Revolutionizing the Textile Industry through Energy Efficient Technology

Authored by Mr. Ravichandran Purushothaman, President, Danfoss India.

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Snapshot of the Indian Textiles Industry

After agriculture, the textile industry is one of the oldest sectors contributing to the growth of India’s economy. A testimony to this is its contribution of 5% to India’s GDP and providing employment to 45 million people in the country. With fast-fashion becoming the fad of the 21st century, India is gaining prominence with its low-cost manufacturing capability and scalability. The growth potential of this industry is pegged at 12% CAGR due to factors such as abundance of raw material in the form of cotton, wool, silk, income generated, manpower and favourable geography of India.

Being one of the largest employment-generating sectors, the textile industry comes with its fair share of environmental concerns. To meet the varied demands of the consumer on a day-to-day basis, there is a considerable amount of energy and resources required. Processes such as dyeing, and finishing require high energy demands when water is heated through the means of steam. Textile mills are equipped with highly energy intensive parts such as AC drives, heating systems and humidity control systems that contribute not only to the high cost of energy but also to greenhouse gas emissions. With the world currently moving towards an electric future, energy becomes a key resource to enable it.

Challenges When Spinning Fabric

During the mid-1800’s, with the privatization of the cotton and silk establishments there was a tectonic shift towards mass production and mechanization in the Indian textile industry. This shift towards industrialization and mechanization has come at the cost of high energy consumption, especially in the modern world where energy is considered to be the new oil. The ballooning energy demands in manufacturing of textiles during the recent decades has resulted in a need for highly energy efficient systems and processes.

Currently, the textile sector is largely a traditional industry with very inefficient systems and processes. The industry relies on pumps, compressors, fans, AC systems and very basic environment controls to meet it needs. But these components are not centrally controlled to optimally utilize the energy. These inefficiencies lead to an overall carbon positive industry contributing to a large amount of carbon emissions.

The industry is in need of equipment that provides support to the entire lifecycle of the fabric making process. Some of the basic challenges lay in heat exchange concepts, controlled ramp-down functions, and motion control functionality. When operating in a textile factory, temperatures can soar up to 50 degrees Celsius with dust and dirt accumulating around the process of fabric generation. In order to keep the employee safe and the equipment functioning at optimal productivity, there are a plethora of factors that come into play. Installation of heat management systems, filters to prevent accumulation of dust and special protective measure to prevent corrosion are all a part of meeting the ambient working conditions efficiently.

Unlocking Energy Efficiency

The future needs of the textile industry would be to conserve precious energy both to reduce their manufacturing costs and to meet the sustainability goals of the Indian government. To achieve this mammoth task of optimal energy efficiency, all electrical system within a textile factory, which include components like pumps and AC systems, would have to be centrally driven. Danfoss India provides drive solutions like the “VACON®” series of drives for both temperature and air quality control to our customers in the textile industry. It is an all-round modular wall mounted system that can essentially interface with any control system in a factory, making it ideal for a connected factory of the future.

A key factor in the overall environmental control of the factory is also one of maintaining temperature, humidity, and air quality in the textile industry to improve the quality of woven textiles. Another lesser known but equally important challenge is the need for precision motion control systems to avoid yarn breaks, to reduce down-time and increasing efficiency. Danfoss India also provides a multitude of energy efficient heat exchangers and advanced motion control systems that collectively contribute to a predicted energy saving of around 30% in the overall ecosystem.

The Way Forward

Several new technologies like sensor fusion and AI are viewed as the key to unlocking the full potential of this industry. These technologies help in predicting the energy needs of the factory well in advance to effectively and efficiently cool, heat or ventilate a space. Predictive maintenance is something that is also enabled by using advanced sensing systems thereby reducing down-time and increasing energy efficiency.

The textile industry in India is rapidly expanding and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future as it caters to global markets. Sustainability being a key component in the overall success of the industry, need to be taken seriously. The industry and its suppliers are constantly on the lookout for newer and more efficient systems and processes that enables this eye watering speed of growth. With more R&D in the space currently underway, net carbon neutrality and optimal energy savings are well within reach.