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How IoT Is Transforming the Garment Industry

A combination of cloud-based software and machine learning is increasing efficiency in Egypt’s factories.
How IoT Is Transforming the Garment Industry
Gament IO is digitizing factories.

The lights are on all day in factories around Egypt, where the work never ends, and it’s hard to keep track of what is going right and what is going wrong. That’s when you know you have to get technology involved, or at least that’s what prompted factory directors to start using Garment IO’s solutions. 

Ahmed Nounou, Garment IO’s CEO used to be the director of a clothes factory and has experienced first-hand the difficulties involved in managing a production line. He says overseeing a busy factory floor is a complex and exhausting process. You have to constantly track hundreds of workers at each stage of the production line throughout the day. Often, managers in developing countries only have physical forms and Excel sheets to rely on, while basic tools used to track complicated processes. Decisions are made based on intuition and instinct as opposed to data and analytics. According to Garment IO, this leads to factories suffering from delivery delays, poor staff retention, and most importantly – financial losses.

Garment IO is an Egyptian startup bringing clothes manufacturing into the modern age. They combine data analytics and machine learning to empower decision-makers on factory floors. The company was founded by Mahmoud Sabae and Ahmed Nounou, who decided to combine their experience with software development and business management. Sabae ran his own software company for several years and when he met Nounou, a business consultant, the two realized they had a shared vision of how they could help the garment industry in Egypt.

With Garment IO, every worker in the factory is given a smart terminal, similar to a credit card machine, and an electronic card. Once they have completed a batch of work, such as sewing an order of shirts, they scan their card on the terminal and the tag attached to the bundle of shirts. The smart terminal logs what order the worker completed, how long it took them, and how many more orders they have left to complete.

This information is then uploaded to the cloud which managers can access along with detailed breakdowns of how the factory line is performing, all in real-time. This allows them to eliminate any potential bottlenecks before they become an issue, reducing financial losses that may arise.

Garment IO’s cloud-based software means managers can access these analytics from anywhere on the production line and from any device. Furthermore, this smart solution directly benefits workers as well. Managers can directly reward them for reaching their daily production goals as their work is accurately cataloged, providing them with immediate feedback. There is also minimal infrastructure investment for factory companies. All the smart terminals require is a wifi connection and a power outlet.

Surprisingly, in the beginning, Nounou was “worried that factory workers wouldn’t be cooperative”, but so far, Garment IO has installed their smart terminals and software analytics in four factories in Alexandria and Cairo, and the response has been very positive. They have managed to accomplish all this with no marketing or sales team. Sabae says there are over 10,000 factories in Egypt with 600 of them exporting to foreign markets, so the potential application of Garment IO’s smart solution is massive.

“At first we were worried that factory workers wouldn’t be cooperative. But in reality, quite the opposite happened. The workers saw the device as an opportunity… it encouraged them to work harder and more efficiently.”

Ahmed Nounou, Co-founder & CEO, Garment IO

The two co-founders have their eyes on the $8 billion global factory production industry with plans to partner with factories in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The company’s software and hardware can be applied to any factory, not just clothes production, and is infinitely scalable according to Garment IO. The startup is a good example of how the internet of things  can revolutionize traditional manufacturing.

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