Current era is the age of computerization. Each industry is getting benefit from automation and ease provided by computer science. Textile sector, a major industry in terms of revenue generation for a country, has badly neglected all this ease. Textile industry is mainly dealing with the design and production of yarn, cloth and garments. A general textile production process flow is shown in Figure 1.
The application areas of the computer may be classified broadly into engineering, business, scientific, and recreational applications. The computers are widely used in the engineering applications to help both designing and manufacturing industries manage their processes and information system. The role of computer in manufacturing is broadly classified into two groups, namely design and process control.
In textile industry, induction of computer and its applications has revolutionized the manufacturing techniques. Product development has become more innovative than ever. In addition to this, the time consumption in generating an idea and then its conversion to the final end product has also been reduced to a great extent. There are several other advantages that the manufacturing units are getting. Some are explained in the following sections.
Purposes of Textile Industrial Application of Computers:
- Know the areas of computer application in textile industry and understand how to work with computer systems in textile processing and new product development.
- Learn computer fundamentals and programming languages and necessary tools.
- Learn how to apply computer knowledge such as programming in textile processes.
- Learn visual programming languages tools to develop user friendly programs and software.
- Learn Microsoft office spreadsheet tool such as Excel for consumption, calculations and presentation of results as graphs, charts etc.
- Learn basic of Database Management System such as Mysql, Oracle including MS Access and learn how to connect databases from applications.
- Use of commercial and open source software for fiber technology, spinning, weaving, knitting, coloration technology and textile testing.
- Use of different statistical methods to analyze engineering data.
- Use of different mathematical techniques to solve engineering problems and use of mathematical packages like MATLAB.
- Use of computer in textile materials and inspection techniques to get some idea on hardware such as computer interfacing systems and micro-controllers used in textile machineries.
The overall course objective is to provide the student with the background to understand and work with computer systems for data acquisition, analysis, display and control of textile processes.
Important computer application areas in textile industry are described below:
CAD and CAM:
CAD is the contraction which stands for Computer Aided Design and CAM is the Computer Aided Manufacturing. This term means different things to different people involved in designing, manufacturing and mechanical engineering. CAD or Computer Aided Design has brought a revolution in the Textile industry. The time consuming and cumbersome process of textile designing has been made easier by CAD. Now thoughtful and innovative designs are available to the textile designers and textile manufacturers at the click of a mouse.
Application of CAD/CAM in textile industry:
The textile designs are the original works of the designers. CAD helps them to visualize and see their imaginative design in final form without producing any sample swatch. Sometimes, the customers to provide ideas for designing according to their particular requirement. These are in the form of painted artwork or fabric samples and sometimes film negatives. The textile designers, with the help of CAD, convert them into workable designs. For this to be done the sample is scanned with the help of either scanners or digital cameras and then they are edited to obtain the final design.
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Computer systems used to design and manufacture products. The term CAD/CAM implies that an engineer can use the system both for designing a product and for controlling manufacturing processes CAD is broad term used to represent use of computer in designing. CAM is term that denotes the computerized control of manufacturing process. Almost all industry sectors are using CAD in their designing departments. CAD can help to draw textile designs for textile industry.
We should not confuse CAD only with drawings. CAD covers many aspects of designing like design calculations, data analysis and simulations. Commonly used software used for CAD are AUTO CAD, MSVISIO, Smart Draw etc.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP):
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a software or tool that brings about effective coordination between the departments of an organization to direct the process by providing comparative information and analysis regarding trends and forecasts. It consists of several modules that operate in collaboration with each other and look after the overall industry. It assists in effective management of the supply chain, just-in-time inventory, and information as well as enterprise logistics management, effective monitoring and control, accurate planning and scheduling of orders, better data predictions, quick response to queries, and online detailed information of orders. Now ERP is widely used in different branches of textile manufacturing.
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ERP is not only helping in the design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) process of the product but it also looks after the overall process of the textile industry. ERP deals with almost all the departments starting from procurement, production, distribution, accounting, human resource, corporate performance and governance, customer services and sales. It also covers the areas of business intelligence, enterprise assets management, e-commerce and other business related strategies.
The machine monitoring module of the ERP for textile provides the layout of the factory, indicating machines with interactive graphics, colors, symbols and icons depicting their status. This module aids the managers to monitor the machine efficiency and its current status (i. e. running or stopped), stoppages and their causes, order running on a specific machine, etc. Along with this, it also monitors the performance of the worker operating the machine and performance of the machine regarding to a particular type of product. All these features help in the instant identification of any problem, which leads to the maximum throughput and increase the overall productivity.
