The progress graph of textile sector in developing countries has shown an upward trend, as most of the developed countries are showing interest in establishing textile firms in the developing nations, following cheap labour and lenient laws regarding pollution control, industrial set up, workforce and other factors. The shift from hand weaving to automation is noticeable, but it is still not at a very extensive scale. Countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, still heavily rely on huge labour force for textile weaving process.
There is also an increased use of second hand weaving machines in the textile sector in developing countries. One of the major setbacks with regard to automation is that the machines are costlier than the labour. The cost of maintenance, import fees and norms, work place structure, often go against the automation. Even though the trend of shifting the base of textile industries from developed countries to developing countries has rejuvenated the textile market in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but the use of textile machinery (old or new) is still limited.
The second-hand weaving machines available in the market can be from 15-year old to 5-year old. The prices are affordable, but the maintenance is difficult. These machines are a mix of old and new automation technology. The initial capital of installing a machine not very high, but as production can be lower and authentic spare parts are not easily available. Thus the machinery can become redundant sooner than later. The units in urban sector find these weaving machines as a good option for labour, but the rural sector in developing countries save a lot of capital outlay by employing labour. In urban sector also, the old machines in operation outnumber the new machines. The labour force is a good alternative with features like easy availability and low cost.
In countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh, there is serious dearth of skilled labourers. Even if the textile manufacturers set up their industries in these countries it is a herculean task to find skilled labour force that can operate the machines. Thus, this also poses a challenge to automation in weaving. In addition to the highly unskilled labour force, if the developing countries want to compete at international level, the quality of everything from yarn to final product and also the quantity of production should be as per the requirement of developed countries.
There are machines in developing countries that offer weft insertion rates of more than 2000 to 2500 metres per minute and widths of upto 3.8m. But not all the manufacturing firms can afford to buy and even maintain these high-tech machines. The good quality yarn required to meet these demanding conditions is often not available in ample quantity. As a matter of fact, the good quality yarn is often exported from the developing countries to developed countries. So some manufacturers prefer not to invest in the expensive machines, as the cost of producing limited yarn often exceeds the profits earned via exports. Import of weaving machinery in Bangladesh did not register progress like spinning; rather sales of looms and preparatory weaving machinery declined.