In order to realise the change to a sustainable and user-oriented value creation of textile products, product life cycle management (PLM) offers a forward-thinking and holistic design concept. In the highly networked structures of the textile and apparel industry, this is increasingly becoming a must. In fact, a fundamental change of policy is evident in almost all sectors. Not only the short-term consequences of the pandemic, such as unsaleable stocks, sales slumps or failures in the supply chain, are putting the entire industry under pressure. The significantly increasing user interest in questions of sustainability and manufacturing conditions in low-wage countries confronts textile producers with the task of turning away from cheap mass-produced goods and initiating a change to a transparent, environmentally compatible product portfolio. Comprehensive control of data, methods and processes through PLM along the entire life cycle of a product not only allows an increase in efficiency and quality but also stands for said transparency in the production process. And: with regard to the growing importance of closed material cycles, the methodical generation, processing and distribution of product-related information by manufacturers also means an improvement in the data basis for producers of raw materials and subsequent recycling companies. Ultimately, the high emissions of the textile industry will be noticeably reduced, write Kai Müller and Thomas Gries (RWTH, Aachen) in the trade journal ‘CITplus’.
Strategies For The Business World
Compared to typical users such as mechanical and vehicle engineering or electrical engineering – which are classically strong in their development activities – PLM is only slowly spreading in the textile industry. The focus here is on standardising processes, followed by increased development productivity and a faster ‘time-to-market’.
Information on the actual use and utilisation has only been available to a limited extent so far. And this is not only due to the complex design of tracking textile products after they have been handed over to the customer. The lack of skills and resources also makes it difficult for many textile companies to introduce the necessary digital systems. This means that essential information from the use phase for the necessary improvement of machines and the development of customised services simply remains unused. One focus of research work to improve this situation is the development of textiles with integrated electronics (such as RFID tags). These smart textiles can record and exchange environmental data via suitable components, communicate with corresponding interfaces and thus support the analysis of usage behaviour. In the condition monitoring of textile components, too, these smart textiles open up new possibilities for online data collection during operation. This opens up the possibility for a real quantification of error causes as well as the support of real-time decision-making processes.