The main players of the textile industry were together in Porto to discuss the impact of digitalization and sustainability in the business.
How can we assure a true sustainable supply chain for the textile business? From fibers production to retail, the answer is: digitalization. It was one of the main outcomes of the 2019 Annual Conference of Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF), hosted by Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal (ATP) in the city of Porto, Portugal.
This year, the topic couldn’t be other than: “Digitalization & Sustainability: their impact on the global textile industry.” For three days, we have been discussing with world leaders in the sector, watching technical and business sessions about the paths through digitalization and ways of having a more sustainable textile industry.
The session called “Shaping the business models of the future” discussed how to implement digitalization in the factories, from small companies to big industrial plants, bringing the fashion industry to the discussion. Joachim Hensch, managing director of Hugo Boss Textile Industries, and Kim Hellstrom, Strategy Lead on Climate and Water for H&M Group, were between the speakers and shared with the audience their companies’ cases.
The human resources behind the digitalization were the central topic of Dr. Stefan Hild’s talk, called “The Future of Artificial Intelligence is Human”. Dr. Hild defends that the generated data from the machines should be used to provide a better experience for the users, in this case, the factory employees. Enhancing human usage of the machines through data, you can also open some space for creative processes, to improve workflow and results. Dr. Hild believes that a creative mindset combined with data information is the perfect match for having employees making better decisions while dealing with the machines. It’s a combination of mathematical precision and human creativity at its best, understanding artificial intelligence as a way of enhancing the work, never replacing it.
From the beginning of the chain, we had some main sessions around cotton production, to guarantee transparency and traceability in the whole process. Recycled fibers were also an important part of the conference, mainly in pointing out the challenge in working with polyester.
The ITMF 2019 also gave space for small and innovative companies. In two sessions led by start-ups, companies like Haelixa, from Switzerland, and Springkode, from Portugal, had the opportunity to unveil their cutting-edge technology projects for the textile industry.
New frameworks and practices were also discussed by the members of IFTM, together with other associations and related entities, like EURATEX. The conference was opened by the president of ITMF, Kayak Sung, and the president of ATP, Mário Jorge Machado.
One of the general sessions discussed the textile industry in Portugal and in Europe, moderated by the vice-president of ATP, Miguel Pedrosa Rodrigues. Among the topics was Portugal as a case study and inspiration in competitiveness in the industry, presented by Isabel Furtado, CEO of TMG Automative and President of COTEC, Portugal.
The next ITMF Global Conference, in 2020, should take place in Seoul, Korea. You can find more information on the website: https://itmf.org