Data Analytics & AI

How data refashioned the clothing industry

Yu Hengxing, Chairman, Yinchuan Binhe Ruyi Clothing Co. Ltd., explains how when “enterprise is the main body of innovation and masters first-class technology, conventional industries can also become sunrise industries”. This 45 year-old company is leveraging 3D imaging and analytics to revolutionize its operations and business.

The company was established in 1972 and became known around the world as an innovation-oriented textile enterprise. Shandong Ruyi Group has two public listed companies: a Domestic A Share Company and Tokyo Mainboard Company. In 2002, it won Second Prize for National Progress in the Science and Technology Award for Sirofil Spinning Technology.

In 2009, it went one better, winning the First Prize for the National Science and Technology Progress Award for High Efficiency and Short Process Embedded Composite Spinning Technology. It produces 3 million high-quality  suits and 30 million shirts a year.

Just in time, made-to-measure

The enterprise service business sits between production and basic operations. It analyzes the difference between the input and output of both to standardize output. The systems’ interactive control center integrates all the variations of different projects.

The company establishes the exact details of a customers’ shape and size using a 3D Body Measurement Machine. There are 70 HD cameras and four Optoma projectors, which enable these machines to shoot images from 360 degrees and collect about 200 different measurements. This information is then sent to the big data center, where the ‘human skin texture’ data can be collated to simulate a full 3D model.

In the meantime, using an app, the customer can select the style and fabric they want for their clothes, right down to details such as having three or four buttons on a sleeve, the width of a lapel and so on.

Hengxing said, “During the process, we can record their choices and how long it took them to decide on individual elements, so that our data will be enriched over time and designers will be able to come up with more refined choices.”

Once the customer has chosen, they confirm the order and upload the data. Customers can select which factory their clothes are made at from outlets all over the world.

He said, “Big data enables customized clothes for customers the world over.”

Intelligent manufacture

Once in the system, the customers’ data generates a production order, which enters the manufacturing process and includes an intelligent organizing system. This highly advanced production line assigns an integrated circuit chip to each item on the hanger for each item of clothing.

The chip records the sizes and special requirements, which ensures they are transferred to right place in the manufacturing system.

There are ID stations for each unit of clothing that track it throughout the entire manufacturing process.  This includes the end cycles of ironing, packing, inspection, storage, sales and logistics for dispatch. The progress of all the garments can be seen, in real time, as they are tracked on a big data dashboard at the heart of the smart plant. Information about the workshop and whether it is busy, but smooth-running, or overloaded is sent to the front desk terminals where staff can adjust the flow to maintain efficiency.

According to Hengxing, this ‘just in time’ approach to clothes manufacture has improved productivity by 50percent. He ended saying, “As a traditional industry, we’ve integrated big data and smart industry and we want to share this with other traditional industries.”

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Sarah is a freelance writer and editor with an interest in new technologies and how they impact our everyday lives.

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