Architects of the Digital Textile Micro Factory

“Here, we now have flexible processing technology with well-wired multifarious partner landscapes”, says Christian Kaiser describing the smart factory. However, pre-defined interfaces and a good plan are necessary until something like this can work.

Kaiser is a research assistant at the German Institutes for Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf and has fully interlinked the Micro Factory in cooperation with several companies. He and his team regard themselves as system architects.

“Firstly, you must consider what you need, when and in which form”, says Kaiser. “You must achieve a common outlook among the individual players to be able to tackle the communication challenge.” Questions include: “Where are the sticking points, what is my contribution?”. Design can link printing and cutting relatively easily. Thereafter, things become more difficult. “Sewing is still not fully automatic. Therefore, there are no fixed couplings. You have to find the individual interfaces”, adds Kaiser. The subsequent connections continue without difficulty. With its qondac networks system, Dürkopp Adler has already created an opportunity to link up to 1,500 machines via ‘plug and play’. ‘This is easy to integrate”, confirms Kaiser.

There are no robots to be seen at the factory. “They are not only unnecessary but also too expensive and not productive enough”, says Kaiser. “I can achieve more with less expensive and smaller adjustments.” The big hope is that lines that run profitably when well monitored can protect jobs or even lead to the creation of new ones. If wages costs are no longer an issue, Germany could once again become an attractive production country with no scheduling problems or transport costs. Kaiser: “Industry 4.0 does not necessarily involve the introduction of robots. People can handle liquid material much better. Hence, Industry 4.0 is also achievable using existing means. Properly combined, they provide decisive information about capacity utilisation and servicing requirements, as well as the need to modify shift plans and many other aspects.”

Kirsten Rein

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