In our factory clients here in South East Asia, automation is on everybody’s mind. Higher productivity, lower HR cost base, no unions and a sense of simplicity is an obvious driver for any factory owner. The drive towards higher margins is a constant concerns for owners and there are only a few places left in the world where they can get as much productivity as low-income countries provide at the moment (ie. Bangladesh, Myanmar and Ethiopia are three names that are being extensively talked about by owners).
Over the last few years, we have seen factories embracing technology in unexpected way: using sensors to track threads, automation in back-end systems, usage of robotics etc. and we expect this trend to continue as the technology develops and new players find creative ways to solve the garment sector’s heavy reliance on hard labour.
Companies like Software Automation are making big strides towards fully automated sewing machines and they could become the biggest revolution in the garment and textile sector since the invention of the actual sewing machine sometime in the 19th century. If this trend continues, South East Asian countries will have to make big pushes in terms of policies (both from an economic standpoint but also from an educational one) to ensure the sustainability of their economies given that the garment and textile sectors is the main employers of large chunks of population.