Digital little helper

Episode 11: Particularly in the textile industry, there is a large disparity among the workforces in terms of levels of experience and knowledge. A digital support system is in the making to help textile factory employees with their work and enable new colleagues to learn their new jobs faster.

Demographic change poses problems, particularly for the textile sector. “The German textile industry has to survive in global competition. Its degree of digitalisation is low; the proportion of older employees exceptionally high,” says Dr. Andrea Altepost, deputy project manager of SozioTex.
The interdisciplinary research team SozioTex, headed by Dr. Fabian Schreiber at the RWTH Aachen’s Institute for Textile Technology (ITA), is studying – with the help of volunteers from the textile industry – the effect and acceptance of digital support systems. To the end, the team have developed an app that provides individual, real-time support to employees for the operation of weaving machines. What’s special about this system is that the users are involved from the very start. Workers and scientists together are testing, improving and ultimately implementing the technology.
And this is how the digital little helper works. During the work process, optical signals appear on the display explaining the necessary steps to be taken. Red arrows and pictograms show the user, for example, how a thread has to be fed in or a spool changed. In this way, the app makes it possible to identify and resolve technical mistakes faster.

And who invented it? The interdisciplinary research team SozioTex at the RWTH’s Institute for Textile Technology (ITA) and Institute of Sociology (IfS) in Aachen, of course.