The future of the Textile Industry in Era 4.0: with Robson Wanka

We spoke with Robson Wanka about the scenario of the Brazilian textile industry on the way to Industry 4.0. The sector’s adaptation to this moment of transformation and the global scenario, main challenges, destinations and gains from this journey.

Robson implemented the first Industry 4.0 Plant in the Americas in the Clothing Sector (October 2017), responsible for developing the Master in Business Innovation – MBI: Advanced Industry – Clothing 4.0 (2018), official milestone of the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Textile and Clothing Sector (ABIT + SENAI CETIQT).

Professional with 22 years of experience in large multinational and national companies, project coordinator with international educational institutions, organizer of more than 30 workshops in Brazil, his journey is marked by the purpose of sharing knowledge and promoting high performance results for people, communities, companies and countries.

In this conversation, Wanka outlined an overview of the current national and global scenario, demystified the dilemma that financial resources are the biggest impasse for this adaptation and, above all, left a warning:“Anyone who doesn’t adapt will be doomed to leave the market.”


What is the current scenario of the national textile industry?

Here, most of the textile and clothing industries continue in the Second Revolution, trying to move towards the third. The most advanced are close, as they have already automated several processes, but they are still following this path, so to speak.

Globally, very few companies are moving towards a Fourth Revolution, which is characterized by greater integration, convergence and connectivity.

Which is when you start to connect the consumer with the production process. All members of the supply chain exchange data and information with each other, thereby gaining great agility.


E-book banner: evolution of clothing 4.0.


What would it be like if we were already truly experiencing 4.0?

We currently have two situations in the production process: stocks of inputs at the beginning and stocks of finished products at the end. However, with Industry 4.0 there will be no such stock of inputs.

All machines will exchange information with each other and will know, for example, when sublimation paper, ink and fabric are running out. When this happens, sensors detect it and notify the supply chain. And delivery is made on demand, Just in Time.

What benefits will this bring?

  • Save time;
  • Stock reduction;
  • Area reduction;
  • Greater assertiveness.

We will have a huge gain in personalization and customer satisfaction. This is all a very violent change!

Well, in the past, a designer designed clothes for other people. With Industry 4.0, it is the consumer who will design their clothes, in a kind of mass customization. And this empowered consumer will want to create their own product, and not be like others.

People no longer want to buy an outfit in a magazine where there are 100,000 more just like it. They want a piece with a special cut, a personal detail… people want to feel unique, in other words, personalization!


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What does Industry 4.0 technology do that we cannot do without it?

Make more assertive decisions. And that’s what Industry 4.0 brings. One way to understand various scenarios through Big Data, interpret these data, and make the most accurate decision.

An example of this is a game we played in our plant: a robotic arm touches the person’s thigh and measures muscle tone. Based on muscle tone, skin stiffness, it tightens or loosens leggings, capris, or capri pants.

It is an automated measurement, where artificial intelligence makes an autonomous decision in production.

No designer, seamstress, or pattern maker needs to say to tighten or loosen, the robot makes the decision.

So this is a drastic change in the way companies relate. There is a series of data and information available for autonomous decision-making, so it is already possible to make some decisions with little human interference. But the volume of data is multiplying ever faster.

There is a study that says that until the year 1900, the volume of information doubled every 100 years, today it doubles every 13 months, and in the future, it will double every 12 hours. There will be a very strong change in society regarding the use of this information. And Industry 4.0 is for that.



How is Brazilian production compared to the main global textile hubs in implementing Industry 4.0 concepts?

Our plant was the first in the Americas, with several technological components that do not exist in the USA. Germany launched a similar plant six months before ours, but ours is more advanced.

The fact is that knowledge is available, what is missing is the attitude to use technologies.

What is missing is for companies to start using available technology to improve competitiveness. I.e:

  • reduce cost;
  • reduce time;
  • improve the quality;
  • reduce waste.

It is necessary to put into practice measures that involve safety, product delivery time and error correction. Learn to make fewer mistakes and, if you make mistakes, how to correct them faster.

Industry 4.0 brings these technologies so that companies can be more assertive and deliver value faster to their customers.


