Role of IoT and Digital technology in Textile Industry

Abdulla Fatiya, Head IT SAP Applications, D'Decor Exports | Friday, 15 September 2017, 07:21 IST

One of the most common buzzwords in technology circles right now is Internet of Things (IoT). People are talking about it all over the place, from the newspaper to tech blogs—but what, exactly, is the IoT? IoT (Internet of Things) is nothing but network of interconnected devices using internet as medium of connecting to a common data store thereby forming a massive network (Some estimate it to be in tune of 10 Billion devices). This creates BIG Data and need of analytics to use the data for business process management, visibility, control and actions.

These 'smart' devices can be anything from mobile phones, fridges, washing machines to wearables, medical equipment or jet engines. Basically, in the Internet of Things, objects use the web and unique identifiers such as RFID tags or processors to exist as part of the internet

1) Scope of IoT innovations in Textiles:

a) E textiles
The e-textile is also known with various synonyms like e-clothes, e-fabrics or e-stuffs. In coming days, such flexible and wearable technologies are going mixing with human life like their intimate companions. Such fabrics use various types of sensors depending on type of application they work for. For instance, the sensor of an e-fabric designed for an automotive and road traffic applications would serve the sensing parameters of light and acceleration. These products are going to offer USPs of individual’s brands and will create additional top line for business.
b) Automated monitoring of Factory operations
The parameters of factory department environment like temperature and humidity directly affects the quality of fabric. These can be measured by suitable sensors placed in the department covering all areas and shares these parameter readings to cloud data via internet. The collected data can then be visualized and becomes actions like controlling air conditioning of plant, de humidifiers.
c) Equipment Maintenance 
Critical Machine Operating data like RPM, Vibrations, Operating hours, temperature can be synced to cloud data in real time. This can trigger conditional Maintenance as well as preventive maintenance for machines.
d) Weaving and Embroidery Machines Efficiency and Exiting loading of products 
Today’s latest machines, be it Jacquards and Dobby come with PLC systems and can share data to various ioT devices for what designs are being run with technical details like pics, thread counts, weft and warp details in turn availability of these data on mobile and tablets pcs to factory managers and product managers.

Challenges in Implementing IoT in Textile Life Cycle:
Automating entire textile life cycle from production to storage to marketing certainly guarantees a faster time to market (TTM). An end-to-end IoT Solution can be developed and deployed to redefine the textile life cycle must address the following challenges.
• Connection overhead and huge bandwidth consumption of multiple weaving machines connected over Ethernet
• Administration and management of voluminous structured and unstructured data
• Compatibility of ERP and Operations, Administration & Management System with IoT Service Management Platform
• With huge amounts of data transferred online every second, the biggest challenge to IoT platforms is security and data protection.

2) Role of digital technology in today's textile industry

The digitalization has a played an active role not only in environmental benefits but in operation cost reduction as well. The entire product development cycle, product short listing to commercial ordering and then various supply chain processes are now getting digitized. To understand few of them, we can classify as

a) Product Development

The latest Textile specific CAD tools help to design the product from scratch or use ready made artwork and work on it. These designs can further be converted as Virtual -digital samples using “Virtual sampling tools ( Jacquard as well as dobby). The virtual samples closely look like physical samples and are shared digitally with prospective customers. After short listing, the narrowed down designs are physically produced for actual feel of fabric.

Once the physical samples are approved, the entire collection and customer wise exclusivity can be made and stored digitally. The solutions are quite secure and easy to use with latest technologies to share data over internet securely. All Data is managed by a software called Design Data Management

b) Digital printing

The overall Time to Market for printed textile products have been reduced using digital printing machines, product development, visualization of designs on T shirts, Shirts, Tops, Bed sheets, Bedding sets as well as made up curtains. This has also resulted in lower production cost and increased efficiency.

c) Guided Sales Process/E commerce/Virtual Reality

The digitized content of product images and virtual samples helps in replacing old sales process of retailers showing physical samples to customer with iPads and tablet devices. Customers are now given handy devices to browse through collections, short list them and make a complete package for their home furnishing or short list products for trial or virtual imaging.

Fashion products like top and bottoms, sarees, suits and accessories are visualized by customer on them without making a physical trial using Virtual Reality.