Rudrajeet Pal

2016-09-09 08:00

How can Swedish textile production be competitive?

Many Swedish textile companies use foreign facilities for their production. Interest in returning some of this production to Sweden is now growing. However, what is needed for success? And what sorts of products can reasonably be made here? This is what researchers at the University of Borås are exploring in a new project.

Days of Knowledge
To fund the ‘Competitive local textile production’ project, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad is providing SEK 324 783. This money will be awarded on the 19 October at Days of Knowledge, a ceremony at which the University of Borås honours research and education. The event is arranged by the University of Borås, City of Borås, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad and Swedbank Sjuhärad.
Some decades ago, it was very common for Swedish textile companies to move their production abroad. At first, it tended to be neighbouring countries. However, the distances gradually became greater. For example, there is now major textile production in Asia.

Nonetheless, a trend for moving production back home can now be discerned. There are many reasons for this.

‘For instance, the great distances have a negative impact on financial and environmental sustainability. There is also a desire to have a living textile industry in Sweden’, explains Rudrajeet Pal, Senior Lecturer in Textile Management at the University of Borås.

The prime challenges in bringing production back to Sweden are the higher costs compared with many other countries and difficulties in finding people with the necessary production skills.

For consumers and entrepreneurs alike, there are many advantages to local production.

‘Consumers want to know more about goods and how they have been made. They also want to have rapid deliveries. The entrepreneurs escape not only the long lead times associated with distant production, but also the concomitant risk of overproduction.’

Rudrajeet Pal, along with Jonas Larsson, also a Senior Lecturer in Textile Management at the University of Borås, will now to look into what could enable advanced textile production in Sweden. Their one-year project, ‘Competitive local textile production’, will identify, evaluate, and prioritise the success factors for competitive production in high-cost regions such as Sjuhäradsbygden. It will do this primarily through interviews and workshops with textile industry experts and representatives.

The project aims to increase knowledge about competitive production and strategies for rebuilding.

‘However, we also want to deliver the basis for an interactive tool to map textile production. As it seems that digital manufacturing methods may be something to back in Swedish production, we additionally hope that, further down the line, local technological companies will find a niche. Such technology is flexible and innovative. It can be used to customise production in small series.’

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Rudrajeet Pal talks about Swedish textile companies and their production abroad (youtube).

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