Digitization and automation of businesses, especially manufacturing processes, has gained momentum in recent times. Industry 4.0 has become an essential ingredient of management jargon in the same way globalization was in 1990’s.
In fact, globalization and digitization are two sides of the same coin since it was the ICT revolution in 1990’s that lowered the cost of moving ideas across borders. 12 per cent of global trade in goods is conducted via international e-commerce.
Digitization is the greatest disruptive force facing the organizations today. The stimulus for change obviously comes from the customers who are demanding from companies a radical overhaul of their business processes to deliver a seamless experience. Many companies with a traditional mindset can’t meet these expectations.
This article aims to highlight the impact of digitization and automation on the textile industry with a focus on spinning mills. This lays out the narrative for the management of spinning mills in the 21st century.
In the 1990’s the spinning industry in India believed that automation was required only in the long run as the high cost of capital could never justify investment in technology as manpower was abundant and affordable.
Only a few mills with vision and foresight realized that for industry’s competitiveness to be sustained in the long run it had to invest in high technology. Afterall, it was also a lesson from the industry in the developed countries. The government incentives for technology up gradation also helped to lower the barrier for technology acquisition.
Digitization is the greatest disruption of our times. Together with sustainability, it will shape the future of the textile industry. Their impact needs to be carefully understood to develop strategies and take advantage of opportunities.
Automation & Digitization
Today, however, it is not a matter of narrow interpretation of payback economics but a necessity for survival. New spinning mills are looking for integrated automation solutions across the production chain.
However, with a wide array of solutions available on the market, the managements need to study carefully and make smart choices while selecting the right solution is not one size fits all. The level of automation in each mill should correspond to the products and processes e.g., grey yarn, melange/dyed yarns, fine counts, very coarse counts – they require a customized approach to automation.
The following types of automation are common in spinning mills. Most of the new equipment supplied by OEM’s comes with built-in features such as:
- Roving transport from speed frame to ring frame.
- Auto-doffing at ring and roving.
- Link- coner.
- Auto packing.
- Auto-piecing at combers and transportation of lap former to combers.
- Process data management – EBR at roving, ring (Premier/Uster etc.), preparatory machines, link etc.
- Production data –kilos produced efficiency etc.
- Power data – monitoring at individual processes such as H-plants and compressors.
- Quality control data at winding and various machines.
- ERP – integration of production data with the organization’s financial, accounting and MIS.
Management Practices For The ‘Spinning Mill Of The Future’
Nowadays, the optimum capacity for a new mill is 1 lakh spindles. This is considered the most efficient in terms of production capacity as well as management. This requires a new ‘business model’ to harmonize the contemporary business processes such as automation, digitization, and sustainability. Here are the four rules of the game extracted from the experience of seasoned industry practitioners.
Mantras For 21st Century Spinning Mills
4 rules of the game for managing the Spinning Mill of the future. Spinning mills need a greater focus on human capital. Workers will need better education and training to adjust to automation technologies.
- Transparency in communication.
- High calibre, professional manpower.
- Conducive working environment.
- Training of human resources.
This is a major challenge being faced by textile mills. Communication with, and between, machines has improved a lot but with workers and staff, it has reduced. This requires transparency with all stakeholders – customers, workers, supply chain partners- so that data should be inclusive.
High calibre, talented middle management is required to supervise shifts and take pro-active measures for smooth running of the plant. The transition to digital mills will reward highly skilled workers and devalue routine tasks. Supervisors have to be equipped and empowered to deliver results.
Due to much bigger plant size under one roof, there is a need to design facilities with easy access to facilities and create a conducive environment at the workplace. This needs to be envisaged at the time of design and engineering of the mill and interior spaces to achieve efficiency.
Spinning mills need a greater focus on human capital. Workers will need better education and training to adjust to automation technologies. Proper selection and training of supervisors and operators are of paramount importance. The operators today are handling hi-tech equipment and need to adapt themselves to make effective use of the information management systems. Data literacy among workforce will need to be enhanced.
A well trained and motivated workforce only can deliver the results in a sustainable manner. The operators today are handling hi-tech equipment and need to adapt themselves to make effective use of the information management systems. Data literacy among workforce will need to be enhanced.A well trained and motivated workforce only can deliver the results in a sustainable manner.
The four strategies discussed above would result in efficient management of the spinning mill of the future to delight the customer.