by Mish

Please consider China Snaps Up America’s Cheap Robot Labor.

“Made in America” will soon grace the labels of T-shirts produced by a Chinese company in Little Rock.
By early 2018, Tianyuan Garments Co., based in the Suzhou Industrial Park in eastern China, will unveil a $20 million factory staffed by about 330 robots from Atlanta-based Softwear Automation Inc. The botmaker and garment company estimate the factory will stitch about 23 million T-shirts a year. The cost per shirt, according to Pete Santora, Softwear’s chief commercial officer: 33¢.
“Around the world, even the cheapest labor market can’t compete with us,” Tang Xinhong, the chairman of Tianyuan, told the China Daily about the factory in July. The company, one of the biggest apparel makers in China, supplies Adidas, Armani, Reebok, and other major brands.
The garment industry has been slower to automate than others, such as automobiles and electronics. Developing a robot that can match the dexterity of a human hand to manipulate and stitch fabric is an expensive proposition, Santora says. Stitching a dress shirt with a breast pocket requires about 78 separate steps. Tricky, but such a bot is coming, says the chief executive officer of Softwear Automation, Palaniswamy Rajan: “We will roll that out within the next five years.”
Still, many garment makers are reluctant to move away from China. Over the past two decades, the industry has built up an extensive supply network for yarns, dyes, fasteners, zippers, and trimmings. China is still the world’s largest exporter of garments, with an annual value of $170 billion, says Xu of the apparel council.
One T-shirt factory isn’t going to change that. But after tariffs, duties, and shipping costs are factored in, the case for shifting production to the U.S. from emerging markets is a compelling one, Santora says. Meanwhile, as robots become smarter and market access becomes more important, poorer nations that counted on manufacturing to climb out of poverty—as Japan, Korea, and China did in the decades after World War II—will have to offer more than cheap labor.

The goal is to produce 23 million t-shirts at 33 cents each, about one shirt every 26 seconds.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

It’s rather difficult to compete against 33 cents when shipping and transportation costs are rolled in.

The factory will create 400 human jobs.

Deflationary productivity increases are just around the corner in manufacturing and driverless transportation. The Fed will not like them when they happen.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

We Need New Labels: I Propose “100% Robot Made”

Yesterday, Apple’s iPhone maker, Foxconn announced an immediate cut of 60,000 workers to be replaced by robots.

Amazon Plans Robotic Supermarket Staffed by 3; Chinese Factory Eliminate 90% of Humans, Defects Drop

Trump blames Mexico, China, and even Germany for taking US jobs and for US trade imbalances.

Robots Replace Robots

Existing robots are just not good enough. If we replace robots with better robots, we can reduce the number of robots and get rid of more humans as well.

"Made in China" Soon to be Replaced by "Made in Taiwan"

Trump inflicted much pain on China and vice versa. This is always the case in trade wars. Sideline beneficiaries abound.

"Made in China" Economic Hit Coming Right Up

Economic contagion due to the coronavirus is underway. Hyundai halted production. Sony, Apple, and Ford issued warnings.

Robot Caused Anxiety: Blame the Robots, Even for the Election

Robots are taking our jobs says the Brookings Institute. This causes “Robot Anxiety“, but not everywhere, just in the Red states that swung the election to Trump.

Producer Prices Unexpectedly Decline

The Producer Price Index (PPI) for final goods unexpectedly declined in July. The PPI fell 0.1% as did the core PPI which excludes food and energy. THe Econoday consensus expected a 0.1% gain.

Robots at Boeing: Ex-Boeing Employee Chimes In On Robotics

In response to Humanoid Robots to Manufacture Planes, reader “XBE”, a 37-year ex-Boeing employee, pinged me with a few comments on robots and trends in the number of people it takes to build a plane.

Sports Writer Robots; Will an AI Robot Writer Win a Pulitzer Prize?

Robots are continually in the news. Here’s an investigation of the shape of things to come for robotic journalism.