melliand International 3/2022: Technology par...
melliand International 3/2022

Technology partners for digitalization and automation

Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Machinery Association (Source: VDMA)
Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Machinery Association (Source: VDMA)

An increasing level of automation and remote services characterizes the textile industry. Serving these markets, VDMA member companies see themselves not only as machine suppliers but also as competent partners on the technological aspects of digitalization and the processes of their customers. An intensive relationship between spinners, weavers, knitters or finishers, machine suppliers, chemistry suppliers and other technology providers is the key to future success.

Assistance through remote services/teleservice and predictive maintenance software to avoid machine stops are also now provided by numerous VDMA textile technology suppliers. Digitalization and Industry 4.0 also help to counter the increasing shortage of skilled workers, and the machines of many VDMA companies offer many useful features to assure reproducible quality results. They include process simulation on a PC to optimize the process parameters before production even starts.
In general, there are 2 elements to saving resources and energy – modern plant technology and process optimization.
Modern machine concepts with intelligent control systems are significantly reducing the energy consumption, the consumption of water, chemicals and also the waste of expensive raw materials. The use of digitally advanced machines leads to a massive reduction in environmental footprint compared to older models.

In spinning, lack of efficiency, downtimes in mill production and fluctuations in quality are some of the major worries in modern mill management. To face these challenges, a digital all-in-one solution of a member company offers a transparent view of the entire spinning mill at one glance. The platform enables the users to discover optimization potential and to plan resources sensibly. Quality diagrams provide information on relevant progress parameters, such as thick spots, CV values and draft variations as well as energy consumption. The users can quickly identify negative deviations and outliers – thus, are able to prevent the production of non-usable material by intervening the process if required. This results in less production waste and a lower energy consumption.

In fabric production, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to play a major role in future. A VDMA member company is working on a solution that aims to intelligently detect fabric faults by automatically monitoring quality during the production of knitted fabrics and stopping the machine in a matter of seconds. The monitoring system is more accurate through the use of AI and detects faults very fast. The extremely short response times save waste and require fewer resources. In the flat knitting sector, a software, in combination with external software for 3D prototyping, allows the design process to be digitalized and the number of prototypes to be reduced. In a case study by the company, a halving was achieved under defined conditions. The ecological benefits are around 65 % less material consumption and thus correspondingly less use of resources and energy.
Sophisticated recipe administration systems and process monitoring with special sensors for temperature, humidity etc. are addressing the needs in textile finishing.
For example, the development of dyeing machines in terms of design and control technology has led to an enormous reduction in water consumption over the past few decades.

Digital measurements and analysis of dyeing processes are crucial to process optimization and several which optimize recipes and dye curves are available. Visual representations of the process curves, for example, enable both a control of the turbidity and a determination of the dye extract from the liquor.
The need for automation is growing from year to year and the benefits include both stable and increased productivity rates through the reduction of unproductive waiting times and an increase in occupational safety. Automated storage, weighing and dispensing systems also provide many advantages as workers no longer (or less frequently) come into contact with chemicals and dyes and there is less danger of accidents in the plant. Digital storage systems meanwhile manage stock levels and generate orders precisely when they are required.
Technology suppliers affiliated to the VDMA will be showing their developments in automation and digitalization at the ITMA 2023 from June 8-14, 2023 in Milan/Italy.
Thomas Waldmann
VDMA Textile Machinery
Managing Director

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