Automation Gaining Ground in Garment Factories
So quick deliveries through the maintenance of quality is a very important factor for retaining competitiveness in the business. It is not possible to remain competitive maintaining the manual process of garment production using a huge number of workers. As a result, automation has turned key in this competitive business. Abdullah Hil Rakib, managing director of Team Group, which has a LEED-certified garment factory, said he currently uses a semi-automated production line to bring more efficiency in productivity and time management and become competitive. In his factory, he has had to automate some important sections to enable greater efficiency. For instance, he said one of his machines can make six pockets at a time, which otherwise if all the other factors were to remain constant, would have taken six workers. So the number of workers here has been reduced but efficiency and quality have been maintained, he said. This is a small example of how the local garment manufacturers have been automating their production. Like Rakib, many garment manufacturers have been automating their units to be more competitive in the fiercely competitive global garment business. Rakib said the need to produce intricate, high-end value-added garment items, including outerwear, has prompted a rise in the use of automation in the garment sector in Bangladesh. Previously a lot of workers used to produce the most basic of garment items but that was at the bottom tier in terms of efficiency and profitability, he also. But now automation has been bringing efficiency and the use of a "Standard Allowed Per Minute" (SAPM) measure is also increasing as the wastage of time is not taking place because of real-time data analytics in the management system in the factory, he added. Over the next 10 years, automation in the garment industry will reach new heights as the local apparel exporters have to adopt new technologies to be more competitive. "The automation in production gives the real data, accuracy, management efficiency. So we can make a good decision in the management of the business," said Rakib, who has automated sections for cutting, sewing, and measuring fabrics. He is now saving up 10 percent to 15 percent on costs through the installation of modern machinery in his factory. In a normal factory, if a production line requires 700 workers, the installation of modern machinery for the same work leads to the need for 600 workers, he said.