Followingrecommendations can be given to improve the perception of employees onknowledge, risk and benefits of applying nanotechnology for fabricmanufacturing and gaining sustainable competitive advantage in the apparelindustry using this new technology.6.2 Recommendations to improveperception on knowledge level in applying nanotechnology for fabric manufacturingEventhough many employees have heard or read about nanotechnology most have themknow little about the meaning of nanotechnology. In comments of thequestionnaire many employees have said they need more workshops and awarenessprograms on nanotechnology as it is a new technology.
To improve and manage theexisting knowledge level of employees on nanotechnology, Nonaka-Takeuchi (1994)SECI model can be utilized. Knowledge creation, knowledge sharing and knowledgestoring are key areas of a knowledge management process. Knowledge creation isthe generation of new knowledge through innovation and R & D on ways ofapplying nanotechnology for fabric manufacturing. Knowledge sharing istransferring and acquisition of knowledge through learning processes andcommunication.
Knowledge storing can be done through several technologies,where information (encoded knowledge) is deposited into databases, web, etc.and culture being the living memory of the organization. Figure 20 – TheSECI Model (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995)6.
2.1 Socialization to improveknowledge on NanotechnologyWhenindividuals interact, and share tacit knowledge with each other, they learn andacquire new knowledge and accordingly improve their capacity to define asituation or problem, enabling them to apply their knowledge to problem solvingand generating new ideas on applyingnanotechnology to manufacture fabric. The discussions between executives withinthe innovation teams of respective clusters and with their managers taking placein workshops, training programmes or meetings, and social events such as annualgatherings, give all employees in fabric manufacturing division the chance toshare their knowledge, to help solve problems and to improve their relevantprocesses and products. This also helps them to get a good view on whatdifferent teams (technical, R & D, marketing etc.) are doing from theirrespective team members and share their knowledge on different problems withinthe division. The discussions between team members of each team and theinternal and external experts can provide them with the knowledge to deal withdifferent situations and to introduce constructive ideas to enhance theorganization’s performance on applying nanotechnology for fabric manufacturing.Finally, their discussions with customers through daily dealings and in socialmeetings will allow them to give suggestions to improve the organization’sperformance with utilizing nanotechnology. Catering to customer needs throughinnovation and R & D related to fabric manufacturing utilizingnanotechnology is the most essential factor to gain sustainable competitiveadvantage.
Understanding the tacit knowledge which influences the thinking andbuyer behaviour of its main customer groups and, in turn, is exploiting it inin design and product development through nano-based innovation is a keyfeature of knowledge socialization. 6.2.
2 Externalization to improveknowledge on NanotechnologyDocumentingthe findings of discussions with internal and external bodies is the basis forgenerating ideas. These documents provide the necessary data and information onwhich to build new ideas on nanotechnology applications. They were alsoconsidered as valuable memory aids that enabled employees to recall anythingfrom the past. Documents can be used as indicators of the latest innovationsand the starting point of new nano-based fabrics. Documentation of new processlayouts and past research on product development like Lotus nano-fabric andother patented products like Athos are crucial for new product and processdevelopment projects. Nike innovation centre is a key conglomerate inexternalizing the knowledge of nano-fabric manufacturing as several innovatorsfrom several countries work together mostly on a short-term basis to initiatenew product and process developments related to Nike brand nano-fabrics. Whenthose innovators fly back to their countries with tacit knowledge, that tacitknowledge can be converted to explicit knowledge through externalization and beutilized in future innovation work of MAS Fabrics (pvt) Ltd which will helpthem to gain sustainable competitive advantage.
6.2.3 Combination to improveknowledge on NanotechnologyUpdatingfabric manufacturing division continuously by relevant reports and publicationsrelated to nanotechnology applications is necessary to complete their dailywork and to revise their knowledge. Updating knowledge is the first step as itis difficult to generate new ideas if they depend on old reports. Explicitknowledge can be collected from inside the organization as well as outside theorganization to form more complex and systematically processed explicitknowledge on innovation which can be utilized for the future projects based onnanotech fabrics by creating the best explicit knowledge platform out of allcombined. Sometimes nanotech fabrics done for Nike will be used as theprecursor for another innovative nanotech fabric for VS even though theirproducts are different. Therefore, it’s very important to collect existinginternal explicit knowledge regularly to gain sustainable competitive advantagethrough improving the knowledge on nanotechnology to fulfil the customer needsbefore the competitors. It is also necessary to collect the explicit knowledgefrom outside parties.
