Cloud Computing in Textile and Fashion Industry
Shubham Anil Jain
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner
Cloud Computing is considered as one of the next big trend, but when it is studied from the point of different services it provides; it’s the next fashionable and prominent computing system offered through internet. This computing system is providing various useful services in various industries considering textile and apparel industries too. In the apparel and textile industry there are some special management systems to simplify various business operations.
So, Cloud computing is basically the practice of using a network of remote servers which are hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than using a local server or a personal computer. It confirmed that cloud computing allows the companies to restrict or completely avoid upfront infrastructure costs. Rather than build their own infrastructure, clothing companies can focus on different aspects such as designing, manufacturing, or retailing clothes and not managing a network of servers. This technology is transforming the world and helping many industries to become more efficient and potentially save money in the process.
Cloud computing is in a stage of progress wherein applications, business course of action, computing infrastructure can be served as a service to the specific user whenever and wherever they needed. Cloud computing is not a new technology or concept in the IT world. It has existed from 2005 but it has been gained popularity and widespread over last three years.
For a layman, the term cloud computing can be defined as delivering applications or business infrastructure as a service through the internet. This is computing technology which is based on internet, wherein the user does not need any software, server or infrastructure to use them. Just an internet connection is the key factor that one needs to access this service and it can be operated from any corner of the world.
Definitions of Cloud Computing
Definition 1: Cloud computing is Internet based computing, by which the shared resources, software and various information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like electricity.
Definition 2: Computing in which services and storage are provided and transferred over the Internet.
Definition 3: On-demand self-service internet infrastructure where you have to pay as you go and use only what you need, which is all managed by a browser, application or API. Cloud computing is broken up into multiple elements including: Cloud Infrastructure, Cloud Platforms and Cloud Applications.
Definition 4: It is a new generation of computing that uses distant servers for data storage and management, which allows the device to use smaller and more efficient chips that consume less energy than standard computers.
Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry – Adaptability to Cloud Computing
1 Supply Chain Management:
Supply chain management is considered as collaborative process and project management to meet the needs of the end customer efficiently and effectively. One of the key requirements of successful management of supply chains is proper collaboration. It should be noted that, in general, there are three flows that occur in supply chains:
- Material flows, which represent product flows from suppliers flows for product returns, servicing, and recycling.
- Information flows, which represent order transmission and order tracing, and which coordinate the physical flows.
- Financial flows, which represent credit terms, payment schedules, and consignment, title ownership arrangements and everything related to finance.
These flows are supported by three main pillars: Processes, which mix the firm’s capabilities in logistics, new product development process, and knowledge management. Organizational structures, which enclose a variety of relationships from total vertical integration to networked companies as well as management approaches, and performance measurement and reward schemes. Enabling technologies, which basically include both process and information technologies for every organization’s supply chain management.
2. SCM in Textile/Apparel/Garment Industry:
The supply chain in the textile and clothing sector with the customer and forms the basis of what is being produced and when. It is also seen that information flows directly from the retailers to the textile plants in many cases. The textile sector produces for the clothing sector and for household application. In the former case there is direct and clear communication between retailers and textile mills when decisions are made on different aspects such as patterns, colors and material. In the second case textile industries also deliver household appliances directly to the retailers. It is estimated that the Indian Textile industry adds 14% to the industrial production and 8% to the GDP of India. It also provides employment to 38 million people and thus, considered as second largest employment provider after agriculture. The Indian Apparel & Textile Industry is considered as one of the largest sources of foreign exchange flow into the country with the apparel exports accounting for almost 21% of the total exports of the country, so as the textile is one of the largest sector, cloud computing helps a lot to enhance its growth rate and to survive in this competitive world.
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World Fashion Exchange states, “ERP software manages the entire fashion product lifecycle, from order management to billing, and from production planning to inventory control.” The WFX ERP is the world’s first Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP software), exclusively for the Fashion Industry, based on Cloud Computing.
Features and functionality of ERP apparel software:
1. Inventory and Warehouse Management:
For the proper inventory management processes, a perfect functionality of logistics management is required. ERP technology helps to trace different materials on the basis of both quantity and value. It helps to assess the organization’s actual stock situation with ERP apparel software based on quantity and value-based criteria, and analyze warehouse activities, for example the physical flow of materials.
2. Bill of Materials (BOM):
Bill of Materials is generally used as per the procurement or production deadlines. Through the effective use of ERP systems, several types of BOM can be efficiently managed as per the requirements of the customer. The software also co-ordinate with the order and instantly manage the materials requirement & indents, which are send online to the sourcing team. Perfect BOM helps in cost saving for manufacturing organizations.
3. Specification Bank:
Fashion retailers always experience the pressure of delivering new collections frequently and on the time. ERP software enables the retailer’s ability to meet the demand, satisfy consumer demand, and increase sales. Here, an online showroom is created through WFX ERP Apparel software that is a kind of virtual storehouse of information. This helps to get information on different styles, technical specs, packaging details and buyer and supplier approvals. This also provides security with Restricted Login Access to buyers or suppliers allowing them to place orders directly into the system.
