Look at the excerpts of a brilliant conversation below –
CASE (an AI robot): It’s not possible
Cooper (Astronaut): No, it’s NECESSARY
Cooper’s dialogue is perhaps one of the most iconic and determined statements among all space movies that have ever been made. And those who have watched the visually stunning and mind-bending Interstellar movie released in 2014, know the entire sequence of this conversation that happens during docking scene amidst Cooper’s maneuver of saving the Endurance Ship to pull it out from the gravitational field of the planet.
Watch the entire clip here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3lcGnMhvsA
What’s noteworthy here is a human defying the confidence of a robot’s analysis in space and guiding it to achieve something that’s seemingly impossible even for a robot/computer. What happens in this scene next is breathtaking as a human astronaut, with the help of two robots (CASE and TARS), not only docks successfully but increases the chances of getting back on earth.
Let’s jump onto another movie named Apollo 13 – perhaps the best space movie ever made – that tells a NASA’s near-disaster story of Moon mission back in 1970. As a team of three astronauts get stuck in space after their spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage before they reach to Moon, NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely and abandon the Moon mission. Look at this conversation –
NASA Director: This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever experienced.
Gene Kranz (Flight Director): With all due respect, Sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.
Now what NASA does back on earth to save a spacecraft is just incredible. When technology failed thousands miles above the earth, a team of humans on earth saved the mission on no so technology-friendly era. The Flight Director, on earth, pulled his shift of controllers off regular rotation to focus on managing consumables like water and power. Other mission control teams helped the crew with its daily activities. Spacecraft manufacturers worked around the clock to support NASA and the crew.
Watch the clip here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tid44iy6Rjs
What’s the lesson for the apparel industry?
Human vs Automation seems to be a never ending debate in the apparel manufacturing industry that is getting intensive for quite some time. Some believe majority of jobs in labour-intensive countries will be made redundant and some believe technology is no substitute for humans and it has to work in collaboration with human workforce.
The Flight Director of Apollo 13 stated 51 years ago – “Failure is not an option”, and it holds deep meaning for those apparel factories that believe in progressive approach as every factory wants to –
- Reduce defect rate in the garment products
- Reduce production costs
- Improve efficiency as no buyer is interested to pay for non-efficient processes
- See the processes on the shopfloor take place without manipulation and are effectively tracked (in real-time)
- Increase speed to market
- See their equipment and machinery last long
- Devise a strategy that can lead them to long-term business sustainability
- Increase transparency across value-chain
With the perfectly weaved human-technology collaboration, all these ‘wants to’ are achievable. The activities that can be automated should be automated to reduce cost but the processes that require human intelligence, shouldn’t be interfered with a lot of unwanted automation. And, the factories need to understand this approach before making any decision.
As people believe that automation is hurting manual jobs, it is not the case. This is certainly debatable but, in most cases, the robots create new jobs and more opportunities to allow people to do more with less. According to IFR (International Federation of Robotics), the robotics industry generates approximately 170,000 to 190,000 jobs worldwide each year and apparel industry is gradually pacing up with this data. While apparel industry hasn’t seen any significant deployment of robots on sewing floors, it surely is in use in warehouses. On the other hand, other sort of automation and high-end technology are still in use across departments in an apparel factory premise. Let’s understand how technology is still dependent on humans with a few examples…
- The factories can’t ask a software to create design of a garment. This will always be done by a designer and it’s just 3D rendering that will be accomplished using the software.
- A lot of sewing technology providers have come up with automats that automatically sew the garment products made up of heavy/smooth/uncomplicated fabrics such as jeans, trousers, shirts etc. One operator can handle 3, 4 such automats at a time. However, when product categories get upgraded and use of more delicate and high-end fabrics is involved with a lot of value addition (sequins, embroidery etc.), these automats are not at all recommended. Here comes the importance of human hand as the robots cannot handle such fabrics in a way that a human can. It is difficult for robots to pick and place delicate fabrics on sewing plate and do complicated sewing process on complex garment designs.
- Let’s get this fact straight that technology can’t make survival strategies, it can’t feel market sentiments, and it can’t understand the economic fluctuation that’s happening in a world where COVID-19 is wreaking havoc. It can only help factories make processes simplified, assist humans in analysing the data, and transform an operation so that it becomes more productive and efficient. The survival instinct is (can) always be felt strongly by humans only based on which they lay a strategy to stay in business and technology can be a good partner for them in their endeavours.
As post-pandemic era will give boost to value-added products, this human and technology collaboration becomes even more crucial. And, when this approach is followed, the transformation will lead factories to become ‘smart’ where skilled manpower will be working alongside automated solutions.
PS: If you want to share your thoughts on the current apparel industry’s landscape, or if you are looking to promote your technology on Apparel Resources, get in touch with us now – firstname.lastname@example.org