“The trends in the industry are driven strongly by the demands of consumers “
Once again, Texprocess will be bringing together international processors of textile and flexible materials in Frankfurt from 14 to 17 May. How is the industry? What subjects occupy the attention of the processors? Elgar Straub, general manager of the VDMA Textile Care, Fabric and Leather Technologies, gives an insight.
Mr. Straub, how do you gauge the development in the textile-processing industry? Where does Germany stand on an international comparison?
On an international comparison Germany takes third place before China and Japan. In 2017 German manufacturers of sewing and clothing technology exported machinery to a value of € 603 million. This meant that Germany had increased its exports in 2017 by seven percent, thus reaching the highest figure since 2003. Since 2011 exports have actually risen by 57 percent. The most important export markets in 2017 were Poland, China and the USA.
What are the topics about which the industry is talking most at present?
The trends in the industry are driven strongly by the demands of its consumers: on the one hand, more and more customers desire individual products, from clothing, to furniture, to motor cars. Add to this the constantly shorter fashion cycles. And finally sustainability continues to be a major subject: many consumers want a traceable distribution chain and consider it important to purchase sustainable products made from sustainable production.
On the other hand, the industry must also face current challenges, such as the lack of skilled workers, rising wage costs and higher delivery costs. The manufacturers of sewing and clothing machinery are coping with these challenges, for instance, by digitalising the entire value-added chain, or through increased automation and robotisation.
Your view into the future?
Digitalisation, automation and robotisation will lead to the solutions to various challenges. That will start with 3D product development, continue via networks comprising customisation, handling and software, and go all the way to predictive maintenance of machinery, to keep downtimes as low as possible. Artificial intelligence with machine learning or augmented reality will also play an increasing role. German and European companies are in the vanguard here.