Interview with Top executives

Topic

Which new innovation(s) would be key to the direction that the global textile industry takes? Which one innovation might be the disruptive force that industry might be looking for?

We will move away from mass production to production in micro-factories
Ahead of the upcoming international textile machinery expo ITMA 2019, Fibre2Fashion spoke to a cross-section of people seeking their views on innovation in the textile-apparel value chain.

 

Digitalisation promises to bring increased automation at all stages of the textile production chain, from raw materials right to the consumer product, and to effect much better communication and interaction at every stage. At the same time, it will provide much greater transparency, traceability and ultimately accountability. So, sustainable claims will certainly have to be genuine going forward, or manufacturers can anticipate negative reactions.

In the immediate term, it will become clear at ITMA 2019 that there are a number of waterless dyeing and finishing technologies that have the potential to be very disruptive when it comes to the overall footprint of textiles in terms of water, energy and raw material usage.

I do not think there is one innovation that will be the key to progress in the industry. It will rather be a combination of innovations and technologies that will make the difference. In the future, it will not be about doing things faster, but smarter. Using sensors, such as those from TMAS member Eltex, for monitoring yarn tension in real time, for example, illustrates how to increase the quality of the yarns coming from warp beams and minimises production down time.

Automatic production and the robotic handling of goods are other areas where we have seen big developments over the past few years. Swedish companies such as Eton Systems and ACG Kinna Automatic are truly among the leaders within automation for garment and home textiles production. The real time monitoring of data meanwhile opens up the opportunity for textile manufacturers to react instantly and optimise and fine-tune their production.

This is a very good time for innovation. The textiles industry is once again in a period of upheaval. Global processes such as climate change, the growing world population and increasing prosperity in Asia will change the face of the textiles industry. This is why we will increasingly see innovations from the textiles industry in the coming years. I am thinking-in particular-of the dimensions of production, materials and business models. I see particular potential in the area of production.

We will move away from classical mass production to production in so-called micro-factories. Here at the RWTH Aachen University, we have been researching this topic for years. The response from industry to our research shows us that we are on the right track. So far, we have built six micro-factories for various products. It is our goal to extend this number up to 12 in the next three years.

We need to look at the textiles situation as a puzzle. There are many pieces that each have its own role to play in this very complex value chain, and the importance of that should not be neglected. That said, it is very important to also focus on high-volume solutions and to take action where we will see the most impact. For larger initiatives, I do think that scale and commercialisation possibilities are very much kept in mind, as there are major actors involved.

Published on: 20/05/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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