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Our very own Pete Santora, Chief Commercial Officer with SoftWear Automation (SWA) had a chat with Monique Mills and about the state of the apparel industry. Pete talks about the challenges SWA has with automation, opportunities for manufactures, issues with labor and more.

Listen here: Business Radio X

The post ATDC Radio: Monique Mills with ATDC and Pete Santora with Softwear Automation appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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Automation and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing the American workplace as machines perform tasks once unique to humans. The changes are affecting everything from picking goods off warehouse shelves to customer service calls to balancing a company’s ledgers. That is also forcing schools and colleges to rethink how they train — and quickly retrain — future workers and those whose jobs become obsolete.

Palaniswamy “Raj” Rajan, the chief executive of Atlanta-based SoftWear Automation, which designed the Sewbots, said new textile jobs will require more brain, less back. “We want people who can work with robots,” he said. “That is where the new economy comes in.”

Read the full article on AJC, here.

The post Atlanta Journal Constitution: Machines drive textile industry comeback bid in South appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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SoftWear Automation will be attending and speaking at the National Council of Textile Organization’s 16th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on March 19-21. We look forward to seeing and speaking with all stakeholders within the industry.

Mobilizing Support for the U.S. Textile Industry in the 21st Century: The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is a unique association representing the entire spectrum of the textile industry.

Stay up to date on where SoftWear will be next on the Events page on our website.

The post Speaking at NCTO 16th Annual Meeting: March 19-21 appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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From 1994 to 2005, the United States lost more than 900,000 textile and apparel jobs to offshoring.

Fast-forward to 2018. The pendulum is swinging back and textiles are returning as lean, highly automated, environmentally conscious production facilities. Within the last six years, there have been significant announcements by foreign-owned textile companies investing in the United States, with site selection choices clustered in the Southeast including the first Chinese owned Cut Make Trim factory in Arkansas.

Despite this industry reversal, the seamstresses are not returning. While the knowledge can be shared to upskill workers, people don’t have the  desire to work in a traditional textile factory.

To solve this and accelerate the growth of US based textile manufacturing, Softwear Automation is announcing SEWBOTS-as-a-Service, a rental lease service to allow manufacturers, brands, and retailers to source and manufacture here in the US at a lower cost than outsourcing and with greater predictability and quality. While we understand the benefits of “Made in America”, the focus of this program is to offer US textile manufacturing more control, greater margin, faster turn times and less inventory.  

SEWBOTS-as-a-Service creates immediate ROI benefits while enabling scale across retailer, brand, and manufacturer.  For a monthly fee starting at $5,000 per month per robot, a factory can add annual production capacity of up to 1M units (product dependent). This enables a manufacturer to bring on a Sewbot for just over $55/shift  (based on 7 days a week and 3 shifts a day).

SEWBOTS-as-a-Service is focused on bringing scale to basic sewn good production within the country of destination (a local supply chain).  This focus allows manufacturers to move current seamstresses to premium products while creating a more reactive, reliable and sustainable textile ecosystem.

If you are interested in learning more about SEWBOTS-as-a-Service and how to register, click here to download the service overview.

Download Service Overview

The post Announcing: Sewbots as a Service appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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The “last mile” is a phrase widely used in the telecommunications, cable television, and Internet industries to refer to the final leg of the networks that deliver telecommunications services to retail customers. It’s a phrase that comes to mind when thinking about the apparel design and production supply chain, which is becoming increasingly automated. In this case, the last mile would be the sewing process, which heretofore has remained minimally automated and still quite labor-intensive, often requiring skills that can be hard to come by in developed parts of the world such as North America and Europe. But that will all change if SoftWear Automation has its way. We spoke with Pete Santora, Softwear Automation’s Chief Commercial Officer, to learn exactly what that means.

WhatTheyThink:  Pete, tell us about Softwear Automation.

Pete Santora:  We think of ourselves like Tesla for sewing. We use machine vision to map fabric, and robotics to steer the fabric through the sewing process. We spun out of Georgia Tech after seven years of research and development working on projects with DARPA and the Walmart Foundation. SoftWear’s fully autonomous SEWBOT® allows manufacturers to SEWLOCAL, moving their supply chains closer to the customer while creating higher quality products at a lower cost.

