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Technology and its slated expanse for apparel value chain

"Apparel value chain comprises of downstream functions (retailing) managed in advanced economies and upstream functions (manufacturing) managed by least developed economies. Given the small and medium enterprise status of apparel manufacturing and mostly entrepreneurial ventures, cheaper access to technology will be an incentive towards adoption by apparel manufacturing organisations, stresses Dr Prabir Jana, NIFT, Delhi. He says, for the first time, the developed and the developing worlds are creating, collaborating, communicating, and consuming on similar technology platforms, spurring global innovation. Of the 253 ‘unicorns’ tracked by CB Insights, 65 are from China, and 10 from India."

 

images 3Apparel value chain comprises of downstream functions (retailing) managed in advanced economies and upstream functions (manufacturing) managed by least developed economies. Given the small and medium enterprise status of apparel manufacturing and mostly entrepreneurial ventures, cheaper access to technology will be an incentive towards adoption by apparel manufacturing organisations, stresses Dr Prabir Jana, NIFT, Delhi. He says, for the first time, the developed and the developing worlds are creating, collaborating, communicating, and consuming on similar technology platforms, spurring global innovation. Of the 253 ‘unicorns’ tracked by CB Insights, 65 are from China, and 10 from India. In the global list, only three unicorn companies are related to clothing, while as many as 35 are e-commerce related. Apparel product development hasn’t still come to terms with the adoption of technology for process improvement.

Alluring advantages

As per Digital IQ survey by PwC, companies that are technology leaders in their industries are twice as likely tounified erp for fashion achieve rapid revenue and profit growth as the laggards. Originally seen as a tool largely for improving efficiency – doing the same things better and more cheaply – technological innovations are now the fastest means of opening up new revenue streams and transforming traditional industries. Added to that, individual technologies build on each other and amplifying each other’s effects, set the stage for ‘Industry 4.0’. While AI – an emerging technology – is the motive force behind robots, IoT is the key driver behind cyber-physical systems transforming the factory floor into a co-working space with robots. Similarly, Augmented Reality (AR) will give a fillip to training and instruction-related functions and real time physiological data of humans will give fillip to simulation or digital twin technology and so on. The sky is the limit when one wants to opt for technology in apparel value chain.

Artificial Intelligence algorithms are capable of performing tasks which normally would require human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. AI is an ‘umbrella’ concept that is made up of numerous subfields such as machine learning, which focus on the development of programs that can teach themselves to learn, understand, reason, plan, and act (i.e., become more ‘intelligent’) when exposed to new data in the right quantities. Augmented reality or the addition of information or visuals to the physical world, via graphics and/or audio overlay has the potential to improve the user experience for a task or a product. This ‘augmentation’ of the real world is achieved via supplemental devices that render and display the said information.

Moreover, another rapidly growing technology, blockchain has been rapidly seeping into industries. It is essentially a distributed electronic ledger that uses software algorithms to record and confirm transactions with reliability and anonymity. The record of events is shared between many parties and information once entered cannot be altered, as the downstream chain reinforces upstream transactions. Autonomous land-based vehicles can also prove to be beneficial. These are air unmanned land-based vehicles that move without an on-board human pilot and can be operated autonomously (via on-board computers) on a predefined flight plan or can be controlled remotely. The most popular of all, Internet of Things (IoT) enables devices to be connected and be remotely monitored or controlled. Next comes robots that automate, augment or assist human activities, autonomously or according to set instructions – often a computer programme. Besides these, virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing is increasingly finding space in the apparel industry.

 
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