APPAREL MANUFACTURING IS CHANGING WORLDWIDE…
PRODUCTION SYSTEMS ARE NOW VIEWED WITH A WHOLE NEW MEANING
Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, man-to-machine communication, machine-to-machine communication, SaaS, smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence – different jargons concocted from which the term ‘Industry 4.0’ emerged out. It is a revolutionary wave in the global apparel industry which is sure to transform the ways of apparel manufacturing, where not only your factory will become ‘smart’, but your technology as well as your garment too will come under the ‘smart’ category. In this Industry 4.0 ready world, is it acceptable to rely on the traditional way of manufacturing garments? Walking at par with the swiftness of the clock, it is time to switch over to a whole new way of manufacturing garments. Team StitchWorld analyses few such innovative apparel production systems…
Unit Production System ( UPS), Progressive Bundle Unit System ( PBU) and Modular Production System – all three denote the prevalent apparel manufacturing systems but are likely to lose their momentum in near future with new or improvised revision happening in the manufacturing systems. The question that provokes the change is how to reach the customer fast and reduce the time from the design process to the point it reaches the store. For once, cheap labour and working with the traditional manufacturing systems will not have the supremacy as before as against the newly adopted manufacturing systems.
Team StitchWorld has identified some such production systems that have caught attention of the world and presents a detailed analysis of the same.
Recently unveiled at Texprocess 2017, a Digital Textile Micro Factory is a model of future manufacturing that will enable the production of customized products in a competitive way, near to the point of use to meet the customers’ demand through the digital networking of automated processes.
The current model where retailers place their order with the manufacturing hubs months before, and the product finds a home with the consumer, is no longer capable of serving the customization needs. Rising demand of customization requires flexible production processes. A demonstration of each and every production stage right from design, colour management and printing, digital cutting, assembling, labelling to finishing with the use of state-of-the-art digital and automated machines conveyed what the future beholds and what the future demands.
Disruptive technologies such as 3D design and body scanning machines that can fully scan an athlete's body to give the exact size and fit, 3D printing and rapid prototyping that can turn an idea to sample in a much lesser time compared to 12-15 days, are major identities of speed factories.
Assyst, a company in the Human Solutions Group, Caddon Printing and Imaging, Ergosoft, Mimaki, Coldenhove, Monti Antonio, Zund, Duerkopp Adler, PFAFF, Veit and Seripress were the partners which made ‘Micro Factory’ concept a success.
“Especially when it comes to ‘fast fashion’, micro factories offer the opportunity to put ideas into practice immediately and to try out new business models, based on specific customer requirements. They facilitate a type of production that is responsive to the market and, as an additional bonus, ensure
optimized use of material, so as to contribute to greater levels of sustainability in textile processing,” says Olaf Schmidt, Vice President – Textiles and Textile Technologies,
As the name suggests, speed factory works on the concept of swift and faster production. The faster the manufacturing is accomplished, faster the product will be in the hands of the customer.
Termed as the ‘future of production’, speed factory adopts manufacturing 4.0 principles supported by automated manufacturing with intelligent robotic technology, cutting-edge machinery and robotic assembly lines. Disruptive technologies such as 3D design and body scanning machines that can fully scan an athlete's body to give the exact size and fit, 3D printing and rapid prototyping that can turn an idea to sample in a much lesser time compared to 12-15 days, are major identities of speed factories.
The concept occurred from the gap that persists between the sourcing destination and consumption destination. Mostly, Asian countries manufacture products for the customers sitting in UK, USA or Europe. The time measured in months for production can merely be reduced to hours, ensuring trendy products on shelves and no huge chunks of inventory. By the time the consumer gets the product, the time in-between is enough for the customer to change his mind and term the product as ‘no longer wanted’.
Manufacturing near the ‘point of consumption’ is the latest euphoria in a faster apparel manufacturing scenario. Made on small scale or individually customized concept, such factories are an epitome of holistic high-tech experience using revolutionary manufacturing technologies, in-store customization and interactive digital experiences.
With an aim to spur domestic manufacturing, the wave of reshoring has brought along certain benefits too such as slashed transportation costs, reduced manufacturing costs and reduced human touch to save time and money, while ensuring higher quality. Furthermore, the lead time in designing a sample can also be reduced.
Adidas Speedfactory and Under Armour Lighthouse are perfect examples of the concept of speed factory.
