At present, China has gradually flattened the curve while the rest of the world are still suffering from a complex and changing pandemic. Global economy is faced with grave challenges posed by the plummeting of downstream demand, shrinkage of order, and sluggishness of industrial operation, which foreshadow a bleak prospect of the sewing industry in 2020. In face of such challenges, sewing machinery manufacturers actively look for countermeasures including putting great efforts into self-construction, increasing income and decreasing expenses, and update of products. And they always deal with unpredicted challenges in a positive and confident way. But how do the electro-controlled system manufacturers, the power source to push forward automation & being smart, and the key factor to realize smart sewing, react to the pandemic?
Responding to unexpected challenges
The sewing machinery manufacturers' production rhythm and yearly plan have been disrupted by the unexpected pandemic, of which the most immediate ramifications are the plunge of demands and free fall of orders. Under such circumstances, those manufacturers seek to withstand the pandemic by firmly sticking to their major business, intensively exploiting all their potentials, improving efficiency and reducing costs, putting more efforts to R&D, then wait for the market to recover. As said by Pan Lei, Marketing Director of Embroidery Machine Business Division in Beijing Dahao Technology Co., Ltd, the pandemic has had a huge influence on the industry and the company's current and future sales. The orders received in the first quarter have declined by 20% on year-on-year basis, and situation in the second quarter will be worse as anticipated. On the other hand, those manufacturers have to avoid all the unnecessary expenditures and postpone the payment, so as to go through the difficult times.
However, the pandemic has indirectly intensified the competition. Despite that the downstream users' demand for ordinary product has plummeted due to the sudden stagnancy of the market, they become more and more interested in products that are smarter, more automated, and better at improving efficiency. This will undoubtedly shortened the process where the sewing machinery manufacturers develop and put into use new products, and vitalize the stagnant market. As we know, leading manufacturers of electro-controlled system including Beijing Dahao Technology Co., Ltd, Shanghai Powermax Technology, Inc., Zhejiang Qixing Electronics Co., Ltd, Zhejiang Hulong Technology Co., Ltd, have taken a great many actions, for instance, increasing R&D input, speeding up the development of new product, strengthening the cooperation of sewing machine manufacturers in development, application and after-sale service, and supporting the operation of sewing machine manufacturers.
Besides concentrating on major businesses, committing to self-construction, and waiting for the market to recover, lots of manufacturers positively transform themselves into researching and developing pandemic prevention equipment. Mianyang Weibo Electronic Co., Ltd has developed control systems for pattern sewing machine, template sewing machine, pocket attaching machine together with some sewing machine manufacturers since the end of 2019. Such control systems passed test run by users early this year, and were expected to be ordered in large volume. Due to the disruption of sewing machine manufacturers' delivery caused by the pandemic, the orders of Weibo's conventional electro-controlled system have fallen to the lowest point on year-on-year basis, which presents a major challenge for the company. Li Dong, President of Weibo, noted that the unanticipated pandemic has adversely affected the company's electro-controlled system business, and led to the sharp decline of special electro-controlled system sales. To counter such effect, Weibo must develop control systems that are desperately needed to contain the pandemic, making use of its good knowledge of the sewing industry and taking into consideration the practical needs of pandemic prevention. From February on, Weibo started to develop protective gown plodder and related control system in coalition with Sichuan Kisae Sewing Machinery Co., Ltd, and develop spot welding system of face mask machine together with some Cantonese companies. The loss caused by the falling sales of special electro-controlled system has been offset by the R&D of new products, during which Weibo has also received support from the government.
Xing Shaopeng, Vice President of Beijing Dahao Technology Co., Ltd, said that quite a large number of sewing machine manufacturers have made profits from temporarily turning themselves into equipment manufacturer of pandemic prevention supplies so long as they do it much early. It's confirmed by comments from many small and medium-sized manufacturers of sewing machine that fabricating pandemic prevention equipment is considerably lucrative. Nevertheless, the sustainability of demand is a matter that warrants close attention. As the pandemic is slowly alleviated around the world, some sewing machine manufacturers have already prepared to resume their production of sewing machinery. Keeping in touch with clients, Dahao can meet the changes of their demand for electro-controlled system.
Innovation, the ultimate drive for manufacturers' development
A series of problems await the manufacturers, for instance, what do they think of the influence exerted by the pandemic? Where does their confidence in saving themselves come from? And how to seize the opportunities brought by the challenge?
Gu Xinhong, President of Shanghai Powermax Technology, Inc., noted that sewing machinery manufacturers rely on building themselves up and pursuing essential competitiveness to counter the adverse effect of the pandemic and adapt to the changing world. First of all, they have to control their production rhythm, and keep putting resources into R&D. Over the past years, R&D input has accounted for a relatively large percentage of Powermax's overall input. Ultimately, to secure a leading position, the electro-controlled system needs to be guaranteed by technological innovation and quality improvement, which will also infuse strong competitiveness into the manufacturer. Secondly, we must keep our faith in the progress of sewing industry, and become aware that there are still huge demand and large space of development to be exploited. He also suggested that the electro-controlled system manufacturers should reach a sort of consensus on the interface of data transmission.
Weibo tends to put emphasis on the upgrade of its existing products. Firstly, regarding its pattern sewing machine, template sewing machine, and pocket attaching machine, to reduce their costs and strengthen their reliability; secondly, to present systematic transformation and upgrade solutions for industrial machinery, based on the practical needs of development and making use of its technical advantage in electro-controlled system.
With respect to the adverse effect of the pandemic, Xing Shaopeng agrees that judging from the trend in the second half of this year and even a longer term, the production and sales volume of electro-controlled system will sharply fall on year-on-year basis as estimated, and the gradual rejuvenation of the market may fail to reverse the losses incurred by the pandemic in the first half of this year. But the demand for high-quality product will further grow, which does good to market concentration. The electro-controlled system manufacturers have to pay close attention to the tendency of market changes, and satisfy the requirements for diversity and distinction through continuous augmentation of product quality. The next step taken by Dahao is to fulfill breakthroughs in the following areas, fully automated (robotic) embroidery concentrating on automatic replacement of bobbin thread, automatic spreading of fabric and even automatic threading of the needle, virtual embroidery based on Dahao's cloud infrastructure, smart embroidery with machine vision and AI.
Considering their intensive input into R&D, electro-controlled system manufacturers will not readily alter their product structure, which is why innovation is the utmost guarantee to boost their development. Despite that the whole industry noticeably falls due to the heavy blow of the pandemic, the performance of Zhejiang Qixing Electronics Co. Ltd has not been affected but grow slightly, benefiting from its significant achievement in multi-shaft control, apparent enhancement of product performance, and notable improvement of efficiency made possible by highly smart and digitalized product. Lin Zichun, President of Qixing, said that the company will put great efforts into augmenting product R&D, product quality, and customer service, so as to secure a leading position. Similarly, due to the substantial input by Zhejiang Hulong Technology Co., Ltd into R&D since two years ago, its stepper control system has won the favor of customers and the market, of which the sales grow rapidly in face of adversity, although the sales of its major roller product plunge in the first half of this year.
It's obvious that manufacturers will have the confidence and method to turn challenge into opportunity and make the most of the unexpected plight as long as they are creative, insightful, well planned and prepared. The key point of subsequent development of electro-controlled system lies in how to sustain the drive of innovation. In the context of vigorous development of smart sewing machine featuring automation, virtualization and digitalization, it's should be the only goal for electro-controlled system manufacturers at the current stage to enhance the performance of their products, reduce end-users' input of labor and capital, and ultimately equip the end-users' plant with smart design, modern management, reasonable decision and virtualized production.
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