The textile industry is rarely stationary. New techniques and technologies are being developed all the time. Demands created by trends can also transform a small manufacturer into a major industry competitor. As a result, there are times when companies need to make changes in their operations.
This can certainly present some challenges. While the adaptations to facilities may be necessary or advantageous, they can also be disruptive. The last thing any business wants is to sacrifice productivity and consumer confidence in exchange for renovations or upgrades. The good news is that there are some practical approaches to mitigating negative outcomes.
So, let’s take a closer look at how textile companies are maintaining operations throughout facility upgrades. What can your business do to navigate the process more effectively?
During Tech Upgrades
Over the last few decades, the textile industry has seen a range of technological advances. Businesses of all sizes now have access to relatively advanced tools, including 3D and laser printers, automated maintenance, and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven inventory management. Yet, installing and upgrading some of these elements has the potential to be disruptive in the short term.
One of the most important advances in the textile industry at the moment is the use of devices in the internet of industrial things (IIoT). Wider adoption of 5G networks and mobile edge computing (MEC) means businesses can maintain the IIoT in a reliable and practical way. This ecosystem of connected devices isn’t just effective for smart manufacturing and predictive maintenance. They’re also helping textile companies to maintain operations while more complex upgrades are being performed.
Among the ways you can implement this is with the IIoT’s ability to support remote operations. Thanks to sensors on machinery and other tools, technicians don’t necessarily have to be in the same room as production equipment. As such, you can shift staff to other locations, or in some instances, have them work from home while their department receives technological upgrades. AI tools combined with sensors in the IIoT can also help you to establish where the likely problems will be during upgrades. This empowers you to prepare the most effective stop-gap solutions ahead of time.
There can be times that the premises your textile business operates from requires changes or upgrades. You may need structural work to accommodate a larger number of production machines or to allow for a more efficient workflow. It could also be the case that the building itself is aging and requires essential maintenance to remain both safe and fit for purpose. These renovations can mean it’s not practical for some types of business activity to be performed in areas undergoing work.
Most textile businesses understand that keeping a business open during renovations is a matter of effective planning. This can involve creating a schedule that rotates the areas of the business being renovated. The result is that your managers can temporarily redistribute disrupted departments to the open areas of the business to mitigate disruption. Solidifying protocols for communicating with employees, supply chain partners, and consumers also helps everyone understand the process and adjust to temporary changes more effectively.
There may be some aspects of renovations that don’t require an entire area of your operations to be shut down. This can be a relief, but being able to continue operations during this time means placing extra emphasis on safety. Your company will need to perform risk assessments in collaboration with your contractors to identify what tasks could result in additional hazards. It may be necessary to invest in protective equipment for your staff or provide additional health and safety training.
When Prioritizing Sustainability
The textile industry is currently getting a great deal of attention concerning sustainability. Consumers and industry figures alike recognize that manufacturers have a responsibility to adopt more environmentally friendly operations. This includes better waste management, more recycling and upcycling practices, and ethical resource use. In some instances, this can require facility upgrades.
Among the most accessible ways for textile companies to adjust is by investing in more energy-efficient manufacturing machinery. However, installing all new tools at once may require shutting down entire sections of the manufacturing process. This not only halts the activities of those departments but has knock-on effects on other sections. As such, it can be wise to stagger your upgrades. This means that tasks can be temporarily shifted to still-operational machines, preventing unnecessary bottlenecks.
Another key area of sustainability upgrades is in how textile businesses are more responsibly handling water. An increasing number of manufacturers are adopting practices such as capturing and reusing coolant water and reusing condensation s. Naturally, this tends to require facilities upgrades such as installing piping, pumps, and storage units. Businesses can maintain operations during this process through efficient design.
Work with contractors to understand how to collect water from the largest number of machines while creating the shortest possible water redistribution network. This not only helps sustainability by using minimal materials, but it also creates less disruption due to shorter installation times.
Navigating changes to textile facilities can be challenging, but far from impossible. When upgrading technology, it’s worth considering how you can use tools in the IIoT to temporarily relocate some aspects of operations. If you’re applying renovations, effective rotation planning can minimize the potential for disruptions. Similarly, your production line will benefit most from sustainability adjustments that are designed to be installed efficiently. There’s no way to avoid interference entirely during change, but careful consideration can keep it to a minimum.