Why is MES software so especially impactful (in terms of reducing waste and increasing efficiency) in the garment space?
When a new design comes in, initially the factory floor workers have lower efficiency because they are getting used to the new design. The other element is downtime; for example, let’s say a new design comes in – then parts of the factory are lying idle. For instance, the packaging department is lying idle because the workers in the sewing department are sewing the garment. This is exactly where MES software can help. Firstly, it allows capturing data at a much granular level. Secondly, because of the data captured, one can use Big Data & data science to create powerful insights in real-time and use that as feedback for the factory staff on the factory floor.
It’s 2021. Why are we now seeing MES software emerge as part of the Industry 4.0 wave?
There are two factors – firstly, it is the availability of the internet; for the information that we are collecting on the factory floor to be useful, it has to be sent in real-time. Secondly, Big Data technology has become much more commoditised and cheap. We are collecting millions of data points on a daily basis. All that data has to go to a data warehouse and be available to analyse in real-time.
Is MES software about people or about sensors/computer vision/etc?
In the garment industry, it’s much more about people. That’s because, despite automation, garments continue to be made by hand. This is because they are really complicated. Humans are inherently smart at being able to figure out how to take a soft piece of fabric, sew it up and pass it to the next person in the production line. Thus, it’s a very people-heavy process.
Zilingo was earlier only doing B2B (and before that B2C) ecommerce. Why nudge the company to enter the MES space?
One factor was that we wanted to deepen our relationship with the manufacturers. Another primary motivation for us was that we noticed the Industry 4.0 trend and felt it’s currently in its infancy. Therefore, we wanted to be early on that growth curve.
What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs who want to get into the garment manufacturing business?
There is huge potential for entrepreneurs of all types to add value to the garment space. This is because the garment space is dealing with a lot of challenges right now, and those challenges are solvable. For instance, one major challenge is the tremendous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. When a significant shake up like this happens, a lot of opportunities are created; for example, the fact that brands & factories need to be more data-driven. So, entrepreneurs have a lot of scope to build brands that are more data-driven & agile or build companies that provide a product that helps brands become data-driven.