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There are some semi-au­to­matic work­sta­tions avail­able for sewing like welt pocket mak­ing, pocket at­tach­ing in jeans, etc. Do you think such semi-au­to­matic ma­chines are suc­cess­ful in Asia? What should be the max­i­mum pay­back pe­riod for such ma­chines to be con­sid­ered as suc­cess­ful/value-added propo­si­tions? What are the pa­ram­e­ters (qual­ity, pro­duc­tiv­ity, any other) which you should con­sider to de­cide on the adop­tion of au­to­matic ma­chines in your or­ga­ni­za­tion? Have you ever thought about (or at­tempted) im­pro­vis­ing the ex­ist­ing sewing ma­chines to cre­ate some­thing sim­i­lar? Can any break­down of such ma­chines be re­paired by lo­cal en­gi­neers? Do you think in-house en­gi­neers are more ca­pa­ble for han­dling these break­downs?

In the present mar­ket, a lot of au­to­mated and semi-au­to­mated ma­chine op­tions are avail­able. In­ter­est­ingly, these op­tions are mostly ex­per­i­men­tal and ready for launch in near fu­ture.

To be frank, all the pro­fes­sion­als have dif­fer­ent opin­ions on these gad­gets based on their ex­pe­ri­ence re­lated to their prod­ucts as the mar­ket is be­ing han­dled ac­cord­ing to both lo­ca­tion and the buy­ers.

These ma­chines with ad­di­tional fea­tures are ben­e­fi­cial if these are used for longer runs plus the man­u­fac­tur­ers han­dling such tech­nol­ogy should have sen­si­ble work­ers. For ex­am­ple, the lat­est UBT SNLS ma­chines are a com­pi­la­tion of lots of fea­tures but these are rarely used on the pro­duc­tion floor. This is the case of 80% of the gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing units. The max­i­mum they use are the thread trim­mers. Sim­i­larly, spe­cial­ized ma­chines in a multi-prod­uct fac­tory are used for spe­cific or­ders only.

But, in case of a ded­i­cated prod­uct unit, far bet­ter ef­fi­ciency can be re­trieved us­ing these ma­chines and this is how the man­u­fac­tur­ing units can shorten the ROI pe­riod. Un­doubt­edly, the qual­ity, con­sis­tency and pro­duc­tiv­ity achieved through these ma­chines are un­match­able!

In case of multi-prod­uct fac­to­ries also, if the cost of ma­chines is be­ing cov­ered within one or two or­ders with re­spect to the sav­ing of man and ma­chine within the span of or­der length, it is worth in­vest­ing in such ma­chines. Only few lim­i­ta­tions in these ma­chines re­gard­ing the type and shape of fab­ric bars freezes the thought of the buy­ers to buy these ma­chines for sea­sonal pur­pose.

More­over, this is the time when in­dus­trial en­gi­neers, ma­chine me­chan­ics, and tool room ex­perts work to­gether and try to de­sign the sub­sti­tute with the help of fold­ers, pro­files, at­tach­ments etc. There­fore, semi-au­toma­tion or full au­toma­tion is a key ne­ces­sity these days.

Apart from all these ap­pli­ca­tions, ex­trac­tion han­dling of these ma­chines is a Her­culean task es­pe­cially for small and medium-size units. Larger com­pa­nies have qual­i­fied main­te­nance team to un­der­stand the tech­nol­ogy and hence, they take up par­tial train­ing to han­dle the mi­nor break­downs at their own level. Whereas, the SMEs are com­pletely de­pen­dent on ma­chine sup­pli­ers to at­tend their com­plaints which gives them bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence on such ma­chines and, in these cases, it re­sults more in losses than the ben­e­fits.

Over­all, I am of the opin­ion that un­der­stand­ing and self-mo­ti­va­tion on the use of tech­nol­ogy is very im­por­tant be­fore we plan to opt for it and the re­trieval of re­wards out of it is in our hands.


Sr. VP (Op­er­a­tions), Ori­ent Craft Lim­ited, Gur­gaon (In­dia)

Au­to­matic ma­chines like welt mak­ing, loop at­tach­ing are pretty use­ful nowa­days as these ma­chines in­crease the pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency to a great ex­tent. Ad­di­tion­ally, these ma­chines do not re­quire a highly skilled labour for the men­tioned op­er­a­tions. On qual­ity front, the con­sis­tency of the op­er­a­tion across the pieces can be main­tained equally.

