Over a period of 38 years, Mehala Group founded by C. Subramaniam has emerged as a total solution provider with technologically advanced equipment for the garment industry. Presently, the group is involved in manufacturing, international trading, marketing and running a modern spinning mill. The company’s experience, strength and entrepreneurial spirit are its competitive edge. Going from strength to strength, the company converted into a closely held public limited company in 1997.

As the company believes that success comes only through satisfied customers, customer satisfaction is the ultimate objective and with changing consumer profile, the product portfolio at Mehala has also evolved. Today, Mehala is committed to bring in the most advanced technology on a continuous basis to the garment industry at the most affordable price. Mehala’s belief has not been in selling products alone but making the technology work for customers, increasing their productivity and reducing cost. With complete back-up support, the company ensures minimum downtime and improved profitability.

With a Pan India presence, the company has a well-established network of branches and service centres at all garment manufacturing centres in India – Ludhiana, Delhi, Jaipur, Kanpur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Karur, Coimbatore, Calicut, Madurai and Tirupur. Over a period of a few years, they have started full-fledged operations in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Singapore. S. Carthic, Managing Director, Mehala Group discusses with Team SW what makes it stand out from other technology providers…

SW:  Is Mehala Machines a one-stop-solution for garment manufacturers?

Carthic: We are definitely a one-stop-solution when it comes to cut-to-pack solutions. As an ISO 9001:2008 certified company for sales, distribution and support of the technologies we provide, Mehala Machines is present PAN India to offer our wide range of products and services. It is always easier for customers to deal with a single solution provider which helps them minimize their transaction costs and effectively integrating the different solutions of the different departments.

SW:  Your company is offering solutions for pre-sewing, sewing, post-sewing, as also software solutions, which areas do you want to strengthen further?

Carthic: We are quite strong in pre-sewing segment with products from Assyst, Topcut Bullmer, Orbito Plotters, Orbito Photo Digitizer, AMP Pissani, Nhega, Venus and KM. The sewing segment is equally well represented with technology from Siruba, Duerkopp-Adler, JAM, Orbito special Machines, Murata, Tech Fighter, Schips AG, Damei, Yulun, Rimac and Queen Light. We are reasonably strong in post-sewing with technologies from Macpi, Danish, Besta and Orbito Finishing machines. Our software solutions are represented by INA, Rockwell and Asham Koosha. In the post sewing area we are strengthening our washing department and looking to build a strong technology presence for the technical textile segment which is definitely the future growth area for the industry.

SW: How strong is your technical support team and how do your principals help?

Carthic: We have in-house over 200 technical people of different cadres ranging from ITI Graduates, Diploma Graduates and even BE/BTech Graduates for high technology products for technical support. The team is a combination of mechanical engineers, Electrical/Electronic Engineers and Software Engineers. We categorize them machine type wise but many of them also have multiple skill sets which we also use.

Our principals support us actively for new products to train and educate our team. They move with our team in the market and see for themselves the challenges faced, thereby quickly adapting to the changes. We organize regular training of our staff both locally and also at our headquarters and many technicians are sent to our principals’ factory abroad for advanced training.

SW: Do you feel adequate training is given to the operators and in-house maintenance people at the factories regarding newly installed technology?

Carthic: It is important to give thorough training to the operators for optimal utilization and we ensure that the same is done through our application team. We also train the maintenance and service team of our customers through our various technical seminars and also structured training initiatives organized at our service facilities.

SW: Automated workstations with high-tech features are prone to breakdown… do you think your technical expertise at the local level is satisfactory for solving problems of automated workstations?

Carthic: We have the largest and only ISO 9001:2008 certified garment machines service centre in India with an integrated tool room. Our team of engineers are well trained before we introduce any new products and also at regular intervals hence the need for flying down of foreign Engineers is not essential. Further, in case of a breakdown, we normally carry adequate stock of warranty parts and consumable are generally included with the machine supply.

Our company is an Engineering company and we have our own state-of-the-art foundry with a 50 CNC machine shop where we produce high precession machine components. Many times it happens that the principal is on leave or the part ordered takes a long time to come, so we can provide a substitute part until the principal can supply the required part. This support is well appreciated by our customers. We also customize the machines to the customer’s requirement by making use of the capabilities within the group. Our team of R&D and design engineers in textile machine manufacturing division are also involved in trouble shooting of machinery. We capitalize on the synergies of the various divisions of the group. With these supports, we are capable of solving most of the problems ourselves.

SW: The focus of high-end technology has always been deskilling of a particular operation… Is India clued into this trend?

Carthic: No doubt there has been considerable de-skilling, but India has a long way to traverse in automated technology. Many customers are going in for machines with under-bed thread trimmers and electronic models of sewing machines. There has been some infusion of cutting room technology and some sewing automates been sold. But still sewing automates are in the very nascent stage and there is still a lot of scope in unit production conveyor systems which help in deskilling not only operators but also your staff. But hardly 1% of the Indian industry has adopted it whereas China is moving at good speed in this arena.

SW: Do you find any great difference in performance of Chinese machines with German make machines?

Carthic: There is definitely considerable difference between German and Chinese machinery but it varies depending on the segment of the product. Chinese or China made technology is value for money in the basic sewing machines arena. When it comes to higher technology in sewing automates, Germany still leads the way. China made multi-head embroidery machines has become the order of the day. When it comes to cutting room equipment like spreaders and cutters, the performance of Chinese machinery has been very poor in comparison to German machinery.

SW: What is your suggestion to Indian garment manufacturers in the current market condition?

Carthic: Given the current economy, given globalisation and given competitive pressures, I would still say that it is not only possible for apparel manufacturers to get through this economic storm but also possible to grow. There is no single solution, there has to be a combination of solutions, but system efficiency and technology upgradation are both required. Today I find many companies in doldrums because they still cling on to old ideas. While the old method was a success yesterday, yesterday is gone. The person or organization that has the timeliest information is a formidable force. Data collection and action systems on this data are the need of the hour. During this time many workers have returned to their villages and may not comeback even after revival of the industry and hence companies will find it difficult to get skilled labour and they will be forced to use labourers with lower skills, automated systems effectively to overcome this challenge.

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