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03.14.2016

Sourcing Journal: Robots Will Be Running Apparel Factories by 2026

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Sourcing Journal: Robots Will Be Running Apparel Factories by 2026

When the Atlanta-based textile equipment manufacturer SoftWear Automation launched Lowry, its line of advanced sewing robots, it expected American cut-and-sew factories to be among is biggest customers. That’s why it was surprised to find that a large number of the manufacturers interested in its technology were based in low-cost labor markets like India, China and Bangladesh—the very countries the U.S. had been losing business to since the ’90s.

“Most of it is tied to the fact that, like Western countries, they are also having trouble finding and retaining skilled seamstresses. Millennials the world over are moving to city centers and are generally uninterested in factory work,” SoftWear CEO K.P. Reddy said. “Because of the exodus of sewn product manufacturing jobs to lower-income countries decades ago, American manufacturers lack access to skilled seamstresses with the capability to produce a high-quality garment at an affordable price. What’s interesting about this problem is that India, Central America and China are now experiencing the same issue.”

SoftWear’s solution could allow companies to chase capability, not lower labor costs. Lowry Sewbots, for instance, can be used by apparel companies for fabric handling, pick and place operations and directing sewing, thereby eliminating the need for seamstresses.

Reddy added, “Companies realize that if they can be closer to their customer, they can stop financing raw materials, win more business, expand product lines and adapt quicker to what people want. Having the ability to produce at scale locally will allow garment manufacturers to quickly adapt to these market needs and compete more effectively.”

Read the full article at Sourcing Journal.

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