Status Quo of Intelligent Manufacturing in China's Technical Textiles Industry and its Development Prospects During the "14th Five-Year Plan" Period


I. Background of intelligent manufacturing

At present, China's manufacturing industry has entered a new era of high-quality development, of which intelligent manufacturing plays an important role. Based on the in-depth integration of advanced information technology and manufacturing technology, the entire manufacturing system is showing a continuous iterative and evolving process. According to different development stages and technical characteristics, intelligent manufacturing is divided into three paradigms, i.e., digitization, networking and intelligence.

And intelligent manufacturing is a system that includes all sectors in the entire life cycle of products. It reshapes manufacturing production factors and production models, and triggers major and profound changes in manufacturing development concepts, value forms, and industrial ecology.

II. Production characteristics of technical textiles

The technical textiles industry has a good foundation for intelligent manufacturing. Technical textiles are mainly intermediate products. Except for some products (such as personal protective equipment), they all show very obvious characteristics of process-based production. Among them, the production of nonwovens is particularly prominent.

With the gradual improvement of production speed and single-line production capacity, higher requirements are put forward for quality control of products. The energy consumption of the production process is relatively high, and energy occupies a relatively high proportion of the cost structure. Therefore, the quality control and energy consumption control of technical textiles production are the key issues in the industry.

III. The status quo of intelligent manufacturing in the technical textiles industry

(1) Informationization and automation

Management informationization and equipment automation are the basis for intelligent manufacturing. In terms of informatization, the focus is on promoting the application of ERP software by enterprises. With the gradual maturity of China's self-developed ERP software and the promotion of various cloud services, the cost of enterprise procurement and implementation of ERP has been greatly reduced. Therefore, in large and medium-sized enterprises in the industry, ERP software has gained popularity, which has played an important role in standardizing corporate management processes and improving operational efficiency.

As for automation, the technical textiles industry focuses on promoting the application of full-process automated production lines in the industry. At present, the automatic bunker has been applied in spunbond nonwovens enterprises, greatly improving work efficiency and ensuring the consistency of raw material quality. Spunlace nonwovens companies have used AGV trolleys for raw material input, effectively reducing labor intensity. Manufacturers for cord fabric (in tyres) have developed equipment for adding starch automatically, which has improved the production environment and significantly reduced work intensity.

Nonwovens on-line inspection, automatic unwinding, slitting, packaging, labeling, and transportation to warehouse are processes that require more labor in the production of nonwovens, which are also the focus of automation production. In addition, the automatic production line not only can reduce labor costs but also collect a large amount of production data in real time.

In the production process of filter bags and safety protection textiles, enterprises have begun to use automatic hanging systems, intelligent cutting systems, and advanced software systems to improve production efficiency and save a lot of raw materials.

(2) Digitalization and network transformation

Enterprises also carry out digital and network transformation of production equipment, of which nonwovens production line has a good foundation for digital transformation. And enterprises with weaving processes can install sensors on old equipment to collect equipment configuration parameters, status, production data, and operation process data, and then transfer the data through wired network, WIFI, and 5G network.

MES system is the core of enterprise digitization and networking. At present, most companies engaged in intelligent transformation have purchased MES systems. The MES system can integrate with the ERP system, realizing comprehensive management and seamless connection between production, procurement, finance, sales and warehousing information.

(3) Industrial Internet Platform

Industrial internet platform and big data center can show the technical parameters of the products produced by the company, monitor product quality in real time, and protect the interests of the consumers. In the future, the platform will also introduce more application software and services to provide enterprises with market information, product quality, product development and other services.

IV. Prospects for the intelligent manufacturing during "14th Five-year Plan" period (2021-2025)

The "14th Five-year Plan" period (2021-2025) is an opportunity for China's technical textiles industry to upgrade the modernization level of the industrial chain and achieve high-quality development. Intelligent manufacturing technologies such as the Industrial Internet, 5G, and artificial intelligence will provide important technical support. In the future, the industry will focus on the following aspects in smart manufacturing.

First, promote the application of advanced equipment. By working together with key equipment companies, the industry aims to break the bottleneck in advanced production lines and core equipment, improving the stability of equipment under high-speed operation, and increasing the digitization of equipment.

Second, vigorously promote the digitalization and network transformation of enterprises. Supporting the application of the Internet of Things, big data, 5G, and artificial intelligence in the industry, to realize digital management with "MES+ERP" as the main feature. By the end of the "14th Five-year Plan" period, it is expected that more than 70% of nonwovens enterprises will finish digitalized and networked transformation.

Third, establish an industrial Internet demonstration platform. With the goals of shared design, collaborative manufacturing, traceability, and supply-demand match-making, the industry aims to establish industrial Internet platforms in areas such as personal protection and industrial filtration, so as to improve the service capabilities in the industrial clusters, and improve the collaborative manufacturing capabilities and fast-response ability to emergencies.

Fourth, promote intelligent development in the field of nonwovens. Developing simulation systems for key processes such as nonwovens spinning, drafting, crosslapping, spunlacing, and needle punching, to establish a big data model for nonwovens.

Fifth, continually promote match-making between high-quality intelligent manufacturing suppliers and enterprises. Encourage suppliers to develop low-cost software systems suitable for technical textiles industry.

Sixth, carry out pilot programs of intelligent manufacturing in the industry. Support high-level pilot program by connecting with high-quality innovative resources and suppliers. Form mature experience and models that can be promoted in the industry in the field of collaborative product development, online quality inspection, energy management, quality control and improvement, and equipment predictive maintenance.

Seventh, focus on the development and promotion of intelligent textiles. Developing flexible sensor technology, energy collection and storage technology, and data transmission technology applied to intelligent textiles, to improve the reliability and consistency of flexible sensing materials. Expand the application of intelligent textiles in civil engineering, buildings, filtration and other fields, and improve real-time quality monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities.