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Hugo Boss Will Transform Their Facility in İzmir into a "Suit Machine" 11 July 2017

Joachim Hensch, the General Manager of Hugo Boss in Turkey, states that Industry 4.0 has a very different pace than the earlier industrial revolutions. They will "stay" in Tukey by getting ahead of this pace... The goal is to create a digital copy of their facility.

We more or less visualize the same thing when we think of a sewing machine. But what about a “Suit Machine”? Hugo Boss Textile Industries Ltd. General Manager Joachim Hensch states that their facility in İzmir at which they conduct production with nearly 4.000 people will become a "Suit Machine". This system, which will transform the entire factory into a machine, consists of digitalization, automation and robotics, and ultimately artificial intelligence .Thus, they will achieve Industry 4.0 in textile. Hensch does not just say these words because they are popular. They have already completed the digitalization process and started the automation and robotic phase. They will be making decisions through artificial intelligence next year and the factory will become a "Suit Machine" by 2020.

2018's target will be artificial intelligence

We started our Industry 4.0 journey in 2015. We have a long road map ahead. First of all, we digitalized everything that we could. We started this last year. Interestingly, we started from humans first. It typically starts with the machines. But communicating with actual people is much easier than connecting with machines. And this year we are working on automation and robotics. We established our lab called TeknoLab. In the past two years, we have doubled the number of IT staff members. When we first started there were about 13 people and now there are 30. In this department, we produce prototypes in automation and robot use; we collaborate with the largest robot companies and conduct R&D studies with universities. When we achieve this, the target of 2018 will be artificial intelligence. It will take some time because there will be a lot of data to analyze. After that, we will not talk about special lines for specific products. For example, let's say we have capacity problems in women's wear; we will transfer a line from men's clothing there. Working with machines, products, resources and timing is not something that can be managed with the current system. I cannot know what's in the women's clothing section as an executive. But when artificial intelligence is achieved, the system will say, "20 of the people working here will work there between 14:00-17:00 because it is busier there."

We must stay here to be close to the market

This system is not cheap. We made a 7-digit Euro investment at the beginning. But our calculations showed that it was worth it. When we want to keep our factory in İzmir, the issue is not just to deal with the costs. We would have moved somewhere else like the others if we also thought that way. We have other concerns. Timing to go out on the market will become a big issue. I used to wait for 7 days when I ordered something 10 years ago. Then this period dropped to 3 days. And nowadays, you only wait for about an hour when you order something from Amazon's online store. Fashion is all about right this moment. It has nothing to do with the past or the future. If we want to be close to the market, we need to stay here. Nowadays, people talk about digitalization like magic mirrors in retail stores .We are investing in retail. I think that we need a digital chain. I believe that the fashion industry will go towards this way.

It's not about moving to cheaper countries anymore

The main question in our industry is: 'Should I stay or should I go?' Because our industry is just like a caravan that is always in motion. I have been in this sector for over 30 years. Western Europe brands have moved from Germany and Italy to Eastern Europe and further. We even moved to Ukraine and further to India and China. When China was too expensive, people began to move back towards Malaysia. Now they are starting to come back. Moving in our industry is easy. It's not like a car factory. For this reason factories have moved from place to place in the last 10 years. We believe that this is wrong. There is always a cheaper country, but it all comes to an end. Because the market is actually changing, customer demands are also changing. Our industry is talking about 3D printing. They scan you with a scanner and make your clothes at the shop. So both production and sales are in the same place, this is extraordinary. It's a much different perspective than saying: ' Let's move our business to the next cheapest country. Which country is the cheapest? Ethiopia!'. So I'm going to visit these people in the Silicon Valley who thinks completely different. People keep their old mentality, but it's nothing to deal with. A decade ago, robotic, automation and digitalization was impossible to even think about. Because it was very expensive. Soon we will start to see robots sold for 5 thousand dollars. And this changes our perspective of production. Just think about 5-10 years ago, then 50 years ago... We know this is not a science fiction scenario. Look at Amazon. They have just bought Whole Foods. Now they are trying to enter the brick and mortar sector. They own the biggest fashion photography studio in Europe in London. These people are completely different and they are the main players on the market right now.

Hocus Focus: Reflected mold with enhanced reality

We have also found out that we only utilize a small portion of our factory's volume. The rest is just air. When we look up, we see a large empty space. So we thought about a new concept that will turn the entire factory into a machine. A combination of technology, people and space... We call it 3D space planning. We can use drones for transportation systems, we can make the robots work above... For example, we can use gravity as a transport system. It's like carrying goods only by making them fall. At the same time we want to reduce the use of paper too. We have made a move towards it and we call it Hocus Focus. We gave up the paper mold. We project the pattern onto the ironing board with a projector. It can be quickly adjusted to any desired size. And it saves us 40,000 euros of paper cost. Most importantly, people like to work with it. We will have an interface without an actual interface. We run the machines just by talking. We call it "voice command". No need to stop to write down notes.