SoftWear Automation has set its sights on advancing local production in Europe with a new initiative designed to elevate apparel manufacturing capabilities and foster collaboration among key industry players.
The Atlanta-based sewn machinery and robotics startup launched a European T-shirt workline and European Premier Customer Partnership (PCP) program that will work to help the region’s brands, manufacturers and retailers build up local supply chains and speed up the traditional garment manufacturing process. The aim, is to help European companies accelerate apparel manufacturing from cut fabric to finished goods and help makers develop better products for consumers.
According to Pete Santora, SoftWear Automation’s chief commercial officer, localizing production or fabricating goods on site will be a potential way to solve customer expectations that could include speeding up fashion supply chains with technology. Santora said two concepts are driving local production, including the inability to nail apparel forecasting and the fast pace of retail’s digital transformation.
“We can’t forecast every customer, weather event or trend. Localized manufacturing has to enter our strategic capability because well-planned forecasting is just historical guessing,” Santora said. “If the large size is out, we need a way to address that out of stock other than forecasting 6 months out.”
SoftWear Automation said the Digital T-Shirt Workline can produce a T-shirt twice as fast as manual sewing. The new fully autonomous workline can make one T-shirt in 22 seconds, which, in factory floor terms, is 200 percent faster than manual construction, and uses one-tenth of the labor, as it only requires one operator. By comparison, SoftWear Automation said one Sewbot operator can produce the same number of T-shirts as 17 manual sewers.
“There is a fundamental business model change coming and it creates immense opportunity. However it also creates risk and the teams that succeed will find ways to offset risk while they move forward securing their future,” Santora said. “We think we have some ideas on reducing risk in this journey and we look forward to sharing those with you in the future.”
SoftWear Automation has been working consistently to drive manufacturing into the future. In February, the company launched its Digital Footwear Upper Workline, an expansion of the patented Sewbot Pick-Place-Sew automation for shoe uppers. Compared to conventional template sewing, the workline can create a shoe upper up to 11 times faster and it can sew one upper with three overlays in 26 seconds. With the new footwear upper workline, SoftWear Automation aims to help improve countries’ sourcing strategies and speed up the global footwear supply chain.