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Different Technological Methodologies Used in Garment Industry

Apparel Manufacutring technological advancements adopted by different countries

In this article technologies adopted for production preparatory process, production process and post-production process used in the garment manufacturing industry and the level of technology that is used for each process commonly used by different countries viz. India, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

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Importance of Technology in the Apparel Industry

Nowadays, more and more technologies are being introduced in the world. From retailing to trendspotting, it is hard to overlook the influence of technology. The real-time information about the customer’s demand, factory equipment, operation time, etc now being monitored with the help of technology.

The apparel industry is all about time management. Manufacturers try to figure out reducing each operation time. Even a small amount of time saved can add up to a significant amount that can be utilised elsewhere. It can only happen when technology is introduced to this field. From spreading & cutting to packaging, everywhere new technologies are emerging which are trying to reduce each operation time. For example, a factory using manual spreading technology can opt for a semi-automatic or automatic spreading machine. It is more efficient, more work is done in less time, a single machine can operate in different modes as per requirement.

New technologies help the apparel industry to move from labour-intensive production to capital-intensive production. The objectives of the new technology include faster production, less waste and localisation of production nearer to market and lower carbon footprints. New manufacturing technology solutions include:

  • A new form of sewing machines, such as laser-cutting machines, fusing machines, buttonhole machines, and seam bonding machines;
  • Sewbots (robotic sewing machines)
  • Clothing that is stitch-free
  • Garments involving multilayers are being introduced to 3D printing technology
  • digital textile printing

Technology is essential for the doing of business. In a situation where real-time information is required, it cannot be done without any application. Some IT tools used in garment industries are: –

  • CAD/CAM systems for pattern making, plotting etc
  • Computerized cutting machine
  • Online FIT approval,
  • ERP for inventory tracking, production management,
  • Mailing solution,
  • Preparation of MIS reports
  • Voice chatting,
  • Semi-automatic and fully automatic sewing machines and
  • Real-time communication with buyer through online solutions like Skype.
  • PLM software

Two types of technologies are used in this sector. One in which machines are used to reduce the time for the operations and another in which product management planning is done. This management is done by the software having real-time information about every operation, providing a calculated data about what and how a factory needs to manage to increase its total productivity. Examples of planning software are given below.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP): Manages manufacturing processes based on the information provided for production planning and inventory control system. It ensures the availability of production materials at the right time optimizing the level of inventory so that each operation is scheduled accordingly to prevent any production hindrance. It uses some form of database to store all the data required to analyse the store lead time and order quantity.

Firstly, it checks how many components of a product is required, secondly, it checks with the inventory that how many needs to be ordered and finally schedule the production activities according to the inventory time and component requirement.

Levels of Technologies Employed

What is Automation?

Automation means the mechanization and integration for the sensing of the environmental variables. These advancements have been made possible due to the rise and availability of computers, artificial intelligence, sensors etc which is helping the industries to rise further in terms of technological fulfilment.

Benefits of Automation

  • Increased Capacity: Due to automation industries can improve their output speeds hugely by reducing the overall production time spent on manufacturing a piece of
  • Improved Quality: The QC departments of the manufacturing industries have a vast opportunity for automation. With the use of different sensors, AI can give these industries a huge upper hand in maintaining the quality of their products in less time and less manual
  • Reduced Cost: As automation reduces the overall production time spent on a good, this can lead to an overall reduction of resources spent on making a particular
  • Skilled Trade Gap: As companies automate, they will require fewer employees to manufacture tools due to the efficiencies gained and the ability for the machines to run operator

Basic Level Technology

As the name suggests basic level technology implies that where maximum human intervention is required to operate a piece of machinery. These machines are pretty much manually driven and require a human hand to guide through the operation or key decision-making points so that it can function properly for the task it was devised for.

Example: A manual sewing machine having no automation needs to be operated completely manually in all the operations.

Advantage: These machines are easy to operate and the operators don’t require any kind of training to operate these machines. These machines are easily fixable in case of a breakdown due to their popularity and abundance in the whole industry.

Disadvantage: There are many disadvantages in the machines having this level of technology such as increased production time, huge manual labour required, more use of resources comparatively than its counterparts.

Intermediate Technology

Intermediate Technology implies that the machines which are intermediately fulfilled have some or a decent level of automation. These machines are partially able to function on their own in some stages of production however they can’t make a proper decision or no decision at all on their own in key decision-making points due to the limitation in the extent of automation as this type of automation is only present to play as a helping hand and to reduce the overall time spent on producing on a piece of article marginally to the operator operating these machines

Example: A semi-automatic sewing machine is fitted with a UBT, stitch setter and servo motor which provides some level of help to the operator so that the operator doesn’t need to do everything on their own which consumes more time.

Advantage: These machines are somewhat able to do some functions on their own which helps the producer to increase their output speeds, reduce total production time, reducing the overall cost adjoined with a good due to less usage of resources and labour.

Disadvantage: One of the major disadvantages is that in case of a breakdown these machines take much longer and are more complex to resolve than their basic counterparts, also the operator operating these machines needs to be aware of the functionalities which leads to a one-time huge cost overhead on the manufactures and which some manufactures may not be willing to do so.

Advanced Technology

These are the most technologically fulfilled machines that require minimal to no human intervention at any point of their functionality and are more than capable to make key decisions at the time of production, these can also adapt according to any adversaries which may arise during production and fix it and move on. These machines are self-sufficient and are hugely faster than their other two counterparts.

Example: A completely automatic fabric inspection machine doesn’t require any human intervention as these machines are fitted with state-of-the-art sensors and cameras which are sufficient to do this particular task nth time faster than a human eye or any other means while producing zero to negligible errors.

Advantage: The advantages of using a completely automatic machine is huge in number such as fastest output speeds, least time spent on producing an article, least usage of resources, labour etc.

Disadvantage: A huge disadvantage is that these machines are leading to unemployment because of no the minimal requirement of human labour. The cost of fixing these machines due to breakdown is expensive and in some areas, these services may not be available which further complicates the overall practicality and usage of completely automated machines.

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