Sisters Lee Ka-man and Lee Yuen-yin will be the aboriginal Hong Kong women to attempt in an Olympics canoeing event, the acme of years of acute training that generally saw their bifold scull cut through Shing Mun river afore aurora advancing for Rio. Adamantine assignment aside, they additionally had a bit of advice from a little-known, specialist analysis institute.
“Hong Kong rowers assignment absolutely adamantine but they accept a low contour and don’t get abounding sponsors. So three years ago we absitively to assignment with them to advance their uniforms, which were not actual acceptable at all. Ours accept capricious beef compression and about no seams, in adjustment to minimise friction. The men and women teams wore these to the Asian Amateur two years ago and had their best anytime result. I like to anticipate that we accept helped,” says Edwin Keh Yee-man, arch controlling administrator of the Hong Kong Analysis Convention of Bolt and Apparel, or Rita, as it is affectionately known.
The summer amateur is a attenuate advertise for the 10-year old convention because best of its articles are airy to accustomed consumers. It is to the t industry what Q is to James Bond. It invents advanced fabrics, automated accouterment and accomplishment techniques. These accommodate a apparatus that can analysis how a allotment of t feels on the skin, a proprietary adjustment to catechumen aliment decay into wearable fibre, a self-cleaning anorak that break bottomward stains beneath ultraviolet application and a way to stop bristling jumpers from pilling.
Event showcases new technologies
Rita and a cardinal of forward-thinking bounded companies, such as Alvanon and SML, are the new faces of Hong Kong’s t and accoutrement industry. Continued apparent as a dying sector, it may accept a approaching by application addition and invention.
Hong Kong’s t industry has been intricately alloyed into the city’s bread-and-er and political composition back the 1940s, back the aboriginal beachcomber of acknowledged acreage comminute owners fled with their basic and ability to Hong Kong afterwards the Communist revolution.
After China opened up its abridgement in 1978, Hong Kong factories started affective arctic to booty advantage of the cheaper labour. Best affairs came from Western appearance brands that outsourced the accomplishment of their articles to these factories. Back costs started to acceleration in Guangdong province, breadth Hong Kong branch owners aboriginal buried their flags, they confused their plants added west or into Southeast Asia.
This alleged aboriginal accessories architect (OEM) archetypal has become added unsustainable because labour costs accumulate ascent and the retail prices of accustomed accouterment accumulate falling. It is additionally added adamantine to acquisition the labour back bodies accept added job options as the bounded abridgement matures.
Keh says this absoluteness has taken a continued time to bore into the minds of bounded OEM businesses. “The continued bequest of our t and accoutrement industry may be a disadvantage. Our admission to bargain labour was our capital amount and it was a archetypal that formed able-bodied for a continued time, so the industry has been apathetic to change. But now we charge actualize new amount by brief appear annual and innovation,” he says.
Many bodies anticipate that the best analytic way for OEMs to advance is to advertise their own branded fashion, but that’s not what Rita is absorbed in.
“Branding is an abstruse art. It’s adamantine to pin bottomward the best way to do it and Hong Kong hasn’t got abounding brands that accept fabricated it globally. So let’s alpha with being that is based on adamantine science,” says Keh.
Janice Wang Jan-yee is arch controlling administrator of Alvanon, a aggregation that consults appearance brands on how best to accomplish clothes and administer their accumulation chains, and she agrees with Keh that Hong Kong should not be tempted by the added alluring aspects of the industry.
Process helps accoutrement makers acquisition the absolute fit
“How abounding Hong Kong appearance designers accept absolutely fabricated it in the world? We are not a appearance city. Hong Kong needs to focus on what it is best at,” she says.
Her acknowledgment to that can be apparent in the transformation of her family’s business. In 1957, her grandmother had set up an OEM that fabricated children’s wear. Her father, Kenneth Wang Kuk-kei, took over the aggregation in 1974 and gradually realised he bare to acquisition added aggressive means to accomplish money. In 2001, he set up Alvanon, called afterwards Thomas Alva Edison, and invested in technology such as 3D scanners to acquisition means to advice appearance brands accomplish clothes that fit better. Back he died in 2010, his babe Janice and two of her brothers took over the active of the company.
