The changing economics of sewn products production and distribution, along with shifts in consumer demand are pushing manufacturers to explore radically new ways of creating and maximizing value. With technology and automation, manufacturers are gaining the ability to increase both speed-to-market and customer engagement. Numerous factors are leading manufacturers to “make to order” rather than “make to stock”. In this environment, companies that create value by holding inventory are becoming less and less necessary.
As technology continues to advance, barriers to market entry and commercialization are eroding. New market entrants that have access to new tools can operate at much smaller scales, enabling them to create products that were once the sole province of major players.
While large-scale production will always dominate some segments of the sewn products supply chain, innovative manufacturing models — distributed small-scale local and agile manufacturing — are arising to take advantage of new opportunities.
Manufacturing is no longer simply about making physical products. Changes in consumer demand, the nature of products, the economics of production, and the economics of the supply chain have led to a fundamental shift in the way companies do business.
The economic crisis brought on by Covid-19 has uncovered hidden vulnerabilities in the global sewn goods supply chains. One of the most glaring vulnerabilities is a lack of responsiveness and adaptability. The sudden inability to purchase goods from tissue paper to equipment for data centers shines an unforgiving light on just how we make things. Many production lines have been exposed as unable to scale, incapable of reconfiguring to build the things we need most, and often, unfit even to operate in an environment with limited access. Manufacturers need resiliency, flexibility, and scalability. In other words, they need technology and automation.