WTT:  I can understand Walmart, but why would DARPA be interested in this?

PS:  This is due to the Berry Amendment. As you can read on the U.S. Department of Commerce site, this is “a statutory requirement that restricts the Department of Defense (DoD) from using funds appropriated or otherwise available to DoD for procurement of food, clothing, fabrics, fibers, yarns, other made-up textiles, and hand or measuring tools that are not grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States. The Berry Amendment has been critical to maintaining the safety and security of our armed forces, by requiring covered items to be produced in the United States. With respect to textiles and clothing, the Berry Amendment has been critical to the viability of the textile and clothing production base in the United States.” The big issue here, in terms of apparel, is the risk associated with the relatively small number of seamstresses in the U.S.—only about 140,000. That spurred DARPA to issue grants for companies to look into this issue, and we were beneficiaries of some of those grants.

WTT:  Aside from DoD, what other factors are driving adoption of sewing automation?

PS:  Brands are looking to move to a Made to Measure or On-Demand production model where possible. This means that goods are ordered, paid for and then manufactured, turning the current process on its head. That eliminates the waste and cost associated with large inventories, and it also enables reshoring of apparel manufacturing, enabling faster time to market, an increased number of collections each year, and even cost-effective customization down to the individual level.

WTT:  What products are you focused on?

PS:  We started with the home goods market. Northern Georgia is the carpet capital of the world, and the vast majority of home goods consumed in North America are manufactured there. And we have now started to move into apparel—which was always the focus, but we had to work up to that point. The first is T-shirts and later we will move into jeans and pants, then dress shirts. We are more focused on adult attire than children’s since there are additional complexities to children’s clothes.

Read the full interview with our CCO Pete Santora, here.

The post WhatTheyThink: Sewbotics – The “Last Mile” in Automated Apparel Technology appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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While manufacturing companies have long cited labor costs as a reason to move production out of the United States, Chinese clothing manufacturer Tianyuan Garments Co., which makes about 10 million garments a year for brands like Reebok and Armani and supplies sporting goods company Adidas with 90 percent of its clothes, established its most recent factory in Arkansas.

In an effort to shorten its supply chain, get its products closer to its consumers and, surprisingly, reduce costs, the company invested $20 million to purchase and retrofit a 100,000-square foot plant and began producing T-shirts in Little Rock earlier this year.

Under the name TY Garments, USA, the company was able to dodge notoriously high American labor costs by taking humans out of the equation. TY employs about 330 robots, designed by Atlanta-based Softwear Automation Inc., which use computer-guided assistance to perform each step of the T-shirt making process from arranging and cutting fabric, sewing seams, adding sleeves, and post-production quality inspection.

Softwear Automation’s chief commercial officer Pete Santora said TY USA’s Arkansas plant is the first to use Softwear Automation’s “sewbots.” He estimates the factory will be able to create about 23 million shirts a year at a cost of 33¢ per unit.

With 21 automated assembly lines at the Little Rock facility, TY is expected to be able to cut labor costs compared to traditional human-based production by 50 to 70 percent and simultaneously increase productivity more than 70 percent.

Read the full article here.

The post AMP: Automated Couture – Using Robots to Make Clothing appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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Although manufacturing automation has been a focus in most industries for decades, the apparel industry has seen less advancement in this field due to the unique properties of garment production. Steps in the process such as cutting material or sewing buttons has been successfully automated, but the actual stitching of materials together has proved difficult to replicate. A robot cannot easily match the ability of a skilled worker manipulating the materials and tools to achieve a good seam. Retailers and manufacturers, as a result, have been reliant on cheap labor markets around the world to manufacture their products for decades. As labor wages in traditional sourcing markets grow and the availability of skilled labor shrinks, the potential benefit for automation is becoming apparent. Adding to the potential cost benefit is the ability to improve speed to market while building sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and supply networks for your products.