As ERP stores all the data in the central database, it allows the user to generate customized reports. These reports give detailed insight of the key performance indicators. This module is very much customizable according to the user requirements and needs. The key factor which users want to highlight, becomes easily accessible. Different types of reports help managers to get the intuition of the business progress, and to take better decisions. These reports also help to develop and reframe the production / marketing strategies according to the latest changing trends. It is also possible to improve customer relationship by undermining the customer purchase and sale patterns.
This module of ERP is somewhat like a plan board, with extensive graphical interface. It integrates with the machine monitoring module and central database, giving the view of the production plans. Its basic or fundamental functionality is to ensure the availability of the raw material required for the production along with the use of production capacity at its maximum. It can calculate the time needed for an order to complete and then scheduling the respective order on the relevant and suitable (highly efficient for that particular order) machine. Production orders can be added automatically or manually by the manager from the marketing module. Along with this it also allows the user to define time and quantity of raw material required for that particular order.
With the use of this module, scheduling of the production order can be done on the level of individual steps involved in manufacturing. Reliable delivery dates can be communicated with customers as it schedules the target dates for each production step.
Inventory management deals with the management of the inventory of all the resources and the raw materials like fiber, yarn, grey fabric, apparel, chemicals and dyes and finished products. It also deals with the work-in-progress (WIP) and production stocks. Monitoring and providing the technical details about the product like piece length, width, weight and defects of the fabric. Product and materials are reported as the product travels through the production process. Average price, shelf life, expiration date, quality grade, original batch, etc. are also maintained by this module.
This module keeps track and gives maintenance overview of the machines. It schedules the machine maintenance according to the production plan. It keeps track and monitors maintenance activities; lubrication of machine parts, replacement of faulty parts, etc. are required on which machines. It also maintains spare parts and accessories store rooms. Generation of reports on the maintenance activities, machine breakdowns and use of spare parts are also possible.
The electronic and mechanical settings of the machine are recorded in this module. Settings are stored with respect to the product barcode, which can be retrieved and reapplied. This gives the flexibility to reapply the most promising settings for a specific product to obtain the optimal result and efficiency.
The major task of quality management module is assurance of required product quality as demanded by the customer. This module monitors and controls the quality of incoming goods. This module also helps to control product quality during production processes and their laboratory testing. Textile product is marked against its quality and the product history is maintained in this module. It also ensures the quality by generating timely reports and also provides tracking in case of customer claims and provides graphical display of test results.
Digital Image analysis is the most common technique, used to identify the weave and color repeat of fabric. A high resolution image of woven fabric, converted to digital data, is used for recognition of weave pattern. This digital data is transmitted and reflected, to identify the warp and weft overlaps, number of yarns, size and color by comparing them with grey scale values.
Data Mining is an inter-disciplinary subject of information technology, driving its roots from data management, artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistics. It is also known as the knowledge discovery from data (KDD), which is a process of extracting useful information from data. Figure 3 depicts the Data mining steps to extract useful information.
With time, technology has progressed at a very fast rate. This erupting progress, computerization of society along with cheaper, powerful storage devices makes it possible for the data to be stored in huge amounts of terabytes and petabytes. Each and every field of life starting from business society, banking, finance, science, engineering and medical sciences are getting benefit from data mining. All of these fields are the sources for generating massive data sets, which includes sales transactions, stock trading records, product descriptions, sales promotions, company profiles and performance, and customer feedback. But the problem is humans are incapable of analyzing this amount of data. This problem gave rise to the birth of an emerging and most rapidly growing field, “Data Mining”. Data mining not only analyses the data but also presents the useful knowledge, extracted from the data in some presentable and interpretable format that can be easily comprehended by humans. Different techniques involving artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms have been developed, that enable the computers to automatically explore the dataset, analyze and extract the information useful to our problem solution.
Computer is also widely used in textile testing. The incorporations of computers and microprocessors have brought great changes to the instrumentation used for testing textiles. Their use falls into two main categories: Recording and calculation of results and automation of the test procedure. Both of these uses may be found in the most advanced instruments. Computer is used in color matching see in the figure 4.
- Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
- Fibers to Smart Textiles: Advances in Manufacturing, Technologies, and Applications Edited by Asis Patnaik and Sweta Patnaik
- Information Systems for the Fashion and Apparel Industry Edited by Tsan-Ming Choi
- Structural Textile Design: Interlacing and Interlooping By Yasir Nawab, Syed Talha Ali Hamdani, and Khubab Shaker
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.