From Eco Labels to Big Data

Textile Technology Talks

Finding out about the trends of the new season and meeting customers and representatives in the immediate vicinity at the beginning of the year is what the Heimtexil fair in Frankfurt offers us. What matters to the industry today was not evident at first sight.

The trend towards environmental friendliness with ecologically and responsibly produced home and contract textiles was strikingly expressed with ECO labels at the stands. Most of them were less demanding labels. Mainly at stands from the Far East. Some exhibitors even showed self-made labels. Strict and comprehensive quality-labels such as bluesign, the Blue Angel, "Eco-Management and Audit Scheme" (EMAS) and the "Fair Wear Foundation" (FWF) seal of approval were not present.

How credible the presented initiatives are and how independently they are controlled is often not obvious. This system does not readily allow consumers to judge how fair and ecological the textiles are produced.

The time for blind dates is over.

Retailers want to know their suppliers. They want them to prove their responsibility and sustainability. But since none of the quality labels around meet all the criteria they demand, they are partnering with comprehensive labels or create own guidelines for their producers like Puma 10For20, Nike Move to Zero or M&S Plan A, to name just a few.

The challenge, however, lies in the practical implementation and a deep knowledge of manufacturing processes details. It is relatively easy to compare and test the chemicals used against prohibited substances (restricted substances lists RSS), but for the production processes themselves there are no generic reliable parameters for quality benchmarks. There are still production steps, for example in a dye factory, where a lot of water and energy is needed today.

The SETEX production management system OrgaTEX is exactly such a key number provider. Pervasive reporting compares parameters and consumption against the requirements. A focus is on energy management, including resources from the energy-intensive finishing sector.

Looking ahead, the system compares planned production orders against current supplies and resources. The running production is adapted in real-time using the integrated knowledge management functions. Saving a rinse cycle in some cases corresponds to halving the liquor ratio.

Sophisticated process engineering and modern controls and sensors can often save more energy than the replacement of entire machines. And by the way, you get information that could be used to add a block to a textile supply blockchain with a production technology footprint.

We learn from new opportunities.

The integrated automation for textile production is gathering momentum. Which parameters offer the most improvement potential? Is the liquor ratio the most crucial quality target to modernize the exhaust dyeing technology? How can we identify the relevant parameters? On that purpose was an interesting lecture at "Textile Networked" section,

Mr. Frederik Cloppenburg from the Institute for Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen University (ITA) explained on a real-world example of nonwoven production with a card, how the important parameters and variables are modeled from big data in production. For this purpose, the ITA trains neural networks with production data from simulations for each setting point on the card. The achieved quality of the goods and the energy consumption are determined respectively. Once the application is running, the operator is shown suggested settings next to the actual values.

Do Creative Ideas Work Better than Data-Driven Ones?

In the past, production process details were the mystery of the finishing specialists. But the requirements regarding textiles and customers have been less complex. In the ITA data project, 90% of the work consisted in the selection, recording and preparation of the data.

In companies with integrated SETEX production automation, the extended recording of parameters is state of the art. Significant added value and new, future application options will be significantly easier to implement derived from this data.

If you like to know, how to digitalize your production sustainably, please contact us.


Link to textile standards, certificates and labels

This study of literature makes no claim to completeness

Ecolabel Index

Not always much helps a lot

Quality label at the Heimtextil

Source: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH


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