Sachin Shah is a second-generation entrepreneur who is trying to bring dramatic changes in the family business in the clothing industry. In an interaction with NFAPost N V Vijayakumar Avadat Studio Chief Executive Officer Sachin Shah said the company is coming up with a new digital solution to disrupt the textile industry, specifically the washing industry.
Taking up a business that was built by your dad and transforming it into the current scheme of things is really a challenge. Can you share how you succeeded in reinventing the business model?
Yes, it is really challenging. When I took over the business my dad encouraged me to take the business next level. Because I did my communication in electronic engineering way back in 94′, I feel I succeeded in making this transformation. I was a good Java developer after my education and at that time Java was something new. I’m talking about 93′,94′. At that time, ecommerce was also new. So I was one of the initial players in ecommerce development. So fortunately or unfortunately I joined this family business. So for the last 25 years or so I have been handling this apparel and clothing, garment business. Being an engineer, I always had the urge to leverage the technology wherever I can. That inspired me to go for coming up with this WashIt, a tech solution for the textile sector. We are developing 4 other solutions also.
Can you share an overview of the four solutions you developed? How far they will make an impact in the market?
Our flagship product is WashiIt and it is for overhauling the entire textile washing laundry vertical. There is StitchIt, a product that gives a complete solution for the garment business. This product helps in right from order procurement to raw material procurement to you know buyer communication. It auto process everything with the help of automation and proper data capturing. This product is almost ready and will start deploying in June.
That is great to know. What is your third product?
The third one is called DigiTail, which is called digital retailing so we have given the name DigiTail. So DigiTail is a solution for the online business and there is a huge demand after covid as you see a lot of players are coming into ecommerce business. But the problem with these new-age ecommerce players ar that they don’t have the right solution. They don’t have the right product to handle their business the payment method, the courier, the shipping, the stock the inventory, the customer involvement, the social media. So we have tried to integrate everything and give them one solution which can handle everything. There are products available in the market which may give some piece of the work and pricing is heavy. But DigiTail is a complete platform where you can get every solution for your textile business. All these products are cloud-based products.
How you are helping small and medium companies?
Our fourth one is an HR solution and that is for small and medium enterprises. You know in India the economy runs on MSME sector, they are not organised. And today when you talk about Elon Musk who is developing Tesla and going on Mars, our MSME sector entrepreneurs do have talent but they don’t have the right support in terms of technology. Even though India being the IT hub for the world still we need to provide more tech support MSME so that they will get ignited. If you take examples of big brands like Infosys and Wipro they are getting their business from outside India. So they are not focused on MSME sectors.
So our idea is to give solutions to these small enterprises and to empower them. It is a fact that MSMEs have tremendous entrepreneurship skillsets. Indian people are very innovative but they are not organised, they are not supported by technology. That is why they are suffering and we look at how to empower them and how to solve the business issues. Our solutions came into existence because of this philosophy.
MSMEs are very price sensitive. How you are planning to tackle that challenge?
It is a fact that highly paid solutions MSMEs can’t afford. Now there is a monthly cloud-based solution where they don’t have to invest too much of capital.
WashIt has emerged as your flagship product. Can you share some insight on the complete nature of the product and how you are tweaking it as IIoT is making a deep impact in manufacturing?
So let me start with the basic fundamentals of data capturing which is an important aspect of WashIt. So, if you take any business involving raw material and finished goods there are multiple layers of activities. We need data to be collated so that it will help in business processes. So garment comes from stitching units. So the first model takes care of merchandise inward and merchandise outward. Someone is making the shirt, someone is making a denim jacket someone is making something else. All products come for washing and so you have to maintain that data by automating inward and outward material movement. So they just have a start point and endpoint data. They don’t have the data in between. So WhatIt is ideated to give clients the right data at the right time and so they can make the right decision.
Washing is a cumbersome process and how you have finetuned to make it matured process?
