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Cover Story | November 2019

Logistics see a sea change

Logistics, automation and connectivity are all interrelated and their combinations have created a new world of changes for the benefit of customers. The process of moving textile products, whether raw components or finished product, has undergone an evolution that reflects the pressures of globalisation, the search for competitive advantages and compliance with customer demands to tightly control inventories throughout the supply chain. This new world has grown stupendously revealing a range of firms, of different shapes and sizes, that not only are interested in textiles, but also are focused on assisting textile firms to capture the advantages offered by up-to-date shipping and logistics practices.

There certainly has been a strong initiative among major shipping and logistics companies to capture the growing market of international textile shipping. United Parcel Service, DHL and FedEx all have made overtures to the industry to be primary suppliers of much more than delivery services. Globally, firms like Crowley Logistics, Maersk Inc and Seaboard Marine all have made efforts to participate in the textile industry by offering value-added services that make a difference.

In the apparel and textile arena, leaders provide services to a wide array of clients from the largest retailers to the smallest family-owned apparel wholesalers. Because there is no one-size-fits-all in the logistics business, they work closely with the clients to provide the level of service that they require, from the simple to the very sophisticated. The industry sees opportunities to grow in all facets of this business.

A.T.E. Enterprises, a leader in textile engineering with 80 years’ experience in the textile industry, has tied-up with Godrej & Boyce Mfg (Material Handling Division) to provide effective solutions for material handling and warehouse management. This will help textile mills reduce manual labour, increase the speed of material movement, improve productivity, minimise production cost, increase handling capacity, ensure safety, and improve space utilisation by going vertical.

Godrej Material Handling (GMH) has tremendous expertise in material handling and warehouse management. GMH is one of India’s largest lift truck manufacturers. Established in 1963, the business provides mobile path material handling solutions to virtually all industries in manufacturing, infrastructure, services, aviation, logistics, defence, ports, railways, and power.

GMH leads the pack not only in terms of market share, but also in the way it pioneers new technological frontiers by offering the most advanced products at affordable prices. In the last ten years, there has been a massive transformation in the technology used in industrial trucks and GMH has been at the forefront in adopting and offering the latest technologies.

The company has a range of traditional counterbalance trucks, warehouse trucks, and even more advanced machines like side loaders. Each of these categories has several types, models and capacities. The main equipment is supported by a wide range of accessories and attachments that make the lift truck more versatile and capable of addressing almost any handling need of a user.

Speaking on the company’s strategic combination of technology, international best practices and deep domain expertise in logistics, Aditya Vazirani, Founder Director of Robinsons Global Logistics Solutions (RGL), said, “We would consider the textile industry in two ways: the feeding of raw materials onto the line and the delivery of the end product to the customer. After understanding the needs from the procurement teams of raw materials and the manufacturing team of what they need when, we can devise with the use of our system the minimum stock quantity required at your location, work backwards with the procurement teams on the various BOQ for the MRP1 and MRP2 to ensure that it is available at our warehouse and ready for dispatch through connectivity through API and EDI with the ERPs used for manufacturing.”

He adds, “On the other side, depending if the textiles are ‘Made to Stock’, we can plan efficient inventory management based on batch accuracy of FIFO and ensure delivery when required is done on time in full. When it comes to ‘Made to Order’, we will advise/implement the cost effective and efficient delivery methods to the end customer.”

“The key is to understand the needs and requirements of the manufacturing industry, whether it is textile or automotive and the intricacies involved in the process. The idea is to simplify and create processes that can be replicated with different degrees of customisation,” said Vazirani.

The core business of moving containers will grow according to the market, as will the amount of new vessel capacity and services. Growth within the value-added services of logistics, warehousing, brokerage, air freight and trucking will expand at a greater rate, as those are areas where the customers have expressed strong interest in development, and they see the possibility to spend a few dollars to save a lot. The scope of services, ability to coordinate movement and visibility provided by today’s solutions are making a difference for textile firms, both large and small. With increased efficiencies, there are increased expectations throughout the textile supply chain to know, understand and utilise the services available.

Given the rapid diversification of products in the textile and apparel industry, manufacturers face significant new challenges in production. The lifecycle of apparel products have contracted and are now, generally, a several-week season, during which time a majority of products are supposed to be sold.

Simple automation, which seemed like a panacea for all logistics related issues, is no longer the natural option. The way automation is impacting the logistics industry and its value chain is evident from the emerging new business models which are disrupting the traditional norms.

IoT has the potential to be the greater disrupter, enhance process and efficiency by offering greater visibility and control of the process in the supply chain system. Optimising the cost, reducing cycle times, transparent and efficient documentation – all these are seen as a minimum basic requirement today. The supply value chain is employing IoT to ensure all relevant data is generated in a uniform and manageable dashboard format. Decision-making support from AI algorithms and modeling is a norm for supporting decision making.

Integration of all areas of business activity is imperative for small or big enterprise. Smart decision making, efficiency gains, timely execution and transparent pricing models that impact profitability are both demanded and delivered by the logistics industry’s new age providers. It all about enabling businesses who use logistics to plan for and operate long term re-organise their business models and market acquisition strategies. All of this leading to improved experiences for shippers, carriers and value-added logistics players in the value chain.

Meanwhile, because of the high economic importance, the automated handling for the fulfillment of the growing demands on the textile industry is very important. Textiles as flexible materials have a multitude of special properties. These strongly deviate from the usual materials of mechanical engineering. Additionally there are large deviations and in homogeneities between and within different materials. The main focus lays in the damage-free manipulation of the limb textiles. However, new promising transport technologies for light and non-rigid materials can close the gap of textile transport in garment manufacturing in the future. In addition, digital tracking with radio-frequency identification will improve the overall efficiency of material flow in production.

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