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Sri Lanka’s textiles and apparel industry turns to automation to boost exports

Automation can help Sri Lankan firms stay competitive with regional peers such as Bangladesh, who are relying on cheap and abundant labor as their competitive edge.

With automation, they can do precision cutting, manufacture high quality, which means they can get higher prices. With a small number of people, it’s possible to produce higher quality apparels. Automation would help fast track the export targets of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry. As of now it’s mostly the top apparel manufacturing firms in the country that have been utilising automation. Lower end firms can rely on automation for high value addition while bringing down their costs affiliated to labor-intensive manufacturing.

Automation solutions have revolutionised the fashion industry, enabling firms to develop their fashion ideas into products within a few days, compared to traditional value chains, which take 42 weeks on an average. Automation has also enabled firms to develop new ideas into products at a considerable lower cost allowing these firms to supply new designs to the changing fashion industry at a faster pace.

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry has an export target of $8 billion by 2025. The country’s apparel exporters are exploring developed markets such as Japan and Australia to diversify their markets.