JUKI Magazine PageNavigation
JUKI Magazine Contents
SOORTY is the first company in Pakistan to obtain the ISO 9000 certification through the declaration of a Quality Policy. The company has advanced rapidly under its quality-first policy. It exports 95% of its products to Europe. Now it's also gradually broadening its market to America.
SOORTY purchases thread to weave denim fabric. With that thread, it produces 1.9 million pairs of jeans per month.
Mr. Ahmed, head of marketing, sees marked differences between European and American customers. "When we started producing jeans," he explained, "we exported our products only to Europe. Now we've started exporting to America, as well. We see a clear difference in customer demands between Europe and America. Customers in America are strict about product prices and demand products in large lots. When we started business with our U.S. customers, they strictly evaluated our plant environment and employee working conditions. But when it came quality, they weren't very strict. The Europeans are different. When we started with our customers in Europe, they stringently checked the quality of our products. We introduced JUKI sewing machines partly at the instruction of our customers in Europe."
SOORTY mainly manufactures fashionable jeans for ladies (70%) and for men and children (30 %). All of their products are made for export: 95% for Europe, including Germany, France, England, and Spain, and the other 5% for America. Sales to the U.S. market have commenced only recently, and are therefore still modest. Export volumes to America are expected to increase substantially in the future.
SOORTY was founded in 1975 under the name of Zahid Corporation. Initially it operated as a trading company dealing in apparel. Then, in 1982, two sons of the founder established a denim manufacturing factory and started producing jeans. "When we observed the market," says Mr. Ahmed, "the demand for jeans was rising with gaining momentum. Synthetic fabrics were unavailable in Pakistan, but cotton fabrics were easy to procure in adequate quantities. So we thought that the production of jeans looked very promising."
They purchase dyed cotton fiber and weave it into denim. Each month, they produce 1.5 million meters of denim and 1.9 million pairs of jeans. Their factories also produce cotton fabrics. These represent 5 to 10% of their overall output.
SOORTY is Pakistan's first company to receive ISO 9000 certification and support modern standards of social compliance.
SOORTY has maintained a "quality first" policy since its foundation. Four to five-hundred of their people conduct and manage quality inspections. A quality expert invited from Europe is assigned as a Quality Assurance Manager. The factory takes pride in its distinction as Pakistan's first facility to obtain ISO 9000 certification. Its Quality Policy is thorough.
In addition to maintaining quality, SOORTY adheres to serious standards of social compliance, supports the respective standards of its customer companies, and has obtained certifications from its customers.
"When we first started exporting jeans," says Mr. Alam, "one of our buyers was a quality enthusiast. He taught us earnestly about the importance of quality. We owe our commitment to quality to his instructions."
The factory is divided into three units. The first unit sews, the second washes and sews, and the third processes fiber (excluding washing). About 7,000 employees work on these lines. The company also owns a denim-producing factory.
The second unit, the largest, is staffed by about 4,500 employees. The unit includes 17 sewing lines, a cutting line, washing line, embroidery line, sample-making line, administration department, and other sections. The 17 sewing lines are basically set up to run on a system of chain-production. Each is operated by 70 to 75 operators. Collectively, about 1,300 people work with some 2,000 sewing machines. The washing line is equipped with about 50 washing machines produced by the Italian maker TORENO. These machines use about 0.5 million gallons of subsurface water per day, with purifier.
SOORTY mainly manufactures jeans to order. It receives a design drawing from a customer, makes a sample, and manufactures the product. It also produces a lineup of unique products under the "MANGO" brand name. MANGO designers propose original designs for SOORTY customers. With recent increases in demand, these unique MANGO products now make up almost 50% of SOORTY's total production output.
MANGO designers regularly visit Europe to observe markets in France, England, Spain, and elsewhere, and to buy samples for research. These missions keep them abreast of the latest garment designs in every season. They design and produce about 2,500 different samples each month.
This may be why fashionable jeans for big-name brands such as Zara, Esprit, and Calvin Klein are manufactured by SOORTY.
Operators are trained in its own school.
To realize its commitment to superior quality, SOORTY must thoroughly educate and train its operators. SOORTY does this with its own operator training school. About 25 to 30 employees are learning sewing work in this training school at any given time. Each employee receives basic pay of 4,600 rupees while learning professional sewing skills in the school.
SOORTY basically recruits its workers from the in-house school. Graduates of the one-month training course are recruited by the factory units.
Before SOORTY established its training school, there were no other training centers of the same type in Karachi. The school therefore received a subsidy from the Pakistan government to pay for a courtesy bus service for the trainees.
A graduate starts work as soon as he or she is assigned to one of the units. The salary rises as the operator acquires skills through work. A supervisor at each line determines where the operator is to be assigned based on the operator's technical proficiency, evaluates the operator's performance, and sets the salary. Technical proficiency is classified into A, B, C, and D ranks. An operator working at A-rank, the highest rank, receives a salary of 150 to 250 rupees.
"It's important to improve the proficiency of our operators and to upgrade our equipment technologies. This is the only way to produce higher-quality products," explains Mr. Alam, head of production.
A coming challenge for SOORTY will be to forge closer collaborative ties with "almurtaza," its distributor and technical advisor.