Fast Retailing, which owns the brand Uniqlo, in cooperation with Japanese intelligent industrial robot controller manufacture Mujin, plans to fully automate the warehouse with newly invented robot that can fold T-shirts and place them in boxes, reported the Financial Times on December 24.

Takua Jimbo, who is responsible for changing the supply chain at Fast Retailing, believes that full automation is not only a way to cut costs but the key for business model survival in future. He has highlighted the difficulties in hiring personnel, adding that in this case robots do not steal jobs from humans ”because the workers just aren’t there”

Last year the third largest retailer, that sells 1.3 billion items of clothing annually, has already replaced 90% of its workers with robots  in the main warhorse in Tokyo. Yet robot capabilities could not cover folding clothes, until now.

Soft textiles has long been a challenge for robots, even the most automated companies, like Amazon, according to the FT, still depend on human workers, when it comes to folding clothes.

Co-founder of Mujin Issei Takino shared that company was happy to accept the great challenge:

“Fast Retailing’s strengths is its ability to overhaul its entire supply chain to make it fit for automation. If we’re going to take on this challenge, we had to do it with Fast Retailing”

Photo credit: Financial Times