Janice Wang says 3D technology has helped Alvanon become the world’s better maker of applicable mannequins acclimated by accoutrement makers, and it has additionally angled out into accumulation alternation consultancy. “If companies chase best practices, they can barber off a third of the time it takes to bear a artefact to market. We additionally advice them abate inventory, which is important because annual is money,” she says.
One of Alvanon’s audience is Reebok, the accouterment cast which has a artefact band for Crossfit, a concrete training adjustment that involves a wide-range of exercises, from active to weightlifting. “Crossfit athletes accept actual altered anatomy shapes from you and me. We browse their bodies and advice Reebok absorb the abstracts into their artefact development. We additionally advice them adjudge how abundant of anniversary fit and admeasurement to stock. We accept the bazaar abstracts to do that, the ambience of the cast that translates into the allotment of a citizenry that would buy Reebok Crossfit products,” Wang says.
At the moment, the aggregation is advance in a next-generation scanner – an able video camera that recognises what size, colour and appearance accoutrement addition is wearing. “It would be for abstracts acquisition and can accept lots of applications. We are architecture it ourselves,” she says.
SML is addition Hong Kong aggregation that has fabricated the alteration from low-tech, low-margin accomplishment to affairs technology. In 1985, Simon Suen Siu-man set up his aboriginal branch in Dongguan to accomplish alloyed labels for Western accoutrement makers, those absolutely banal displays of size, abstracts and affliction capacity that every mass-manufactured accoutrement has. By the 2000s, SML was affairs labels to the brand of Gap, Banana Republic and Petagonia and had a branch arrangement that covered China, Southeast Asia, India and alike Peru.
The big change came in 2011, back it absitively to absorb radio-frequency identification, or RFID, technology into its labels. “By the end of 2011, Walmart had alien RFID to its all-around operations and that additional its allotment price. It addled us as an breadth with abundant opportunities. So we bought a US aggregation in Arctic Carolina that had 14 years of RFID analysis abaft it,” says Ignatius Lau Ka-chi, arch controlling officer.
SML Group eyes US$150m from allotment alms in fourth quarter
An RFID characterization has a congenital dent that emits radio signals that can be best up by a alien scanner. It is abundant added able than barcode readers because it doesn’t crave a being to browse the characterization one by one. Stocktaking, one of its best accepted uses, can be done constantly, in absolute time.
In 2013, J. C. Penney became SML’s aboriginal above RFID client. That year, they additionally bought a software aggregation to architecture the interface for annual the tags. One of the latest audience to assurance up is Tesco, the British bazaar chain. “Our arrangement with Tesco is to acquaint an RFID arrangement beyond its 340 F&F appearance stores, and to accommodate the tags into its online sales channel. This allows shoppers to acquisition out anon which shops banal the items they want,” Lau says.
At Rita, Keh’s aggregation are agilely apprehension the aftereffect of the aboriginal Olympics contest to affection their products. Apart from the rowers, the Hong Kong angry aggregation at the Rio Olympics additionally accept abstruse weapons advised by Rita: angry shoes that booty into annual the actuality that the action requires actual altered use of the larboard and appropriate foot. “The Hong Kong Sports Convention tells us that their fencers abuse their dogie anatomy and that best aloof abrasion blunt tennis shoes. So we fabricated shoes with agee outsoles and altered cushioning for anniversary allotment of the foot,” Keh says.
By 2020, back the summer amateur will be captivated in Tokyo, Keh reckons sports will accept become a absolute battlefield for hi-tech apparel. “By 2020, we achievement to accept developed accoutrement systems breadth layers of accouterment collaborate with anniversary added to canyon calefaction and moisture, and additionally absorb wearable technology,” he says. “Our articles will be able to booty on the brand of Gore-Tex, for sure,” he adds.
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