Store factories are the production systems where the products can be manufactured directly in store according to customers’ specific requirements. Imagine
Ministry of Supply has installed Shima Seiki’s WHOLEGARMENT MACH2X knitting machine in its store and is offering a customized 3D-knit blazer which is ready in just 90 minutes.
a sneaker or a cardigan or a dress you like. Just select the fabric and the print, provide or get measured for the size and the fit, place order and wait. The order placed would be delivered to you in 2 hours or may be even less. It is possible with the store factory.
Using state-of-the-art technologies such as
3D body scanners and 3D printers makes this a reality and will carve its way in near future. With the WHOLEGARMENT technology from Shima Seiki, may be something more will also come in-between, a concept of using cotton directly to a knitted dress.
Still in the initial stage of planning, few names have already successfully implemented these technologies. These are Boston-based label Ministry of Supply and Adidas. Ministry of Supply has installed Shima Seiki’s WHOLEGARMENT MACH2X knitting machine in its store and is offering a customized 3D-knit blazer which is ready in just 90 minutes.
Adidas is also testing the concept of ‘3D knitting on-demand in stores’ in one of its stores in Berlin where customers need to go through a 3D body scan which captures its necessary information. Based on the information obtained, a 3D merino-wool sweater is developed and dispatched within four hours.
The concept of store factory brings along a number of advantages such as, it caters to the growing demand for customization. Also, less of inventory has to be maintained in the retail spaces as the garment would be developed according to the demand, which automatically turns down the inventory costs.
Yves-Simon Gloy, RWTH Aachen University terms ‘store factory’ as the hot topic in apparel manufacturing.
Meeting today’s fast-paced fashion, on-demand apparel manufacturing system is fully automated and pumps finished goods to the customer basket at a much faster speed. Under the system, the apparel items would be manufactured in batches based on factors, like customer shipping address and other parameters like geographic locations, type of fabric required or by the assembly processes involved. In near future, it would also consist of textile printers, automatic fabric cutters, an assembly line and cameras to photograph garments for future feedback based on alternations needed in subsequent items.
A textile printer would print the various patterns needed. The fabrics would then be automatically fed over to a textile cutter, which would cut out the patterns from the layers of fabric to be assembled into the finished garments. Eventually, the finished garments would be checked for quality, packed, and shipped. For this manufacturing to happen systematically, the inventory
will be held in the form of raw materials like fabric, plastic, paper, leather, rubber and other materials.
A steadily growing e-commerce juggernaut, Amazon, has recently unveiled this concept of on-demand manufacturing system which is likely to influence the apparel industry.
Last but not the least, cluster factory of today is primarily the unorganized set-ups within an apparel manufacturing hub. In the maze of lanes and by-lanes of the hub, each lane is engaged in preparing a part of the garment. Each lane specializes in a certain operation – whether it be the operation of cutting, sewing or finishing. The entire locality can be viewed as one massive assembly line. Taking an example of production of jeans, the sewing work can be further divided where one lane makes the front and back part of jeans with ordinary machines. In case of operations where specialized machines such as feed-offthe-arm sewing machine, bartack machine, button holing or zipper attachment machines are required, it is then passed on to other lanes having the capacities.
With an aim to spur domestic manufacturing, the wave of reshoring has brought along certain benefits too such as slashed transportation costs, reduced manufacturing costs and reduced human touch to save time and money, while ensuring higher quality.
Thriving on extreme specialization or core competency theme, these cluster factories excel in jeans manufacturing at a price that even Bangladesh cannot beat. It is all due to the optimum use of man and machine and productivity achieved due to repetitive nature of tasks.
Right within the metro city of Delhi, where labour wage is skyrocketing, whether these ‘cluster factories’, a term coined by Deepak Mohindra, Editor-in-Chief, StitchWorld, will lead way to a cluster manufacturing success story like Italy, or set a sustainable benchmark, only time will tell. But these are here to disrupt the traditional manufacturing for sure.
3dMD is one of the development partners at Under Armour Lighthouse
PFAFF demonstrating welding as a part of micro factory concept
Adidas experimenting on-demand 3D knitting at its Berlin store
Ministry of Supply collaborates with Shima Seiki to offer in-store production
Some of the unorganized apparel manufacturing set-ups use black umbrella machines even today
Amazon has patented the concept of on-demand manufacturing