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There are four primary reasons for automating footwear production

There are four primary reasons for automating footwear production:

There are four primary reasons for automating footwear production:

  1. Speed: Machines can perform repetitive tasks much faster than a human hand, and sometimes also reduce the number of processes.
  2. Consistency or accuracy Shoemaking requires accuracy and process coordination at various stages of production. For example, Stitching of uppers require a high degree of hand-eye coordination and are prone to errors. While stitching is still done by human workers operating sewing machines, efforts are being made to introduce automation to the process through innovations such as sew-bots.

Automation has allowed other processes like Cutting of materials, Bottoming, compound mixing (rubber/foam), component moulding, and attaching the sole with the upper to deliver consistent results. This all helps in making quality shoes.

  1. Cost savings Automation has a cost-benefit. It provides Increased speed and accuracy allows higher productivity through fewer human operators. In many places, skilled labour is very expensive and not easily available. Automation helps to meet the requirements. When lasting a shoe upper manually, one would need a pair of pliers to pull the leather upper over the sides. This is done at multiple points over the shoe’s periphery while applying considerable force. When this is done hundreds of times a day there’s a high risk of injuries to the workers And inconsistencies in quality also become inevitable.

In the making of dress and casual shoes, a hard cellulose board is mounted on the last which is then layered with glue. Then the upper edges have to be pulled and stuck on the board before the sole is attached to it. This process is called ‘lasting’ and is extremely difficult to be performed manually on an industrial scale.

  1. Reduction of hazards at the workplace  Quality footwear is difficult to produce while maintaining consistent quality and it is also hazardous sometimes. For examples cutting of upper components manually requires sharp knives. This dangerous process is now semi-automated through hydraulic cutting presses. The making of midsoles and outsoles involves the risk of coming in contact with heated materials. Many other processes needed automation – like the roughing of uppers, Skiving, Cutting materials or the trimming of rubber outsoles.

The lasting of shoe uppers was another problem. Running shoes are Strobel lasted, with the edges of the upper stitched to the lasting fabric. Other types of leather shoes have a different process. Each shoe is based on a Last which is a foot-shaped mould and gives the shoe upper its unique shape.

So the footwear industry developed machines to automate the lasting process. Now shoes are lasted using a sophisticated machine which not only pulls the leather over the edges but also glues it over the lasting board. #automation #productivity #machinelearning #footwearindustry

-By Tanvir Siddike Moin, General Member at Bangladesh Nano Society

|Source: Online/KSU

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