artifitial-intelligence Feb2020

Technology Notes: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in Garment Industry

Garment manufacturing has traditionally been a labor-intensive industry with several complexities in manufacturing owing to wide range of input materials, variable production volumes, different designs, etc. However, with recent technological developments and global competition, the industry is taking strides towards transitioning from labour intensive to technology intensive.

One of the developments that is making a big mark on garment manufacturing is the use of Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Though AI and ML have conventionally been used in automotive, banking, healthcare, etc. sectors, it has now made its advent into garment manufacturing as well. Most importantly, these technologies are now more accessible than ever.

From Sewing Machine to Sewing Assistant:

One of the major pain points for garment manufacturing industry has always been the availability of trained workforce. Several companies experience problems in finding manpower with required skill and when they find it, it’s hard to retain them. This is one of the problems that Durkopp Adler, a German manufacturer of material handling systems and industrial sewing machines has addressed with a series of machines introduced in the previous year.

derkopp-adler

One of the machines launched by the company last year is marketed as “The M-TYPE DELTA”. The new delta sewing machine is based on the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The machine records and learns the operations and material movement over time and then assists the operator to produce standardized products. With time, as the machine learns the operations, it de-skills the operations thus, reducing the need of a skilled person to perform the operation. This eventually fastens up the learning curve that is attributed to style change and operator change.

Features of the AI based Sewing Machine:

1. Advanced Technology:

The AI-based sewing machine is one of a kind concept in the garment industry. The company claims that the machine becomes an assistant, partner, helper and communicator, thus, changing the idea of working on a sewing machine. Presently, the machine is used in manufacturing automotive products, leather goods and upholstery, however, with its promising applications, the demand for such machines is expected to witness a boost for garment manufacturing.

2. Better Quality:

Considering that the machine automates a significant part of the operation, it reduces human intervention that helps in maintaining quality level across all garments produced on the factory floor. The machine also ensures that the number of re-works owing to errors such as bad stitches, missing threads, etc are reduced significantly.

3. Data Inventory:

Since the machine continuously records all the data such as material settings, etc. it helps in reducing changeover time and hence reduces the downtime of a garment factory. The data inventory also helps in reducing the training requirement for a new operator and thus reduces the learning curve for new styles or any critical operation.

4. Personal Assistant for the operator:

The machine learns the various sewing techniques and working habits of an operator and helps in saving both time and energy. For example, a common activity while sewing is the use of a knee lifter. The machine records the cycle time of the lifting operation and then automates the process thus saving the operator’s efforts.

5. Reduces Downtime:

Since, the machine is completely digitalized, a set of preventive measures helps reduce the machine downtime. Moreover, any software issues in the machine can be diagnosed and fixed remotely, thus, reducing the need for an experienced technician on the factory floor all the time. Further, the machine pre-emptively sends alerts for any maintenance requirement, thus, reducing the downtime.