Suppliers showcase solutions and visions for 'smart' textile service provision and how this will impact on individual services
Digitalisation is set to be the driver of the future in the textile-care industry. The precondition for 'Industry 4.0' is a comprehensively networked data communication system covering all the players involved in the production. The technology will create a high density of information, which will allow companies to react to the wishes of their customers in the most personalised ways possible. At the same time, the processes involved in the factories will be smarter, more transparent and safer.
As the world's leading trade fair in its field, Texcare International, from 11 to 15 June 2016, is your guide to the latest developments for this key trend towards 'Industry 4.0'. Companies involved in plant construction, suppliers of identification, monitoring and control systems for goods, research institutions and IT specialists will be showcasing their solutions for the 'smart' automated laundries and dry-cleaning plants of the future.
A start has already been made
Textile services these days have reached a considerable level of individualisation and personalisation. Protective workwear, delivered to a customer's linen cupboard, matched to the staff who will use it and prepared with the specific job and specialism in mind, is now a standard service. Care procedures which take into account the particular properties and/or requirements of residents' personal laundry are seen as matter of course. Tailor-made patterns of supply for industry, health-care services and the hotel trade are used across the board. “We are just at the beginning of what we can do with the technology that is available to us at the moment,” says Friedrich Eberhard, President of the German Textile Cleaning Association (Deutscher Textilreinigungsverband - DTV), in Bonn.” “If we manage to link all the machines and systems completely and organise the data properly, then, in future, we shall be pretty well able to meet the needs and requirements of our customers in real time, as we are processing their laundry. The high density of information can, in his opinion, contribute massively to helping people meet the requirements of the job. “If the laundry already comes with the information we need, then we can dispense with a huge number of the repetitive administrative tasks, which, in the past, have been necessary to pass the customer's wishes and requirements to the places in the textile service companies where the various tasks are performed. This applies to the administration, the production processes and the logistics.” And the laundry services, too, will benefit from this, and gain a new and closer relationship with their customers. 'Industry 4.0' provides the basis; it makes it possible to link the reconditioning of apparel and laundry, which involves intensive manual handling with economic efficiency.
Data collection and use becomes a core competence
Texcare International 2016 will present numerous solutions for networked processes and procedures. One of the emphases will be on contactless data collection, a process in which a data carrier (transponder) transmits its stored data to a reading device using an electro-magnetic field (RFID, UHF). As a result of smart data collection and networked information, goods streams can be quantified across departments on the factory floor, linked to automatic distribution and return systems and subsequently taken over by the consumers' goods management systems.
With the intelligent monitoring and storage of all parameters relevant to the factory plant and its processes, the machine manufacturers are introducing the next generation of the automated laundry service. Control and monitoring systems present all relevant data in a digestible form and provide the process chain with all essential and relevant consumer data in real time. A link to intelligent systems for energy use, in turn, leads to direct optimisation of the use of resources throughout the plant.
Uniform data format required
“The new 'smart' approach will have a positive impact on the efficiency of the laundry and dry-cleaning sector and hence on its competitiveness,” suggest Dr. Frank Ryll of the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (Fraunhofer-Institut für Fabrikbetrieb und -automatisierung - IFF) in Magdeburg. Moreover, it must be possible to connect all the players involved, from the machine control systems to the merchandise management systems, using a uniform data format. Systems that communicate with one another are the absolute prerequisite of the 'smart' laundry plant with autonomous control. In addition to this, intelligent monitoring sensors could provide further relevant information – such as, perhaps, about the relative degree of dirt of each individual item. Then it really would be possible to create fully automatic, 'green' factory operations.
Creation of a new career pattern
The new smart systems impact on the workplace in the sector in a number of ways. “They offer engineering sciences an attractive area of activity and will lead, in future, to the creation of the companies' own powerful, high-performance IT departments in laundries and dry-cleaning establishments,” explains Ryll. At Texcare International 2016, training establishments, universities and professional associations will all be involved in designing a groundbreaking new career type in which information technology will play an ever more important role.