EDITOR’S NOTE – Having lived in Texas for 30 years working with the producers of Plains Cotton Growers Inc., in Lubbock, Roger Haldenby has now lived in Vietnam for more than a year and is an advisor to the Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association. In this report, he discusses how Vietnam’s spinning mills have made serious investments to improve their efficiency.
In a perfect world, cotton farmers, ginners, merchants, spinners and all others in the supply chain would have identical understandings of the consumer’s needs – and of the needs of each link in that chain from dirt to shirt and genes to jeans.
In the real world in which we live, the critical point on the trail from cotton seed to the clothes we wear is conversion in the spinning mill where raw cotton is transformed into thread. It’s here that understanding still diverges.
Regardless of the classing method used – type, description, manual class or HVI – cotton is segregated by the price that farmer, ginner or merchant can demand for it with the presumption that higher price for higher quality equates proportionately to higher utility for the spinning mill customer. However, for the spinning mill, the highest utility is found in converting raw cottons of varying but measurable quality into consistent, even running laydowns that spin profitable yarns to the needs of the next step toward finished goods.
In Vietnam, and likely elsewhere too, many mills have made sizable investments in HVI testing equipment but, as yet, have not fully realized the value and potential of these assets. Motivated by disappointments with shipments from some merchants and associated disputes over quality, most of the HVI machines in place are used to verify that bales received match up to the purchase contract conditions, rather than testing to provide data for use in a bale management and blending system.
For some mills where U.S. cotton is being bought, Cotton Incorporated has conducted valuable training in Engineered Fiber Selection, putting those mills on the fast track toward consistent production at optimum efficiency.
Others have been introduced to similar bale management software by the makers or providers of their HVI machines. However, adoption in the Vietnamese spinning industry has been slow, but is gently accelerating.
The Vietnamese spinning industry has grown by leaps and bounds, four-fold over the past decade and now consumes around 372,000 metric tons of cotton each year (1.71 million bales).
Numerous Issues For Mills
A multiplicity of questions are asked, revolving around: How do we use these technologies to buy cotton at a lower price? How do we use them to sell our yarns at a higher price? How do we use them to achieve operational savings, reduced waste, increased input and generally increased efficiency that leads to optimal profitability?
Vietnam is not unique in having substantial cultural and language barriers to knowledge and technology transfer, and to answering these questions. The same barriers exist in dispute resolution.
Vietnam is also not unique in how these barriers can be broken down. Seek first to understand...then to be understood. A simple step toward making the real world closer to a perfect one.
Contact Roger Haldenby via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.