Robotics and Industrial Robotics in Textile Manufacturing: Advancing Production

Robotics And Industrial Robotics In Textile Manufacturing: Advancing Production

With technological advancements being made every year, it’s no surprise that the textile industry is looking towards automation. Robotics and industrial robotics are rapidly advancing the way manufacturing is done, making it easier, faster, and safer. This article will explore the use of robotics and industrial robotics in the textile industry, how they work, and how it’s revolutionizing the sector.

The Evolution of Industrial Robotics in Textile Manufacturing

The textile industry is considered to be one of the oldest industries in the world, and with advancements in technology, the way we make textiles is changing. Industrial robotics has become a key technology in automating textile manufacturing processes. The journey of industrial robotics in the textile industry can be traced back to the invention of the first textile machines in the 1800s. These machines, powered by steam, helped to automate the production process. However, the machines could only do menial tasks, like spinning wool and cotton, and couldn’t do anything that required dexterity.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the advent of industrial robotics has revolutionized textile manufacturing. Today, industrial robots have the ability to sew fabrics, cut materials, sort, and do various other manufacturing processes. The technology is created to simulate and perform tasks as human-like as possible, from precision to safety. Today’s advanced robots enable higher production rates as well as a higher quality product from end to end. Many brands that want to be sustainable and commit to sustainability have implemented robotic systems such as the Korean brand “Kolon Industries” which implemented a robotic system to manufacture PPE during the pandemic, increasingly more brands such as Adidas and Volleback are adopting a robotic approach to support their sustainable practices.

In the textile industry, robots are used for tasks that are repetitive, hazardous, time-sensitive, and require complex calculations or precision. Robotics are in an ideal position to take care of these tasks, eliminate repetitive strain injury on workers and eliminate the margin of human error. Among the manufacturing processes that can be automated include cutting and assembling fabrics, inserting zippers and laces, filtering yarns among others.

Types of Industrial Robotics Used in Textile Manufacturing

Robots used in textile manufacturing vary depending on the process to be performed. Robots are classified according to their movement and the tasks they perform. Industrial robots can generally be programmed to perform specific actions and have the ability to move their arms and tools to position objects accurately. The three major types include:

Cylindrical Robots

Cylindrical robots, also known as SCARA, are designed to have a rotary joint at the base that allows for movement. The robotic arm is then attached to the joint. They are used for handling lighter materials such as garments, fabrics, and yarn. They have good precision and control of movement and are ideal for use in textile-related jobs like sewing, inserting zippers, and sorting fabrics. SCARA cylindrical robots have movements similar to that of real-life humans. This makes them perfect in handling small fabric pieces such as dresses and collars. In 2018, Zara, a global fashion giant, implemented a robotic system in replacing fetching and carrying activities from their retail stores.

Articulated Arm Robots

Articulated arm robots, also known as articulated robots, are designed to have rotary joints that resemble human motion. They are composed of both cylindrical joints and elbows joints that move back and forth. Their design enables them to replicate human-like actions, making them ideal for textile handling jobs like weaving, embroidery, and moving fabrics. These robots are designed to perform motion patterns and have high precision, making them effective for repetitive tasks. Their agility, combined with accuracy is an ideal automation solution in textile manufacturing. Global sportswear giant, Adidas, recently invested in a knitting robot by the HCA to support their sustainable practice.

Cartesian or Gantry robots

Cartesian or Gantry robots are designed to move along three different Co-ordinates, X, Y, and Z. Their movement is in a linear motion from one point to another with the ability to pick up, position, and rotate objects along the way. They are used in textile manufacturing processes like material handling, cutting fabrics, and patchwork. The Versace group recently implemented a robotic arm in assembling their high-end leather bags.

Advantages of Using Industrial Robotics in Textile Manufacturing

Industrial Robotics in textile manufacturing presents a lot of benefits. Automation helps in reducing the manufacturing cost and time while increasing production efficiency. Other advantages of using industrial robotics in textile manufacturing include:

Reduced Manufacturing Costs

The use of industrial robotics in textile manufacturing reduces manufacturing costs by eliminating the need for hiring additional labor. Robotics also help in maximizing production output per machine by working beyond the normal working hours offered by human labor, reducing labor turnover, and eliminating safety-related costs. The cost of industrial robots has plummeted in recent years and is now easily affordable. Many companies are now investing in the technology, making the switch from manual to automated processes. For instance, Adidas acquired an expensive knitting robot in 2021 to promote sustainability, however, most brands can invest in robotic applications at a lower price point.

