Shimmy Technologies, a leading industrial ed tech company, has announced the release of their second Apparel Automation Pulse findings. The Apparel Automation Pulse, also known as “The Pulse,” is a three-year-old research project aimed at tracking the rate of automation in the fashion supply chain. Its objective is to understand the true pace of automation and how to ensure workers are adequately upskilled in time.
The latest Pulse dataset focuses on the Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) industry, which is the third-largest garment export country worldwide, employing approximately 4.1 million workers. It examines the type of automation being integrated into factories and the specific machine and assembly skills that employers will require in the near future.
Notable findings from this edition of The Pulse include a significant shift in automated machine purchasing plans. In 2021, only 28% of factories intended to purchase automated machines, while that figure has soared to 80% for 2023-2024. Consequently, this trend is causing a slowdown in worker hiring both presently and in the foreseeable future.
According to Shimmy’s research, the number of automated machines in participating factories will increase by 13% over the next two years. Factories anticipate that each machine could displace between 1-6 workers per machine. This displacement is expected to disproportionately impact female workers, as only 20% of factories expressed a preference to address the gender gap and promote female workers to operate the automated machines.
Sarah Krasley, the Chief Executive Officer of Shimmy, commented, “The way AI is automating for work, like in the emergence of large language models like ChatGPT, highlights the tangible implications of AI and automation for workers. We take pride in pioneering a new methodology that facilitates upskilling and optimization of labor alongside inevitable automation. Our goal is to support workers while ensuring employers achieve their intended return on investment as they embrace Industry 4.0 technologies. We look forward to sharing these findings with policymakers, trade associations, and other relevant groups. Additionally, we plan to conduct further research Pulses in new regions later this year.”
The second Pulse involved the participation of over 267 stakeholders from 20 Dhaka-area factories, representing a diverse range of perspectives, including those from workers, supervisors, owners, Human Resources, Industrial Engineering, Production, and Quality Leads.