For just a few weeks now, 169,728 spindles have been doing their duty under one roof at the largest ring spinning plant in the world. The Welspun manufacturing facility in Anjar, India is an enterprise of superlatives, and active VDMA member the Neuenhauser Group has been instrumental in its development: 55 kilometres of track with 944 switches were installed just to transport the roving bobbins.
872 bobbin trolley trains travel on the tracks, guided and monitored by more than 1,000 sensors. Over 15 kilometres of cable and 2 kilometres of optical waveguides have been installed so that the enormous plant can be controlled through a single command centre. The site offers a tantalising glimpse of how Project Industry 4.0 - the fusion of information technology and machine building ? will affect industrial production in the future. Wilhelm Langius, Head of Textile Industry Automation, explains why automation is the only possible way of the future.
After China, India is the second largest textile manufacturer in the world, and an enormously important market for Neuenhauser´
... Yes indeed. In the last few years, the Indian market has embraced automation in spinning plants very successfully. We have already completed more than 20 projects for various Indian customers in this segment. Last year, Neuenhauser succeeded in winning its largest order to date for roving bobbin and package transport systems with palletisation, from Welspun. This is one of the largest, most modern ring spinning mills in the world. The customer wanted a completely automated, ´contactless´ material transport system. Final acceptance was completed just a very few weeks ago.
Please would you outline briefly the path transport automation in spinning mills took to reach its present state.
As automation became increasingly widespread in natural and chemical fibre spinning mills, it gave rise to an enormous leap in productivity. It was then a logical progression to build apparatuses and systems that used technology to enable them to handle the heavy, delicate bobbins for natural, chemical and carbon fibres. Accordingly, Neuenhauser developed the world´s first fully automated handling system, called ´AutoFlow´, as early as 1985. AutoFlow was designed with a device for removing the bobbins from production machines that is now well known in the textile industry, called the ´lifter-doffer´. But this was just the first step on the road to full automation. Over time, our group of companies developed other automated handling systems for the textile industry, including not only devices for removing BCF bobbins from the spinning or winding machines, but also for overhead transport, intermediate storage and automatic packaging of the bobbins. So we now support and monitor the entire manufacturing operation, all the way up to loading and shipping.
Why was automation inevitable? Surely, customer countries such as China or India do not lack manpower?
Corporations like Welspun build gigantic production facilities, whose very manufacturing capacity on a daily basis poses problems: In terms of product quality as well as the greater need for human resources. This is further complicated by high turnover in personnel. Over the years, Neuenhauser has developed many automation projects for customers such as these, which have enabled them to prevail in a highly competitive environment.
What advantages does the automation powered by Neuenhauser also offer with regard to Industry 4.0?
In our vision, automation has a far more complex role than is generally thought. Its purpose is not just to lower payroll costs, although this is also a decision making criterion as well. I