- Navin P Agrawal, General Manager (Weaving & Circular Knitting), A.T.E. Enterprises Pvt Ltd
Weaving industry has been progressing well in the last couple of years. The first boom was in 2004 and 2005, when weaving attracted a lot of investment. Then it slowed a bit. Again in 2012, one more boom period started. The interesting change was that those B- and C-segments, which were using second-hand machines, started looking for latest airjet and rapier machines. This big shift in the decentralised sector is continuing now. So, the 2015 was a good year when the investment in new big machines picked up.
This pace is expected to continue in 2016. What was seen at the ITMA 2015 that closed recently was that every loom manufacturer has concentrated on increasing the speed of the machine. Thanks to the spinning industry, which today has machines that produce stronger yarns and less impurities and unevenness, the loom manufacturers have successfully raised the speed to very high levels. Loom manufacturers like Tsudakoma and Picanol have crossed a speed of 2,000 RPM. This has been achieved in synthetic yarns. In spun yarn also, they have machines reaching a speed of over 1,200 RPM. This will have a long-term effect since with one machine of this stature, one can replace 15-20 powerlooms, and one can understand the production enhancement along with quality improvement of fabrics. Even in the case of shuttleless looms, these modern looms can replace 6-7 of such old looms. This translates into huge savings in labour cost and also power.
However, in shuttleless weaving machines, India is lagging much behind other nations like China. Today, we have reached around 80,000 looms, but we should have been something around 3 lakh by now looking at our global competitors. Here one can see the vast scope for such latest looms in India. In India, the investment in looms happens step by step. If they need 1,000 looms they start with 100 and slowly raise it to that capacity while in China, they invest in 1,000 looms at one stroke. Therefore the industry is looking at the demand, and in future if China is unable to meet the demand, there will be a sudden burst of investment in India on looms.
The main investment is coming from decentralised sector. Even some of the big corporates have started sourcing from small and medium units, which have invested in weaving. In technical textiles, not much is happening except for a very few players in the industry. There has been only a lot of talks going on but investment has not spread out to cover more. This is purely a user-based market and hence there is some reluctance to invest unless the seller finds suitable buyers. There is a growing awareness. Technical textiles is a niche market and hence the industry seeking volume business is hesitant at present. A.T.E. is selling some Chinese machines, with good technology, for the Indian market. These rapiers have been introduced in markets like Solapur (Maharashtra) where we have received some good demand. Warp knitting is taking off in a big way. In Surat, it has grown very much and A.T.E. has a big stake in this segment.