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FACE2FACE | November 2019

New innovations will integrate digitalisation & sustainability aspect

The Swiss Textile Machinery Association is the representative body for Switzerland’s producers of textile equipment, systems and services. Currently 44 companies are affiliated, including manufacturers of machines and components, and service providers, for the textile industry. The companies offer solutions covering the entire textile value chain, from spinning to weaving, knitting, finishing, embroidery and quality control.

The Swiss Textile Machinery Association is part of Swissmem, the leading association for SMEs and large companies in Switzerland’s mechanical and electrical engineering (MEM) industries and related technology-oriented sectors.

Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General Swiss Textile Machinery, Swissmem, speaks on the response for the Swiss textile machinery industry at ITMA Barcelona, and the orders intake for the Swiss textile machinery industry in the recent times.

Excerpt…

With the ITMA Barcelona over, how has been the response for the Swiss textile machinery industry?

Switzerland was one of the largest exhibiting countries at ITMA in Barcelona, represented by 63 exhibitors. The number of exhibitors and the area occupied by Swiss exhibitors was slightly higher than in 2015. The feedback we got from our members was highly positive. Especially with respect to the quality of visitors. Many projects have been discussed and the exhibition was also used as a platform to sign contracts that have been negotiated beforehand.

European textile machinery companies are complaining about stagnant or negative order position towards the end of 2019. Please comment on orders intake for the Swiss textile machinery industry in the recent times.

After quite a few years with “best-ever” order volume and results, Switzerland, as many other industrial countries, encounters a certain slowdown of our industry. This is certainly uncomfortable but far away from downturns as we experienced 10 years ago. As our industry is very accustomed in dealing with such strong fluctuations, we are very confident, that the impact on our industry is very digestible. In addition we again face a strengthening of the Swiss Franc versus the Euro and the US Dollar. However, ITMA in the middle of the year triggered some additional stimulation of orders.

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

Our role is to promote the importance of the Swiss textile machinery industry. Interestingly, this industry is much better known abroad than in Switzerland. Our events are a first step to present the diversity of the Swiss textile machinery industry. Especially for SMEs, this is an important platform, as they have a much more difficult time building up a global presence. Our activities always focus on both goals – on the one hand the short-term initiation of business, but also the long-term customer relationship and the establishment of the brands of our members and of the Swiss textile machinery industry.

In recent years, we have focused on countries in which our industry still sees substantial development potential. Since the business relations between Switzerland and India are very strong, the support of the association in this market was not decisive.

The textile industry has been focusing on digitalization and sustainability campaigns in the recent times. What are the efforts and strategies undertaken by the Swiss textile machinery industry in this regard?

Many of the innovations will integrate digitalisation and sustainability aspect. Industry 4.0 offers various possibilities, be it in product or process optimisation or in the development of completely new business models. Our member companies use these possibilities to generate maximum customer benefit. With regards to sustainability, the optimised utilisation of resources is again one of the major topics. Raw materials are scarce and energy is expensive, therefore making our machines more efficient in both aspects is key.

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

The year 2020 will be a very busy year with respect to exhibitions and conferences. For many years, we support our members in important and developing customer markets. In February 2020, we will organise a Swiss Pavilion at ITME Africa in Addis Ababa/Ethiopia and later in the year at CAITME in Tashkent/Uzbekistan. Apart from ITMA Asia, which will be held from October 15-20, 2020 in Shanghai, we plan two more activities – a Swiss textile machinery conference in Mexico and Brazil in March 2020, and a customer event at India ITME in December next year. These are countries and regions we see a good potential also for the years to come.

Swiss companies are known for precision and innovation – what are the other quality attributes that make them so unique?

To answer this question, I would like to go back in time… Many of the companies in our association of textile machinery manufacturers were founded in the second half of the 19th century, have gone through many ups and downs and have gained outstanding reputation over time. Having such a long history, the Swiss companies have constantly managed to anticipate changes, developed their business strategy and have continuously evolved. R&D plays an eminent role in this. Nowadays the R&D process has to take many aspects into consideration, such as: automation, reliability, ergonomic aspects. Only with such a holistic approach our machines and solutions will satisfy the needs of future generations.

Any point you wish to add?

Did you know that The Swiss Textile Machinery association has recently launched its new campaign and the webpage www.swisstextilemachinery.ch? They both focus on the innovative spirit of our country. The chocolate bar, fizzy drinks and the computer mouse were all invented in Switzerland. “Invented in Switzerland. Where the same innovative spirit drives textile progress today.” This is also reflected by the years of experience of our 44 members – an impressive number of 4011 years!

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