Texprocess 2011 made its debut in Germany last month and WhichPLM provide some insight into the event
“IMB is dead…” is one of the comments I received during the Tex Process 2011 event which took place in Frankfurt between 24-27 April 2011. If that is true then based on the first two days of the exhibition that I attended I’m not convinced that Tex Process is the replacement! The general trend in declining numbers for exhibition and conference events across all industries is subject to a lot of debate and deliberation and not for discussion here, but essentially in my opinion Tex Process started slowly. Of course happening almost a year to the day we were reminded that Northern Europe’s aviation industry is conditional on Iceland’s volcano industry, which is possibly partly to blame for the slow start, but on my flight back from Frankfurt I still had the same question that I had when I went out… what is Tex Process going to show me in terms of advances in CAD/CAM/PDM/PLM?
Of course being based in Frankfurt, Tex Process had a very German feel to it. A number of local smaller vendors were out in force such as Koppermann, Pohl, Mobimedia or Bedav to name a few. And then some of the bigger named vendors were also in attendance albeit had a surprisingly small presence such as PTC or TXT e-solutions. But the stars of the stage were undoubtedly Gerber, Human Solutions and Lectra. If I am honest these three vendors acted as the cornerstones of the exhibition hall and without them, the stage would have looked quite empty indeed.
Being an exhibition focusing on apparel technologies of course I saw a lot of PLM and PDM solutions and I’m not going to tell you much about these as they were the pretty standard parade with the only notable point being an unveiling of Gerber’s YuniquePLM V4.0. What I was looking for were technologies which gave a glimpse of the future, systems which dared to test the boundaries of standards and were very much avant-garde technologies.
Koppermann had the first of these distinguished technologies with their TEX-Store™ planogram software. Of course visual merchandising and store planograms are nothing new but Koppermann’s software showed a store planogram in 3D. It gave a good indication of where such technology is well suited however the Koppermann TEX-Store appeared to use the older anaglyphic 3D technology (with passive red-cyan lenses) rather than the newer polarised stereoscopic 3D which to me felt clunky and actually made the planograms harder to view. The whole point of store planograms is to graphically represent the store layout and see how the apparel garments will exist in those retail stores and anything that actually inhibits this objective gives rise for concern, but definitely an area to keep an eye on.
Lectra as always featured with a heavy emphasis on the cutting machines and one of their newest exciting announcements was the Smart Services for their Vector cutters. This essentially allowed for Lectra customer support personnel to actively monitor the Vector machines existing at client sites remotely. Without going into detail about the technology the obvious benefit is being able to diagnose the system ad-hoc and thus hopefully reduce system downtime which is a massive benefit when the Vector systems are used en mass. Lectra’s other main announcement was Modaris V7R1 which Lectra believes will truly gap the 2D-3D divide in pattern making. I spoke to Daniel Harari (Lectra’s CEO) regarding the new Modaris and he himself said that previous versions of Modaris provided some 2D-3D virtual prototyping but never have they truly bridged this gap until Lectra realised the new version which launches in October 2011.
Probably the most popular booth/stand was Human Solutions who presented a variety of multiple Apparel software and technologies. I was given a walkthrough of the Assyst PLM and if I am honest, it didn’t blow me away compared to some of the other solutions I am used to seeing in WhichPLM but one exciting bit of kit was their Vitus 3D body scanning. A user would stand in the middle of a triangular frame whilst lasers moved up their body taking measurements and thus generating a 3D visualisation. I was told that in order for the system to fully identify all the correct anchor points (i.e. arm pit, elbow joint etc.,) the person would need to be semi naked (which wasn’t ideal in the middle of an exhibition) and within 30 seconds would have all the measurement points necessary for any garment fit. It worked pretty well and was relatively quick yet I still have the issue of where this will be used in mainstream? Currently I can only see the use for this in high spec tailored garments especially as I’m sure the technology is currently not priced for the mainstream, and for your average high street garments, do you really need over a 140 body measurements? Again certainly an interesting concept and almost definitely an area that will evolve over the coming year.
So harking back to my opening line on this article, Tex Process was a good event, for the apparel PLM/CAD space it needed to attract a wider audience and certainly get more of the mainstream companies involved. I was surprised that neither Dassault nor Siemens had a presence and when you combine the Tex Process event with the neighbouring TechTextil which featured more sourcing, manufacturing and fabric production, it seems like the perfect type of exhibition for many vendors who offer multiple enterprise solutions outside of the CAD/PLM market such as NGC, DeSL, CGS and Tradestone. In Europe, there is definite scope for events of these types and multiple ones at that, as for “IMB is dead?”…long live IMB.