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China's garment factories try to stay one stitch ahead

Automation is key for textile makers amid soaring wages

Chenfeng's garment factory in China's eastern Jiangsu Province has introduced hangers and sensors to raise productivity.

CHANGZHOU, China -- Chinese garment makers that produce for global for clothing labels are automating and rethinking their production process to make their factories more efficient. As the country's labor costs soar, contractors are fighting to stay competitive with rivals elsewhere in Asia.

Chenfeng Group, a leading contractor for the Uniqlo clothing chain operated by Japan's Fast Retailing, recently set up a production line using a hanger system in a corner of its huge garment factory in Changzhou, northwest of Shanghai. The factory makes 1.3 million shirts a month.

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