Innovators in this application are taking great leaps towards a commercially viable solution. For example, Softwear Automation Inc. partnered with super-agent Li & Fung to begin local, automated production of shirts, with the potential to expand product offerings in the future (https:// www.lifung.com/press-release/li-fung-accelerates-creation-digital-supply-chain-softwear-automation-partnership/). Softwear Automation’s SEWBOT® t-shirt line requires just one operator and achieves an output that is twice that of manual sewing. This partnership will demonstrate the ability to reduce labor costs while producing goods in or close to their final markets, enabling retailers to manage costs, shorten production-to-market cycles, improve execution management and drive sustainability in their sourcing and supply networks. to download and read the full report.

Technologies such as cut-and-sew robotics enable a labor-less production line for relatively simple SKUs including t-shirts, pants and shorts. While robotics for apparel production is still a relatively new concept, 18 percent of retailers surveyed this year and last year expect to adopt production automation technology within the next three to five years. Expect the technology to compete with some of the others as it continues to mature and labor costs continue to rise in traditional sourcing hubs.

Click here to download and read the full report.

The post Apparel Magazine: Sourcing as a Value Center – Winning with Technologies appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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Today we announce that the next generation of  LOWRY SEWBOT® is available worldwide.

Since the beginning, we have worked to make the SEWBOT® a platform for industrial sewing automation.  While sewing is at the center of that challenge, we have been successful because of our ability to master material handling like picking, placing, moving, stacking, lifting, holding, labeling, welding and more. As it turns out, automated sewing may be the easiest part of sewing automation. What makes the LOWRY® special is the sheer number of products, operations and styles that one system can handle without an operator and without it being retooled, reprogrammed or re-configured.

Our major advancements in this next generation SEWBOT® have come from our improved vision technology, which has put us light years ahead in flexible production automation from our previous releases.  There is no question that textiles present challenges unique to industrial automation. Our needs as consumers to have textile products that are light, breathable, stretchable and fashionable creates an ever changing landscape of complexity. Unlike hardware intensive solutions, vision technology allows the SEWBOT® to adapt to handling the unique pieces of a material good.

Our machine vision is at the core of every SEWBOT® and updates in real time for extreme sewing precision.


The vision technology recognizes material shape, size, fabric, style and sewing requirements in order to calculate and complete full automation of a product. This means minimal retooling is required any time a change or an upgrade is made to the style or appearance of the product – reducing cost, down time and labor. The machine vision also allows us to see material distortion in real time and to dynamically adjust to correct that distortion without any programming, resulting in high quality produced goods each and every time.

SEWBOT® | LOWRY® HEAVY DUTY - YouTube

Our vision technology can identify imperfections in material as small as 2 millimeters.


The LOWRY® leverages all of our advancements made in vision technology allowing for efficient production of sewn goods.  Made of durable industrial-grade steel, the base frame has been upgraded to provide a machine that can run 24/7 and is able to withstand the test of time. Whether from potential damage from giant forklifts or wear and tear from micro particles, it is truly built to last on the factory floor. The LOWRY® can also undertake simultaneous automated operations, like automated loading, flaw detection, sewing, seaming, cutting, labeling and re-stacking all through a simple control touch panel.  One single machine operator is able to control up to six LOWRY®s at once, resulting in a significantly higher production scale.

Each operation on the LOWRY® works simultaneously for a fast, consistent flow of production.


The LOWRY® enables companies to achieve on-demand production automation with its modular design and interchangeable components. We understand that every sewn good is constructed differently, which is why the LOWRY® has flexible configurations to support a variety of goods. Each machine module can be removed, replaced, upgraded, repurposed and repaired depending on your unique product specifications. For each product listed below, the LOWRY® has a product specific configuration available to enable full automation.

The LOWRY® has been used in the automated production of rugs, bath mats, towels, pillows,  automotive, and medical products.


The LOWRY® is built to serve a number of different industries, supporting both local and global supply chains and is available now, worldwide.  The LOWRY® is here – to transform and revolutionize the future of manufacturing.

Fully automate your production today. Visit our SEWBOTS products page to learn more and talk to sales.

