good reasons.
ITO: If you are in business for a long term then you’ll buy an asset and not just a black box. Chinese and other low cost machines do not usually have a long life, while our products have a minimum life of 15-20 years, and there have been times that they run for up to 25 years. So you end up having an asset to the company over the time. Further, if you compare a lower cost brand and Tajima brand over a period of 5 years, you probably would have to replace the lower cost machine at least 2 times and the cost of spares and repairs is also much higher than Tajima over a period of time.
The productivity of our machines is also higher. While most Chinese machines run at the speed of 600-700 RPM, Tajima machines run at a 1000 RPM. So you are looking at the productivity of possibly two Chinese or lower cost machines and then you have to consider the overheads of these machines for the next year… overheads of two machines as opposed to one machine – you need more power, more factory space, etc. You calculate all these and as time goes by, the Tajima machine becomes cheaper and cheaper and I believe that figures are that after 3 years both these costs cross. The quality of output and the versatility of operations and designs are also much higher on a Tajima machine.
Tajima also has in its portfolio a range of IT solutions. We have partnered with Adobe Systems and Corel Corporation for technology development. And the software is certified for Windows vista. Tajima’s composer is an advanced lettering, outline editing and automated design creating software which includes over 125 satin embroidery fonts. Various envelopes in the software render interesting text effects. The auto digitizer wizard automatically converts simple artwork to embroidery by determining the appropriate stitch type, direction and sequence of embroidery. Another software offering is Creator which easily converts images to Bezier curves and then to any available stitch type for rapid design creation. It creates shapes quickly with QuickDraw digitizing mode. Users can even generate an email with a jpg image of the design, pxf and dst files and the design worksheet as well.
AO: What about the flexibility in terms of the type of fabric that can be used in Tajima machines?
JEDREK: You can use anything right from net without any backing paper to leather, all on the same machine without any adjustments. You might just need to make some adjustments in your design and for leather you probably would need to make some adjustments with the needle but generally other than that, there’s not too much that you have to do. So that’s why we have the same machines in Bangalore for the silk industry and in Kanpur for the leather industry.
AO: How important is India for you as a market?
ITO: Indian manufacturers are specialist in value-added products and for us that is our business. Further, as the domestic market expands many new centres like Surat and Kolkata have been added to our client base. So for us whether the manufacturer is producing for the international market or the domestic market the opportunities are immense.
AO: What is it that is really selling in India?
JEDREK: Sequin devices. It is driving the market for us. It was launched in India at GTE last year and the demand for it has been growing ever since. Seeing the thrust we plan to introduce a few new machines in this direction. These include the Shuttle Hook Embroidery machine which can embroider not only using normal embroidery thread but also using soft twist thread like lace or thicker threads which have been considered unsuitable for embroidery machines. The Zig-Zag Cording Device which allows combination of normal embroidery and cording embroidery and Large size Sequin Device which allows embroidery with sequin spangles of width 2-22 mm. Then we have the Sequin Device III Twin Type which we have launched in India. It makes it possible to embroider a maximum of four different sizes, shapes and colours of sequin on each head. Two kinds of sequins on one side can be interchanged and embroidered at high speeds (1000 RPM).
AO: A lot of new innovations is coming into embroidery machines such as automatic bobbin changer, laser embroidery machine and machines for specialized tubular embroidery… Is India accepting/ready for these high-end machines?
JEDREK: While there is a section of sophisticated exporters who appreciate high-end machines because of their higher speed like DICITEX in Mumbai, which have at their Mumbai plant over 100 of our machines with auto bobbin changers, most factories find the automation a trouble. Let’s say, they do have automatic oiling system but if somebody is not managing the oil it may turn out to be disastrous. So the point is that if you are relying on something automatic, you tend to forget about it. This type of technology is suitable only for those who make an effort to keep things in place.
Similarly, we have a laser machine but we don’t market it in the Indian market because there are always some difficulties with the maintenance. Companies sometimes don’t have the skill to use the machine. They want the product but since they don’t have the skills, we can’t always impart those skills to the customer. We have certain products that we haven’t sold in India because the customer would never listen to us and the machine would constantly break down. It’s just not viable. But if you use the same machine back in Europe, they do wonders with the machine.
We also have machines for tubular embroidery, but the demand in India is not really there. We have got cap machines, finished garment machines. We have just sold some machines to Puma and they are doing just logo work which they could actually do on the finished garments, but they prefer to do it on the unfinished ones so that the production is higher. So, if it is a small scale company like a gift company or a corporate gift company, then these machines are good where they want, may be a 100 to 200 pieces. There you can have a readymade garment and then may be add value to it. This market is a little early for India.
AO: Do you plan to bring out more economical models which would suit the Indian market in terms of price?
JEDREK: We can’t be everything to everyone so we aim to target a particular market segment and provide the best to them.