During the last two centuries, the German textile industry has experienced many changes and has managed to cope with the typical cycles of the Industrial Revolution - from the 'mechanization' over the 'electrification' up to the 'computerization'. The implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts is the next big step for a linked cypber-physical production environment. On the one hand, this can create new added-value potential and synergies for medium-sized businesses. On the other, it brings along new challenges with regard to intercompany interaction.
In terms of product development, innovation has always played a decisive role in the technical textile sector and has secured the outliving of this industry in Germany as high-wage country, so far. But is this development sustainable for the textile location Germany? Will the digital transformation determine the textile industry in the year 2030? And how do the the corporative actors have to interact in order to guide this change into a positive direction?
On 28 November 2018, approximately 40 experts came together for the future workshop 'Textile – 2030' at the Digital Capability Center (DCC) in Aachen, trying to answer these questions and elaborating various sceneries for the year 2030. At this special location, offered by the DCC, the participants had the opportunity to discover Industry 4.0 concepts by use of digital assistence systems in a model factory.
During the workshop potentials/chances & challenges/risks for four different topics were gathered in small groups (working in the textile industry 2030, textile value-added chain 2030, textile production 2030 & networking 2030 – standards & interfaces). On this basis, the most important determinants and stakeholders were established which could shape the best-case/worst-case-sceneries for 2030. In the end, the groups were able to deduce recommended actions and avoidance strategies.
Here are some of the key results:
- Necessity to manage newly defined occupational areas in order to cope with the increasing demand for IT-knowhow and to cope with skills shortage.
- A service- and product development which focusses onto the end customer in order to recognize new value-added potential.
- Necessity to create more openess and faith in this sector, to share digitalizing best-practices; new formats for intercompany networking with regard to exchange of results.
- A new security management and 'data-sharing contracts' as established institutions for an increased trust.
In an interdisciplinary approach of economic geography, textile engineering as well as economic-, social - and technological history, the research project Industry 4.0 - financially supported by the DFG - examined the possible spatial impact of Industry 4.0