Digital fabric spreading machines use automation and smart data management to make fabric spreading more accurate and easier to manage, thereby reducing manufacturing waste and manpower

As important as fashion and footwear are to our lives, we can’t forget that the garment industry also has a huge environmental impact. According to the Geneva Environment Network, garment manufacturing accounts for about 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The garment industry is also drying up global water sources and contributing to the ocean plastic crisis. In fact, garment manufacturing is responsible for around 20 percent of all industrial wastewater pollution. Consumers are increasingly mindful of environmental issues, so unsustainable practices threaten to hurt garment industry profits as well. For these reasons, it’s crucial for garment manufacturers to make production sustainable—and as this article explains, smart, efficient technology like digital spreading machines can help.

In order to address environmental issues, industry leaders have signed on to the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which targets net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But even as it works to become more sustainable, the fashion industry continues to grow because of how social media has driven demand. According to Statista, the global apparel industry is currently valued at $1.5 trillion USD and is expected to reach $1.94 trillion by 2027. In 2021, H&M alone did around $22.7 billion USD in sales, while Inditex Group, which owns Zara, did about $27.72 billion.

If garment manufacturers want to keep up with demand while also going sustainable, then they need to implement tech solutions that reduce wastage and boost efficiency. Thankfully, the automation and smart production management enabled by new technology like digital spreading machines help manufacturers improve capacity, quality, and sustainability all at once.

Digital fabric spreading machines make the spreading process easier to manage, thus driving sustainability

Fabric spreading is a process that involves unspooling large rolls of different fabrics on lengthy, wide tables before they are cut for use in garments or other fabric products. Fabric spreading machines ensure consistency and regularity in the spreading process by aligning fabric edges in the same places each time.

Digital fabric spreading machines are automatic spreading machines equipped with digital data management systems. These machines provide important benefits to the industry due to their many advantages over traditional fabric spreading machines. Thanks to their use of automated processes, digital fabric spreading machines make spreading more precise and customizable.

Because digital fabric spreading machines are more user-friendly than traditional machines (which require greater know-how and operator involvement), they also increase efficiency and reduce manpower, which in turn lowers labor costs. This allows garment manufacturers to keep up with constant shifts in demand while helping their factories run more sustainably, as improving production efficiency ultimately reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing.

Automation increases accuracy and decreases waste

Digital fabric spreading machines also improve the sustainability of the spreading process via automation. Early manual fabric spreading machines would rely on an operator to push the fabric trolley, leading to uneven tension across the length of the fabric spread. The semi-automatic fabric spreading machines widely used today eliminate this source of human error, but still leave an operator responsible for using a stick to smooth out unevenly spread fabrics. But both methods result in inconsistency in fabric tension and consequently, quality issues and material waste.

As fully automatic equipment, digital fabric spreading machines avoid this problem. They automatically take in and spread fabrics at synchronized speeds to achieve even tension, which allows for consistent quality and reduced wastage for garment manufacturers. Reduced wastage means reduced environmental impact, so using digital fabric spreading machines not only improves product quality but also makes production more sustainable.

Smart information management helps garment factory managers control production in real time for greater efficiency

Powered by intuitive digital design and intelligent analytics, digital fabric spreading machines are capable of producing and storing production data that factory staff can use to track manufacturing progress and course-correct as needed. Their data integration systems can automatically generate data sheets and reports from data inputs to help factory managers ensure that all resources are being effectively utilized on the production line.

Factory managers can also access automatically generated dispatch lists in real time via digital fabric spreading machines’ online information management platforms, allowing them to address issues on the production line as soon as they arise. Additionally, machine operators can integrate the machines’ multilingual, user-friendly touchscreen interfaces with other devices to control the fabric spreading process from a phone or tablet. These conveniences help manufacturers save time during production, which ultimately makes production more efficient.

Digital fabric spreading machines helps major sportswear manufacturers improve sustainability and streamline production

Two Colombia-based sportswear manufacturers were dealing with similar issues. Both manufacturers used equipment from multiple suppliers. Their supply chains had inefficiencies because the machines had to be repaired by different suppliers, leading to production delays, extra costs, and additional work for factory staff.

Both manufacturers decided to enhance their efficiency and capacity by switching to a single supplier that could provide both a digital spreading machine and a digital cutting machine.

Because both manufacturers converted to a digital fabric spreading machine and a digital cutting machine from the same supplier, they were able to fully integrate their equipment and thereby streamline their manufacturing processes. They were also able to save valuable time on maintenance and repair, since they no longer had to deal with multiple suppliers to fix issues with their equipment.

After the initial machinery investment, both manufacturers have enjoyed a healthy return on their investment since switching to a digital fabric spreading machine—all while improving their sustainability by eliminating production inefficiencies.


The garment industry is embracing sustainability across the board, driven by consumer demands and the need to do better for the earth. Manufacturers that hold on to dated machinery miss out on the improved efficiency, a better public image, and most importantly, the reduced environmental impact that comes when switching to more sustainable equipment.

Digital fabric spreading machines help garment manufacturers streamline the fabric spreading process, make informed decisions during production, and avoid costly fabric waste. In this way, they help garment manufacturers operate more efficiently and conserve materials, thus improving their sustainability. A leading manufacturer of automated garment machinery, OSHIMA carries both digital and traditional fabric spreading machines in order to meet the needs of different kinds of manufacturers. Contact us to learn more about how we can help garment manufacturers modernize their facilities to make production sustainable.