The Textile Machinery Division of SWISSMEM represents the interests of its 40 members. In 2015, SWISSMEM celebrated Diamond Jubilee, and over the past 75 years, its Textile Machinery Division has reached many milestones. Some of the members have become unchallenged market leaders in their segments.
Textile machinery companies from Switzerland offer products and solutions along the entire textile value chain. The technologies cover all areas of the textile industry: Spinning, weaving, embroidery, finishing, coating, printing, and quality control. Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General, SWISSMEM, via an email interaction with Samuel Joseph, Editor of the Indian Textile Journal, exchanged views about the industry on various recent issues.
The last three years have been hectic with big global exhibitions. How recent times for the Swiss textile machinery industry globally?
Our industry has had a good start into 2017, with a plus of 7.5 per cent in the first quarter compared with the same period of 2016. Apart from the main markets, countries such as Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Portugal and Iran show good growth rates. The order intake of our members shows that this momentum should continue through 2017.
After Swiss presence at India-ITME, how has the industry fared in the Indian market?
India is and will stay one of the most important markets for the Swiss textile machinery industry. That is why there was such a strong presence in India ITME. The importance of the Indian market can be seen from the export statistics. But this is of course only one part of the picture. Many of our member companies have production sites and service centres in India and deliver the Indian market from there.
Which are the segments in textile machinery that the Swiss companies have been doing extremely well in the last few years?
The products, technologies and solutions covered through our Swiss textile machinery manufacturers include the entire textile value chain: from spinning, weaving, embroidery, knitting, finishing, to coating and quality control. This is why this question can’t be answered for a single segment. But in general the current business situation for our industry is positive and we see signs of relief in many markets.
Apart from Asia, where do you think the textile industry has bigger scope and how far the Swiss technologies have penetrated in these regions?
The most important export markets for our industry are the same for many years: India, Turkey and China. But there are also markets that went through difficulties times and where we see signs of recovery. One of these countries is Egypt. This is, why in April this year 14 of our Swiss member companies participated in a two day symposium in Cairo organised by the Swiss Textile Machinery Association.
What are the strengths of Swiss textile technology and what are its benefits for the Indian industry?
Our industry has worked hard for its today quality reputation. We can look back many years, decades even centuries as the textile machinery sector is one of the oldest-established Swiss industries. 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. And this ability is also of benefit of the Indian textile industry.
Energy saving and sustainability are the new watchwords of textile industry. What are the Swiss companies contribution to these indispensable areas?
R&D is part of the DNA of Swiss companies. R&D and sustainability aspects go hand in hand and cover the following four aspects: environmental, economic, social and cultural. Often the environmental aspect is primarily taken into consideration. But the other aspects are as important. Machines that improve safety, minimise waste, consume less energy and deliver maximum return on investment are designed and produced in a sustainable way. Building such a machine requires a holistic approach analysing operational efficiency, safety, functionality, productivity, material use, ease-of-operation and maintenance. Our Swiss industry—often ranking as global innovation champion—develops its machines in taking all these aspects into consideration.
What are the special campaigns being undertaken, like for instance in R&D, to keep the Swiss technology ahead in competition?
Switzerland often ranks as an “Innovation Champion” in global analyses. This is also necessary when playing in the “Champions League” of the global textile machinery industry. Nevertheless we see that for SMEs the task of innovating their portfolio, services and processes is a difficult one. This is mainly due to the lack of resources. Therefore our association started an initiative to support the members in this respect. In the last years, we offered additive manufacturing workshops. The aim was to give our members an overview of what is possible with this production technology, but even important to show where the limits are. They will be supported to find possible production parts, to design and have one piece produced in additive manufacturing technology. This forms the basis to effectively implement this technology. Currently we develop a workshop program to support our members in the field of Industry 4.0 and its consequences for the textile and textile machinery industry.