COVID-19 pandemic has made one thing well understood by the garment manufacturing industry that, without being technically advanced, they can’t compete with the best of the standards in the world. Though it has always been a crucial investment for a factory to go for fully automated factories, the recent trend, especially in India and Bangladesh, says that factories are willing to integrate technologies in some identified complex areas/processes to boost productivity and reduce indirect costs.
The implementations in factories started with a steep rise in 3D virtual simulation software as COVID-19 has put an indefinite pause on travelling which made physical samples a redundant process. Gradually, some progressive factories have decided to go beyond 3D software and opted for technologies such as real time tracking tool, cutting room advancement (auto-cutters and spreaders), sewing IoT and some even opened an advanced fabric knitting division to manufacture quality fabrics.
One of the early users of technology such as shopfloor management tracking was Azim Group, a leading RMG manufacturing giant of Bangladesh, which has opted for FastReactPlan software – offered by CoatsDigital – to support its endeavour towards digital transformation. Azim Group, in its sister concern Global Outerwear Ltd. which is Group’s denim subsidiary, felt the need for better planning of sewing lines during pandemic, scheduling of cutting, laundry as well as finishing processes.
The Group has started digitalising its production planning and control process and, with FastReactPlan, it is able to optimise its capacity planning with accurate raw material consumption and subsequent pre-production activities which are based on JIT and LEAN tools. “When COVID-19 hit Bangladesh, the main aim of ours was to ensure health and safety of our people…We ensured safety of workforce then, the next in line, was business growth with innovative strategies and we decided to opt for a shopfloor management software which helps us keep track of multiple processes and solve the major challenges of drastically shrinking delivery lead times,” mentioned Farhan Azim, Deputy Managing Director, Azim Group.
It’s worth mentioning here that Azim Group comprises 13 garment manufacturing units across Dhaka and Chittagong and supplies denim products, woven garments and sweaters to the world’s renowned brands and retailers.
Another bigwig from Bangladesh, Pakiza Knit Composite Ltd. (PKCL) – a renowned knitted garment manufacturing company which has successfully been able to catch the early winds of the favourable enterprise in world-class textiles in Bangladesh, became standard of excellence in this sector. Technology has always been the utmost priority for PKCL and, at a time, when a number of factories had stopped their planned investment due to financial crunch, PKCL has firmly decided to not hold any plans even in pandemic. Instead it made its already planned expansion in sewing line, ERP and knitting division operational only recently.
Previously, the knitting division of PKCL had 450 tonnes of fabric manufacturing capacity per month, which has now increased to 600 tonnes per month with the new addition of knitting unit, which uses technologies such as Mayer & Cie, Pilotelli and Pai Lung.
As far as sewing line expansion is concerned, PKCL had planned to have a total of 78 sewing lines back in 2014 in three floors, out of which 2 floors were operational with 52 sewing lines and the third one wasn’t in talks till 2020 start. But, seeing 2020 as a right time for expansion in order to provide long-term stability to its business, PKCL decided to add one more line of 26 machines and inaugurated it on 1 December 2020.
“This is true that this pandemic has made us more focused on implementing the technology to ease our dependency on people and increase our productivity. Apart from installing Japanese high-end SNLS and overlock machines of Juki and Pegasus in new sewing floor and a new knitting division, we have also implemented ERP software to boost our efforts more on technology front,” told Rakibul Islam Khan, MD, Pakiza Knit Composite Limited.
India is also showing strong intent as factories go for technology…
India is known as working conventionally in factories but the recent technology implementations in factories have flipped the situation now. One of the most progressive companies, Carnation Creations has recently expanded its capacity in the undergarment segment and has decided to go for what it doesn’t already use.
After excelling in sewing floor technologies such as advanced UBT machines and sustainable technologies like rain water harvesting, solar energy and huge air fans, Carnation Creations is now implementing the digital tape/smart tape measurement technology to measure size of the garments digitally and send data directly to the computer. Apart from this, the company’s Managing Director Akhilesh Anand said, “It has implemented laser stamping instead of putting stickers on fabric rolls, for marking purpose.”
As far as digital/smart tape measurement is concerned, it is less hyped technology as of yet but the factories should focus on opting for this due to following reason: the chances of human errors in garment measurement process are massive which ultimately do nothing but deteriorate the overall quality of the garments.
The thought process of Carnation team behind investing in digital tape system is to eliminate three challenges: (1) high time consumption (minimum 5 minutes) in the manual measurement system; (2) in garment QC process, inspectors spend on an average one and a half to 4 hours a day simply keying in inspection data into Excel or PDF files and (3) there are high chances of human errors throughout the measurement process as the traditional method of size measurement and data entry is prone to all kinds of human error.
“Digital tape system will eliminate all these arduous activities from the process and simplify it, saving enormous time and indirect cost,” opined Akhilesh.