What are Smart Factories?


The proposal of smart factories and “de-skilling” is a striking development among sewing machine manufacturers. In particular, they have embraced the idea of “functions that allow anyone to sew efficiently,” by making the sewing machine adjustment values visible, for example.

Juki (Juki Corporation) revealed a one-stop line solution, incorporating print, cutting, carrying and sewing.


The company plans to introduce new machines that allow digital adjustment. By digitising the values for the thread tension decided by the sample loom and employing them in production, even small lots in multiple varieties can be realised efficiently.


Furthermore, even the process management has been simplified by using digital terminals. At JIAM, a smart factory for sewing polo shirts was also revealed. The robot that carries fabric goes around the line, carries the partially sewn fabric automatically, and passes it to the next process. By reading a chip attached to the fabric, the operator can quickly learn the kind of operation that is required. As a result, 13 sewing machines can be controlled by 4 people, and 221 sheets are produced daily.


This has already been presented as a feasible system, and in the future, Juki plans to roll this out to production systems that even include control for fabric warehousing.

Brother Industries Ltd., also proposed a production system that uses a network.

Each individual sewing machine has a single Wi-Fi terminal attached by USB, which collects data on the operating status of the machines. It displays the hourly production volume, and any kinds of errors that have occurred if the machine stops.


By allowing this system to be mounted to the S-7300A lockstitch sewing machine, with computerised feed mechanism, and the programmable electronic sewing machine series, BAS, it becomes possible to exchange machine settings via the USB port. Going forward, the aim is to deal with remote services, such as maintenance information and the needle change-out rate. Brother also exhibited a fully automated cuff-sewing machine that was also able to carry the fabric. This garnered much attention, with overseas visitors especially impressed.


PEGASUS SEWING MACHINE MFG. Co., Ltd., meanwhile, presented a variety of software for plant improvement.


The Digital Process Analysis System records the state of machine operation with a small camera, the images from which can then be analysed and compared immediately. The image can be checked in static and slow motion, and by measuring time from the image and computerising the work, the important points of the work can be accurately ascertained. Skills can be shared by experienced users to help train novices.


The Wireless Process Control System records and controls the pitch time with the press of a wireless button (a counter switch), whenever the operator finishes one sheet. The degree of progress per operator and process can therefore be monitored in real-time. This quantifies the production volume possible within the working period.


Yamato Sewing Machine Mfg. Co., Ltd. revealed a large number of automated devices. As well as a semi-automatic work station that creates knitted hems using a vertical feeding overlock sewing machine, the company also exhibited a machine that automatically performs overcasting in jeans. It checks the curve of the fabric automatically with a sensor called an edge controller, then sets the fabric in place.

The quick-stop function was particularly impressive. By reading the edge of the fabric using a sensor, the machine is ensured to stop at the designated place, which helps reduce the down time caused by sewing accidents.


Brother exhibited a fully automated cuff-sewing machine

Brother exhibited a fully automated cuff-sewing machine


The only item clothing of its kind in the world



Not only are all sewing machines linked to one another within a sewing plant, the systems are also becoming useful in linking the plant with apparel companies or the plant with the consumer. Systems like this make it easier to handle multi-type, small lots, gradually bringing down the hedging on personal orders.


Having an interface that allows intuitive ordering is very important. Tajima Industries, Ltd. proposed a name-embroidering system that uses the DGML by PULSE needlework design system.

Equipped with large touch panels, it is easy for clients to place orders. Users first select the type of item that they wish to embroider, such as a hat, then enter the letters of the name they want embroidered, and then the colour and design. Once this is all selected, a virtual sample is shown on the screen.


When the “finalise” button is pressed, an order form with a two-dimensional barcode is printed. When the barcode is then read by the embroidering machine close by, the job will be performed as per the sample. This system is expected to be widely adopted by shops and stores.

The fact that tablet terminals have become the norm is also a boost to order systems. SHIMA SEIKI MFG., Ltd.’s Shima Private Server is a system that reads design data, such as virtual samples created using the SDS-ONE·APEX3 design system, in-store or during presentations.


It is possible to use a tablet terminal to alter colour and pattern selections on the spot, and to view a 3D sample while ordering. Because the selected sample links directly with CAD (computer aided design) data, as long as the thread and so forth is in stock, semi-order products can be promptly generated. This is already being adopted in part as a semi-order system in stores.

Daiwabo proposed a system equipped with a facial recognition feature, MITENE

Daiwabo proposed a system equipped with a facial recognition feature, MITENE


Digital Fashion Ltd, meanwhile, has developed the Digital Fitting Room, which can customise patterns and designs. Using a tablet terminal, the colour and design can be set, and a global one-off item of clothing can be simply made, while viewing a 3D sample.


The Virtual Fitting Room that can be used for store presentations has also been put into practice already.

The IT specialist trader, Daiwabo Information System Co., Ltd. proposed a system equipped with a facial recognition feature, MITENE. If one stands in front of a large signage display with a camera attached, then that person’s image is reflected as in a mirror.


This system can automatically identify gender, and suggest clothes suited to the customer. This system is also unique, in that if the customer shakes his or her head, the clothing changes. As digital technology continues to become a part of fashion, there are sure to be countless new possibilities for systems to suggest and present products to the consumer.