Robotextile GmbHAutomation for the textile production - Steinbeis Europa Zentrum facilitated use case
SMEs from the manufacturing industry in Europe were at the centre of the EU project AI REGIO, in which Steinbeis Europa Zentrum was involved as a competence centre until the end of October 2023. In that regard, we gave access to regional digital competence networks, the Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs), and supported the companies in improving and digitally transforming their processes through partnerships with the DIHs. Within the project, SMEs were able to apply in two tender rounds and win funding for user experiments in collaboration with regional DIHs. 14 DIHs from eight countries have participated in AI REGIO.
In the second open call for proposals in 2022, 18 application projects were selected. 11 projects received funding of 60,000 euros per project (individual funding), a further 7 projects received 100,000 euros per project (consortium funding for 2-3 partners). The winners were active in three areas: Manufacturing Data Spaces, AI for Manufacturing Applications and AI Didactic Factories for Manufacturing.
In July 2022, a project manager from the Steinbeis Europa Zentrum came into contact with the Baden-Württemberg start-up Robotextile from Dormettingen and advised it on EU funding opportunities. Among other things, Robotextile was made aware of the second open call for proposals in the AI REGIO project.
Robotextile GmbH successfully participated in the tender and was awarded 100,000 euros for its application project "AI for sensitive gripping of non-rigid parts and textiles". It was working together with Fraunhofer IPA and Schmalz, the market leader in automation with vacuum and ergonomic handling systems, to develop a solution.
The three partners' application project focused on previously unproductive tasks in textile production in Europe, which currently account for 30 % of labour costs. Automation is necessary to optimise the supply chain, deploy skilled workers in a more value-adding way and comply with the new laws on due diligence in the supply chain. The use of artificial intelligence would make the European textile industry more competitive with Asia. Robotextile was specifically looking for a sensor technology that would enable the reliable separation and handling of textile blanks. As a result of the application project, the start-up increased profitability and labour motivation and reduced staff shortages through the use of robots and AI.
Robotextile is an agile robotics start-up, founded in 2022, but with a wealth of experience in robotics. Its mission is to provide the textile industry with functional new developments for the separation of a wide variety of fabric layers. With patented and newly tested complete solutions, Robotextile takes up the challenge of automating previously manual secondary processes in the textile industry. A wide variety of textiles and fibres are separated reliably and cost-effectively. Robotextile offers ready-to-use system solutions that use small robots and special grippers to remove individual layers of fabric from the cutting stack. Each layer of fabric is fed separately to the next production step without picking up the bottom layer of fabric. This separating and picking up of textiles is one of the most important basic process engineering operations in the further processing of fabrics of all kinds.
„As a young start-up, we only have limited time and sources to apply for possible funding. Steinbeis Europa Zentrum provided us with advice and support and informed us about the second open call for proposals in the AI REGIO project. In fact, the call for proposals matched in perfectly with the Robotextile research projects, so we successfully applied to take part. We thank Steinbeis for their helpful and active support.“Michael Fraede, Robotextile GmbH