After experiencing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the global textile machinery industry looks forward to a rebound. In interviews with China Textile & Apparel (CTA), textile associations in Europe expressed their optimism about the market in 2021 and the continuous development for major technology trends of sustainability and digitalization, as well as emphasized the importance of Chinese market.

Regarding the forecast for the textile industry in 2021, Association of Italian Textile Machinery Manufacturers (ACIMIT), VDMA Textile Machinery Association and Swiss Textile Machinery Association (Swissmem) have shown optimism.

 Alessandro Zucchi, President of ACIMIT.Alessandro Zucchi, President of ACIMIT, said that the Italian textile machinery industry has started to grow again and the order intake in the first quarter of 2021 saw an increase of 66% compared with the same period of 2020. Alessandro Zucchi believes that there will be a solid recovery in the global textile industry following a widespread vaccination plan worldwide.

“Sales had been particularly hard hit in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the business situation had improved noticeably from the summer 2020 onwards,” stated Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Machinery Association. “The economic outlook for the textile machinery sector brightened considerably at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021.”

Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General of Swissmem, commented that although the export statistics of the Swiss Textile Machines recorded negative results in 2020, the industry has been rebounding and the member companies are currently already talking about a good order intake again.

Innovations under trends of sustainability and digitalization

With the recovery of the textile industry, the three associations expect progress in technology to keep pace with the sustainability and digitalization trends.

Alessandro Zucchi believes that, in the near future, competitiveness of the global textile supply chain will depend on sustainability and digital transformation. Therefore, Italy’s textiles machinery sector is working on providing solutions that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Machinery Association.In Germany, Industry 4.0 is an important topic in the R&D efforts of companies and research institutes. According to Thomas Waldmann, VDMA member companies have already been implementing advanced and marketable solutions for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, such as remote services, which help enable their Asian textile partners to manage the changing production processes.

Thomas Waldmann also expressed that the VDMA Textile Machinery Association and its members appreciate the ambitious environmental policy objectives that many countries introduced for the conservation of resources.

Meanwhile, Cornelia Buchwalder said that when it comes to innovation and progress, the important trends for the Swiss textile machinery industry continue to be sustainability, digitalization, automation and the circular economy. Machine manufacturers take these into account as they innovate.

“Digitalization offers various possibilities, be it in product or process optimization or in the development of completely new business models,” she added. “The textile machinery companies use these possibilities to generate maximum customer benefit.”

Positive expectation to the Chinese market

On the other hand, China’s economy bounced back fast and early from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General of Swissmem.
The China market absorbs a large part of Italian textile machinery exports, accounting for 14% of Italian sales in 2020, according to Alessandro Zucchi. Therefore, the resuming and dynamism of the Chinese economy benefits foreign textile machinery manufacturers and continue to provide business opportunities for Italian companies.

China is also expected to remain an attractive market to the German textile machinery sector because there will be rising demand for advanced technologies and machinery in China as the manufacturers would like to increase process efficiency and produce value-added textiles, said Thomas Waldmann.

He commented that China is a strong economy and its textile sector is in a phase of transformation and adjustment. “On one hand, we see wages and other costs going up. On the other hand, we see Chinese textile enterprises focusing on higher efficiency and higher product qualities.”

For the Swiss textile machinery industry, China has been by far one of the most important export markets, said Cornelia Buchwalder. She said that the opportunity in the Chinese market lies in the sheer size of the country, its supremacy in the textile business and in the continuous technological development. Competition between local and international suppliers in the Chinese market is also a challenge, she added.

ACIMIT: Innovation is the answer to the challenges

Italian textile machinery manufacturers committed to provide sustainable technologies