If I talk about the man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses in Europe and USA, the fac­to­ries there are mostly one or two prod­ucts spe­cific and pro­duc­tion-ori­ented. Whereas, in Asia, the fac­to­ries man­u­fac­ture mul­ti­ple prod­ucts and ba­si­cally their need depends on the con­tin­u­ous run through prod­ucts for the spe­cific pe­riod with

large quan­ti­ties. Mul­ti­ple style changeovers and var­ied prod­ucts are dif­fi­cult for a fac­tory to de­cide on a par­tic­u­lar need of a ma­chine to buy. Un­cer­tainty of buy­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion and con­tin­u­a­tion with the fac­to­ries is also one of the main rea­sons for lim­it­ing au­toma­tion in Asia. In coun­tries like Bangladesh and China, the skill and hu­man re­sources are cheaper than au­toma­tion. But grad­u­ally the use of au­toma­tion is in­creas­ing and I can pre­dict a bright fu­ture for au­to­mated ma­chines in Asia since the con­ti­nent is the best ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ing hub in the world.

How­ever, the adop­tion of such ma­chines depends on the prod­ucts of the fac­to­ries. If prod­uct lines keep chang­ing fre­quently, in­vest­ment in these ma­chines is not ad­vis­able. It can be rec­om­mended only when the fac­to­ries have stan­dard prod­ucts and reg­u­lar buy­ers. Some fac­to­ries hire these ma­chines on a rental ba­sis along with the oper­a­tor for the spe­cific buy­ers or or­ders. If fac­to­ries are not able to buy the ma­chine, pay­back pe­riod should be min­i­mum 2 to 3 years.

At Ray­mond, we en­cour­age our ven­dors to opt for spe­cial at­tach­ments and guides to ease the op­er­a­tion, which are im­ple­mented as stan­dard­ized op­er­a­tions such as back pocket creas­ing tem­plate ma­chine, au­to­matic loop at­tach­ing ma­chine and spe­cial at­tach­ment for tape in­sert at waist band.

In or­der to see profit in the de­fined pe­riod of time, the in-house ma­chine tech­ni­cians should be trained thor­oughly to rec­tify the break­down in the short­est pos­si­ble time. This re­duces the ma­chine’s idle time. In some fac­to­ries, the op­er­a­tors are also trained for mi­nor break­downs and for the ma­jor ones, they call up the ex­ter­nal tech­ni­cal team.


As­sis­tant Man­ager (Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment), Ray­mond Lim­ited Mum­bai (In­dia)

I can­not say yes for all semi-au­to­matic ma­chines since the use of the ma­chine depends on the gar­ment type. I see many big ven­dors in light wo­ven or knit field in­vest­ing in semi-au­to­matic ma­chines and I have ex­pe­ri­enced that it helps in max­i­miz­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity. But still lot of fac­to­ries, which fo­cus on CM (Cut and Make) or­ders, don’t in­vest much at this mo­ment since they have a mind­set that the labour cost would be cheaper than au­toma­tion. The out­door man­u­fac­tur­ers like us use sev­eral types of semi­au­to­matic ma­chines such as waist band at­tach­ing ma­chine, and I can con­firm that some of the semi­au­to­matic ma­chines are some­how suc­cess­ful in Asia.

How­ever, the pay­back pe­riod depends on the ma­chine type. Some ma­chines’ price for welt pock­et­ing or pock­et­ing or cy­cling for hook & loop would not be ex­pen­sive and pay­back pe­riod could be as short as 6 months. But other ma­chines such as semi-au­to­matic down in­jec­tor or CAM need much longer, con­sid­er­ing the ma­chine price and also the way the op­er­a­tors use them.

As far as my or­ga­ni­za­tion is con­cerned, we con­sider pa­ram­e­ters such as qual­ity, pro­duc­tiv­ity, ef­fi­ciency and mar­ket trend that de­cide the or­der vol­ume, be­fore in­vest­ing in these ma­chines.

In case of mi­nor break­down of such ma­chines, my en­gi­neer team re­pairs the ma­chines. How­ever, if bro­ken part is sen­si­tive or com­pli­cated like sub­strate, sup­plier ser­vice team comes to the fac­tory to re­pair it. As in-house en­gi­neers face lot of break­downs, ex­pe­ri­enced en­gi­neers are ca­pa­ble to han­dle these mal­func­tions well and even faster min­i­miz­ing loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity in the pro­duc­tion lines.


Se­nior Mer­chan­diser, Unico Global Inc., Viet­nam

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