For example, explicit knowledge of the nano-fabrics doneat Nike innovation centres in other countries and perhaps innovations relatedto Nano fabrics from other competitors and universities could be collected andcombined with internal processes to innovate better products. Hence thestrategy can be focused on collecting and combining those internal and externalexplicit knowledge depending on the needs of employees in fabric manufacturingdivision and customers to gain sustainable competitive advantage.6.
2.4 Internalization to improveknowledge on NanotechnologyIn internalizationprocess, explicit knowledge created and shared throughout the organizationthrough combination is converted into tacit knowledge by individuals. Readingof trainings and seminar findings or postgraduate materials based on nanotechfabric manufacturing can be provided to employees with new knowledge and givethem the chance to be aware of scientific and professional updates. This willhelp them to develop their skills and to look at problems philosophically andwith an open mind which enabled them to produce innovative solutions to theentire value chain of manufacturing nano-fabrics. Reviewing the publishedreports from competitors provide good opportunities to learn how they think andwhat they produce and accordingly suggest new ideas and products. It is veryimportant to provide employees, easy access to the organization’s databaseswhich will enable them to be aware of all related issues and thus producevaluable ideas to improve fabric qualities using Nanotechnology. 6.
3 Recommendations to improveperception on risk factor in applying nanotechnology for fabric manufacturingEventhough this study indicates there’s no relationship between risk and perceptionon applying nanotechnology in fabric manufacturing, when the knowledge factorand technology improve, employees may consider more about various environmentaland health risks based on nanotech fabric manufacturing applications. Inaddition to the general regression analysis certain risk factors have scoredhigher Likert scale points in the questionnaire. These factors like safety andhealth risk should be identified as more influential factors to the variabilityof the perception. It is therefore important to be able to define criteria thatdistinguish between non-nanotech products and nanotech products. It is alsoimportant to inform which nanotech products are likely to present a health riskto avoid inappropriate and possibly deleterious sweeping conclusions regardingpotential impact. For example, complementary metal-oxide coated Nano fabricswith sub-100 nm features, or high-resolution electron microscopes, will presenta fundamentally different potential risk to human health than productscontaining unbound nanostructured particles, such as nanophase fabrics.
The2004 report on nanotechnology from the Royal Society and Royal Academy ofEngineering highlighted Nano fabrics associated with unbound sub-100 nmdiameter particles as being of particular danger to human health. It isanticipated that nanotechnology standards being developed by organizations suchas the International Standards Organization (ISO) and ASTM International willarrive with appropriate criteria in due course. Employees must adhere to theseinternational standards. Quantitative risk assessment remains difficultfor engineered nanomaterials used for nano-fabric manufacturing. Therefore, theperception of employees on risk is greatly lacking.
It is reasonable tospeculate that there will be risks, and that conventional risk assessmentparadigms will not always suffice. However, specific information on hazard,exposure, dose, response, and other elements within risk assessment frameworksis lacking. Therefore, experts on risk mitigation of nanotechnology shouldinvolve in this process to develop internal standards.
The following model canbe used to form a framework on risk management. Exposure Assessment Particle behavior, Product uses, durability, Receptor, Routes of entry Toxicity Assessment Uptake, distribution, metabolism, excretion, reactivity, dosimetry Risk Characterization Likelihood of effects, Nature of effects, Effectiveness of controls Figure 21 – Recommended Risk Management Standard Hazard Identification Chemical Composition, Particle size, Structure/properties, Coatings 6.4 Recommendations to improveperception of benefits in applying nanotechnology for fabric manufacturingIt wasapparent from the raw data collected as most of the participants had identifiedthe benefits of nanotechnology and therefore, there is a strong relationshipbetween benefits and perception on nanotechnology and it is in a much-improvedstage. Thus, when the employees get more benefits, they tend to utilizenanotechnology for fabric manufacturing. By giving more knowledge according toSECI model, employees will get a good understanding on what benefits they cangain through nano-fabric manufacturing. Most of them know that they can catchthe high-end market and earn more profits through nano-fabric. Therefore,management of MAS Fabrics (pvt) Ltd can reward employees who innovate newmechanism to manufacture Nano fabrics. Vroom’s expectancy theory (1964) can betaken to improve the perception on benefits (REDMOND, 2017) through motivation.
