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Virtualising the textile industry

Nov 01, 2018
Virtualising the textile industry

Digital Twin is helping textile machine builders to save cost and time involved in building machines and software development.

Technology has already changed the way we perceive fashion and the way we shop. Growing demand for customisation and quick delivery are driving textile industry to embrace digitalisation as an integral part of its operation strategies and overall business models. In the textile industry where competition is fierce and margins are tight, digitisation helps reduce time, increase efficiency and provide flexibility for both, a textile manufacturer and textile machinery builder. Owing to various benefits, the use of virtualisation is becoming important in machine building.

Digital Twin provides a complete digital footprint of machines, enabling machine builders to detect physical issues sooner, predict outcomes more accurately, build better machines faster with superior quality, reduce time-to-market and costs. Virtualisation is very powerful allowing visibility of machine operations as well as large interconnected manufacturing systems.

‘Virtualising’ a reality in industry
By making virtual representation of product or process, Digital Twin is helping textile machine builders to save cost and time involved in building machines and software development. Digital Twin is a digital representation of a product, equipment or a process. Digital twin is essentially a combination of data and intelligence, representing the structure, behavior, and context of a physical system of any type. Digital twin provides an interface that allows understanding the past and present operations of assets and helping predict the future. They help optimise the physical world and improve operational performance and business processes.

Machine design, hardware selection, software development, electrification, commissioning are some activities, which are followed during machine building. Any delays in even one-activity leads to delays in machine deliveries. Mechanical machining is a critical aspect and when this design needs to be coupled with the electronics such as drives and motors. Many a times this creates issues and leads to a lot of rework in designing and machining of mechanical components, thus, resulting in reduced time for software development. It would be a joy for all machine builders if they were able to see the performance of mechanics with chosen electronics without having either in their shop floors. This would reduce time needed for rework, the cost arising out of this rework, meet delivery times with higher quality.

With virtualisation, it is possible for simulating the entire machine even before the mechanics are machined and the electronics are procured. In addition, it is observed most companies getting unstructured data when any device or a mechanical instrument fails or are about to fail making them follows static and reactive approaches. It is a virtual representation of a physical asset, which reduces anticipations and guesswork reducing downtimes and providing efficient after sales service to their customers.

Digital Twin
Textile industry is leveraging digital twin to optimise operation, asset performance and maintenance of machines and factories. It enables textile companies to achieve an automated manufacturing process using the latest technologies by connecting the entire process ensuring seamless information flow from design to engineering. Connected industrial assets generate millions of data points. Integrating a digital twin with data generated from physical assets enables machine builders to decide whether a device is reaching its end of life. An engineer can always update the parameters online so that the digital version matches the physical one.

Digital Twin has several benefits including the ability to run in-line with the real machine to enable rapid task-planning and early detection of potential problems. Digital twin provides an integrated outlook of any project to any user at any point of the product life cycle.

It enables continuous improvements in process and design as well as enhanced operations, maintenance and conditional machine states. The implementation of enterprise asset management and lifecycle services strategy with digital twin within the overall Industrial IoT ecosystem provides significant benefits to machine builders. By integrating, a digital twin of the machine design on a real-time platform helps accelerating commissioning, reducing risks and decreasing costs by configuring and testing in parallel with the real machine. Digital twin is already seen affecting industrial businesses and textile industry is pushing to modernise their systems and equipment must plan for the incorporation of these trends in their strategies. Digital twin technology can drastically reduce product development time and involved cost.

Build textile machines with digital twin
Textile manufacturing is a complex process, starting from crops to fibre to finished products. A textile shop floor includes various machines such as spinning, weaving, dyeing, printing, finishing and finally garment manufacturing. Being a continuous process, any unplanned stoppages impacts productivity and profitability. Digital twin helps solve many of the manufacturer’s needs at a micro level.

Machine builders also leverages virtualisation for faster time to market and reduced development costs. With digital twin, B&R helps machine builders to virtually develop and test machines without the need of actual mechanics and electronics.

Automation studio the single tool for programming all B&R components has an inbuilt simulation environment, which enables simulation of controls, I/Os and even motion components. Apart from hardware, software and technology scalability with B&R system, machine builders can simulate the entire electronics even before they receive the hardware. In addition, software development of machine software is platform independent.

Using MapleSim or Matlab, machine builders can even simulate the mechanics for dynamic modelling of machines and machine components. This simulation can be then imported in Automation Studio, enabling machine builders to have a simulation environment down to mechanics. Early testing and virtual commissioning can help keep errors in check despite increasingly complex application code. Simulated control systems linked to virtual machine components make it possible to verify application code long before the first prototype machine goes into testing or operation. Machine builders with B&R virtual commissioning can accelerate and streamline the process of commissioning the actual machine. This minimises risk and ensures reliably meeting project deadlines and quality targets.

Smart manufacturing with B&R
To remain competitive in era of Industrial IoT, digital transformation is the need of the hour. B&R offers complete hardware and software solutions, comprehensive service and expertise in automation and digitalisation of textile machinery and equipment. With dedicated technology and global open source communication standards such as OPC UA, POWERLINK and openSAFETY as well as the powerful Automation Studio software development environment, B&R is the right partner for implementing Industrial IoT solutions in both new and legacy equipment. With solutions for machine to factory automation, B&R serves as a perfect partner to textile industry for sustainability, flexibility, higher productivity and profitability.

“B&R is not just an automation vendor for machine builders but acts as a solutions partner for all of their automation needs whether simple of complex. Being a technology leader, we continuously introduce innovations to the market thus, shaping the industry. B&Rs support and push for open technologies helps in reducing the total cost of ownership and provides a common platform for networking due to the vendor independent nature of protocols. For machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud communication, B&R trusts in OPC UA, MQTT and AMQP for secure and safe connectivity to cloud. The use of OPC UA for cloud connectivity provides the security mechanisms for connectivity as it already has the necessary IT security measures in place. In addition, the operating systems is built for secure it from cyber-attacks.”

- Ninad Deshpande, Head - Marketing

The article is authored by: Pooja Patil, Corporate Communication at B&R Industrial Automation. She can be contacted on: