REQUIREMENTS FOR MODERN TEXTILE INDUSTRY

HAMED K. LATIF
Aug 10 - 16, 2009

Both industrialized and developing countries now have modern installations capable of highly efficient fabric production. In addition to mechanical improvements in yarn and fabric manufacture, there have been rapid advances in development of new fibers, processes to improve textile characteristics, and testing methods allowing greater quality control.

Textile fabrics are judged by many criteria. Flexibility and sufficient strength for the intended use are generally major requirements, and industrial fabrics must meet rigid specifications of width, weight per unit area, weave and yarn structure, strength and elongation, acidity or alkalinity, thickness, and porosity.

In apparel fabrics, design and colors are major considerations, and certain physical properties may be of secondary importance. In addition, the various tactile properties of a fabric, described as its "hand," "handle," or "feel," influence consumer acceptance.

The textile industry increasingly employs research and development in the area of quality control. Medieval craft guilds were concerned with maintaining high quality standards, and later textile mills established rigid systems of inspection, realizing that a reputation for supplying fault-free goods encouraged repeat orders. Modern quality control has been assisted by development of techniques and machines for assessing fiber, yarn, and fabric properties by the introduction of legislation regarding misrepresentation in many industrialized countries and by the establishment of rigid specifications by a growing number of buyers.

Specifications have been established for the purchase of industrial fabrics, for textiles used by the military and other branches of governments, and for similar purchasing methods adopted by some retailers and other large buyers. In consumer-oriented areas, the public is becoming aware of product testing and is beginning to require proof that products have met certain test standards.

The textile industry plays a vital role as a key driver of Pakistan's national economy. Its predominant presence in the economy is manifested in terms of its significant contribution to the industrial production, employment generation and foreign exchange earnings. It is the sole industry that is self-reliant and complete in the entire value chain, i.e. from raw materials to value added end products. The Pakistani textile industry has inherent strength in term of rich capacity of textile production, strong raw materials base, large and expanding production capacities, a vast pool of skilled workers and technical and managerial personnel and dynamic and vibrant entrepreneurship.

However, these strengths have been reduced to a great extent due to severe disadvantages suffered by the industry in certain other areas affecting its productivity, quality and cost competitiveness.

The use of modern equipment and technology can ensure a sublime status for Pakistan in textile sector not only in Asia but also across the world. But it is only possible once Pakistani textile products receive green signal from internationally certified textile testing laboratories, which have to their credit authority to testify textile products.

WHAT IS ISO/IEC 17025 ACCREDITATION?

The ISO/IEC 17025 standard sets out requirement for testing laboratories to demonstrate that they operate a quality system, are technically competent and are able to generate technically valid results. Throughout the world, many rely on laboratory accreditation as a means to independently evaluate laboratory competence. Laboratory accreditation is based upon criteria and procedures from ISO/IEC 17025 to determine the technical competence of laboratories.

Technical assessors conduct a thorough evaluation of all factors of facility operations that affect the production of technical data. ISO/IEC 17025 addresses factors relevant to a laboratory's ability to produce precise, accurate test and calibration data. Specifically, provisions in the standard include requirements and guidance for technical competency of staff, validity and appropriateness of the method, traceability of measurements, and calibrations to national standard.

In addition to technical requirements, the ISO/IEC 17025 standard has management requirements on topics such as organization, management system, document control, audits, and management review. To ensure continued compliance, accredited laboratories are regularly re-examined, at least every two years, with either an on-site surveillance or a full reassessment, to ensure that they maintain their standers of independence and technical expertise.

WHAT IS CPSC?

It is a certification required only for consumer products subject to standards promulgated by the Commission under the Consumer Product Safety Act with effect from November 12, 2008. Products without the required certificate cannot be imported or distributed in the United States. The legislation imposes and additional Third-Party Testing requirement for all consumer products. Every manufacturer (including an importer) or private labeler of a product must have its product tested by an accredited independent testing laboratory and, based on the testing, must issue a certificate that the product meets all applicable CPSC requirements.

CPSC is an authority to accredit laboratories (Third Party Conformity Assessment Bodies) for doing testing of products or to designate independent accreditation organizations to accredit the testing laboratories. These laboratories enjoy the authority to certify several metal items included lead products. In Pakistan, however, the number of laboratories which are certified and accredited is limited.

Textile Testing International Laboratory is not only ISO/IEC 17025 certified but also the first one to be accredited with CPSC.

THE ROLE OF TEXTILE TESTING INTERNATIONAL LABORATORY (TTI)

It is primarily true with Textile Testing International Laboratory to achieve and maintain high quality standards throughout their service to its clients. It is a place where the need to manufacture quality products can be directly translated into increased sales and productivity. Currently, TTI has been providing services in fabric and apparel testing, yarn testing, dyes and chemical testing, accessories testing, lead testing, performance testing, strength & durability testing, moisture management & dimensional measurements and textile and apparel inspection. The laboratory has been reinforcing and widening its range of testing procedures and equipment as well as identifying and putting into realization tests at the request of it customers.

TTI is an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratory with proper system and controls which are monitored and audited by Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC). Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 goes beyond established conformance to a quality system; it specifically addresses the verification of competence in specific field and is only granted to laboratories that meet these demanding international standers for competence. TTI is the first Pakistani laboratory which has also been honored with Certification from CPS Commission.

The accuracy and consistency of TTI's work can be gauged by the fact that TTI has been participating in Proficiency Testing exercises conducted by American Standard for Testing Material (ASTM) and American Association of Chemical and Colorist (AATCC) since 2003 onwards. In addition, a number of TTI's clients regularly run correlation tests with its facility to ensure that accuracy and consistency is maintained. TTI is uniquely positioned to provide internationally recognized results at competitive rates and nominal time. The team is currently focused on developing methods for allergic dyes, carcinogenic dyes, restricted metals, leather testing and carpet and rug testing thus facilitating Pakistan textile sector to fulfill its vision to sway not only Asian but also global markets.

(The writer is CEO Textile Testing International Laboratory)