Together we will automate the textile industry

Note · 2022-10-05

Foton från studiebesöket inklusive en bild på en kvinna med VR-utrustningSkill, courage and a degree of humility are needed when automation solutions will be implemented in a completely new industry. This is something that Science Park Borås is aware of and the companies they collaborate with. Together with Automation Region, they are investigating which types of technology and knowledge from industry can be applied to the textile industry.

The textile industry is indeed already automated to a certain extent, but large parts of production are still dependent on people doing the work. Great opportunities exist here to make the textile industry more sustainable – from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

Globally, the industry has a turnover of approximately USD 1.5 trillion per year and is one of the world's most polluting industries. The value chains are characterised by long lead times and low accuracy in their forecasts. The Mikrofabriker (micro factories) project is therefore investigating how we can create a small-scale and flexible production locally, near the end user. By moving production close to home, shortening lead times and producing smaller collections, the textile industry can become more sustainable.

“Automated manufacturing provides a better work environment and creates the conditions for reduced waste and increased traceability in production,” says Elin Asplund, Project Manager at Automation Region. She continues, “It’s an instructive project where we explore the challenges of getting a robot to handle fabrics and investigate how automation can be used for packaging and logistics and how AI can reduce waste and increase quality.”

As a follow-up to the Textile Roadshow held in Borås last spring, the Automation Roadshow was arranged between 30 and 31 August. This took place over two days during which companies from the textile industry made study visits at some of Automation Region's member companies. This included events such as watching a robotic assembly of reinforcement baskets, ABB Robotics Experience Center and additive manufacturing at Digital Mechanics. It was a fantastic mutual exchange of knowledge and experiences.

How can your company benefit from the project?

The textile industry has a turnover of trillions of USD every year and by moving part of the production closer to home, more jobs will be created. Furthermore, valuable opportunities exist for our member companies to deliver technology and services to drive the development in a new sector. Good chances exist also to getting a piece of the 1.5 trillion pie and it is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how the sustainable business models of the future can be renewed.

In addition, the manufacture of clothing and footwear accounts for 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all international air and sea transport combined. By driving the development towards local production with a high degree of automation and small, customised (sometimes recycled) collections, we can create jobs, increase competitiveness and sustainability. This alone is surely reason enough to get involved. If you would like to know more about the project, please contact Elin Asplund.

We wish to extend our sincere thanks to Skanska, Digital Mechanics, LedAI, ABB Robotics and byBrick who so generously shared their knowledge and experiences when the project headed by Science Park Borås came to Västerås!

Om projektet Mikrofabriker

The Mikrofabriker project is run by Automation Region and Science Park Borås and is financed by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, Vinnova, Sjuhärads Association of local authorities in the Borås region, the University of Borås and ACG Nyström. The purpose is to combine knowledge and experience from the textile industry and other sectors to make technology and manufacturing processes for circular flows more readily available. The project aims to encourage investment in micro factories and thus create better conditions for moving production home to Sweden while enabling the sustainable production of textiles through local production of small, customised collections.