The Robots are Coming

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This article is focused on apparel but I think it has a lot of significance for other manufacturing…

“Softwear, the Atlanta automation firm, has added cameras to its “sewbots” to enhance production, spotting distortions in fabrics so they don’t get bunched up in machines. One inventor treated fabrics to stiffen them temporarily so they can be more easily manipulated by robots. Softwear CEO Palaniswamy Rajan predicts sewbots will eventually make individual clothing items automatically on demand after they’re ordered online, reducing the need of fashion brands to outsource production to Asia.”

It’s shortsighted in a way most articles are about robots taking over - First, it doesn’t really address a solution, but makes it look like the poor countries are doomed. Second, it assumes everything ends with low skill manual labor and the end of that need in apparel.

But let me ask this, did they all die and the world end when sewing machines came on the scene? Did they become poorer and less skilled when they couldn’t rely on a thread and needle any longer? Sure, some were displaced, but the new technology brought along new opportunity. Why wouldn’t that happen with the automation happening now?