Last year in a survey, almost 80% of Textile Scotland members said that the growth and success of their business would be through product and process innovation. To ensure our industry continues to grow and thrive, Textiles Scotland secured funding to support a PhD student at Strathclyde University for the next three years to explore how the textile sector can benefit from digitisation and innovation.
Paulius Stulga began his PhD in October this year. We caught up with him to find out more about the project and how Scottish companies can benefit from his research.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Paulius Stulga. I am from Lithuania, and for the past nine years I lived in Denmark, where I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. My work experience includes working as a production consultant for the Danish Technological Institute in the Centre for Robot Technology. I also worked as a research assistant for Aalborg University in Denmark. Currently I am working on a PhD at Strathclyde University focused on unlocking the potential of digitalisation in the Scottish textiles industry.
What industries have you already worked in?
Having worked as a production consultant in the largest Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) in Denmark, I had the opportunity to explore their vast industrial network. I was involved in digitalisation projects within the wood, metal and OEM industries. Most importantly, I worked a lot with smart technology start-ups that were eager to promote and implement their solutions in the real world. As an RTO, we had the capability to help launch collaboration projects between manufacturing companies and the technology start-ups in order to drive “digital change” and bring more value into their every-day operations and make their resources more efficient. In general, I would summarise that I have worked with many people from different industries and with different backgrounds.
How do you think companies in the textile sector can benefit from digitalisation and innovation?
There are many ways how the textiles sector can benefit from digitalisation. Because of its broad definition, it can mean different things for different companies. For manufacturers, it will provide more efficient processes and operations, perhaps a more streamlined supply chain. For retailers, it can bring benefit by finding new ways to interact with their customers, for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) it will bring new smart products.
I understand that not everybody has the same capability to involve themselves into something that is still quite new and still hard to wrap your head around all the buzzwords such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, but the picture is becoming clearer both in the academic world and in real world. A lot of different initiatives are being started that help companies learn more about what Industry 4.0 is, and this could help identifying what that means for a particular company. It is important to identify what is useful for an individual company’s case so that the right tools and technologies can be chosen, especially having in mind their resources as a constraint.
There is so much information and technology out there, it becomes difficult to choose the right path, and more importantly, there is no implementation guide for any specific company with a specific problem in mind.
I think it would be great to show the textiles industry some use cases of Industry 4.0, and describe in practice how can digitalisation be adopted – this will be my focus for the project.
What other industry sectors are already benefiting from digital strategies?
I would say that every industry finds their own benefit from digital strategies, the main observation is that these adoptions are taken by larger enterprises, who have a better capability to explore and implement digitalisation projects into their organisations.
Wind energy companies such as Siemens and Vestas are utilising cloud services to collect data and monitor their efficiency factors from their wind turbines.
Pump manufacturer Grundfos are making smart products and can collect a lot of data from their pumps that are used in real world and send it back to HQ in order to tailor operational parameters for their customers.
In my personal experience, having worked with smaller enterprises, it was always exciting to start dialogues about digitalising their production and how we can make it work for them.
To give an example, I worked with a medium-sized hardwood floor manufacturer where we started developing a smart sensor platform to measure their temperature and humidity throughout their nine-building manufacturing and warehousing facility.
There was also an exciting R&D project where we tried to modify older manufacturing equipment with IoT technology in order to collect more production data and link it with other operational data around the factory and create a more digital manufacturing environment.
How can textile companies access and benefit from your research?
The end goal is to create a guideline for the textiles industry towards understanding Industry 4.0 better and present some use cases along the way. Having the next three years to commit to this project, I aim to develop a useful information toolbox and involve the industry as much as possible towards exploiting different Industry 4.0 technologies and concepts.
It will be a great opportunity for the textiles sector to get up-to-date with this buzzword, as well as understanding what it means for their business and how they can benefit from it.
How can Textile Scotland member companies contact you?
I am physically located in the heart of Glasgow at the Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management Department of Strathclyde University.
I am in close contact with the Director of Textiles Scotland, Jaki Love, who provides a lot of support for this project, and could be a point of contact as well.
If you are interested in participating in our digitalisation research please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jaki at email@example.com