Man’s tryst with machine began in the late 18th century Britain in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. One of the main industries that were transformed completely during this time was the textile industry. Prior to the advent of machines and factories, most of the manufacturing took place in local homes. However, a series of innovations such as the Flying Shuttle, Spinning Jenny and finally the Sewing-Machine paved the road for mass-produced clothing. Fast forward to 2019; with the 4th Industrial Revolution dawning upon us, automation continues to cause major disruptions in the textile industry. From fibre manufacturing to spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing, and the final assembly, the adoption of automation has helped this sector tremendously in terms of productivity, efficiency and quality. Even the packaging is now done by machines. In addition to all of this, the introduction of modern technologies has reduced the labour cost significantly, enabling merchandisers to save thousands of dollars.
The turning point in the textile industry came when SoftWear Automation launched LOWRY, a sewing robot or sewbot, which is capable of making as many as 1,142 t-shirts within just 8 hours. Needless to say, the rise of automated sewing has attributed to the textile industry’s growth. While some concerns have been raised regarding job losses and machines replacing the human workforce, technology has made its presence felt in the textile manufacturing process as well as the garment making process. Apart from improved production rate, the arrival of automated machines in the textile industry has also allowed a safer work environment.
Today, various processes such as cotton picking and ginning, which were manual earlier, have been automated. Cotton fibre tests now can be carried out in seconds thanks to the High Volume Instrument (HVI) system. Automation has also been achieved in spinning with the development of machines like ring spinning, air-jet spinning, rotor spinning and Vortex spinning among others. Moreover, automation has made it possible to get an uninformed yarn quality using the yarn fault detection system. Other sectors in the textile industry including weaving, dyeing and garment have also evolved after the incorporation of shuttleless looms, robotic handling devices and ERP systems.
Automation has enabled the textile industry to increase the productivity by multiple times that too at a much lower cost. As we move towards the future, more advancements are expected to take place to reduce the power requirement of textile machinery, increasing their speed and efficiency. And it’s only a matter of time before the textile industry becomes fully automated.
By Akshay Jaipuria, Partner, Vaya Home