After decades of decline, the US textile and apparel industry is growing once more, and many factories are competing with low-wage operations in countries like China. In North Carolina, where textile industry was once dominant, the industry has reinvented itself by using technology and employing far fewer people than in the past.
Robots do most of the heavy lifting at the National Spinning Company in Burlington, North Carolina. This factory dyes over 110,000 kg of yarn per week in a variety of colors. The yarn is sent to clothing and upholstery makers both in the US and around the world. There are only two technicians who service the dye producing machines.
Technology is helping bridge the wage gap between labor-intensive factories overseas that pay workers only a few dollars a day and this North Carolina plant where about 100 employees make between $10 and $20 an hour.
Factories are realizing it's important to limit labor costs and to provide higher quality and better customer service to compete in the global market place. So they are diversifying into niche markets. Companies and enterprises are bringing their core activities to where they have a skilled workforce, where they have innovation talent and where they’re able to develop the next generation of innovation that drives manufacturing.