Currently the textile industry is known as a global industry. Due to the universality of textile, it has become one of the sources of study in today’s world. Billions of people are involved in this textile industry. Textile products are made from different types of fibers, yarns and fabrics. In textile industry, at one time only hand-operated and common technology was used. Gradually the use of technology began to increase and in today’s modern age due to the ever-new demands, various researchers and entrepreneurs have started researching and focusing on various types of advanced modern equipment and technological aspects thinking of product quality improvement and higher production. One such topic nowadays is automation or mechanization in textile industry.
What is automation?
Automation is a special mechanization process, where it is possible to increase the factory production easily in less time and with high efficiency through the use of automated equipment and modern technology. Automation means reducing the workload of people in different sectors of the factory by coordinating with different machines with the help of automatic control. As a result, more textile products are being produced in less time with less man power. So, in simple words, automation is mechanization or getting things done automatically. The use of automation can now be traced back to textile raw materials such as ginning, spinning, weaving/knitting, dyeing, printing and apparel industry.
Impact of Automation in Textile Industry:
The main driving force of Bangladesh’s economy is the garment industry. To survive in the competition, one has to be constantly acquainted with new equipment and technology. At present such an issue is automation. So, the entrepreneurs in the garment sector have recently started using automatic devices in the factory.
1. Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have started using automation in factories for the last three-four years. Approximately 250 factories in our country are fulfilling orders with use of the latest technology and machinery. The use of advanced technology assists in cutting down production costs significantly (30-40%) and has spill-over benefits in terms of higher productivity and reduced lead times.
2. In a medium factory, the cutting section used to take 150-200 workers, but now it is working with 10-12 workers using automatic cutting machines. Again, to create a back pocket for jeans, where four operators had to work, it is now done with one machine. In other words, the work of four people is being done with one operator.
3. Akshay Jaipuria, partner at Vaya Home says that the turning point in the textile industry came when Softwear Automation launched LOWRYSewbot, Sewbot’s multiple capabilities reduce the needs of garment manufacturers by 50-70%. In USA where sewbot is made, it costs $7.48 to make a denim shirt. But this cost for each shirt in a robotic production line is $0.33. It also produces an average of 669 t-shirts on the human sewing line in just 8 hours. But there is robotic sewing line that has the capability to produce 1142 t-shirts, which means that the production will increase by 71%.
4. Automation is being used the most in the sewing section, also started in product development and manufacturing processes such as: 3D sampling, AutoCAD, Auto cutter etc. Hi-tech sensor machines, barcode readers are also being used in different factories. So, there is no doubt that huge changes will take place in this industry in the next ten years.
5. Due to automation, lots of workers are losing their jobs. This is thought to be one of the main reasons behind the decline in employment. However, many do not see it as a danger, because all the workers in Bangladesh, those who are losing their jobs due to automation are getting employment in this industry in one way or another. Because the size of this industry is still increasing day by day in Bangladesh. But some people are disagreeing again.
6. According to the government’s a2i project and the International Labor Organization (ILO), around 60% of garment workers (27 lacs) in Bangladesh (5.38 Million) will become unemployment by 2041 and be replaced by automatic machines (robots) due to automation in textile industries (RMG sector).
Therefore, in order to survive in the ready-made garment industry market, special attention should be paid to automation along with quality improvement of factories. Because now the future business of the garment industry depends on automation and reduction of lead time.
Advantages of automation in textile:
1. More production in less time: Due to automation in textiles, it is becoming possible to produce more products in less time. Where previously work was done by workers, workers could not work non-stop, at one time they would get tired and needed a break. But as a result of automation, products are now being produced non-stop.
2. Product quality enhancement: Automation is producing higher quality and flawless products than before. When working with workers, there was always the risk of errors for various reasons. But automation has greatly reduced that fear.
3. Low labor wages: Reducing the number of workers in the various stages of automation in the textile sector. In some cases, this automation has reduced the number of workers by 50-60 percent and in some cases up to 90 percent. As a result, the same work is being done with less workers than before, but in less time. Therefore, the amount of labor wages in the production of goods in any sector has decreased.
4. Reduce working hours for the same production: Automation made it possible for the same tasks to be performed but with fewer hours of labor for employees. For example, inventions such as Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made it possible to separate the seeds from cotton without using manual labor.
5. Reduce production costs: Company leaders signed a development agreement to obtain an automated machine that handles multiple fabric processing steps, including cutting, and sewing the material. The most impressive aspect is that it only needs 22 seconds to complete a T-shirt. A representative said that each garment’s labor cost is just 33 cents, which is cheaper than any market in the world can offer.
6. Increased job security for workers: We know that in textile industry, fabrics are made from yarn and yarn from fiber. Then dyeing and printing is done to make the fabric more attractive. Every step of it, especially the spinning, weaving and dyeing process, can be dangerous for anyone. So, automation has created automatic machine equipment to handle most of these processes by securing working conditions for all in the textile industry.
7. Increasing demand for skilled workers: As automation has reduced the number of workers / workers in the textile industry and where 150-200 workers were needed earlier, it is now working with only 10-12 workers/operators. Technically skilled personnel are required to operate this equipment with modern technology and high quality. So, the demand for skilled textile workers is increasing with automation.
Disadvantages of automation in textile:
1. High investment costs: The amount of investment in the textile industry has multiplied with the use of automation. This is because it includes some equipment and tools that have the ability to perform multiple tasks at once, resulting in costs ranging from thousands to millions of dollars.
2. Increaseunemployment: As a result of textile automation, 70-80 percent of the workforce has been reduced at different levels, which means that this number of workers are losing their jobs. This will increase the unemployment rate in the country.
As many as 60 percent of the jobs in RMG sector will become automated by 2041, which in effect will make nearly two out of every five employees jobless in the industry. Although there are some disadvantages to using automation, the benefits are not small. In order to survive in the current market, it is necessary to invest in automation, the main reason being that the country’s garment industry is heavily dependent on automation. So, in order to keep pace with the developed countries, we need to ensure the use of automation in our industries as well. Only then will our garment industry move forward.
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Author of this Article:
MD. IMRAN HOSSAIN
B.Sc. in Textile Engineering
Shahid Abdur Rab Serniabat Textile Engineering College, Barisal.