The SPESA team recently spoke with Warren Shannon, Sales & Operations Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Sewing Machines. Below Warren discusses the company, the challenges they are facing now, and his expectations for the future of the sewn products industry.
We have spent a lot of time recently looking at the past, both within our association and the sewn products industry. Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Sewing Machines is one of the newest members of SPESA and a company focused on innovation and technology, so you seemed like a perfect fit to discuss the future of the industry. To start off, tell us a little bit about your company and product offerings.
WS: Mitsubishi Industrial Sewing Machine Group is part of Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc. Mitsubishi is a leading supplier of Factory Automation Products and our group supplies the latest electronics and technology to the sewn products industry. We provide electronically controlled programmable sewing machines, full-function AC servo motors that will operate any other manufacturer’s machines in addition to our own, and high quality flatbed sewing machines for heavy duty applications.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the sewn products industry right now? What can we do as an industry to overcome those challenges?
WS: The biggest challenge right now is adjusting to business conditions in the Covid-19 pandemic environment from both a sales and customer support standpoint. We have had to learn how to use new ways to properly promote our products and provide technical support to our customers. These ways include using available virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Go-To-Meetings. We have prepared visual aids and presentations for these platforms. We have also participated in virtual exhibitions, such as the IFAI 2020 Virtual Expo. We need to be very creative in tackling these new challenges.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be in the future?
WS: We feel that the biggest challenge will be how to best integrate automation into the sewn products industry moving forward. Robotics and automated systems will both play a larger role in order for manufacturers to gain and keep a competitive advantage. Electronics, their quality and performance will be key in addressing this challenge. Methods of managing and monitoring production will also become more important in the future.
Do you have any guesses for how the industry will look like in 10 years? What will change? Stay the same?
WS: We feel that the industry will look somewhat different in 10 years. We all know that there will be a continuing need for experienced sewing machine operators and that will continue moving forward. Automation and other work aids will be key and the sewing floor may look different in the future.
Also, things that we have learned about how to do business during the pandemic will be refined and continued. Virtual platforms will become even more widely used as sales and training tools.
Back in June, your company published an article about Mitsubishi Electric’s pivot to PPE production. How has Covid-19 impacted the way your company operates? And what do you envision are some of the long-term effects it will have on your business? Do you think the pandemic has changed the industry permanently?
WS: Covid-19 has had a big impact on how our company operates. Virtual meetings and telecommuting are now the norm with no negative impact on efficiency or productivity. The need for automation and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) solutions will continue to change the industry and how we do business in the future.