In Tuntex's sprawling factory on the outskirts of Jakarta, self-guided vehicles trundle across the shop floor, carrying materials between auto-cutting stations -- which churn out jigsaw pieces of fabric -- and semi-automated sewing machines, where more than 1,000 workers oversee the construction of finished garments.
Tuntex, which supplies Adidas, Nike, Puma and other global clothing brands, has always had to be fast, turning around product lines quicker than its rivals to compete in the relentless cycles of the fast fashion market. Today, though, the pressure is growing on them to be ever quicker, ever more reactive.
"The average lead time went from 120 days to 90 days about four years ago, and now it's 60 days. ... Some manufacturers are even doing much shorter," said Stanley Kang, Tuntex's deputy general manager. "Automation and digitalization are changing everything, and when things change, we have to change. Whoever can respond faster will win."
The demand for flexibility is now such that orders for football shirts can hinge on the result of a single match. "If, say, a team you make shirts for is winning in a competition, then you continue to sell," Kang said. "We produce one country's football shirts. If they won, the order [is] continued, if not -- 'end.'"