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Industry 4.

0 is the New Buzzword For


Factories of the Future
August 17, 2017 Featured Articles Adidas, Dr. Steve Dickerson, Georgia Tech, lowest
labor cost, robotic sewing, Sewbot, So Wear Automation, T-shirt, Tianyuan Garments GD Jasuja

Industry 4.0 includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud and
cognitive computing. (Source: Wikipedia) Image Credit: Christoph Roser

Industry 4.0is the new buzzword becoming very fashionable, and hence, considerably over used.
The credit for coining this iconic word goes to Siemens at theHanover Messein 2015. Industry 4.0
also termed as the 4th generation of the industrial revolution marks the beginning of a new era. It
essentially represents the digital transformation of traditional industries like manufacturing to
intelligent factories with the advancements in automation,advanced materials,3D
printing,artificial intelligence,augmented reality,cobots(collaborative and robots). Adaptive and
ergonomic production lines, intelligent robots and integrated energy systems all parts ofIndustrial
Internet of Things (IIoT) are increasingly making it possible for companies, in practically every
industrial and manufacturing sector, to digitize their operations. This digital transformation is
enabling them to become 247 connected intelligent factories. The computerization of traditional
industries, like manufacturing, i.e. their transition to intelligent factories, is going to be the key to their
survival in a couple of years from now.

In a nutshell, Industry 4.0 converts your facility into a smart factory by providing it a working brain to
impart more advanced built-in intelligence for the factory equipment and products enabling them to
work together. Hence, the product will be able to tell the machine at components level what to do.
The factory equipment runs on very sophisticated so ware which helps machines self-regulate and
make more autonomous and intelligent decisions.

The key features of a smart or Digital factory are: self-optimization, self-configuration, self-
diagnosis, cognitive and machine learning to significantly increase the e iciency and output while
reducing the waste and unnecessary tasks with minimum human intervention. However, there are
already alarm bells ringing that the Industry 4.0 will lead to huge displacement of workforce as tiny
intelligent robots can replace them for doing the same job more accurately, rapidly and economically.

In acomment, made in Sept. 2011, in support of his


ambitious project Steve Dickerson said: My
fundamental comment is that this program should
strive to make manufacturing in the US competitive
as measured by the e ect on balance of trade. One
simply needs to look at importation of goods and
the corresponding industries to see where
emphasis might be placed. I think we are running
in the 3 to 4% of GDP as an imbalance of trade. Two
industries that are dominated by imports are
garments and related sewn items; and assembled
electronics such as cell phones, computers, TVs etc.
Both imbalances should be possible to largely
eliminate. Garments represents about $100 billion
per year. He further added: It turns out that
Georgia Tech and So Wear Automation think that
they know how to make garment manufacture
competitive with low wage countries. But a good
deal of R&D needed. By the way, it does turn out
that fully automated sewing has been considered
impossible but is not. A fundamental innovation
has been made and preliminary research funded
by both the State of GA and the Navy shows it
probably is feasible to fully automate garment
manufacture.
Dickerson SoftWear TedX

Steve Dickerson of SoftWear Automation delivers a TEDx talk on


Automated Robotic Sewing in the Bay Area. October 23, 2012.

A recent case in point is Sewbot a robotic sewing system from Atlanta-based companySo Wear
Automation. The Georgia Tech spino So Wear Automation, Inc. was founded by Dr. Steve Dickerson,
who observed that the apparel industry had almost entirely disappeared from the US, including in his
familys home town of Commerce GA. Dickerson inspired by the automation solutions o ered by
Japanese industry initiated e orts to achieve similar automation for the sewing operations involved
in garmenting. So wear was established to develop completely automated production facilities for
garments without any direct labor.

The system can cut and sew the so fabric automatically. The machines use a combination of cameras
and needles to track the placement of a fabric before sewing the apparel. So wear claims their
system o ers more accuracy than the human eye. In fact, aChinese firm(Tianyuan Garments
Company of Suzhou) is setting up a factory in the US (in Little Rock, Arkansas) with 21 Sewbot
production lines for producing 800,000 T-shirts a day for Adidas. So Wears fully automated Sewbot
roughly takes four minutes from fabric cutting and sewing to finished product. The system is
scheduled to be fully operational by the end of next year. With all the production lines in operation,
with complete automation, Tianyuan Garments estimates to make one T-shirt every 22 seconds @ a
labor cost of just 33 cents for each T-shirt. A cost so low that no country in the world can compete
with.
SoftWear Automation Inc.

Introducing SoftWear Automation. Robotic sewing technology in


action. This technology will bring fabric manufacturing back to
America. SoftWear Automation lowers cost by improving productivity.
It will make customization simple and affordable on a mass scale.
Contact www.softwearautomation.com for more information. (Source:
Softwear Automation)

At present, So Wear Automation is taking pre-orders for fully automated worklines for t-shirts, and
workcells for hemming & binding. Future products include: Jeans & pants, pillows, bath mats,
automotive mats, mattresses, towels and tote bags. Tianyuan Garments Companys facility in
Arkansas (USA) will perhaps be the first true example of Industry 4.0 in the textile and clothing sector.
So far, the sector was enjoying fruits of automation technology in every sphere except sewing. This is
a classic example of how an Industry 4.0 ready technology can disrupt the $100 billion sewn products
industry by creating autonomous sewn good worklines for apparel, home goods and footwear with
additional benefits of higher quality and lower cost.

Germany has taken a leadership position in adaptingIndustrie 4.0high-tech strategy that is based
on almost fully computerizing the manufacturing industry without the need for human involvement.
The German government is investing some Euro 200 million to encourage research across academia,
business and government for what it calls to deal quickly with the fusion of the online world and the
world of industrial production.

Also, an open, smart manufacturing platform for industrial-networked information applications to


promote Industry 4.0 is being planned by theSmart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition(SMLC), a
non-profit organization comprising of manufacturers, suppliers, technology firms, government
agencies, universities and laboratories.
In the Indian context, it is di icult to visualize how the things might shape up with respect to Industry
4.0 which calls for more and more automation at each stage, and also more frequent than we are all
accustomed to. There is a general reluctance from stakeholders and investors to spend heavily in new
technologies. Also, the possibility of the resultant job losses, in labor-intensive sectors like textiles,
needs to be carefully looked into. However, it may appeal to a number of big corporates, and also to
entrepreneurs who prefer to work with limited labor, to explore the opportunities o ered by Industry
4.0 the symbol of flexibility, adaptability and e iciency. The key barriers include: data security
issues, less human oversight, loss of human jobs, technical problems can cause expensive production
outages.

Industry 4.0 is going to take over the manufacturing world sooner or later. It is also a fact that the early
adopters may not be rewarded for their courage to embrace this new technology. But, at the same
time, it wouldnt be easy to imagine that those who totally avoid change dont risk becoming
irrelevant and le behind in the long run. Even if we assume that a lot of hype has been built up
around Industry 4.0 over the past few years, there is no denying that in certain areas, including some
very high-tech ones, it has demonstrated an unmatched advantage in terms of value addition and
profitability. This is su icient to motivate worlds leading players to take the technology to the next
level, and on a wider horizon.

G.D. Jasuja