DURBAN: The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) clothing and textile cluster is addressing a range of challenges to enable it to survive and flourish after the quotas on Chinese textiles and clothing are lifted in 2008.
The critical market drivers are price, quality, delivery, reliability and lead time flexibility. Underpinning these operational issues is the human resource base.
There had been an improvement in inventory holdings, which was an important method of controlling costs.
International firms hold about 13 days' worth of raw materials, KwaZulu-Natal 15 days and the Western Cape 18 days.
Both regions had improved over the past three years, but there was still room for improvement.
In KwaZulu-Natal this is about 12.5 days, marginally behind the international benchmark of 12 days. The Western Cape, which holds finished goods for 10 days, is ahead of the benchmark.
Data analysis shows a 30 percent improvement in quality in KwaZulu-Natal between 2004 and 2005. The Western Cape is ahead of KwaZulu-Natal by a small margin and competing well with international firms.
Speed through conversion was critical in terms of how quickly you could convert material into finished products.
There has been a nice improvement in KwaZulu-Natal in terms of reliability of delivery to 91 percent from 88.5 percent in 2004. The Western Cape has improved to 92 percent from 89.5 percent. International firms sit between the two.
The cluster has been giving skills training workshops and has seen a reduction in the absenteeism rate in KwaZulu-Natal from 8 percent to 7.3 percent and in the Western Cape to 6.5 percent.
One could expect daily absenteeism of between 2 percent and 3 percent due to health issues and the rest was due to commitment.