The industrial Internet facilitates intelligent manufacturing in China’s textile industry

By Ye Zi, People’s Daily

Industrial Internet, among other new-generation information technologies, is facilitating the transformation and upgrading of Chinese textile enterprises toward digitalization and intelligentization.

It is often seen in textile factories that rows of machines run at high speed while a few workers occasionally walk through them to inspect their operation; and that a fully automated logistics and packaging system carries cone yarn just off the production line to the packaging workshop, then it is piled up, handled, packaged and sent to warehouse smoothly.

“Now we can see clearly how much yarn is left in the weaving machine and when we need to change the cloth,” said Qiu Haibin, chairman of Zhejiang Xinhai Textiles Co., Ltd., standing in front of a large screen displaying data on the operation of each weaving machine of the company.

The company is based in Lanxi city, east China’s Zhejiang province, where textiles are a pillar industry. In the past, weaving machines and equipment in Lanxi were unable to “interact” with each other and had low efficiency as they were imported from different countries and varied in sizes and communications protocols.

After digital transformation, all equipment used in the whole production process in textile companies has been connected to the Internet, allowing managers and workers to monitor production status in real-time and assign and receive production tasks through devices such as digital screens in workshops, and mobile phones, and wristbands.

A worker carries out a patrol inspection on an electric tricycle at a factory of Zhejiang Wanzhou Holding Group Co., Ltd. in Lanxi city, east China’s Zhejiang province, Nov. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hu Xiaofei/People’s Daily Online)

In this way, production status can be managed in real-time, data can be automatically recorded, and report forms can be automatically sorted, which helps cut the workload of statisticians by 60 percent and improve the efficiency of production scheduling by 30 percent.

Besides, the emergence of new technologies, such as intelligent fabric inspection, intelligent logistics and warehouses, automated guided vehicles, and numerical control of equipment, has brought the textile companies in Lanxi onto a road of intelligent manufacturing, with smart production lines, factory, and workshop becoming a common sight.

Many companies have also adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and manufacturing execution systems (MES), thus realizing digital management.

As a matter of fact, the industrial Internet has brought far more positive changes to the textile industry. Statistics suggested that the size of China’s industrial Internet industry exceeded one trillion yuan ($150 billion) during the first quarter of 2022, and the industrial Internet had been widely applied in research and development, design, manufacturing, operation, and management.

As the industrial Internet is increasingly deeply integrated into textiles, it is also accelerating the digital transformation and development of enterprises in the industry.

Jiaojiang District, Taizhou city, Zhejiang province, has launched an “industrial brain” for sewing equipment, a government-funded platform designed to help companies speed up digital transformation and improve operational efficiency. After inputting their needs on the platform, companies can receive accurate information and analysis of industrial value and upstream and downstream companies provided by the platform.

Besides, companies can also consult experts about problems troubling their digital operations via the platform, which can help save more than 60 percent of the costs of digital transformation for enterprises.

East China’s Shandong province will support the creation of typical application scenarios in the industry, intensify efforts to cultivate and promote industrial Internet platforms, guide more enterprises to joining and using these platforms, and facilitate the docking and reconstruction of the industrial chain.

A worker checks weaving machines at a smart factory of a textile company in Jinjiang city, east China’s Fujian province, on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Dong Yanjun/People’s Daily Online)

South China’s Guangdong province plans to cultivate industrial Internet platforms in low-concentration traditional characteristic industrial clusters, such as those in light industry and textiles, and promote the digital transformation of upstream and downstream enterprises of these clusters under unified standards.

Industrial Internet connects every link in the production process of factories, from order receiving, material allocation, production equipment, and energy consumption management to emission monitoring and inventory management help improve enterprises’ management efficiency, said Song Huasheng, deputy director of the Beijing Research Center, Zhejiang University.

It can also assist managers in decision-making, Song noted, explaining that it can realize intelligent production through functions including intelligent production scheduling and intelligent color matching, thus solving the contradiction between mass production and personalized customization.

Industrial Internet can also efficiently link textile companies with upstream suppliers and downstream customers so that they can adjust product layout according to downstream demands more quickly, select suppliers more reasonably, and deal with supply chain risks more effectively.

In recent years, China has witnessed remarkable achievements in the development of the industrial Internet. As of the end of 2021, China had over 100 industrial Internet platforms with certain industry and regional influence, which connected over 76 million sets of equipment and served over 1.6 million companies.

The application scope of the industrial Internet has expanded from certain industries to key industries of the national economy, which has effectively facilitated the integrated development of primary, secondary, and tertiary industries.

With the implementation of supportive measures including improving infrastructure, deepening integrated applications, and strengthening technological innovations, the industrial Internet is expected to empower more industries in the future.

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