UCMTF regroups 30 members companies. Some are world leaders on their markets; others, which often are small and medium size companies, originally family-owned, develop, sell and service specialized machines with a high technological level. For all these companies most of their business is done on export markets: regional export markets in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, but also in the Americas, and increasingly in Asia where the textile business is developing at a quick pace. Exports account for more than 91% of the companies’ turnover with a total of approximately 1 Billion Euros (US$ 1,2 billion).
UCMTF Secretary General Evelyne Cholet answered our questions for the French Special Edition in our Tekstil Teknoloji Magazine. Cholet, explained its position of the French textile machinery manufacturers in the world and Turkey.
Can you tell us about the fields dominated by the French Textile Industry?
Our association groups about 30 companies, with a total annual consolidated turnover of 1 billion Euros. We are the sixth textile machinery exporter worldwide. We are particularly strong in long fibre spinning (wool, acrylic…), yarn twisting and control (including technical yarns), space-dyeing, heat setting for carpet yarns, carpet systems, dyeing and finishing, felts and belts for finishing processes, nonwovens, air conditioning of textile plants, and recycling processes of textile materials.
We work very closely with our customers who face an array of challenges and opportunities: open new markets, design new products, produce them in a reliable, cost effective and sustainable way. They need strategic partners such as providers of innovative industrial solutions and cutting-edge technologies. The French machinery manufacturers are well positioned to be such partners. We have a recognized expertise in finding solutions for critical projects, whatever their scope, whatever their geographic localization. In fact, what we like is to be challenged by our customers to offer them the machine or the process they need. To make it short, our DNA is R&D, service and partnerships.
OUR STRATEGY IS EXACTLY THE SAME WITH OUR TURKISH CUSTOMERS’ STRATEGIES
In which fields do you have more intense relationships with firms in Turkey?
The Turkish market is our second or third in the world. The relationships with the Turkish textile producers are very easy because our strategy is exactly the same than our Turkish customers’ strategies. It is to be reliable long-term solution partners for our customers. Both, we are not looking for short term profits but to make our companies stronger and stronger, to seize the markets opportunities and be able to absorb the difficult years. We are mainly family owned, leaders or co-leaders in their markets, same as our Turkish customers who are long-term minded entrepreneurs.
The stability of our teams (owners, sales managers, technicians, agents and local representatives) allows our companies to go well beyond the purely technical and address the objectives of our customers. As we are machinery and technology solution partners, our Turkish customers are very interested to work with us to implement innovative, “couture” solutions; they know that we deliver and erect the machines on time, give an excellent after sale service and deliver spare parts very efficiently.
As an association, how active you are in Turkey?
As an association, UCMTF is very active on the Turkish market. We promote the French exhibitors at ITM in Istanbul. In Gaziantep, we have been the first association to organize a national pavilion; it was back in 1995, more than 20 years ago! In Gaziantep and in Izmir, we have regularly, about every 3 years, organized seminars to meet our Turkish customers and show them our latest developments. Last but not least, we have very close relationships with the Turkish textile press, with you particularly.
What are French Textile Manufacturers doing today concerning sustainability ?
Sustainability has become a major demand by the final customers, then the retailers and the major brands have been asking our clients to offer products with the least possible impact on our planet. The raw materials used are impacted, the recycled products are very much in demand as well as products made from natural raw materials which have not too much environmental inprints. The production process must also be very efficient not to waste raw material, to save energy and water. We have been very active in promoting savings of each machine but also from the whole production line. To achieve this goal, cooperation are needed between two or more machinery producers. We have been active to promote such cooperations.
What kind of practices are French textile machinery manufacturers engaging with respect to Industry 4.0 ?
Industry 4.0 is becoming a reality in the textile industry. In fact it is already a reality in some factories and it will expand much quicker than most people envision. In today’s global competition, the gap between the fast moving and the low moving competitors is widening at an incredible speed but great ideas are useless without the right execution. Let’s try to propose a definition of the factory 4.0. It is a factory in which data are collected through sensors or radio frequency identification tags (RFID) at each step of the production process, analyzed on line and automated decisions are made instantly to improve the process inside a factory or between two factories whether inside the same company or with clients or suppliers’ factories.
We, as technology partners, have to offer not only innovative (each year we introduce some improvements in our machines) but disruptive solutions. The internet of things is certainly the main way not only to improve the process of each machine but the whole line production process.
To conclude may I say that amid the growing volatility of the world economies, we are confident in our companies’ ability to achieve their long-term ambitions, supported by our R&D, our speed to market approach, the excellence of our day to day cooperation with our customers.
How was 2018 for UCMTF?
2018 was a near record year. The unfortunate drawbacks, for our customers, are the delays to deliver the new orders. Geographically there have been changes, for example the Chinese market, our most important market, is still contracting, but the US market is booming. In Turkey, after a short-lived slowdown in 2016, orders have picked up in 2017 but slowed again in 2018. In India, some of our companies are doing extremely well but other think it is still a little slow. There are also changes in the type of products made with the machines. Sales of machines to produce traditional textiles (apparel) have slowed but sales of machines to produce technical textiles, carpeting or to recycle textiles have soared.
What are your prospects for 2019?
We started 2019 with very good backlogs. Then our deliveries will be good. The uncertainty is about order intakes. The textile consumption is very stable with low single digit growth, and then the production is also very stable globally. But big changes may happen in the geographical location of the production. The United States and China are discussing on tariffs and trade. What will the outcome be, it is very difficult to know. These uncertainties have very clear effects on the investments decisions. Some are now in a postponement state but the need to modernize the production process is still there to improve the production costs, to have more flexible processes and offer high quality products with zero defects. There may be macroeconomic turbulences but, on the ground, realities are much more stable than suggested by the international headlines.
Interview: Dilek Hayırlı