Vacuum packaging for garments exports
By Quintus Perera
A unique system of packaging garments for exports called ‘Garment Vacuum Packing” that provides a cost saving around 20 percent and 35 percent volume saving has been introduced by Independent Fashion Terminals Lanka (Pvt) Ltd (IFTL), a British-based BOI company which has its plant at Seeduwa.
Roger Martin, Managing Director, IFTL told reporters at Seeduwa last week that apart from the cost and volume savings, the most important contribution the new packaging would make is to the environment by reducing the usage of aviation fuel in this process.

Through the vacuum packing system the quantity sent in three plane loads earlier, could now be sent in one plane load. He said that the further impact on the environmental pollution could be the curtailing of polythene use if the clients are convinced the garments could be packed without the polythene cover. Martin said that they would have to pursue and convince the clients in packaging without the polythene bag and said that convincing them would not be a difficulty.

He said that as specialist, low-cost centres of garment production, remote from the points of sale, are established, manufacturers and retailers faced many problems arising from long supply chains.

Among these, quality preservation has been a high priority and the technique of vacuum packing, incorporating a gentle drying process, was developed to combat the problem of severe transit creasing, which can only be rectified by costly reprocessing.

He said that the new technique utilizes a drying tunnel through which the garments, on their appropriate hanger and suspended from a moving conveyor, are passed. As the garments move through the tunnel, taking 45 minutes to one hour, a constant stream of super-dry air evaporates the surface moisture from the fabric.

At the end of the tunnel the garments, in multiple numbers dependent upon bulk, are placed into a special plastic bag, which is compressed and heat-sealed. The construction of the bag protects the garment from the reintroduction of ambient moisture, which is one of the principal causes of transit creasing.

On arrival at the destination the bags are opened and the garments, after an appropriate period of exposure to normal ambient conditions, return to their original post-pressing state.

Targeting that element of Sri Lankan garment exports that are sent by air, where the cost savings are high, IFTL has a capacity for around 8 million garments per annum and at full operation could employ around 70 persons. The total investment of the facility is US $ 1.5 million.

Martin said that once IFTL establishes itself on the vacuum packing, it also hopes to diversify into other areas such as providing pressing facilities and quality assurance.

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