LEVI STRAUSS EMPLOYS ROBOTS AND LASERS FOR BETTER JEANS
Iconic US jeans brand Levi Strauss & Co. is turning to robotic production techniques to make your jeans better.
To eliminate nasty chemicals and save on labour costs, Levi is introducing a new program into its factories called Project FLX.
These three initials stand for Future Led Execution that is a neat way of saying the robots aren’t coming, they’re here now.
As a harbinger of what computers and robots will bring, the FLX technique does cut out harmful chemicals, but it also reduces the labour required to make a pair of jeans from about 24 labour intensive processes to just three.
FLX employs computer-aided lasers in jean production. Bart Slights, Levi’s technical innovations VP has been reported as describing the labour saving lasers as reducing traditional jeans making processes from about 12 minutes to about 90 seconds. He said:
Our first step in the new process is to photograph the jean, and then we take that and illustrate it in a way the laser can interpret. So what used to happen traditionally 8, 10, 12 minutes with manual applications, we can now execute with the laser in 90 seconds or so.
According to Levi, the rag trade has used hand finishing and chemicals to give consumers clothes with a faded look for about 30 years. Not anymore.
Levi says by 2020 its clothes making process will have no chemical discharge.
The new laser technique will also trim back the number of chemicals now used by thousands to what Levi says will be a “few dozen”.
The new lasers give the brand’s jeans a perfect finish design by scorching the surface of the fabric giving the automated cutters a perfect outline.
During the process, computerised imaging tools create patterns and finishes so abrasions and colour fades can be placed with perfect accuracy.
Levi Strauss' new way to make better jeans may mean cheaper jeans but fewer jobs.
Fewer workers with less disposable income means fewer jeans are sold.
A contradiction the automated world of work might need to solve in a hurry.
Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected tech and audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to GadgetNET.
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