Automation for SMEs in The Textile Industry
The Indian textile industry is one of the largest and oldest sectors in our country. In terms of output, investment and employment, the textile sector is huge in relation to other sectors. With a tiny presence of large integrated players, the entire sector is dominated by SMEs. Despite the huge size, even today, many machines are either semi-automated or even manually operated. This impacts production quality and efficiency.
With globalisation, many textile companies have adopted high-end advanced machines with extremely high-quality output. In such a competitive market, it is of utmost importance for Indian textile companies to invest in automation to compete with such global players. In addition, consumers have been driving the demand for quality goods. Consumers today are more focused on quality. With a large upwardly mobile middle class, and the demand for quality goods is increasing. People are ready to pay higher prices to receive quality goods. It is necessary for SMEs to invest in automation and digitisation to keep up with production and quality demands. The automated equipment can perform repetitive, dangerous or plain boring tasks with much greater efficiency and precision.
Another issue for the textile industry is finding skilled and motivated labour. Our country’s workers would rather drive for food-delivery services on the breezy roads and work in hotels than in factories. Fair enough. Who would want to work in a yarn mill, which must maintain a temperature of 33 degrees Celsius and 60 percent relative humidity? The answer to the scarcity of labour is automation.
Achieving high precision, maximum availability, increased efficiency, and flexibility in the textile industry are possible with automation. Currently, with manual or semi-automated plants, product quality suffers due to a lack of precision and inconsistency. The rate of production is much slower in manually operated plants. Slower production cycles lead to high lead time, which in turn leads to longer working capital cycles and dissatisfied customers. Automation not only helps in optimising cost by increasing production but also reducing wastage and offering a safe workplace in the factory.
Larger companies have already taken the bait and moved to fully automated plants. However, SMEs are reluctant to take the plunge. Apart from high initial outlay costs, automation requires a complete revamping of the factory floors, re-training of workers and hiring full time technicians. However, this is a move that is necessary if SMEs wish to remain in the textile business. Automation offers advantages, which far outweigh the disadvantages of running an automated plant.
With the rise of Industry 4.0, which implies a “smart factory”, businesses have been working towards adopting automation and digitisation. With digitisation, machines are providing higher efficiency, productivity, throughput, and thus, higher profitability. Secure accessibility of machines from anywhere across the globe reduces factory downtimes. The ROI of investing in automation is high.
Today, there are lighter collaborative robots that can work with humans symbiotically. These robots are not like traditional robots which are huge, heavy and difficult to program. Training employees is much easier for companies. Simultaneously, the factory floor remains safe for employees.
While the textile machinery industry is dominated by China, today, various cost effective, Indian variants of the machinery have come into the market. With government support, we will have a greater number of textile machinery companies in India. Lakshmi Machine Works dominates the cotton machinery segment with 70% market share despite strong competition from China. They have achieved this by building reliable aftermarket service. With time, the dependence of Chinese machinery will decrease and we will move towards self-sufficiency.
In conclusion, SMEs must adopt automation to remain competitive. Inconsistency in product quality and scarcity of labourers are the biggest problems that can be tackled by adopting automation. For more interesting insights, follow Insellers.