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FACE2FACE | October 2019

German firms can offer customised solutions in automation: Waldmann

India like other Asian countries has growing middle class, able and willing to spend more for clothes and home textiles than former generation were able to do. German textile machinery companies benefit from this trend, because they are offering the technologies one needs to manufacture textile products of higher quality”, says Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Machinery Association, Germany, during an interview with the ITJ.

With the ITMA Barcelona over, how has been the response for the German textile machinery industry? What is the current situation in global business?

A survey conducted by VDMA at ITMA, to which 100 companies responded, revealed the following: 89 per cent of the participants rated both the quantity and quality of visitors as good to very good. About 62 per cent rated the proportion of new contacts at the ITMA as good to very good. The business outlook after ITMA is good to very good for 61 per cent and satisfactory for 39 per cent. Yet, three months after ITMA, the economic situation is uncertain, due to the unsolved trade conflicts. Many things we took for granted in international relations have changed or are still changing.

Automation played a very big role at ITMA for the German textile machinery industry. Can you throw some light on this?

From fibre to spinning, knitting, weaving, nonwovens, dyeing, printing and finishing — there isn’t a textile sector that does not benefit from automation and process control. The effect is improved quality and consistency, cost control, improved work environments and employment opportunities.The R&D efforts of VDMA member companies paid off. They are able to offer textile manufacturers customised solutions, regardless, whether companies are aiming at fully automated units or semi-automated ones.

In addition to automation, the topic of digitisation and Industry 4.0 opens up completely new possibilities for increasing productivity, reducing the use of resources and improving quality. In addition, an increasing shortage of skilled workers can be addressed by more intelligent software.

Were there any special efforts mounted in recent times to boost German machinery industry’s presence in Asia, and particularly in India? What were the results?

At ITMA, VDMA organised a seminar “Perspectives on technical textiles and nonwovens in India”. Two guest speakers from India informed some 22 participants about the latest activities of the Indian government to promote the development and production of technical textiles. From 9-13 September, 10 VDMA-members participated in a business delegation trip to Japan. They presented their technical solutions for the benefit of the technical textile, nonwoven and composite industry. A similar event (symposium and B2B) with even 14 VDMA-members takes place on 12 November 2019 in Karachi and on 14 November 2019 in Lahore. Programme and registration can be found here: www.german-tech.org/textile-machinery. And last but not least, there will be an official German pavilion at Techtextil India, end of November in Mumbai.

German textile machinery industry has been emphasising sustainability with new launches and campaigns. How has this been going post-ITMA?

With its market-leading technologies and machinery, many German textile machinery manufacturers are already successfully offering energy- and resource-efficient solutions around the entire world– even without a mutually agreed machine label to identify energy efficiency. An expert team of member companies of the VDMA Textile Machinery Association has studied the energy saving effects across the entire production chain of five textile products: cotton t-shirt, a functional t-shirt, a textile billboard, an architectural fabric and a hygienic nonwoven. The result of this analysis is impressive: in the manufacture of these products today’s German technology can save up to 30 percent of energy compared to what was available 10 years ago.

Frankly speaking, today it’s nearly impossible to sell machines that are not resource efficient, because costs for commodities and energy are among the major ones in textile production.

What are the other special efforts undertaken to promote German textile technologies all over the world?

With the support of the German Government, VDMA is organising business initiations trips, performance shows and delegations to various countries. Next projects in 2020 are: business trip to Ethiopia, initiation of business in Algeria, and performance show in Central America.

Which the segments in the German textile machinery industry hold out good scope for the Asian textile industry, particularly India?

India like other Asian countries has growing middle class, able and willing to spend more for clothes and home textiles than former generation were able to do. German textile machinery companies benefit from this trend, because they are offering the technologies one needs to manufacture textile products of higher quality. Not to forget are textile producers focussing on technical textiles e.g. for vehicle manufacturing or civil engineering. This segment is only in the beginning in India, but offers good chances for German companies, too.

How do you look at the future of global textile industry? What is the role VDMA will be playing, especially in India and what are the new developments that one can look forward to for the growth of the industry?

India plays an important role in the global arena of textiles. VDMA Textile Machinery Association and the VDMA office in India regularly support the industries in both countries. Moreover, VDMA and its 3,200 member companies are well established in India. The German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers Association (VDMA) has established an office in India which acts as a bridge-head between the German and Indian Industry and shares expertise and experience with its member companies from different industrial sectors. With almost 20 years of experience and a team of committed and qualified experts, VDMA India maintains close relations with the Indian Industry, Indo-German companies, Embassy and Consulates as well as various Indian Industry Associations. VDMA India is the only association of its kind focussing on Mechanical Engineering Industry and is active in various specialised sectors. https://india.vdma.org/en_GB/

Germany has always been at the forefront of textile technologies. What is its wishlist for the Indian industry and the Indian Government to promote textile industry’s growth in India?

We hope that the various measures to promote the development and production of technical textiles in India will actually lead to a sustainable growth for the Indian industry. VDMA and its textile machinery members are ready to provide the necessary technical solutions, know-how and consultancy.

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