Europe´s textile future – The futureTEX project develops an innovation model

The futureTEX project is one of the winners in the innovation program “Zwanzig20 – Partnerschaft für Innovation” initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The program aims to expand the excellent economic and scientific competencies of the new federal states of Germany via an interregional and interdisciplinary cooperation. With new types of networks based on an open, transparent and reflexive process management new innovation structures shall be realized. Pivotal points are the identification of future issues and requirements as well as the development of concrete, economically sustainable solutions.

The Saxon textile research institute STFI in Chemnitz works as the consortium leader for the futureTex project. The consortium´s objective is to gain the leading position in realizing the fourth industrial revolution in textile mechanical engineering and the textile industry. Until 2030, it intends the textile industry in Saxony to become the most modern and most state-of-the-art value network in Europe.

Analyzing production figures directly on the waving machine – Sten Döhler from the Saxon textile research institute STFI / Copyright: STFI/Photographer Wolfgang Schmidt

Analyzing production figures directly on the waving machine – Sten Döhler from the Saxon textile research institute STFI / Copyright: STFI/Photographer Wolfgang Schmidt

One important focus within the future model is the development of textile projects of the future with new functions and application areas in the technical textiles sector. These are, for instance, textile electronics, high performance composites and textile materials for energy generation and storage. Besides, new technologies (i.e. Smart Factory) and new organisation structures (i.e. Mass Customization) are part of this research. The futureTEX project consists of different basis initiatives.

The Mass Customization project mainly focuses on the economical and technical way to realize Mass Customization whereas the Open Innovation project has the objective to develop new innovation structures. One major question of the topic is how companies in cooperation with customers, partners, providers and employees could find new ways into an open innovation process.

In the framework of the Smart Factory project specific industry needs, existing problems and barriers to develop concrete strategies and to leverage potential will be identified. This should result in typical processes and structures for a smart textile factory, building the basis for upcoming research projects. The first meeting has taken place at one of the futureTEX partners, the technical textile institute of the University of Aachen (ITA), in January 2016. Ten program partners discussed the objectives and next steps as well as their content.

The project World of Work 4.0 is focussing on social aspects of the Industry 4.0 by analysing the requirements and the development of a model for the future world of work. The three main topics are how to find new specialised work forces and managers by increasing the attractiveness of the industry and the employing companies. Secondly, how to bind employees offering them health- and career-promoting working conditions via innovative technical and organizational work structures and, in the last step, how to qualify employees according to the requirements of industry 4.0.

The project will run until spring / autumn 2017. We will keep you updated on the latest developments in this blog.

Kirsten Rein

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