Can Automation Save the Bangladeshi Garment Industry?

Can Automation Save the Bangladeshi Garment Industry?

December 10, 2018

Second only to China in the world’s clothing export markets, Bangladesh focuses on efficiency in its textile factories to defend its market in the face of increased competition from Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and some African countries.

Automation helps Bangladesh modernize apparel factories, with two workers able to do the work of 15.  These improvements help offset increasing costs, as the government mandates a 51% wage hike, and Western brands demand better fire and safety standards in the factories.


Video Spotlight: How Automation Impacts Garment Workers in Bangladesh


This post is based on the Nikkei Asian Review article, Bangladesh fights for future of its garment industry, by Mitsuru Obe, November 4, 2018, and the YouTube video, How Automation Impacts Garment Workers in Bangladesh, by Electric Runway, June 7, 2018. Image source: igor kisselev / Alamy Stock Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the cost of production in Bangladesh compare to that of other countries, and how does it impact the viability of its apparel industry?

Guidance: Currently, labor costs in Bangladesh remain low by global standards, with an average monthly wage of $101, compared to $518 in China.  However, some African countries like Ethiopia have average Continue reading

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Robot Farmers

Robot Farmers

October 23, 2018

The start-up company, Iron Ox, is working to deliver robotically grown vegetables.  They have planted their first robot farm about 25 miles south of San Francisco in a warehouse.  They intend to sell their vegetables to local restaurants later this year, and to supermarkets early next year.

Their first farm is in a warehouse forcing them to use artificial lights, and thus substantial energy.  But future robot farms will be in greenhouses to reduce energy costs.  Their plan is to locate these robot farms close to metropolitan areas.


Video Spotlight: Watch robots grow food without farmers


This post is based on The Daily Times article, Meet the farmers of the future: Robots, by Michael Liedtke, September 28, 2018, and the YouTube video, Watch robots grow food without farmers, by CNBC, October 3, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Beros919.

Discussion Questions:

1. What benefits does the use of robotics have for the farm?

Guidance: The biggest advantage is the reduction in labor.  The cost of farm labor is rising, and finding workers is getting more difficult.  Until recently, many of the workers on U.S. farms were not in the U.S. legally. Continue reading

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