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New SoftWear workline for automated shoe uppers

An Atlanta, US, based brand SoftWear Automation has announced that the newest Sewbot workline is available for global pre-order.

2nd February 2018

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Atlanta, US

Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear

An Atlanta, US, based brand SoftWear Automation has announced that the newest Sewbot workline is available for global pre-order. The Digital Footwear Upper Workline expands the patented Sewbot Pick-Place-Sew automation for fully-automated shoe uppers.

In 2017, the SoftWear Automation team went to Waalwijk, Netherlands, to speak on the future of footwear. Waalwijk is a small Dutch town with more than 400 related footwear businesses including a tannery. It used to be the global epicentre for footwear, given its proximity to the world’s largest port, forests and cows. “Today, retail is almost all that’s left there. It’s a familiar story in manufacturing where jobs go to the lowest wage providers,” the company says.

“However, the story continues to evolve as supply side pressures mount; the industry doubles its efforts to focus on country sourcing strategies and places the customer experience on the back burner. With the launch of our Digital Footwear Workline we aim to put the future of WOW (put customer experience first) in a local supply chain on par with country sourcing.”

The future of WOW in apparel and footwear manufacturing is how a sewn good is produced on demand with great variety, speed, quality, and low cost; and delivered to the customer within three days, the company explains.

“To enable this future, we are focusing on automation that can work without templates, without adhesives, and that is built with lean manufacturing at its core. Our Sewbot workline for footwear uppers requires just one operator for four or more worklines, and is not subject to dye cutter imperfections, size, style or most material changes. Load in the vamps and overlays and sewn shoe uppers come out the other end.”

With 70% of labour in the sewing and construction of the upper and 18 months from forecast to delivery, SoftWear Automation’s worklines automate the most labour-intensive part of a shoe and offer the cost-efficiency and flexibility to produce goods anywhere in the world on demand.

The company’s Sewbots use a combination of patented high-speed computer vision and lightweight robotics to steer fabric to and through the needle with greater speed and accuracy than a human. Using Sewbot worklines customers are expected to be able to increase productivity while decreasing their overall defect rate.

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