In an interview we held with Symatex’ Secretary Stijn Pauwels, we talked about the activities of Symatex companies and their perspective on Industry 4.0.
What trends have you noticed in the textile market recently?
The industry is faced with trade conflicts, which lead to instability. In these times of trade wars, it is difficult to do business.
The textile industry is particulary interested in the digitization of the production process to reduce the time from design to production and to enable working with smaller lost sizes. Further, the sustainability trend to reduce the shedding of microfibers along the textile value chain is gaining traction.
How are Belgium textile companies gearing up for Industry 4.0 and digitalisation?
In recent years, the Belgian textile machinery companies have put a lot of effort into the development of smart, digital weaving machines. These machines are at the forefront of the revolution that our industry is facing: smart digital factories, in which machines are communicating with eachother and are driven by big data. The Belgian textile machinery companies pursue technological leadership strategies. Investing largely in research and development. That approach is materialized in the continuous presence of textile machinery companies in the top 5 of Belgian patent applications. Furthermore, the Belgian textile machinery industry is heavily involved in the strategic research centre for the manufacturing industry, Flanders Make (www.flandersmake.be). Most of the Belgian textile machinery producers have machines on the market that are Industry 4.0 enabled. Wıth those machines electronic communication bottom-up and top down is possible. The latest developments are machine to machine communication for self-organizing production systems
Automation is a big talking point at this year. What role is SYMATEX playing in the move towards industry 4.0?
Symatex organises technology scouting activities for its members.
How is the Belgium textile and textile machinery market currently performing? İs it growing, if so, at what pace? What countries do your member companies mainly export to and from?
In 2018 the main export markets were Turkey, China, EU, India and Pakistan.
Can you evaluate 2019 for the Belgium machinery manufacturers? How important is the Turkish market for the Belgium manufacturers?
In 2018 Turkey was the main export market for the Belgian textile machinery companies.
Can you tell us about the fields dominated by the Belgium Textile Machinery Industry? Which fields do you have more intense relations with Turkey?
Most important fields are weaving looms and auxiliary machinery such as jacquards and dobbies, followed by card clothing and finishing machines.
Off course Turkey is one of the most important customers for carpet related machinery (extrusion, weaving, Jacquards, finishing). In addition, there are strong cooperations with weaving mills using airjet and rapier weaving technology and with the nonwoven sector.
What markets were developing and declining for the Belgium textile machinery industry?
All markets are temporarily declining due to ongoing trade wars (US, China, Middle East). The Belgian textile machinery companies keep however investing in research and development.
How does SYMATEX support its members? What are the major planned activities for the upcoming period?
The activities of the association are both economic and technological. Symatex is particularly active in the areas of international business development where it organizes road show to inform the textile industry around the world on new technologies developed in Belgium. Symatex is also active is scanning the globe on new technologies that contribute to building better textile machinery. Symatex is hosted by Agoria, the Belgian federation of the technology industry (www.agoria.be). Agoria supports its members via services in the areas of innovation, R&D, regulation, standardization, human resources, education & training, fiscal & legal. Agoria is the largest industry federation in Belgium and represents more than 1900 companies. Symatex is also member of Cematex (www.cematex.org) and via Cematex acts on behalf of its members to assure price & quality of key industry trade shows. Symatex has special interest in uplifting the R&D contribution of the ITMA textile machinery trade show.
Interview: Dilek Hayırlı