Itassumes that behaviour results from conscious choices among alternatives whosepurpose it is to maximize pleasure and individual behaviour to minimize pain.It indicates that effort, performance and benefits are linked in a person’smotivation to maximize their productivity. Employees believe that their effortson innovation mechanism to produce/market Nano fabrics will result theacceptable performance. Then they believe that acceptable performance willproduce the desired benefits and they value those benefits. Those benefits willmotivate them on supporting more kaizen projects on nano-fabric because theywould have the feeling that they will be benefited for their efforts. This willimprove the perception of employees on benefits of utilizing nanotechnology forfabric manufacturing and this will help the organization to catch up high-endmarkets to earn more profits to gain sustainable competitive advantage. 6.5Recommendations to improve implementation of nanotechnology in fabric manufacturingin Sri LankaAs discussed in theresearch background, nanotechnology is already utilized for fabricmanufacturing in Sri Lanka.
But with the increasing demand, the level ofnanotechnology utilization is not enough to gain sustainable competitive advantagein the apparel industry and therefore, it is a must to improve theimplementation more and more in fabric manufacturing as well as in all otherareas of apparel industry like printing and sewing. Perception was identifiedas a key issue and when it is proved correct through knowledge, risks andbenefits as recommended above, more people will be willing to applynanotechnology in a Sri Lankan context. There are some other technical ways toimprove the implementation process and some of those techniques are recommendedbelow.In fabricmanufacturing, nanometric materials can be dispersed into the matrix of thefibres or deposited on their surface to give new nanocomposites improvedperformances and characteristics. The spectrum of nanoparticles used forpreparing nanocomposites is large.
It spans from metal, such as silver (Ag), tometal oxides, such as titanium dioxide (TiO2), to carbon nanotubes (CNT), toclays. Wide is, the number of characteristics and performances that can beobtained with the addition of these nanoparticles. Specific spinning processes,such as electrospinning, can be used to produce nano-fibres, which can lead tonon-woven fabrics with improved or new characteristics having multipleapplications. Surface treatments at nanoscale, using both wet and gas phaseprocesses, can bring about important advantages in the finishing step. All thiscan contribute to develop high performances and multi-functional textilesproducts which in turn allows specialisation, new applications, customisation.Focusing more on silver nanoparticles and ZnO nanoparticles utilized in fabricmanufacturing is very important too.
Silver nanoparticles, in particular, areemerging as one of the fastest growing product categories in the nanotechnologyindustry. The ability to produce particles of silver at nanoscale is allowingcompanies to leverage its known antimicrobial properties as an effective meansfor microbial control in nonwoven applications. ZnO nanoparticles have beenshown to provide UV shielding and reduced static electricity of nylon fibre. Anadded advantage of the use of zinc oxide is that it is approved for use in skincontact fabrics.Research instituteslike SLINTEC and NRC and internal innovation staff in some apparel companies inSri Lanka like MAS and Brandix should focus on more developments in applyingnanotechnology for fabric manufacturing aiming at two main objectives. Thefirst objective should be the upgrading of both present functions andperformance of textile materials.
For example, fabrics prepared with fibresadded with nano-size fillers (e.g. nano-particles, nano-powders, carbonnanotubes-CNTs) or having innovative finishing treatments, characterised by,enhanced strength and durability, flame resistance, self-cleaning, variablechromatic behaviour, light protection, hydrophilic or hydrophobic properties,anti-static features. The second objective should address the development ofinnovative products, in particular smart textiles with totally new features andfunctions. For example, energy generation, or controlled release of drugs orscents.
The development of newsmart/intelligent textiles (textiles with new functions through the integrationof technology into a fabric which make them responsive to inputs, toshow/modify specific properties, or with sensing and actuating capabilities) isgaining much attention. For example, clay nanoparticles are introduced todye-attracting sites and used to create dye-holding space in polypropylenefibres, which are characterised by structural compactness and lack ofdye-attracting sites. In this case, nanoparticles of montmorillonite aremodified with quaternary ammonium salt and then mixed into polypropylene beforeit is extruded. As a result, the polypropylene can be coloured by acid dyes anddisperse dyes. Fibres spun from pure carbon nanotubes can be used to preparetextile applications.
These fibres are currently undergoing rapid development,along with composite fibres containing carbon nanotubes as additive which canbe utilized to manufacture higher strength fabrics as military armouries forsoldier uniforms. These improvements in implementing nanotechnology in fabricmanufacturing combined with improved perception will surely lead Sri Lankanapparel industry to achieve sustainable competitive advantage with much highersales and profits which directly impact on the development of the country sinceapparel is our prime export income generation industry.