VDMA companies continue to provide their partners the technology that is required to remain competitive in the textile world. The main activities of the Textile Machinery Association are economic and technical representation of the branch’s interests, exchange of experiences as well as services such as statistics, observation of significant markets and reporting on the situation in the textile industry throughout the world.
We made a special interview with Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director of VDMA Textile Machinery Association for our ‘German Special Edition’. Waldmann indicating that VDMA and its member companies have excellent relations with Turkey in several areas.
He said that, “Europe maintains its importance as the main export market for Turkish textile companies. This has to do with deliveries. Turkish textile factories are able to fill orders from Europe very quickly. They are also efficient in their ability to meet the demands of both smaller shipments and sudden buying shifts in Europe.”
Can you evaluate 2018 for the German machinery manufacturers? What was the position of the Turkish market and how important is the Turkish market for the German manufacturers and what markets were developing and declining for the German textile machinery industry?
2018 was not a completely bad year but was far from being a good one. The general conditions were not ideal for our branch. The market situation in China and India was cooling down. The same was true for Turkey. Turkey went well but in autumn 2018 order from the Turkish customers started to drop, this continued in the beginning of 2019. The trade disputes and protectionist tendencies are not for the benefit for a globalised industry like the textile sector.
Can you tell us about the fields dominated by the German Textile Industry? Which fields do you have more intense relations with Turkey?
The VDMA and its member companies have excellent relations to Turkey on various fields. First to mention are customer relations. Many German companies can proudly look back not just to years but to decades of close cooperation with Turkish companies. Also worth to mention are the relations to well-known universities, like the Ege University. Europe maintains its importance as the main export market for Turkish textile companies. This has to do with deliveries. Turkish textile factories are able to fill orders from Europe very quickly. They are also efficient in their ability to meet the demands of both smaller shipments and sudden buying shifts in Europe. So there is a good basis to overcome the present cooling down of business.
How does VDMA support its members? What are the major planned activities for the upcoming period?
2019 is an ITMA year. VDMA is part of Cematex and so to speak co-owner of ITMA, with influence on the organisation and development of the fair. VDMA supports its member companies on various fields around ITMA to make sure it becomes once again a successful event.
Industry 4.0 and sustainability are major terms in the agenda? Can you evaluate the German companies through these terms?
The future of the textile industry is more and more determined by Industry 4.0! Industry 4.0 has many dimensions and possible fields of application. In three of them (Smart Services, Operations and Factory), key solutions are provided by the machinery industry. The other ones from smart textile products, marketing and sales, employees up to strategy and organization are specific know-how issues for textile mills. At ITMA in Milan 4.0 was not a big issue. One could at least speak of first steps towards Industry 4.0. But in Barcelona we will already see real Industry 4.0 solutions. For example, intelligent machine assistance systems that monitor the settings of the entire production in the background. Deviations are immediately signalled to the machine operator and suggestions for trouble shooting or optimisation are displayed. The VDMA had already launched the sustainability initiative Blue Competence in 2011. Instead of scientific certification attempts and theoretical approaches, the VDMA and its member companies always focused on concrete solutions and best practice examples.
A key pillar of sustainability is the topic of energy efficiency. The optimization of machines, components and technologies provides a key to energy and resource efficient manufacturing processes. An expert team of member companies of the VDMA Textile Machinery Association has studied the energy saving effects across the entire production chain of five textile products: a cotton T-shirt, a functional T-shirt, a textile billboard, an architec- tural fabric and a hygienic nonwoven. The result of this analysis is impressive: in the manufacture of these products today’s German technology can save up to 30 percent of energy compared to what was available 10 years ago.
How flexible are the German companies to adapt to changes in the textile industry?
The VDMA member companies are close to their customers. By maintaining an ongoing dialogue with them, the VDMA member companies always know what is going on in the market, and they can deliver the products and services that customers are looking for. These relationships are founded on a number of success factors: technology that is always focused on user needs as well as comprehensive after-sales service and excellent spare parts supply.
What are your expectations and targets from 2019?
We are expecting an excellent ITMA in June in Barcelona with hopefully many visitors from Turkey. And we hope that some trade conflicts will be solved in 2019 so that business can pick-up.
Interview: Dilek Hayırlı