ED ITO R IAL
China leads the way to ‘intelligent factories’
If India is thinking to ‘catch up’ with China in the near or distant future as a manufacturing destination… I very much doubt if that is possible!
While we are still caught up in generating employment at the grass-roots, Chinese manufacturers, with the pro-active support of the Government, are focusing on ‘intelligent sewing’ and ‘smart manufacturing’ concepts that are way beyond what Indians are looking at.
We all know that the most advanced machines and equipment from practically any industry are already being made in China and more interestingly, even in those jobs that require ‘hands’, China is thinking far ahead of other countries…
I can speak from my experience in the apparel industry… today not just the garment manufacturers but also the sewing machine manufacturers too are opting for automated manufacturing concepts and even robotic systems.
Though there are 800 sewing machine factories (it was around 2300, 10 years back) in China today, the movement is towards consolidation to bring the numbers lower but with better technology and higher precision, so as to control the entire world’s sewing needs.
The process has already started with identification and support to two major companies from China, capturing the best and most established European sewing machine manufacturers… bringing them into their fold. I am almost sure that in the next five years, the Japanese will also sell out to the enterprising Chinese companies and leave the garment machine manufacturing space, entirely to China.
The next phase of eliminating ‘hands’ has also begun, majorly to address the increase in wages that impacts competitiveness, by funding the ‘smart’ movement in earnest. The movement is not just about digitising the industry, but also about cutting the unnecessary cost and creating systematic changes… in other words, building ‘intelligent factories’ of the future.
The same was evident during my team’s visit to the leading Chinese sewing technology provider Jack which had a number of innovations to show to its visitors inside its ‘first intelligent factory’ of China. The company is a trailblazer in sewing machine manufacturing and visiting the factory was an eyeopener.
Since 2016, Jack has been organising Annual Overseas Distributors’ Meet and StitchWorld has had the privilege to be a part in all the editions. The way Jack hosts its hundreds of guests who come from all across the world is really commendable and appreciable. It only goes on to reflect the thought process of the company, which is well sorted and systematic!
Though industries such as automobile and IT have already started building smart factories in order to digitalise their processes and to keep a watch on every incident in real time, it is only now that the apparel industry is sensing the need for such factories to combat the rising cost challenges and avoid miscellany of information which they face due to the traditional approach. In this issue, we have covered an article based on expert opinion from garment and steel industries to know the practicality of smart factory concept in the apparel manufacturing sector.