Sunday, June 29, 2014

How far are we from the robots taking over?

The shipping time for container shipping from China to New York is between 20-30 days.   For a fashion-driven industry like textiles and garments, the advantage of cheaper labor in China would be offset by the extra month it takes to respond to the changing market.   If robots could reduce the human labor component of garment production to insignificance,  it would be advantageous to serve the US market with robotic factories located in the US.   It would seem then that robotic manufacturing is not yet ready to take over, at least from an economic feasibility perspective.

There are alternatives, of course, which could explain this.  For example, the garment industry could be still in a relatively slow supply chain model, so that the extra 3-4 weeks for shipping from China don't matter.  What I mean is that what you see in the store displays today might have been planned up to an year ago, rather than weeks ago.  If the business model is that slow-moving,  where manufacturing is located may not matter.  

Anyway, here is an article from 2012, from the Indian Textile Journal.