Weaving machines for technical textiles often have features that differ from those for the mainstream market. As such they require special care and know-how in the assembly process. Picanol has therefore created a dedicated assembly unit for these machine versions. The production techniques employed in this "factory of the future" are highly advanced.
The basic construction of the machine is still done on the main assembly line, but then the framework is moved to the specialty zone for further completion using modular elements. This is done by a team of experts using the most modern assistive assembly techniques (physical as well as cognitive). For example they use smart lifting devices to manipulate modules in the most efficient way, along with augmented and virtual reality techniques to receive the information needed at that particular moment. The operator receives the assembly instructions on a tablet which guides him step by step in assembling the parts and monitoring the quality checklist. The wireless digital technology can also be used to ensure that all valuable data and feedback are captured and shared automatically. This is "Industry 4.0" in action.
In fact, not only are the Picanol products Industry 4.0-ready, but also the entire manufacturing process makes use of the Industry 4.0 technology to further increase the quality and reliability of the product.
The use of Industry 4.0 techniques in the production process will find its way into all aspects of manufacturing, not least the textile industry. The digitization of production can be seen as a 4th industrial revolution whose impact can only be compared with the three preceding ones, namely the steam-powered weaving loom (1784), the moving assembly line (Ford, 1923) and the first computer-controlled machines (1969).