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Why is it so difficult to advance in Industry 4.0 in the textile segment?

We participate in international fairs and realize that sewing is still the biggest bottleneck. It is now possible to automate specific steps, but making an entire dress shirt, placing the project and sewing it doesn’t exist yet.

Senai de SP managed to automatically close a t-shirt, it is already an evolution, but the challenge is to put this on a professional scale.

I visited Softwear, in the United States. They have been developing a system with spheres that rotate the fabric and place it in the machine to be sewn for nine years.

But this technology still has limitations, because the fabric needs to be heavier for the equipment to transport, otherwise it will wrinkle due to its malleability. We haven’t identified any place in the world doing this on an industrial scale yet.


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What are the main challenges that the sector will have to face to adapt to industry 4.0 in Brazil?

To implement industry 4.0 you initially need to organize basic things in the company. And this is not necessarily linked to technology. So the first step is to organize the company.

It is about preparing the culture of optimization, the culture of control, of the organization. And then, as it evolves, it applies a sensor to measure times, another to measure performance, and starts to check quality with less human interference.

Gradually you will collect data for decision making. It’s not a “quantum leap”! You have to go through previous steps to get there.

It’s a very cultural issue, as the entrepreneur has to seek education and knowledge.

The company must have knowledge first and foremost. Know what technologies are available and how these technologies can bring real benefits. Later research information about this equipment and then look for a supplier to implement it in your company.


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What is your opinion on investment x return for adapting to Industry 4.0?

As adaptation is gradual, investment must also be gradual. As you invest, the investment begins to pay off and you reinvest. It is a continuous process of growth that feeds back on itself. The earnings generated pay for investments and allow investing in new technologies, the important thing is to take the first step.

But it is necessary to understand the scenario in order to have the correct attitude.

Today, whether we like it or not, several companies are informal and many are family-owned. The product started to sell, there was demand, and the business started to grow.

Many companies look at the price of a similar product on the market and sell it for the same price. Lack of technical knowledge on how to improve the product.

These entrepreneurs probably have a lot of waste that they don’t even realize is waste. And they are unaware that technology exists to reduce these losses by more than 25%. Therefore, it is necessary to understand that education is the foundation.


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What is the outlook for companies that do not adapt in the medium/long term?

The market is undergoing a very rapid transformation. Solutions that are still expensive and difficult to access will become popular in the short term. Take the example of drones. New technologies are very expensive when they are launched, but with exponential consumption the price drops drastically.

A big change will happen when this trend reaches Industry 4.0. Those who don’t adapt will be left behind. This is where the importance of being connected to a larger network lies.

No Brasil, unfortunately, companies still do not have the culture of sharing like most unicorns in Silicon Valley. Those who have this culture grow much faster, after all, knowledge develops exponentially.

In Silicon Valley, they are strong because they learned to share, they learned to integrate. And in Brazil, we haven’t learned how to do that yet. But we need to learn because those who stay out of this transformation will fail. They will be out of a network, out of a context that is happening. Technology is already available, and many companies are already using it.

The fact is:

those who do not keep up with the changes will fall behind and will fail or lose market share in the medium or even short term.


What is the main reason for not adapting yet?

Lack of knowledge, in the past, know-how lasted 30 years in a profession. Today, in five years, you are already outdated, and the trend is for this period to become even shorter.

The World Economic Forum has already shown these numbers. The study “The Future of Jobs Report,” from September 2018, talks about the number of months (or years) needed for a person to update themselves if they want to stay in their current job.


E-book]How to ensure quality control in the textile industry?


What is the fate of those who are already adapting at this moment?

These companies will gain more and more market share, more competitiveness, and will certainly gain more and more market share from the competition. They will be more assertive, while others will be more assertive.

Anyone who does this will grow exponentially. And it will grow quickly.

This is what other companies need to understand: the use of technology is for them, not against them. Technology came to help. But as I already mentioned, there is always the question of knowledge and attitude to make things happen.

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Delta Equipamentos was born out of the need for textile industries to optimize their production, aiming for greater competitiveness and constant updating in the globalized market. We offer innovative products and customized solutions, meeting the expectations and needs of our customers.