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Automation in Garment Manufacturing Its likely impact on advanced and emerging economies

A presentation at the International Conference on Steering Mature Business A leadership challenge to the Textile Industry

by Prof. Ashwin Thakkar Department of Textile Technology L. D. College of Engineering, Ahmedabad 03.10.2009

Historical Review
Pre quota period (Till 1974) Trade shift from western countries to Japan Shift from Japan to the Asian Big Three Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan

Quota period : MFA Regime(1974-1994)

Source : Technopak

Quota phase out period : ATC Regime (1995 to 2004)

Source : Technopak

Textiles & Clothing major markets (2005)

Country Textiles
Val (US$Bn) Share

Val (US$Bn) Share

Total (T&C)
Val (US$Bn) Share

World EU- 25 US China Mexico Japan Canada

203 65.83 22.54 15.50 6.02 5.81 4.32 30.8 10.5 7.2 2.8 2.7 2.0

276 128.7 0 80.07 1.63 2.52 22.54 5.98 44.8 27.9 0.6 0.9 7.8 2.1

479 194.53 102.61 17.13 8.54 28.35 10.30 40.61 21.42 3.58 1.78 5.92 2.15

Source: Dr. J.N.Singhs presentation

Filiep Libeert, President of Euratex 6 June 2005 However, the same conclusion was reached by the European Commission almost 2 years ago in its communication to the Council and the European Parliament entitled The Future of the Textile and Clothing industry in the enlarged European Union. This led, supported by the European Parliament and the EU member states, to the creation of the EU Textile-Clothing High Level Group in early 2004. This High Level Group in its June 2004 report concluded that research, development and innovation is one, if not THE ONE driver of future competitiveness of our industry in Europe. Based on the findings of the working group on Research, Development and Innovation, the High Level Group made 6 central recommendations in this field, among which the establishment of a European Technology Platform (ETP) for Textiles and Clothing stood out as the one with the most strategic long-term perspective.

3 visions of ETP
1. To move from commodities towards specialty products from high-tech processes; fibres, filaments, fabrics and final products with highly functional, purpose-targeted properties based on nano- micro- & biotechnologies, new coatings and laminations, digital processes etc. Establishment and expansion of textiles as raw material of choice in many sectors and application fields (transport systems, construction, medical applications, consumer electronics) To prepare the end of the era of mass manufacture of textile products and to move towards the new industrial era characterised by customisation, personalisation, as well as flexible, on-demand production coupled with intelligent logistics, distribution and services.



The Objectives of the Research Module In order to achieve the long-term industrial transformation of the Clothing Industry the LEAPFROG initiative focused on 3 major objectives: 1 A step-change in productivity, quality and cost efficiency in the garment manufacturing process. Radical reductions in the product design and development time and cost through direct 3D design and virtual prototyping, fabric and garment simulation, fit and comfort evaluation on animated virtual mannequins representative of real consumer morphotypes, cost and manufacturability prediction. Radical reengineering and intelligent automation of the key tasks of handling and sewing for significant reduction of labour cost component in garment manufacture and a massive quality increase. A significant improvement of fabric preparation facilitating subsequent clothing manufacturing operation through fabric pre-forming and temporary or permanent fabric stiffening. Overall integration and organisation of all individual processes and technologies into a highly efficient and flexible manufacturing shop floor.

A radical move towards rapid customised manufacturing in one of the most demand-volatile sectors through flexibilisation and integration of cost-effective and sustainable processes from fabric processing through to customer delivery. Development of concepts and tools for a flexible organisation of garment production in extended supply networks - the extended Smart Garment Organisation (xSGO). Methods and systems for efficient product development and fast production ramp-up and roll-out in geographically spread manufacturing networks.

A paradigm change in customer service and customer relationship management with a focus on value-adding product-services. Further development of concepts and tools for industrial mass customisation and made-to-order of clothing and their effective integration with the point of sale.

The Objectives of the Research Modules Research Module A: Fabric Preparation The overall objective of the RMA is two fold: to develop stimuli sensitive filaments and coatings based on shapememory nematic polymers, to be combined with natural and man-made fibers in high quality yarns and fabrics; to investigate a proper formulation of inorganic nanoparticles and biodegradable coatings to permanently and temporarely increase stiffness of the fabric, including physical removal after garment integration. Critical Technologies employed for objective achievement Raw stimuli sensitive polymer, yarn, fabric derived thereto Fabric surface functionalizing and stiffening Permanent and temporary stiffening

Research Module B: Automated Garment Assembly The overall objective is the complete automation of the garment assembling activities by means of innovative fast and highly re-configurable robotic devices (multi-points gripper, re-configurable mannequin, sewing head) with as yet unforeseen dexterity, cooperation ability and efficiency in handling and working with limp material. Critical Technologies employed for The grasping and handling of near 2D parts The reconfigurable mannequin 3D sewing (the joining head) The handling robot

Research Module C : 3D Virtual Prototyping

The overall objective is to revolutionise the design and prototyping of garments by the development of a 3D Virtual Prototyping platform targeting the reduction of: the number of required physical prototypes, the time to develop a new collection the cost of the complete new product development cycle from sketch drawing to pattern making.

Technologies Employed
Modeling human bodies based on statistically significant parameters Libraries of representative virtual 3D mannequins Library of fabrics Direct 3D garment design Virtual prototyping components

Integration Module IM: The Extended Smart Garment Organisation (xSGO) The objective of this module is to enable integration of the results of the research areas within a flexible organisational structure. This will be achieved by the development of a validated framework for the extended Smart Garment Organisation (xSGO) conception together with related integration components. Development Tasks The xSGO Conception The xSGO Knowledge Infrastructure The xSGO Product Tracking Infrastructure New Garment Ramp Up Framework

Quantifiable Results of LEAPFROG # reduction of 60% of physical prototypes through 3D virtual garment design and prototyping. An average time gain of 60% in garment design by reduction of trial-error loops before acceptable prototype is reached from 5 to 2 an average 50% decrease of time of production ramp-up of new products in geographically spread production networks a reduction of average lead times at the future garment factory of 25% a reduction of machine times of complex garments by up to 50% in case of part automation of joining and up to 80% in case of full automation a reduction of production errors and quality faults in garment madeup from current 15-20% to close to zero due to removal of the human error an average decrease of fabric stocks at textile & garment manufacturers of 35% by intelligent, real-time distributed production planning systems and direct feedback from retail partners enabled in the xSGO an overall reduction of garment stock levels and waste resulting from unsold items at fashion retailers through an enlargement of the mass customisation and fast fashion segment from today's below 5% to 20% of the total market by 2015

# # # #

The first target of this line would be the estimated 12 million nurse's uniforms required every year in Europe, followed up by further public uniform contracts.

"These new developments give us enormously powerful new tools which, given the necessary level of industrial commitment, will change the rules of the game as we know it today, especially in the more conventional clothing and interior textile markets. "A quantum leap in automation, highly efficient and flexible functionalisation and customisation in the development and production of textiles and apparel, combined with intelligent logistic and service concepts can make Europe regain its global leadership. It can reverse the current commoditisation trends which clog our supply chains and distribution systems with cheap and often ultimately unwanted products with a doubtful environmental and social profile." Dick Hendriks Chairman of the Governing Council of the ETP.

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