Brazil’s SENAI CITIQT already is living in Industry 4.0.
At Texprocess in Atlanta, [TC]2’s Dr. Mike Fralix described witnessing the Brazilian apparel manufacturing facility based in Rio de Janeiro demonstrating its made-to-order production capabilities. A volunteer in his group was scanned by a digital mirror, she selected her preferred style of yoga pants and then picked out a color and pattern. After tapping the order button, the connected mirror transmitted her selection to a digital textile printer nearby, which began printing onto white fabric pattern pieces cut to her measurements.
Working in concert, the digital mirror had compared the volunteer’s image to a database of thousands of 3-D body scans to determine the one most similar to that image, extracting the appropriate measurements and feeding them into a single-ply cutting machine to create the yoga pants pattern pieces. Next, the system spit out a barcode providing instructions for how the operator should assemble the garment manually, though Fralix pointed out that robotics could replace the labor component of this process. Finally, the operator handed the finished garment to a robot that folded, packaged and labeled it, rolling the final product to the “customer” standing feet away—a process that took about 25 minutes from start to finish.
“It was a very impressive Industry 4.0 [demo] about machines connecting with other machines” to enable a speedy and seamless made-to-order process, Fralix said.
Operational models like the SENAI CITIQT demonstration are both serving the new ways that shoppers want to consume fashion and springing up in reaction to trends in apparel production around the globe.
Debunking the notion that e-commerce is destroying retail, Softwear Automation CEO Palaniswamy “Raj” Rajan said that in reality digital retail is in fact “crushing the supply chain.” Thanks to internal factors such as shrinking lead times and zero-inventory initiatives coupled with the external pressures of labor unavailability and wages rising worldwide, apparel companies are scrambling to find new methods that can enable consistent production and executing orders quickly.
Lectra president Jason Adams said that Industry 4.0 is “not just a manufacturing problem, it’s the entire supply chain.” However, the supply chain of the future will enable unprecedented interactivity though end-to-end connectivity that yields actionable insights to accelerate decision-making.
“This next generation is going to be a dynamic production line with dynamic reconfiguration,” Adams said.