When people in the fashion industry say it’s vital that departments talk to each other and exchange information, one might think they’re referring to its employees. But a company absolutely cannot reach its true potential unless its computers are on speaking terms.
This is particularly true along the supply chain and on the factory floor, where data must be gathered and shared to boost efficiencies across all sectors. Unfortunately, many companies are still using multiple systems that don’t pull data into one centralized spot—if they’re using digital systems at all. Too many still rely on manual logs and spreadsheets, proving that when it comes to progress via end-to-end digitalization, it’s often the humans grinding the gears.
“Digital transformation requires a total transformation of culture in the way businesses are run in order to fully adopt a digital mindset,” said Kelvin Su, president of Hong Kong-based solutions technology company LTLabs. “Digitalization can’t just be a ‘tick the box’ thing where companies don’t understand it. We met with one customer who has 10 different systems, but he didn’t know how to pull any of the analytical information out of it.”
LTLabs knows manufacturing—the company’s team is comprised of people who have worked in apparel and footwear manufacturing for over 30 years—and they’ve taken their intimate understanding of factory floor pain points to develop solutions for brands and retailers looking to improve manufacturing efficiencies.
Decreasing NPT to Increase ROI
When it comes to optimizing performance on the factory floor, one of the biggest issues is a worker’s non-productive time, or NPT. This can be tied to a worker’s specific skills (or lack thereof), how the production line is set up, and even contingencies for when machines are down. It’s also one of the areas where digitalization reaps the biggest ROI.
“We say that by focusing on the industrial engineer team that monitors, tracks, plans and balances out the production line’s efficiency, within six months, you’re going to see an average cost savings of $12,000, and you’re going to see NPT lowered by 61 percent,” Su said.
Based off the team’s experience in manufacturing, LTLabs created a universal platform that factories can use across their departments to optimize digitalization along the production line and shop floor. The result is three team-focused applications—LTie, LTquality, and LTmechanic—each of which is modular and can be deployed depending on where a company is in its digital journey. They also work seamlessly with a company’s existing systems, pulling all information onto a universal dashboard.
“We take a very holistic and flexible approach that works by one of our systems and we’ll help you with some of your other pain points in your factory,” Su said.
LTie: A production line is only as efficient as those working along it, and it’s key that worker performance is monitored and tracked digitally so managers can plan, balance and re-balance the line in real time as needed. LTie is designed to discover and fix bottlenecks and inefficiencies, plus re-allocate workers on the line due to style selections, ability and output time per piece. LTie’s Digital Skills matrix captures operators’ skills into a live matrix. This system calculates and automatically graphs metrics to show where the bottlenecks are so companies can adjust. This saves a lot of time compared to what engineers would do with manual operations.
LTquality: Designed for Quality Control inspectors, LTquality differentiates itself with its user experience and the fact that it operates in real time, instead of gathering manual data to be analyzed later. Plus, it doesn’t just cover the assembly line, but every single quality inspection point in the factory, including fabric inspection, value-added processes and pre-production, with the ability to add custom checkpoints anywhere.
LTmechanic: It’s inevitable that machines along a production line will periodically break down, but time is money. And the faster a manager can identify a production line problem and deploy the right mechanic with the right tools to fix it, the better production downtime will be managed. Mechanic performance, repair holdups or escalating issues all show up on the screen with emails deployed to instantly notify supervisors.
It’s this ability to use digital data to improve on human skills and behavior that will help a company reach its full potential.
To learn more about how LT Labs’ Team Connect can help streamline your factory, click here.