Sourcing Journal: Automation Innovation Produces a T-Shirt Every 22 Seconds
If companies can get automation right, manufacturing one T-shirt could take 22 seconds and cost 33 cents.
In a welcome break from trade talk in favor of innovation, a panel on the opening day of Sourcing at MAGIC in Las Vegas on Monday highlighted where automation is taking the industry.
For one, automated sewing company SoftWear Automation’s Pete Santora, VP of sales and marketing, said, the future will be all about a concept it calls SewLocal, or moving manufacturing closer to the customer and all the way to the retail store if possible.
“People talk about reshoring, I think this is about shoring where the customers are,” Santora said.
SoftWear Automation, which counts Under Armour and New Balance among its customers and has worked with the Walmart Foundation through a collaboration with Georgia Tech, said most companies are far off from the factory of the future as they see it.
In savvy factories today, there are typically 3-D designers, design software, single piece flow, batch processes, and maybe a box at the end of the cutters for pieces to fall into before being carted off to individual sew stations where the seamstresses are.
“There’s lots of automation all the way through the factory and then literally, it just stops.”
Seamstresses, while necessary, will have to be used differently down the line if there’s any hope of bringing manufacturing closer to the consumer in a major way—especially when that consumer lives in the West.
“If you’re talking about the U.S. or Europe, you don’t have access to labor,” Santora said. “It doesn’t matter what you want to pay them. They don’t exist.”
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