Today’s consumers demand more from apparel companies than ever before. For an apparel company to remain competitive, they must allow consumers to order online, get quick delivery, and provide personalization. The use of a smart factory allows the apparel industry to react to these consumer wants and needs in real-time.
What is a Smart Factory?
A Smart Factory is one that uses Industry 4.0 technology, such as:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Internet of Things (IoT)
This allows the processes in the factory to learn and adapt in real-time and run autonomously with little human interaction. Because the factory handles routine tasks, employees can handle higher-level decision-making issues.
Benefits of a Smart Factory for an Apparel Company
Those in the apparel industry might hear phrases such as “immediate iterations” or “real-time communication” in reference to Smart Factories, but what are the actual benefits produced when embracing Industry 4.0 technologies? Here are seven to consider:
1. Mass Personalization
Younger consumers, especially millennials, want personalized products rather than mass-marketed products that don’t reflect their individuality. With Industry 4.0, apparel companies have the ability to quickly adjust products due to specific consumer demands, even when producing large volumes.
2. Agile Production
Industry 4.0 let’s apparel companies visualize the apparel process from design to production and automated processes allow multiple product lines. This means that an apparel company can still produce a mass-marketed permanent collection while offering smaller capsule and limited edition collections without sacrificing quality.
3. Made To Measure
What comes to mind when you think of making a garment specific to an individual? Most people think of a seamstress or tailor, but today, an apparel company can do just that. Because of the Internet of Things, store managers, designers, and developers communicate in real time, so an order with measurements specific to one consumer can be made and delivered without interrupting the entire supply chain.
4. Reducing Poor Quality
The cost of poor quality falls between 5 and 30% of total revenue. With Industry 4.0, poor quality garments can be a thing of the past. Smart Factories will now have access to real-time quality data, and information sharing that tracks processes, machines, and people. Because of this, apparel companies can increase the speed of improvement and decrease the cost of quality.
5. Reduce Waste
Prior to Industry 4.0, the fashion industry process that started with a fashion show in Paris and ended on a production line could take two years or more. When finally produced, many of these clothing trends do not sell well, leading to thousands of pounds of waste. According to the Fashion Industry Waste Statistics, the clothing industry is the largest world polluter next to oil. With real-time feedback, companies can now change their garments to meet consumer needs with little waste.
6. Customer Satisfaction
When an apparel company can provide quality products at a good price while offering immediate delivery, customer satisfaction increases. Not only will they be satisfied, but they are much more likely to remain your customer for life.
7. Increased Revenues
By providing the right garments to the right consumers, you will increase customer loyalty, retail contracts, and market share.
Industry 4.0 technology allows the apparel industry to interact with consumers in real time to provide what they want and need. By adapting existing business processes with 4.0 technology, apparel businesses can flourish in the US.