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Labour in low-wage countries can not be replaced by robots, says largest textile company in the world

Author: Ben Bland, Financial Times, Published on: 8 January 2018

"Clothes company backs humans over sewing robots," 1 January 2018

The world’s biggest maker of clothes is betting on human workers rather than automation as it seeks to win more contracts from clients such as Marks and Spencer, Uniqlo and H&M... Crystal Group... said sewing robots could not compete on cost with human labour in developing countries... [Chief executive Andrew Lo] said he did not foresee early-stage sewing robots competing with human labour in low-cost countries in the near future. Most of the growth will come in Bangladesh and Vietnam, where Crystal and other clothing manufacturers have been moving to escape fast-rising wages in China.

... Palaniswamy Rajan, chief executive of Softwear Automation, said his company’s Sewbots... could not compete on cost alone with workers in places such as Bangladesh. But... changes in the industry would make his robots competitive as fast-fashion retailers look to shorten production times and move manufacturing nearer to customers. “Automation in Bangladesh may not make sense because you still have to ship, but if you make in the US, it makes more sense because there’s no [import] duty, no shipping, you’re closer to the customer and there are shorter lead times,” said Mr Rajan... [W]hile he hoped his start-up would help launch a robotic sewing revolution, he accepted that automation would at most account for a quarter of global production in the next 20 years.

Read the full post here

Related companies: Crystal International Group Fast Retailing H&M Marks & Spencer SoftWear Automation Uniqlo (part of Fast Retailing)