Increased Production Efficiency

Robots are designed to work tirelessly and with great precision. They are faster and more efficient at performing repetitive tasks, making the production process smoother. This ensures the production runs in a smooth and timely manner, and at the right quality, with reduced risk of delays, mistakes and underperformance of workers. The precision provided by industrial robots ensures quality is delivered making them a perfect solution in the textile industry.

Improved Quality Standard

Industrial robots help improve the quality standards of textile products. Automated assembly lines help control the materials used in the production of textile products and measurements of finished goods, ensuring that every product is uniform. Traditionally, the production of textiles involved tedious and highly sensitive tasks where human error could cause a lot of problems in production assembly and reduce the desired quality standard. Industrial robots utilizing quality scanners and sensors are capable of handling sensitive tasks such as making fine albeit cuts and measuring to a supreme degree of accuracy. The brand Hugo Boss implemented a robotic application that allows for eliminating wasting fabrics hence increasing profitability while promoting their green efforts.

Enhancing Worker Safety

The use of robots in textile manufacturing processes reduces the amount of physical labor required, which, in turn, provides a safer working environment for the workers. Working on industrial machines can be dangerous; workers may sustain injuries related to the job. For example, on production lines where cutting is involved, it poses a real risk to workers. However, robots can work on these tedious activities, and workers can safely perform other jobs such as monitoring the automated process. With the influx of robots in the textile industry, it’s likely the occupational hazards that exist for the workers will be reduced, and many more people will want to take part in such jobs that are no longer seen as hazardous or low-skill.

Reduced Material Wastage

Industrial robotics reduces material wastage by utilizing materials efficiently. In textile manufacturing, machines like the cutting machines that are automated allow robotic cutters to maximize the use of supplying materials, reducing unnecessary cutting patterns and wastage of fabrics. When it comes to testing, industrial robots are highly effective in that they test products to determine the best pattern cutting for a specific fabric, thus reducing textile wastage and optimizing raw material utilization. A good illustration of this is Nike when they invested in automation in their textile manufacturing process, and they reduced material wastage by 60%, reducing the carbon footprint.

Challenges Facing Industrial Robotics in Textile Manufacturing

In spite the numerous advantages that industrial robotics can provide for textile manufacturing, there are also challenges that present themselves in the industry when incorporating this technology. Some of the challenges are:

High Initial Cost

Industrial robotics is an expensive technology, and therefore the initial cost of installation can be relatively high. Installation, training, and maintenance of these machines can take a significant toll on costs. This cost can be prohibitive, especially for small manufacturers and newer entrants in the textile industry. However, other companies offer an array of financing options with the increasing demand for the technology.

Complexity of System Integration

Integrating industrial robotics into an existing textile manufacturing platform can be challenging, complex, and expensive, reducing the rate at which the technology is adopted in the industry. Transportation, installation, and setup all contribute to the lengthy period in the adaptation of industrial robotics in textiles.

Mental Block by Certain Sections of Workers on Their Usefulness

Industrial automation translates to the machines doing work that was traditionally carried out by people. There are concerns within the workforce that automating processes will lead to loss of jobs and unemployment. Some argue that the technology will render them redundant and only used for non-technical support to the machines. However, this is a common misconception. The role of workers has evolved with the integration of industrial robotics, as they can now be moved to more strategic job roles, enabling them to efficiently manage and monitor the textile manufacturing process.

Limitations in Programming and Maintenance

Programming and maintenance of industrial robotics require skilled labor. Robots do not have the necessary human intuition required for maintenance requirements or mechanical issues, unlike humans. Programming, modifying, and maintaining robots can be complicated, requiring a high level of expertise and technical knowledge.


Industrial robotics is transforming the textile manufacturing industry. In the textile industry, it’s being used for precision work, hazardous processes, repetitive, and time-sensitive tasks. Industrial robotics increases efficiency, improves quality standards, reduces manufacturing costs, and improves worker safety. Companies that employ industrial robotics in textile manufacturing processes are considered forward-thinkers, innovators and have a competitive edge in the industry. The robustness of the technology, combined with the flexibility of machines, the increase in profitability and environmental conservation, and the promotion of a variety of jobs make these evolving systems helpful in the sustainability of textile industries. It is, however, essential to address the challenges faced in industrial robotics such as the high initial costs, enforcing a correct strategy for implementation, and addressing misconceptions about the usefulness of industrial robots in coordination with human workers. The future of textile industry production involves the increased implementation of industrial robotics and high-level skilled jobs as workers partake in the complex design and improvements of the machines.

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