Fashion Industry Automation: A Quest for the Indian Way


Vijayalaxmi and a few dozen of her coworkers watch with trepidation as hundreds of newly bought German-made machinery are set up to speed up the production process at an export firm situated in Tiruppur, India's knitwear hub. Except for programming and cleaning, these machines require very little human participation. Workers were given a month's notice to hunt for new jobs after working for the company for more than a decade. Vijayalaxmi and her coworkers will have to find work in another knitting factory until technology and automation catch up with them.

Workers in all industries have been threatened by technology and automation. The garment industry, unlike the electronics and automobile industries, enjoyed some protection. Fabric and clothing manufacturing procedures necessitate meticulous attention to detail that was previously only feasible with human hands. However, during the last decade, an increasing number of garment production units have moved toward automation. Robotics, according to research, can cut the labor force by 80%. (Vashisht and Rani, 2020). In 2016, Raymond employed around 30,000 people. In the next three years, they will replace around 10,000 workers with robots and technology."Roughly 2,000 (people) work at each factory," Sanjay Behl, CEO of Raymond, said in an interview with the Economic Times. We hope to reduce the number of employees to 20,000 through a combination of technological measures. Around 100 workers might be replaced by a single robot. While it is currently occurring in China, it will also occur in India." 2016 (Economic Times). Click to learn more about how Fashion Designing Course In Pune Works.

Social equality is one of the three pillars of sustainability. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to provide everyone with good work and economic prosperity. Along with intergenerational equity, intragenerational equity is equally crucial. Most ecological, social, and environmental experts, on the other hand, believe that the phrase "sustainable development" is an oxymoron (SACHS, 2015). This rationale makes sense, given that even emerging countries' low-cost labor is susceptible to automation. Labor costs are rising in tandem with global inflation, and sophisticated technology is enabling machines to do even the most challenging tasks.

Bangladesh is an example of this problem in action. According to estimates, the rising apparel business will create nearly 2 million new jobs per year. Only 60,000 new jobs are created each year. Meanwhile, Bangladeshi garment production continues to rise at a rate of 19.5% thanks to automation. "If you can't integrate [young people] in productive activity, they will do something," says Zahid Hussain, a principal economist with the World Bank's South Asia Finance and Poverty section. And anything they do may not be socially acceptable. It's a societal time bomb," says the author.

The fundamental reason for India's and other developing countries' industrialization was to alleviate poverty (Mishra, 1978). A number of programs were implemented to assist in the establishment of industries with the goals of increasing national income, reducing income disparities, and creating jobs with health and education benefits. The lax environmental rules of these developing countries aided the establishment of a lot of firms. However, the expense of environmental degradation was compensated by the creation of jobs and a source of income. With more people losing their jobs, it appears that the industrialized nations' core mission has been lost.

Automation is frequently used by apparel manufacturers to speed up the production process. Orders are delivered faster due to shorter production wait times. The ultimate product is also less expensive due to lower labor expenditures. These two variables, when combined, pave the way for fast fashion clothing. The clothing manufactured in this manner will be used, eaten, and destroyed more quickly. With so many low-cost options, customers will buy more, and emotional attachment to these things will be unusual. The question then becomes if the goal of these companies is to develop a speedier supply chain for both manufacturing and consumption. Click to learn more about how Fashion Designing Classes In Pune work.

But does this imply a complete rejection of technology and automation? Absolutely not. It is critical to strike the proper balance. It's critical to invest in technology that reduces waste, improves details, and standardizes operations without jeopardizing employability. Sorting clothing by material and color is the first step in the recycling process. Human touch and feel are frequently insufficient to distinguish these materials. To sort clothes composed of blended textiles, technologies such as NIR (near-infrared) must be used. Virtual 3D modeling and sample greatly minimize the cost and time of sampling. Furthermore, the initial samples are frequently not sold and are subsequently dumped in landfills. Virtual sampling also minimizes the amount of waste produced. There are numerous examples of such technological interventions. At the same time, it's important noting that automation opens up opportunities for a new set of jobs. These occupations will be filled by software developers, coders, and others. However, in developing countries like India, the heterogeneous population is made up of people with varying degrees of education and skill. As a result, in order to achieve inclusive economic growth, modern society requires occupations for many groups.

Inclusive growth refers to economic growth that creates jobs for all people and helps to alleviate poverty by empowering individuals through education and skill development. The world is rapidly approaching the fourth industrial revolution. However, depending on how they are employed, these developing technologies have the potential to increase or decrease social inequality. Unfortunately, the karigars, or workers in the Indian garment sector, are now struggling to make ends meet. Sustainable development for an equal society can be realized through innovative collaborations between organizations, NGOs, and government entities. Inclusive growth will assist disadvantaged and marginalized people to gain power, bettering their lives, and eventually achieve equality.

Predicting future technology and its implications for jobs is difficult. However, extensive automation in a labor-intensive country like India may incur significant unintended societal consequences. We need to look at modest, low-cost technologies that aid workers in performing part of their jobs and therefore improve the productivity of the present workforce. This view is supported by recent ILO publications in the Indian apparel industry (Bárcia De Mattos et al., 2021). If automation is not employed with financial and technological care, it might cause financial hardship for small and medium-sized Indian textile companies. At the same time, high-end bespoke products resulting from highly sophisticated automated processes might help the sector develop skills in order to eliminate the pricing war that is harming profitability. The global market for personalized high-end clothes is growing. It also encourages artisanship and automation. India, a country rich in craftsmen and traditional knowledge, has the potential to develop an artisanal economy to meet the global demand for bespoke and elegantly crafted products. A wide range of automation technologies may be available to help facilitate and empower the artisanal industry. (Eglash, R. 2020) The Indian garment industry would most likely have to find the perfect blend to meet the country's needs. Click to learn more about how Fashion Designing Training In Pune Works.

The authors believe that this essay will spark and enable conversation about a future vision for a more inclusive Indian garment sector in which economic value, human labor value, ecological value, and social value can all coexist without fear of exploitation, alienation, or extraction.

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