The Load Star: ‘Sewbots’, The Hi-Tech Revolution with Designs on Fashion Logistics
The retail supply chain could be “crushed” by new technology that would allow consumers to buy personalised apparel, locally made.
While there has been much scepticism over 3D-printing and robotics in the logistics market, now that applications for the technologies are being found, the future is becoming easier to predict. And it involves shorter, cheaper supply chains for fashion logistics.
Nike, famously, has already been using 3D printing for customised sport shoes. But perhaps most critically for the fast fashion industry, ‘Sewbots’ – something of a mixture of AI, robotics and 3D printing – could be a true game changer.
According to Transport Intelligence’s latest report, Global E-commerce Logistics 2018, Chinese contract manufacturer Tianyuan Garments Company is building a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas, US, manned by sewbots.
“These are robots that can manufacture clothing; in this case t-shirts for German company Adidas, incredibly fast,” notes the report.
“The bots can cut and sew a new shirt every 22 seconds from very soft and flexible fabric. This was something that was impossible to conceive a few years ago. The designs can also be changed very swiftly according to market demand.”
Most importantly for the supply chain, sewbots can cut reverse logistics and shorten supply chains considerably.
But, as Palaniswamy Rajan, chairman and ceo of Atlanta-based SoftWear Automation, told Forbes magazine last month: “If we can manufacture goods in the US at the same costs as overseas, and the bulk of that cost is in labour, then why wouldn’t you manufacture here? Through our technology, we are enabling a local supply chain.”