8. October 2018

PTC, ITA, FIR at RWTH Aachen University and the Center Smart Services invited guests to the kick-off of the event series “Future of the Textile Production Chain”. The aim of the event is to gather all the important representitives of companies in the textile industry and discuss requirements of the digitisation in the industry, ideas for the future and optimisation possibilities. This new approach met with great approval in the industry.

Textile machine manufacturers, retailers and garment manufacturers gathered at the premises of the Cluster Smart Logistics on the RWTH Aachen campus to exchange ideas and listen to inspiring keynotes. After a short introduction and welcome, a speech on the topic of “Challenges in the fashion industry” was held by Gerd Müller-Thomkins and Kai Timp, the motto was “In the beginning, there was colour”.

The speakers explained that retailers, for example, send over 100,000 parcels a year exclusively for product development reasons. It is an enormous challenge for designers and producers to implement the designer’s ideas of a specific colour, form and quality 1:1. In addition, there are numerous other challenges that characterise the textile industry. S

ome of these have already been overcome: There is already a digital solution that allows a textile designer to digitally communicate his exact vision of quality, colour and pattern to all stakeholders in such a way that even the smallest detail of his or her vision is not lost. The designer can design the product entirely digitally and share it via a cloud with others. Not only designers, garment makers and retailers benefit from this technology, but also the customers.

All of this interesting information was then put to use by the guests during a workshop dedicated to the topic of disruption. Its aim was to show which weak points the current business models of machine manufacturers, retailers and garment manufacturers have and how they can be attacked and replaced with simple measures. At this point, it became clear that this event was particularly special because of all the present experts: The exchange was lively and problems between the actors could be uncovered directly and offered completely new bases for discussion. The possibility to have a look at the innovation laboratories of the FIR at the RWTH Aachen inspired the participants further, as it showcased possible versions of the “machine room of the future”. With the help of modern machine demonstrators, guests also gained valuable insights into the possibilities that digitalisation offers today in production and warehousing and how processes and products can be improved.

And whoever believed that this was just plain theory and a dream of the future, should rethink: Josef Klein of Hugo Boss presented in his speech that many of the future digital possibilities have already been turned into reality – at least in his company. At the same time, however, every company has to consciously bear in mind that it is not what already exists that has to be digitized, but that it is the new ideas and innovative business models that emerge when one tries to think outside of the box that form the core and success of the digitized textile chain.

The supply chain must be rethought, all players must ask themselves what their task is and how it will change in the future – and change it will. Norbert Hempsch of Prym Fashion picked up this topic in his keynote and presented the first digital button setting machine that is no longer “only” a prototype, but a functioning, finished machine which was later sent on its journey from the atrium of the FIR at the RWTH Aachen directly to the textile production hall of the production.The development of this machine required completely new ways of thinking and innovative approaches. Both are important if one wants to ensure the continued existence and growth of a company.

The event was an all-round successful start, followed by the next event on 26.03.2019.