With the advancement of technology in the recent years, there have been a lot of changes in the apparel and fashion manufacturing industry. Saving money in various cost centers, reduction of paperwork, increased productivity, increased visibility of the process, accuracy in data and reporting are major gains from the latest technology solutions. Cloud computing, mobile applications, and real-time information sharing are shaping the future of the apparel industry, thus changing the very nature of the fashion cycle.
Cloud-based Integrated Shop Floor Planning
Cloud computing has gained prominence in the past few years as a technology which can simplify business operations. The cloud platform has numerous advantages, such as enabling mobility, since it is both platform and location independent, and minimizing the cost of IT infrastructure ownership. On the plant floor, functions like production planning, raw material management, order processing, costing, sampling and delivering the product, all of this can be made available online through cloud computing. Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the biggest applications of cloud computing, which provides a virtual view of the environment, which can be used with the help of camera and internet.
This technology also helps in integrated material planning and shop scheduling, thus solving both the material and capacity constraints. The benefits also include an efficient shop floor schedule, lower WIP inventory and smoother flow of materials.
Today as cloud computing is growing, it is letting factories and companies to work together from many parts of the world at the same time. This allows them to access relevant data, facilitating quicker, more productive and clear communication.
Mobile Applications for Monitoring Operator Efficiency
With the advent of Digital Transformation, mobile applications are making it easier to manage and control all the functions on the factory floor even from remote locations. These apps give users real-time, read-only, remote access to plant floor data, and are easy to use. Using AI, analytics and automation, the factory floor operations can be easily monitored, and thus have the following advantages:
- It helps in bridging the gap between “having a procedure” and “implementing that procedure”. Apps can help by sending the instructions to the technicians quickly and can also monitor that these processes are carried out effectively, thus improving accuracy
- It helps in following work compliance, ensuring that the work has been performed, verified and validated, through documentation
- It helps in removing technological barriers, since the apps are easy to use and people are more comfortable with them
CRM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for Real-Time Information Sharing
Both Cloud Computing and ERP can be used for automated updating of data without compromising on downtime and can manage the entire system solutions. Now manufacturers can keep their financial, warehouse and client information safely in one platform. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies are offering increased versatility and flexibility to adapt to fluctuations within markets. That potentially can eliminate the overhead costs of running an in-house IT department. It also allows a better visibility of the entire supply chain. Cloud platform is also offering transparency in the entire supply chain and potentially helping to reduce production costs by eliminating unnecessary spending whenever possible.
Manufacturing CRM allows manufacturers to manage all the customer related data on a single platform. It also helps in getting insights of customer needs that can be used for improving existing products and help develop new ones.
IoT to Bring Real-Time Insights
Internet of Things (IoT) has been improving business processes across many industries. Even the apparel industry can leverage this technology to bring real-time insights through connected devices.
On the shop floor, using IoT technology such as sensors, smart shelves and doors, robots, etc. we can get a real-time image of the stocks, and hence can optimize the inventory management. It can also help in improving process efficiency on the factory floor. The workers can get instructions about the processes to be carried out through connected devices. This would help the shop floor managers to track the performance of his/her subordinates, access the information instantaneously, and when paired with wearable technology – can provide managers with an elevated view of operations. IoT can also be used for asset monitoring and tracking, measuring KPIs such as quality, performance, anomalies, bottlenecks, and more. With all moving parts connected by technologies like RFID, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, manufacturers can get visibility into assets, monitor fluctuations in operation, and take proactive measures to ensure optimum performance. It also aids in process automation, supply chain management, real-time feedback and change management, thus minimizing the errors and making the garment manufacturing process far more efficient.
The use of internet-based technology has the potential to identify and track the previously obscure information. They help in connecting individuals and groups of a particular organization to share information on a single platform, thus digitalizing the entire supply chain. New technologies such as machine learning, robot designs, 3D simulation and 3D body scanner are transforming the way the manufacturing industry collects information, performs skilled labor, and predicts consumer behavior, resulting in increased efficiency and decreased turnaround time.
Irrespective of the business size, all of the above technology can be installed and utilized for managing the business, improving performance and accuracy in the entire supply chain process.
Author of This Article:
Shambhawee Jha &
Founder – Grid – www.workongrid.com
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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.