4. Production Planning and Import Management:
ERP software helps to create a clear plan for production by allocating orders to factories and lines. It helps to gain proper control over production through the planning board, which allows the monitoring of an order’s status through the supply chain with teaching about the individual processes (cutting, stitching, packing, finishing, etc). Furthermore, it identifies the bottlenecks in the production floor and optimizes capacities.
5. Order Fulfillment and Procurement Monitoring:
ERP software helps to evaluate and enhance order fulfilment using key performance indicators for shipping and order management process. It helps to evaluate vendor performance and transaction history for supply chain optimization, monitor purchasing operations and provide detailed data of purchasing activities and procurement processes across offices, locations & vendors which will helps in production planning.
Benefits of Cloud Computing in Textile and Apparel Industry
1. With the evolution of this new pattern of computing system, people believe that textile firms, apparel industry or any organizations will no longer need to do investment in maintaining assets like servers, internal software and storage systems. These can be readily used as and when required on rent. This would reduce the IT investments cost and saves a lot of valuable business time.
2. This system always informs the brand about any delays happening in any process. It can be delay in any stage such as procuring raw materials or at the production level, transportation delay etc. Using cloud technology the brand is immediately informed and they have lot of time to take the correct decision to deliver the entire order at the best possible time.
3. Even today many companies still adhere to the traditional methods for communication purpose and other procedures. Cloud computing is the perfect choice over here for such firms in the apparel industry. As many brands and retailers around the world are using the cloud technology, so it proves as a perfect solution for managing global supply chain in apparel business.
4. It is a specially designed computing system that allows to make the business working simple and easy in the garment industry. It performs many functions like production planning, raw material management, costing, processing the orders, sampling, monitoring the preparation of order and final delivery of the product. All this is can be done through this internet based technology.
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5. It can be accessed from anywhere, at anytime around the world, easy to install, flexible applications which promotes the efficiency of the company and is the best tool to survive in this competitive industry.
6. Cloud computing also makes quick payments. With this technology a leading companies makes payment approval within 48 hours without any paperwork. An international apparel brand uses these applications to inform the customers about the various discounts obtained for early payments to decrease the duty on payments. In return the brand also gets discount from their suppliers for receiving payment within 5 days from delivery. Hence it is like a win situation for both the parties.
7. As textile and apparel industry is unpredictable with unusual consumer demands, multiple trading partners, change in market scenario etc. As this standard are already high, the partners in the apparel and manufacturing supply chain need to embrace other strategies apart from reducing labour cost and maintaining good profits. Cloud computing applications are a suitable solution for apparel manufacturers for achieving coordination among the supply chain parties.
8. Cloud computing technology is getting its prominence in every industry, and fashion segment is not an exception. This technological service systems allow organizations to save time, and money. It also enables the organizations to achieve better, reliable and fully documented decisions resulting in measure improvement.
Challenges of Cloud Computing
The most concern in investing in cloud services is security issues in cloud computing technology. It is because the data gets stored and processed by a third-party and one cannot see it. Every day or the other, person get informed about broken authentication, compromised credentials, account hacking, data breaches, etc. in a particular organization. So, the cloud providers, these days are focusing to improve security capabilities.
2. Cost Management:
Cloud computing helps to access application software over a fast internet connection and enable to save on investing in costly computer hardware, software, management and maintenance. This makes it affordable. But what is challenging and expensive here is tuning the organization’s needs on the third-party platform.
3. Lack of Expertise:
As with the increasing workload on cloud technologies and continuously improving cloud tools, the management has become too difficult. There has been a consistent demand for a trained workforce who can handle the cloud computing tools and services. Hence, firms need to train their staff to minimize this challenge.
4. Control Or Governance:
Another major issue in cloud computing is maintaining proper control over asset management and maintenance. There should be a proper team to ensure that the assets used to implement cloud services are used according to agreed policies and correct procedures. There should be proper maintenance and that the assets are used to meet the organization’s goals successfully.
Another major issue of cloud computing is maintaining compliance. Compliance means, a set of rules about what data is allowed to be moved and what should be kept in-house to maintain compliance. The organizations must follow and respect the compliance rules set by various government bodies and organizations.
In today’s scenario, depending on the business need, an organization can choose to move certain aspects to their technological advancement and IT requirements to the Cloud Computing. With the correct assessment of the business needs, existing infrastructure and through understanding the organization’s strategic objectives, a cloud computing can provide relevant and focused solutions. Apparel and Garment Companies are developing an overall understanding of Cloud Computing enabled supply chain. Nowadays, supply chain infrastructure and architecture to manage supply chain vision is to be arrived at before implementing the Cloud Computing modules for supply chains managements. However, there are a few major issues that hold back business from deploying Cloud Computing. The most important one is the security issue. Many potential users are still concerned about releasing their in-house data to the data center of an external Cloud Services Providers due to issues such as privacy, security etc. In the end, we can say that cloud computing is a good platform for businesses to grow and excel. But at the same time, one should remain vigilant while adopting one.
- Cloud Computing for Managing Apparel and Garment Supply Chains – an Empirical study of Implementation Frame Work, by Prof. A.K. Damodaram, Prof. K. Ravindranath.
- Cloud Computing Concepts and Technologies By Dr.Sunilkumar Manvi, Dr.Gopal K. Shyam.
- Cloud Computing Basics A Non-Technical Introduction Anders Lisdorf
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.