The post INTRODUCING: The Next Generation LOWRY SEWBOT® appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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Tomorrow’s successful apparel companies will be those that take the lead to enhance the apparel value chain on two fronts: nearshoring and automation. It cannot be just one of them and it must be done sustainably. Apparel companies can no longer conduct business as usual and expect to thrive. Due to the Internet and stagnation in key markets, competition is fiercer than ever and consumer demand is more difficult to predict. Mass-market apparel brands and retailers are competing with pure-play online start-ups, the most successful of which can replicate trendy styles and get them to customers within weeks. Furthermore, apparel companies have lost much of their clout in trendsetting. In most mass-market categories, today’s hottest trends are determined by individual influencers and consumers rather than by the marketing departments of fashion companies. Pressure on profitability due to decreasing full-price sell-through as well as increasing concerns regarding the environmental impact of overproduction call for agile production in smaller batch sizes and for on-demand replenishment.

Currently the most labor-intensive step in creating a garment, sewing accounts for more than half the total labor time per garment. The potential for labor reduction is highly dependent on product type and design – as much as up to 90 percent of the sewing of simple garments can be automated. While there are a variety of different semi-automation solutions, SoftWear Automation is currently on the forefront of fully automated sewing and many others are making investments.

Read the full report here and learn why McKinsey & Company named SoftWear Automation’s SEWBOT® one of the promising automation technologies of the future.

The post McKinsey Apparel, Fashion & Luxury Group: Is Apparel Manufacturing Coming Home? appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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Tomorrow’s successful apparel companies will be those that take the lead to enhance the apparel value chain on two fronts: nearshoring and automation. It cannot be just one of them and it must be done sustainably. Apparel companies can no longer conduct business as usual and expect to thrive. Due to the Internet and stagnation in key markets, competition is fiercer than ever and consumer demand is more difficult to predict. Mass-market apparel brands and retailers are competing with pure-play online start-ups, the most successful of which can replicate trendy styles and get them to customers within weeks. Furthermore, apparel companies have lost much of their clout in trendsetting. In most mass-market categories, today’s hottest trends are determined by individual influencers and consumers rather than by the marketing departments of fashion companies. Pressure on profitability due to decreasing full-price sell-through as well as increasing concerns regarding the environmental impact of overproduction call for agile production in smaller batch sizes and for on-demand replenishment.

In light of these factors, speed to market and in-season reactivity are now more critical than ever to apparel players’ success. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of US apparel executives1 and about 80 percent of international chief procurement officers (CPOs) say that these two capabilities are top priorities.2 The problem is, most of the established fashion players are burdened with slow commercial processes and legacy supply chain and sourcing setups – and therefore struggle to keep up with more nimble competitors. Mass-market apparel brands and retailers cannot win in the next decade without speeding up and transforming to a demand-focused model. Apparel companies are applying four key levers to support the transformation. One is optimization of current processes, e.g., central cross-functional merchandising teams, reduction of approval iterations, and closer collaboration with suppliers.3 Another is digitization of processes along all phases of the fashion cycle – from intelligent consumer insights to virtual design and prototyping to integrated vendor-management tools and digital sell-in. They will rethink inbound logistics, aiming to strike an effective balance of air versus sea freight and establish highly efficient warehouse processes. And the other is optimizing the apparel production model, on which we will focus in this white paper, including elements such as nearshoring, automating new delivery models around customization, and shifts toward sustainable, circular value chains.

Two decades ago, US and European mass-market apparel brands and retailers were rushing to move as much production to Asia as possible in order to gain a cost advantage. Since then, it has been a unit-cost play, in which adjusting the sourcing footprint and moving from China to even more cost-efficient frontier markets has been the focus. Apparel players that have successfully done this, while still ensuring high quality, speed, and compliance, have been able to deliver relevant products to consumers at the best prices. So, the question is: is apparel manufacturing coming home?

Read the full story here and learn how SoftWear Automation is named one of the promising automation technologies of the future.

The post McKinsey Apparel, Fashion & Luxury Group: Is Apparel Manufacturing Coming Home? appeared first on Softwear Automation.

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