Where does Technology in Garment Manufacturing stand compared to other manufacturing sectors?

Technology in Garment Manufacturing or Apparel Manufacturing compared to other manufacturing sector like Automobile Industry is very negligible.

Let us explore couple of the many reasons for this…

Foremost reason has to do with is the availability of cheap labour all along up to this point. All the technology advancements in the Garment Manufacturing or Apparel Manufacturing or Clothing Industry was concentrated on the sewing technology and related areas, but very less in areas of actual Garment or Apparel manufacturing operations.

History of Apparel Manufacturing

The Garment manufacturing or Apparel manufacturing migrated from Europe to Japan/Korea, and then to China/India and onwards to South East Asia/Bangladesh and the current new frontiers like Ethiopia/Vietnam, following the availability of cheap and abundant labour.

Cheap Labor V/S Technology in Apparel Manufacturing

The Garment manufacturing or Apparel manufacturing over years flowed in the direction of cheap labour, instead of investing in technology to bring about productivity and efficiency

A simple example would be running of a Fusing machine in a Apparel or Garment factory. Normally the industry would use at least 4-5 people to feed and stack at both ends. Industry never put a genuine effort in this direction because there was abundant cheap and easily available labour and there was no incentive whatsoever to work on an automated setup. But in case of industries like Automobile or any other industry, this is done automatically/or through robot, at least from the 1980’s.

Apparel Manufacturing – Investment perspective

Also as an industry, in Garment manufacturing or Apparel manufacturing, since the initial investment was low compared to other industry, it was easy to shut shop from one location and shift shop to another location, instead of trying to optimize the current location which would have necessitated better technology.

Another area which inhibited the advancement of technology in Garment manufacturing or Apparel manufacturing is that the life cycle of the product is short and the variety of the products are more. This makes the business of Clothing industry to be short sighted and with a philosophy to live for the day and no long term vision.

But going forward the clothing industry is running short of new frontiers with cheap labour.

And two major areas of concern for the customer in these times.

1. Environment

2. Nationalism.

All the above these issues have been leading to more local manufacturing. And this should be the big impetus the Apparel manufacturing or Garment manufacturing or clothing industry is waiting for in terms of technological advancement at par with other industries.

One area of technology in Garment manufacturing or Apparel manufacturing which the clothing industry have adopted at par with or better than other industry is the Industrial Engineering systems and its related fields. Again the reason was, being a manpower based industry and in search of productivity improvement, they started with Time/Motion study, and went on to make great strides in implementing the Industrial Engineering concepts.

Optimizing System through Pro SMV

One of the finest examples of optimizing the entire systems of Industrial Engineering for Apparel manufacturing or Garment manufacturing is PRO SMV system, which has become a standard tool for Productivity/Efficiency/Standardizing Methods/Costing/Buyer price negotiations/Line Balancing etc. This tool not only provides the clothing manufacturers with best Methods but by accurate standard times it lays a very strong foundation for the Garment manufacturers to achieve world class manufacturing and Industry 4.0 together with profitability and productivity.

Visit https://methodsapparel.com/ for more.

How has Apparel Manufacturing shaped economies in the sub-continent?

The Clothing Industry in general and Apparel manufacturing/Garments manufacturing in particular, as being the most labor-intensive sector, have been the road taken by most countries in their path to manufacturing and industrialization.

Apparel Manufacturing in the Sub- Continent

In the second half of the 20th century, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China are great examples of this. But unfortunately, the Indian subcontinent compromising of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Srilanka, could not attain the economic growth using Apparel manufacturing or Garment manufacturing to the same extent as earlier mentioned countries. The only exception to a great extent would be Srilanka.

It was that the population was large, and the Clothing Industry did not cover the majority of the population as in the case of Japan, Taiwan, Korea, etc. Nor was there a concentrated push for the Apparel manufacturing/Garment Manufacturing as in the case of China.

Another major hindrance was that the Indian Subcontinent had a flourishing textile economy domestically for hundreds of years and there was not much push for an RMG export-oriented clothing industry in the initial stages.

Apparel Manufacturing in the past 10-15 years

Fortunately, all this is changing in the past 10 – 15 years. Governments in the sub-continent have realized the potential of the clothing industry and in particular Garment Manufacturing. Especially India and Bangladesh. A lot of support and legislation has come up for the clothing industry. Countries have realized the importance of the Clothing industry in providing jobs for the ever-increasing population.

Impact of Clothing Sector on the GDP

Indian Clothing Industry and in particular Apparel manufacturing, is one of the largest employment generating sectors. Indian clothing industry and Apparel manufacturing account for 4% of the world Clothing and Apparel manufacturing. Indian Clothing industry and Garment manufacturing are one of the largest and most important sectors of the Indian economy in terms of output, foreign exchange earnings, and employment. The clothing and apparel manufacturing contributes approximately 7% to industrial output in value terms, 2% to the GDP, 15% to the country’s export earnings. (Data source: Apparel Views September 20.)

For Bangladesh, the numbers are even more outstanding. Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest apparel exporter of western fast fashion brands. In the financial year 2016-2017, the RMG industry generated US$28.14 billion, which was 80.7% of the total export earnings in exports and 12.36% of the GDP.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even though the Clothing industry and Apparel manufacturing appear to be putting in great numbers as a proportion of the economy in the Indian sub-continent, it is nowhere near the engine of growth it was for countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc. Hence the future growth potential and opportunities are great.