The textile and apparel industry is one of the oldest trades and has the most complicated supply chain. It is a very diverse sector, which has its clientele in every other industry such as hotel, home textiles, healthcare, interior design, automotive, etc. However, the industry has been defamed as being cumbersome, polluting, labour-intensive with poor working conditions up until now. Today, this industry is evolving rapidly and it is now becoming a technology-driven industry, all thanks to the globalisation and digitisation.

Digitisation is helping the textile industry to move towards the Industry 4.0. The industry 4.0 concept is resulting in the emergence of smart factories, which are based on digital technologies. In the era of industry 4.0, there will be smart factories with machines that are self-optimizing and self-configuring. An IoT layer is added to all parts of the factories so that machines can interact with each other. This will lead to better-cost efficiency and increased the ability to match supply and demand.

As said earlier, the textile industry has a very complicated supply chain. The digitisation process, if applied at every step, can bring incredible results, working towards the benefit of the industry. The most important role that digitisation can play in the textile industry is in the production process which is a crucial step that affects many companies along the textile process chain.
Digitisation in the production process can be anything like digital pattern making, optimising the production process,on-demand production and transportation through a smart algorithm. This can lead to a more flexible and cost-efficient production process.

Already a number of companies have started using these innovative digital technologies.

Here are few examples:

The textile industry has started using pattern-cutting machines. In traditional pattern cutting, a lot of fabric is wasted. With the new technology, patterns are uploaded on a computer that directly interacts with the machine which makes the maximum use of fabric by combining and arranging patterns like a true jigsaw puzzle. This will not only lead to faster working but less cost and minimal wastage.

Another example of a digital process during production is direct pattern on loom technology. This is also known as smart tailoring. In this, the loom is attached to the computer and data regarding colour, size and patterns are fed into it. The loom will make exact pieces of the size entered in the computer. The pieces are just be sewn together to complete the process. In this technology, weaving, cutting and patterning all happen at one step only. This is an amazing technology as it saves energy and water by 70-80 per cent.

So with these examples, we see that how the concept of smart factories in industry 4.0 is becoming an established method in the textile industry. These simple but genius evolutions are giving an opportunity to the textile players to achieve the industry 4.0 leadership and get an automated control over the whole textile fabrication process right from design to delivery of the product.

Author's Bio: 

Mayank Mohindra is an author on apparel, fashion, and textile industry. His articles are based on latest apparel industry news, textile news and/or analysis of the dynamics of global apparel trade, and fashion industry.