What does the optimal modern denim factory look like? For Pakistani mill AGI Denim, the answer is a safe, sustainable, efficient production floor powered by data.
The mill is undergoing a multi-year investment project to bring its Industry 4.0 concept to life through new, green buildings. In the third quarter of 2021, the company began manufacturing in a newly built LEED-certified spinning facility—the first spinning mill to have this designation in Pakistan. The factory is conveniently located in an industrial area of Karachi, less than 10 miles away from Karachi International Airport and the heart of the major city. It’s also near AGI Denim’s existing plants.
“We are pleased to unveil the new LEED certified AGI Industrial Park: 1 million square feet of purposebuilt, state-of-the-art infrastructure,” said Hasan Javed, executive director at AGI Denim. “This cutting-edge facility includes a spinning unit, denim mill, fiber recycling facility and the latest water treatment plant that will eventually lead to zero liquid discharge.”
AGI began this investment project in 2020, and it took 11 months to construct the spinning mill on the greenfield, or previously undeveloped, plot. The spinning facility can produce 60,000 kilograms of yarn per day, which can make more than 88,000 pairs of jeans.
AGI’s new smart factory model leverages automation, plus data and digital solutions to make production run smoother. In this system, machines communicate with each other and automatically adjust as needed. Staff can access data via the cloud to make more informed decisions and optimize procedures in real time.
In the spinning mill, AGI has automated the process from the blow room (which cleans the bales of cotton) through to carding (the machines that comb the cotton to prepare it for spinning). Among the automated solutions is a contamination sorter, which separates out impurities in the fiber tufts.
A safety feature of the mill is an automated fire detection system. Automation also comes into play for quality, with autoconer machines that can recognize faults and fix production issues.
Making denim production more sustainable, AGI has introduced an Industrial Recycled Waste System that takes spinning waste and turns it into feedstock for new yarn. An automated shredding unit will be able to take post-consumer cotton textiles and process the fibers for reuse.
Step two of AGI’s plan includes a dyeing, weaving and finishing facility, which will continue the manufacturer’s resource-efficient approach to denim production.
Within finishing, AGI will deploy robotic arms to apply potassium permanganate to jeans to create faded effects, protecting workers from harsh chemicals. In addition to the safety benefit, the robots offer a 45 percent improvement in efficiency over manual labor. Resource efficiency goes up to 95 percent with automation, with the added benefit of no chemical waste. This AI-powered process also improves consistency and quality.
Automated cutting has a similar positive impact on efficiency and consistency. Even with better accuracy, the machine can also cut down on lead times.
Along with automation investments, AGI’s facility will also prioritize sustainable machinery. For instance, the company has purchased more than 90 low-liquor washing machines from Jeanologia and Tonello, which boast 50 percent water reduction, 31 percent chemical reduction and 20 percent energy reduction over conventional machines.
In dry processing, AGI is using lasers to create design effects. This eliminates the need for water and chemicals, while also shrinking the process time by half and reducing the manpower needed by 25 percent.
By the end of 2021, the company expects to have 70 percent of the total investment in the Industrial Park completed. AGI also plans to have all the buildings completed by 2023.
“This is part of a multi-year investment plan by AGI Denim to move towards responsible production in eco-friendly facilities,” Javed said. “We are most excited about pushing boundaries with our expansion towards Industry 4.0 by investing in the latest technology available in the industry.”
Click here to learn more about AGI Denim’s smart factory.