Swiss textile machinery manufacturers stating that sustainable finishing procedures are the sole way to save the planet correspond to that need by minimizing the water and energy consumption.
The massive consumption of water and energy required by many finishing processes, as well as the toxicity of some chemicals, has increasingly caused grave concern to environmentalists and the wider public. Conversely, responding to these worries has been the catalyst for innovation among eco-responsible companies in the Swiss Textile Machinery Association. For years, many of Swiss finishing machinery companies have been actively developing and launching innovations with environmental friendliness approach as a prime requisite.
Swissmem (Swiss Machinery Manufacturers Association) Secretary General Cornelia Buchwalder, who we interviewed for the ‘Swiss Special Section’ of our Tekstil Teknoloji Magazine, “Raw materials are scarce and energy is expensive, therefore making our machines more efficient in both aspects is key.” she said.
What topics and trends are Swiss textile companies focusing on?
The important trends continue to be sustainability, digitisation and the circular economy. Therefore many of the innovations will integrate these aspect. Industry 4.0 offers various possibilities, be it in product or process optimization 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 optimized 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.
How is the Swiss textile machinery industry currently performing?
After quite a few years with “best-ever” order volume and results, Switzerland, as many other industrial countries, encounters a slowdown of our industry. At present it is very difficult to make a forecast here, as the situation is changing daily due to the corona pandemic and the consequences are not yet foreseeable. But as our industry is very accustomed in dealing with such strong fluctuations, we are very confident, that the impact on our industry is manageable. In addition we again face a strengthening of the Swiss Franc versus the Euro and the US Dollar which presents the Swiss textile machinery manufacturers with another challenge.
And what opportunities is Swissmem hoping to take advantage of in 2020?
It is becoming apparent that 2020 will be a very difficult year for all market players due to the global corona pandemic. As an association we had planned various symposia and pavilions at trade fairs. These are now mostly postponed. However, at the present time we are assuming that ITMA Asia + CITME can take place in Shanghai in October 2020. We have also postponed our symposium in São Paulo and Mexico City until November 2020. In the meantime, however, we offer our members various services in the field of documentation and foreign trade expertise in order to revise internal processes and procedures.
What countries do your member companies mainly export to and from?
Looking at the sales statistics, 2019 was slightly slower than 2018. China was the strongest export market, followed by the US, Germany, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.
What qualities do you believe have led to the success of Switzerland’s textile machinery industry?
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. One generation has passed to the next know-how and experience along with the inventor gen. This gen driving innovations was and still is necessary for Swiss textile companies to survive, will say overcoming the disadvantage of a minor market earlier and of a high-income market nowadays.
How important is the Turkish market for the Swiss manufacturers?
Last year Turkey was the fourth most important export market for Swiss textile machinery manufacturers. Turkey has been one of the top five markets for our industry for many years and is therefore extremely important.
Interview: Dilek HAYIRLI