In today’s fast world if you don’t have the right information and things would go haywire. So we started with the inward outward model. So washing in general, we have to make samples. In denim, there are different washes and along with that processes like scraping, threading, etc. So before starting the bulk what the laundry does is that they get a sample and get it approved from the buyer. Then we can start the bulk. So when you make the sample there are certain parameters you follow, and you keep a record of those recipes. There are two main washing processes and once it is approved you need to replicate the same process for the bulk. One is the dry process, which includes scraping, threading effects on denims. Hre water isn’t used. And wet process which includes chemicals.
How you are using WashIt to tackle the issue of multitudes of variants in the washing process?
There are so many different permutations and combinations in the washing process. So when you are having fine thousands of ten thousand pieces it becomes difficult to keep a record. Every product has a different process. Basically, record all the data in WashIt. The recipe is recorded in WashIt. Generally, there is a problem with the bulk and sample if there is a small variation. WashIt will exactly replicate the sample recipe in bulk automatically. It will then help in chemical raw material purchases and identify the threshold level for materials. You don’t have to keep track of the chemicals and chemical wastage will be reduced. When you control the chemicals the quality consistency will be there.
So how many months did it take to make the final product? Did you build any platform for it?
So we started last February and it took us almost 11 months to one year now. It’s the SAAS model. Right now it’s working on our laundry another 2 laundries have started. Our tech team comprised of 11 developers and Karan Patel who is an engineer is heading all of this initiative in the company.
We all know companies are using some or other software for their activities at the production unit. So my question is that how you are integrating WashIt to the existing software in a company?
Before that, I would like to highlight one thing, we have all the water inlet, electricity consumption, etc and all these data are captured using the MIES which is essential for management. It will help in collating daily revenue, expenses and consumption. By doing this we make people aware of their consumption. WashIt will help give you this data to help control that.
Now you asked about how the machine will be operated from this software. It’s basically called SCADA system, Supervisory, and Data analysis. You have sensors and valves and PLC Programmable Logic Circuits. Sitting over here I can programme the machine in the laundry, like sensors, pumps, and alarms. And once it is set you don’t have to do anything you just have to load the garments into the machine. Just wait for the washing to be done. WashIt will help in reducing human errors and monitor data systematically. It will save a lot of money for the management.
How this instantaneous learning using data is happening in a factory environment?
So once WashIt is installed in the laundry it will learn on its own. Because every laundry has its own way of working and programming and production planning its own product categories. WashIt will learn by collecting all data. Over the period of 6-8 months, it will have enough data to plan the production by itself without a planner. WashIt will take care of your planning. That’s the next phase we are working on, SCADA and this. And after that are going to work on VR and AR. That’s our vision. You can use your phone to operate the laundry as if you were there. This is the roadmap.
So what is the volume of the business in the laundry vertical?
So nowadays it’s a readymade garments business. Previously we used to get fabrics and get it stitched. So 80-90% of the garments are prewashed. And denim is not wearable without washing. Every garments have to go through this process. As the end consumer gets aware of this process they can ask for better quality. We are the largest denim manufacturers in terms of fabric. Denim is associated with youngsters. In India, it is growing 16% per annum. It’s a growing industry. Automation hasn’t been taken seriously for this industry.
How are you planning to reach more clients?
There are different ways we are thinking of. We are in talks with some machine manufacturers. They have shown some interest. One of them is built Ran-sons. So these are the players who have shown interest. They want to give this solution to their customers. There is a plant coming up in Cambodia, they don’t have the technical know-how. What they look for a complete solution. You give us the software, ERP. They are showing interest. And there are big corporates in India and all over the world, we are pitching in that direction. They have their own vendors. They are going 3.6 million beddings a year. And they have different laundries. They don’t have their own laundries. So if you are a big brand with multiple vendors we can combine all the data.
By 2025 we want to be an IT solution company. If you consider the e-commerce solutions we are expecting around 20cr revenue. To be very frank we never calculated in terms of turnover but in terms of manpower, engineers, vision. Someone working in VR/AR, someone working on automation, etc. The idea is to give the solution and empower people who don’t have access the technology. Nowadays workers are used to social media so basic fundamentals they know all they have to do is press certain buttons. Just scan the barcodes given to them.