Digitalisation and production 4.0 require flexibly designed fragmentation and individualisation of products. Suppliers must provide solutions that cannot be sold by the truckload. Small lots for lean tasks will be the future demand. Such projects are already being implemented by companies in everyday life – two of which are presented here by way of an example.
Incidentally, a development that essentially kicks in open doors at Weserland – because the Hanover-based specialist for individual results starts right there: customers ask for specific, specialised solutions, which are then implemented in their laboratories. Quantities often do not play a prominent role.
‘What potential is there for textile in an economy 4.0 – and how are the textile industries adjusting themselves to this future?’, ask Alexander Artschwager and Meike Tilebein from the German Institute for Textile and Fibre Research in her article in ‘melliland Textilberichte’ which feature details of the following examples.
Such a potential can be found in the German state of Baden-Württemberg which is not only the world market leader in the field of knitting machines but also has innovative, successful suppliers for the general area of technical textiles. This new, customised production – especially in the field of medical technology – is more familiar in this competence cluster than in many other industries.
Individual automated processes are already available across company boundaries. Thus it is already possible to capture body measurements (e.g. for legs) with scanners for an individualised compression therapy. These are transmitted via a web frontend to the manufacturers of medical compression products. This creates a process that is largely represented in a digital manner. The final product is so fragmented that any thought of mass production is simply thing of the past.
The digitised and fully automated production of the future still remains a major strategic and technical challenge. The digital transformation and the necessary transformation process must be however fully harmonised with the current organisational and technical possibilities.
Materials And Production In Smallest Quantities
In other areas, companies are also introducing new impulses in terms of production technology, product solutions or services. Adidas AG from Herzogenaurach has set up its first ‘Speedfactory’ in Ansbach, Franconia. Here, sports shoes are custom made according to customer requirements. Both the design and customisation process, as well as the actual production of the sporting goods are combined in an automated and highly flexible production process.
Parts of the soles are injected directly from molten plastic and then assembled. Other parts of the sole are already made by 3D printing. Weekly or even month-long delivery times for custom-made items as well as the storage of components are thus eliminated. At the same time, the used products, or their components, have to fit perfectly in all characteristics and technically function without any compromise even at the first attempt. Bonding, properties, and material have to ‘fit’, anything else would make production simply too expensive.
Photo: Maksym Dykha