Prototype of a seambot which will feed aligned material through an industrial sewing machine without human intervention revolutionising the production process - a world first in a commercial environment.

O’Neills International Sports Company Ltd Challenge: Automated production in the sewing environment

O’Neills jersey production line depends entirely on a dedicated team of seamstresses. They hand-sew each jersey for high-run retail product lines through to personalised custom team lines and jerseys individually customised online using the iCreate system by retail web customers. This is not unique to O’Neills and is in line with garment production processes worldwide.

Despite the mass exodus of garment manufacturing companies to third world regions, O’Neills remain committed to their UK & Irish production facilities. This poses serious scalability issues in terms of ramping up production in the face of recruitment difficulties for roles that the working public view as stagnant career positions from a long-gone era. Automation is the only way forward to keep pace with the delivery schedule while maintaining a local production facility in the UK. This will not only drive scalability but will deliver on sustainability and put the UK at the forefront of excellence in worldwide garment manufacturing.

You can read more about O’Neills and the challenge here.

Orla Ward, project lead on the Made Smarter programme for O’Neills, was excited to complete the assessment stage of the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme:

“O’Neills have identified Pentiot Ltd and Metis Automation to work with us on our challenges to introduce intelligent verification and automation of production into our production processes. As a manufacturer, customised products such as jerseys are a big part of our business and being responsive to our customers’ needs means we are continually looking for the latest innovations to ensure our manufacturing processes are efficient and agile. We look forward to working with the teams at Pentiot, Metis Automation and Digital Catapult to help us on our digital transformation journey.

“For us, the Digital Catapult Made Smarter Technology Accelerator is designed with industry at its core and the support available will help O’Neills accelerate our adoption of technology.”

About Pentiot Ltd

Pentiot is focused on delivering SMART solutions for Industry 4.0 enterprises by leveraging IoT, AI, MEC & 4G/5G as enabling technologies.

The solution

This robotic system will prototype the feeding of aligned material through existing industrial sewing equipment as a proof of concept of what can be expanded into a full lights out manufacturing environment. The system will use existing methodologies and practices to achieve consistent results and will leverage artificial intelligence to replace the human eye to dynamically alter the feed-rate of the material through the sewing machine. This Industry 4.0 solution will ultimately help O’Neills scale their business to achieve new business goals that can’t be achieved in their current Industry 2.0 environment and will help O’Neills to better compete with overseas manufacturers and their operating solutions.

For industry the solution will

  • Deliver a worlds first for the automation of garment sewing
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Enhance customer reputation
  • Enable leaner operations
  • Provide increased margins

How the solution is unique

This is a solution that is not currently commercially available. While the sewing industry was the first to be mechanised it is the last to be automated. Material handling is a challenge and successive trials to replace human hands with simulated hands on robots have been unsuccessful. This we believe will be the first step to deliver a worlds first and put the UK back on the map for garment production.

What the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator means to Pentiot

“Pentiot are delighted to be working with one of the UK & Irelands leading manufacturers, O’Neills, on the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme, as they digitally transform and increase competitiveness.” Nic Stirk, CEO, Pentiot Ltd

Prototype presentation

On 23 June 2021, the programme proudly presented the first phase insights and learnings for industry in an online event.  Watch the Metis Automation pitch here: