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COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ Leverages in-the-Field Learnings to Boost Mill Profitability

For spinning mills, there are seemingly countless operational decisions that can affect profitability. This starts with choosing the right fiber for the application and continues through the production process.

To help mills improve their use of U.S. cotton, about three years ago COTTON USA™ launched a consultancy, which includes services such as one-on-one consultations and site visits to other mills, allowing the mills to speak with peers and exchange ideas. COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ is powered by a team of nine people around the world with over 200 years of collective experience, and they are sharing this in-the-field knowledge via the consultancy’s Mill Mastery™ offering.

“This is not a theoretical knowledge that we get across, but rather first-hand experience that we made through our work in previous positions,” said Joerg Bauersachs, head of technical services at Cotton Council International (CCI). “This is a service which no other cotton-growing country in the world can offer.”

The Mill Mastery™ course has 18 modules that give mills more background on the cotton fiber itself, best practices for spinning and topics like sustainability and industrial engineering. During a recent COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ webinar with Sourcing Journal, CCI technical team consultant Dr. Muhammad Tausif explained that one of the most popular modules is on profitability. This allows mills to monitor their financial health and test changes to see the effect on the bottom line.

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Mill Mastery™ coursework is designed for staff at all levels. Bangladesh-based Malek Spinning Mills Ltd. had employees in various roles take part in the training, even if they do not directly work in production. This led to insights for support workers, such as cleaning and maintenance staff, giving them a better understanding of why they were doing certain tasks. For instance, employees who sweep cotton from the floor and sort it for reuse or disposal now have a better idea why certain fibers are more eligible for reuse.

“These little enlightened decisions or broader perspective that our people have gained from this mastery course is a huge value addition,” said Azizur Chowdhury, director of Malek Spinning Mills Ltd. “Because at the end, it’s the sum of all these little additions that give you that extra added value that we are all looking for to make your business more profitable or to take it to the next level.”

Following the completion of one of these professional development courses, Mill Mastery™ participants are acknowledged with a certificate. This includes earning a badge via Credly that can be shared on social media.

Despite its recent launch, the team has already taught 36 Mill Mastery™ modules across Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. Most of the classes take place on-site, enabling mills to immediately implement what they learn. Rather than a lecture, the Mill Mastery™ course format encourages interactivity, with COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ technologists and engineers fielding questions from mill staff. “The pool of our expertise, combined with the contextualization of the courses in the mill environment, enables us to make the courses industry relevant,” Tausif said.

Tausif has witnessed mills improve productivity as a result of their learnings, since they gain a better understanding of the fiber and process. “Everybody can benefit from having a technical expert come to their operation and see if we can help you drive more profitability,” Tausif said.

Among the updates Malek made as a result of its work with COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ was leveraging any low micronaire cotton—which would often create dye quality issues like white specs—for white or non-dyed textiles. In another optimization move, the consultancy helped calculate a standard combing setting for Malek. Instead of having to separate combed cotton based on which comber was used, all cotton coming out of the combers is now uniform for more efficiency.

“When a factory gets running, you have delivery and production pressure, so everyone is very busy with their day-to-day work, and you don’t have capacity to really do a lot of research or learn the new best practices,” Chowdhury said. “This gave us an opportunity to see what the world standards are, what the best practices are, and really model ourselves to achieve those standards or get as close to them as possible.”

Mill Mastery, along with all the other COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ offerings, are complimentary for COTTON USA™ licensees and members of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®. Click here to learn more about COTTON USA SOLUTIONS, and watch the webinar on-demand here.