Genichi Taguchi, the Japanese statistician and engineer, had once said, “Cost is more important than quality but quality is the best way to reduce cost.” When Team Apparel Resources visited the alluring premise of Toray International at Saigon, it could see the aptness of Taguchi’s words in this Japan-based enterprise. Each section in the firm epitomized quality in whatever best possible way they could.
“Saving the cost and shortening the lead time are two major areas that we are focusing on. Investing in a sewing factory enables us to save the cost. While we are closely co-ordinating with some of the sewing factories in Vietnam, we are now planning to invest in our own sewing factory. Having our own factory will help us control quality, which will eventually control the cost,” averred Shigeru Wakabayashi, President, Toray International Vietnam Company Limited.
Earlier the company had a representative office in Vietnam for 10 years before Toray International Vietnam was established in August last year. Though the company is currently into sourcing, it also has plans of focusing on manufacturing. In 1986, Toray International was first established in Japan with a capital of 1.4 yen as a wholly owned subsidiary of Toray Industries, Inc.
In addition to manufacturing apparels, the company has been all these years known for producing fibres, textiles, industrial materials, films, plastics, chemicals, composites, plant and machinery – indeed a remarkable achievement as very few today can speak of such a wide range of products.
Toray has always been known for delivering quality products and today its customers expect the highest standard when buying a ‘Toray’ product. This is the reason that despite being a Japan-based firm, it has its own big factories in China wherein Chinese and Taiwanese technicians are employed. As Wakabayashi reasoned,“Chinese and Taiwanese technicians are more skilled and capable; unfortunately we don’t have technicians in Japan.” The company envisions to start its own fabric plant in Vietnam soon and since Vietnam too doesn’t have sufficient technicians, it intends to bring in technicians from China and Taiwan for training the locals and being with them to monitor and guide which will lead to quality enhancement.
Toray is stringent about its quality principles and regularly sends its quality control team members from Japan to its sewing factories in Vietnam. The team not only monitors and checks the quality of the products manufactured in the factories, but also ensures that the best quality practices are taught to the quality control team in the factories.
Considering that Toray International is a Research and Development company, it is not surprising that quality remains the focal point for the establishment. “Our quality is proved by our customers. Every company says its products are of good quality but then only saying does not prove one’s mettle. One’s customers should talk about the quality of one’s product or service. We can proudly claim on this as our customers speak for us,” explained Wakabayashi.
Adding further to what Wakabayashi said, Pham Thi My Linh, Sale Assistant of Fiber & Textile Department, Toray International Vietnam Company Limited, mentioned, “We even discuss market trends with our customers which helps us greatly to improve quality.” Among its esteemed clients is Uniqlo — one of the leading clothing retailers that produces dresses and accessories for women, men, kids and babies.
Toray is stringent about its quality principles and regularly sends its quality control team members from Japan to its sewing factories in Vietnam. The team not only monitors and checks the quality of the products manufactured in the factories, but also ensures that the best quality practices are taught to the quality control team in the factories. Even after the completion of the training process, the team from Japan continues to stay in Vietnam so that there is a constant supervision over quality.
Toray also implements quality audits in an effort to further administer the quality of the outsourced products. Based on the results, it gives advice and provides support so as to improve quality and ensures that improvements are permanently adopted. Again, as with the quality control team, the auditing team is also sent to Vietnam from the head office in Japan. Once the team in Vietnam is trained, the auditing team continues staying in Vietnam to ensure that the quality and auditing process remains strong and as per their guidelines.
It is worth noting that the company is associated with four factories in Vietnam and plans to start its own unit very soon.
In its endeavour to work on sustainability, Toray strives to protect the environment by recognising safety and disaster prevention as its top priority in addition to assisting in the safety and health of the society as well as its own employees – yet again showcasing the company’s willingness to focus on what it wants to do even if cost takes a backseat.
For a company like Toray, it is very important to undertake corporate social responsibility (CSR) or any other sustainability initiative and cost has never been a deterrent for it. Substantiating further on this, Wakabayashi said, “Business is about the future and not the present. Our products are ethical and of superior quality and that’s why our customers trust our products despite being little costly.”
Going forward, Toray International has some big plans up its sleeve for Vietnam in 2018. In addition to setting up a fabric plant and a sewing factory, the company is now looking for potential trade partners in Vietnam. “We also want to support our parent company in Japan to promote all our products produced in Malaysia, China, Indonesia and other countries. We therefore try to use our yarn/ fabric produced by Toray Group for production of fabric/garment in Vietnam,” concluded Wakabayashi.
Thus, Toray’s incomparable determination to deliver quality products had, has and will help them gain their existing as well as new customers’ longstanding faith.