Technological Advancements - A Driving Force for Textiles
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Technological Advancements - A Driving Force for Textiles

James W. McKinnon, CEO, Cotswold Industries Inc.
James W. McKinnon, CEO, Cotswold Industries Inc.

James W. McKinnon, CEO, Cotswold Industries Inc.

Technological advancements are a critical driver for textile quality & speed to market and very important for the ever present need for the reduction of variable inputs. Several years ago we made a management decision to update our weaving machines and equip them with Bluetooth devices that measures & rates performance as well as alerting management to needed attention, repair or other product performance issues. If and when the Internet of Things allows for these types of functions to be diagnosed and solved from an operator or manager in remote locations, from either a mobile device or a hard terminal, productively and flexibility will be dramatically increased, as well as production costs lowered. We live in a JIT manufacturing environment where scheduling production and inventory management are core competencies to world class manufacturing. Mill balances and raw material supply chains are still handled by seasoned managers who utilize decades of experience to find the correct correlation between all facets of the business model. The more connections, and therefore the more shared information that can be achieved by the networking of different textile manufacturing processes, the more competitive manufacturing will be in global markets.

“We live in a JIT manufacturing environment where scheduling production and inventory management are core competencies to world class manufacturing”

The second area that I think is important is in testing & compliance. Physical testing of fabrics and finished goods is still complicated, cumbersome and expensive. The organization of paperwork required to comply with both internal and external regulation is made more complex by the lack of streamlined systems that have clearly defined roles in the compliance ecosystem. If the Internet of Things becomes a force driver to reduce or eliminate any or part of these systems, then again, I see that as an area in which a necessity would create an opportunity. An interconnection of corporate and government IT, shipment tracking, testing protocols, reporting organization and stakeholder approval would solve the need for a streamlined historical traceability in each of these important areas. Examples of this might include connectivity of approved laboratories to approved government certification agencies; partnerships between global sustainable focused certification concerns and fiber producers, textile mills, finishers & cut and sew operators, as well as product development organizations and the end consumer. The ability to connect distant yet interrelated stakeholders is important - and wide open for technological connectivity integration by the machines and their operators that govern the supply chain.

The advancement of the Internet of Things in textile manufacturing, product testing and compliance is a critical growth component to both domestic and international markets. Expect to see small advances as managers begin to test options and plan for future upgrades- moving to faster adoption rates as IT companies begin to see this area as a unique market opportunity and roll out specific plans by category and process.

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