Garment Bots Will Replace 60 Million Apparel Workers

The end of the line is coming for 60 million global apparel workers, mostly in Sootheast Asia.

A Wall Street Journal video explains How Sewing Robots May Put Human Hands Out of Work.

Jobs like these will vanish.​

Let's backtrack with a bit of history on the Elias Howe Sewing Machine.​

In 1846 the American inventor, Elias Howe (1819-1867) invented, built and patented the world's first practical and successful sewing machine. Elias Howe patented the first ever lockstitch sewing machine in the world. The invention of the Elias Howe Sewing Machine changed the world by completely transforming and revolutionizing the shoe and clothing industry and the lives of ordinary people by providing the means to buy cheap, fashionable clothes.

Other inventors had made sewing machines using the chainstitch but Elias Howe invented his sewing machine to create the lockstitch. There as a problem with the chainstitch - The Chainstitch used a single thread that was looped on itself on the underside, when a break in the thread was followed by a slight pull, the chainstitch unraveled.

Unraveling did not occur with the lockstitch. The lockstitch was made by using two threads. The two threads interlaced so as to form a neat stitch on both sides of the material. The needle pierced the fabric and a loop was formed in the thread, and at very same time, a shuttle carrying a second thread passed through the loop, making the lock stitch. The Elias Howe Sewing Machine use of the eye-pointed needle in combination with a shuttle to form the lockstitch.

When the Elias Howe sewing machine was invented it took 14 hrs. 26 minutes to make a Gentleman's shirt by hand. Using the sewing machine the time was reduced to just 1 hr. 16 minutes. A dress made of calico took 6 hrs. 37 minutes to make by hand and this was reduced to just 57 minutes using the Elias Howe sewing machine.

Elias Howe Sewing Machine

Modern Sewing Machine

The sewing machine revolutionized the garment industry in 1846, well before the auto industry. Sewing machines still look quite similar to machines use 150 years ago.

We are on the verge of fully autonomous cars, a task just recently started. The effort to perfect autonomous sewing machines a started many decades go.

Why did one industry revolutionize quickly and another, seemingly more obvious didn't?

Human hands. Robotic arms do not have the dexterity or feel of human hands working with soft items.

That is finally on the verge of changing.

Garment Bot

Machines such as the one above will soon displace 60 million workers.

Minimum Wages

The Wall Street Journal traveled to Bangladesh, a country that employs several million humans for various sewing tasks. They get paid minimum wage, which for them is the equivalent of $64 a month.

The people interviewed are very fearful of losing their jobs as they see some of these new machines come into use.

That it pays to eliminate people making $64 dollars a month is telling.

Rude Awakening

These are immensely deflationary trends that the Fed is foolishly fighting. Thanks to the Fed's inflation push, the squeeze on employees is incredible.

In Canada, Ontario's minimum wage rose by 20% starting January. The next job's report showed a loss of 137,000 part-time jobs in January, a record monthly decline.

Some blame the wage hike for the debacle, but all provinces got hit, not just Ontario. Regardless, there will be an even bigger push for automated checkout services.

Workers in the US demanding $15 and hour for doing essentially nothing are going to have rude awakening in the not too distant future.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

This is it, exactly. This is what can bring jobs back to America. They will be management and robot maintenance jobs, not manufacturing jobs, of course.

can't fight progress. the silver lining is this could bring production from the far east. ow the challenge is to train workers for higher end jobs

Automation machinery emphasises the physical dimension of work that will be displaced in the third-world. If you want to look at the first-world displacement, you must examine how intellectual services are being exported over to the internet.

For now that means a lawyer in the US has a small army of paralegals in India, but the bigger picture is that people will use cryptocurrency to buy intellectual services tax & duty-free, and first world governments cannot do a damn thing about it.


Since the robots are extremely complex and require much TLC, and short shipping pipelines are an advantage, American clothing will all be made in America. See "sewbot" http://softwearautomation.com/ now already making T-Shirts

Oh, the skulls that will be crushed in coming robot human-exterminator wars:

AndrewUK; MissionAccomplished was referring to textile workers in France who would throw their clogs (sabot) into the first automated looms (Jacquards punched card programmable looms) that was putting them out of work in the early 1800s. Many believe that is where the word saboteur came from. The brilliance of MissionAccomplished’s post, is that it demonstrates how this process of automating jobs out of existence has been going on for centuries. And it isn’t going to stop. It’s the natural process of creative destruction and it is the result of human ingenuity. You can’t stop humans from making better and better machines. And though you always eliminate some jobs in this process, you end up creating far more than you eliminate in the long run. There are more people working now than there have ever worked before all over the world.

Certainly a "Brave New World" predicted by Huxley.

Manufacturing will go to wherever electricity is cheapest and/or municipal laws are most favorable. I think China will still hold an advantage over the US. Though not as much as now.

The winners (whether it be countries, companies, or individuals) will be those that embrace the future, and create the future. Those with the highest skills and ingenuity will develop and capture the jobs of the future. Those who try to fight the result of human ingenuity, are destined to be the losers. Sadly, the message from your President, is to fight the future, bring back the jobs that disappeared many years ago, and blame whoever he can. This is a losing proposition.

There is something to be said about the dignity of general labor and not just cost issues. In my time working for a large pharma company, I spent time in China working on opening two manufacture facilities. One of the plants was built in a new section of town where new roads were being built. From my office window, I watched two elderly men move what I guess was many tones of grave by wheelbarrow. They did this for two days straight, all day. I was thinking to myself, wow, with a bobcat I could have moved the gravel in about an hour. In the office, little old men and women, probably all older than 60 judicially came to clean the tables, windows and floors three times a day. I chatted to the plant manager and he said it was inexpensive to hire so many office cleaners and it earned the company brownie points with the Chinese government. Everywhere in China one could see inefficiencies, ways of doing things faster, with less workers and more productive. But I also realized all those people, moving a wheelbarrow of gravel all day or cleaning an office three times are all going home every night with some wages to pay for shelter and food for themselves and/or families.

Truly unfortunate your voice is missing from the national narrative.

“There is something to be said about the dignity of general labor and not just cost issues.”

The labor you mention, attains “dignity” on account of its productivity. It may not be THE optimal means of moving dirt, but it does move dirt from a place of lower to higher value. And value as determined by all. Or at least most non-Ted-Kazynskis. Something simply having to give blowjobs to a truly mediocre, yet privileged by dictat, toff; whose elevated station in life is solely, or even largely, due to receiving welfare from the government via regulations and the Fed via asset appreciation; for sustenance, will never do.

First they talk about how the jobs don't pay and how dangerous they are, then they go to whine about losing them. They should be celebrating liberation from the "toil" (their word, not mine).

C suite bots. A totally automated company.

I am a big believer in the “dignity” of work. All useful work provides dignity. The fact that the type of jobs and work we do has changed dramatically over the last few hundred years doesn’t affect the dignity of work. Which leads me to the concept of retirement. I don’t personally believe in retirement. Many people I know never retire because what they do defines who they are. Retirement to many, means that you are no longer useful, and that takes away your dignity. To me, it also represents a complete waste of valuable resources. My father worked from age 16 till age 85 , when he was no longer physically capable. I plan on working as long as I can as well, because of the pride and dignity that work provides.

What's wrong with people having jobs? Consumer spending is 70% of U.S. GDP. Robots do not consume. When workers are eliminated, the capitalist system will have a lack of demand. Oversupply will happen. Next comes depression and collapse.