outhern India numbers among the most promising industrial regions on the subcontinent.
During recent years, an efficient textile industry has developed in Tirupur, which is home to the
production facilities of Exim Knits Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai. This vertically structured company has
developed into an important exporter of quality textiles and has a spotless dyehouse, fully
equipped with modern THEN-Airflow® machines.
Exim Knits, which was founded in 1993 as a sub-supplier to the Indian apparel industry,
mainly produces knits. Today, the company’s growth is demonstrated by the vertical integration of
its knitting shop, dyehouse and finishing, printing, embroidery and sewing shops. The clothing
production center is located in Avanashi near Tirupur; knitting, dyeing and finishing are located
Executive management consists of Director P. Padmanabhan, who has a master’s degree in
agriculture; and in complete control of production, Director Ajay Doshi, who himself has a master’s
degree in business administration. Both work closely together and are primarily responsible for the
tremendous progress at Exim Knits. The Exim Group workforce numbers 580 people, of whom
approximately 150 work in the dyehouse and the remainder in the make-up area. A visibly cheerful
Doshi provided a tour of the dyehouse, a facility configured in a way that offers room for further
“India in general, and our company included, possesses great potential,” says Exim Knits
Pvt. Ltd. Director, Mr. Ajay Dashi.
A Gradual Offensive
The company maintained its orientation as a sub-supplier to the Indian clothing industry
until 1999, when it initiated a major change of direction. “This rethink actually commenced at
ITMA,” Doshi said, “when we asked ourselves, why couldn’t we become successful producers? The
preparations required an enormous effort and took around 10 months, but then we started production
with our knitting, sewing and printing shops. Business got off to a good start, and therefore we
decided to install our own dyehouse.”
Exim is now active in the apparel, knitting, dyeing and finishing areas, as well as the
printing field. The company manufactures some 3,500 to 4,000 kilograms (kg) of knits daily on 11
knitting machines. Of that production, 80 percent is required for in-house needs, and the balance
is sold to third parties. “With the new dyehouse, we can see the influence of the dyeing on our
knits, to precisely monitor the interaction between our knitting and dyehouse and thus have the
whole process under control,” Doshi said. A modern dye and quality lab with all the important
testing equipment is available for permanent quality checks.
The spotless Exim Knits Pvt. Ltd. dyehouse is currently
equipped solely with modern THEN-Airflow® machines.
According to Doshi, the company’s beginnings were extremely difficult. “In 1993, we were
faced with major obstacles, such as the many quotas applying to numerous articles,” he said.
“Everything had to be outsourced, and we were not really competitive. Moreover, ambitious
entrepreneurs did not receive the levels of support that are currently available. Obtaining a loan
was very problematic, and the textile industry in our area lacked a lobby that would have supported
us. All this has now altered.
“Previously, we were the last to hear about problems. If there were difficulties, which
generally related to quality, as the final link in the chain, we were frequently unable to act in
time,” Doshi continued. “This was especially annoying because quality is the most important factor,
particularly when one is export-oriented. We were well aware of the fact that if we wanted to be
really successful, the first step would involve product quality. No sooner said than done, and this
was the start of the rethink and the shift of direction that put us on the right road. With our
current organization, we have everything under control, which corresponds with our corporate
philosophy of zero-defect production, ‘no trial and error, just get it right first time!'”
Ever Faster, Ever Tougher
Doshi comes from Kolkata, but not from a textile background. “My father is in the jute
business, but not for textile purposes,” Doshi said. “He was involved in the company manufacturing
air filters, regulators and lubricators for the Indian market, which were installed in pneumatic
devices. Then for family reasons, I paid a visit to Tirupur and interacted with Padmanabhan, with
whom we enjoyed long-term family relations, and where there are a large number of textile
operations; and somehow or other I developed a taste for the textile industry. All the pieces in
the puzzle then gradually came together, with one leading to another, and today we have an
extremely modern dyehouse in Tirupur with a possible capacity of 6,300 kg per day.”
Things are running smoothly at Exim Knits. “India in general, and our company included,
possess great potential,” Doshi said. “We simply have to stay on the ball. Everything is getting
faster, and the delivery periods are becoming steadily shorter. In the past, our key accounts, such
as the French company Auchan, purchased twice a year, but now there are four to six collections. We
have to react quickly and flexibly to this shift in purchasing patterns, otherwise we will soon be
out of the market. Our customers expect that the products be finished within eight weeks of the
order receipt. Therefore, flexibility is the non plus ultra.”
One Hundred-Percent Airflow Dyehouse
Doshi describes Exim’s most important target group as the large retail chains with their own
brands. His company cooperates successfully with enterprises such as the Auchan Group as well as
brands like Levi’s and Pimkie. Eighty-five percent of company production is exported, mainly to
Europe — primarily France, Germany, Italy and Spain — but also to Poland and Russia.
One-hundred-percent cotton articles represent the company’s flagship market product, although these
have recently been joined by blends.
According to Doshi, this is the reason why a modern and, above all, flexible, dyehouse is a
basic prerequisite for success. The dyehouse at the Exim plant in Perundurai has only aerodynamic
THEN-Airflow AFE 50, AFE 225, AFE 450 dyeing machines; and a four-chamber AFE 900 with THEN
Dyehouse System (TDS). The TDS assumes the administration and organization of the dyehouse,
integrating THEN with other brand products, as well as PC control systems, and hosts, into a
“The thought process to go for our own dyehouse started sometime in autumn 2004,” Doshi said.
“Then I met with Harald Dörfer of THEN at our Tirupur factory. In December 2004, we traveled to the
India ITME in Mumbai, where we visited the THEN stand. Our engineers were highly enthusiastic about
the technical possibilities offered by the Airflow technology and then we had an opportunity to
test undyed material on the machine. The economic advantages, which were practically identical with
the ecological benefits, were outstanding and therefore things started to move relatively quickly.
We met Werner Hübsch and Roland Adrion from THEN, who, with additional facts and the ideal layout,
convinced us that this technology was just what we were looking for. In March/April 2005, the final
decision to install our own dyehouse went hand in hand with the desire to purchase THEN machinery.”
At Exim Knits Pvt. Ltd., flexible and rapid production using
various sizes of machines is the main consideration.
Ecology And Economy
Doshi names the main advantages of the THEN-Airflow machines as flexibility, the short liquor
ratio and absolute quality reproducibility. “The low water consumption and reduced dye volume
requirement not only help us to keep costs down, but also provide the goods with improved form
stability,” Doshi said. “The benefits are enormous, as we need 10-percent less dye, up to
30-percent fewer chemicals and a correspondingly smaller amount of salt.
“Moreover, there are other positive points,” Doshi continued. “Lower water consumption and
the cut in dye consumption mean that wastewater volumes are also significantly reduced. In
addition, the use of the THEN-Airflow short dyeing machines means less steam is needed, which in
view of current energy prices is an operating cost factor that should not be underestimated.”
A Promising Outlook
When asked if the company’s expectations were fulfilled, Doshi responded: “Absolutely, 100
percent. If we think of expanding the dyehouse, without doubt we will again purchase THEN-Airflow
Doshi also is optimistic about the future. “Here in southern India, we have great potential,”
he said. “The infrastructure is steadily improving, and the population is well-educated. We still
have a lot to learn and must stay on the pace, but if we succeed, then everything points to further