Many textile and apparel manufacturing countries have reported increased capacity utilisations, and order inflow. However, this is still to translate into orders for textile machinery suppliers. European textile machinery associations are reporting a fall in orders. Stäubli remains optimistic about the future. In an interview with Textile Excellence, Fritz Legler, Vice President – Marketing, Sales & Service, Stäubli says that he expects markets to improve in 2021.
How have Stäubli’s new offerings at ITMA 2019 fared till now?
We’ve enjoyed a good response from the market and our exhibits have met the expectations of our customers. Both our brand-new product solutions as well as the refinements of various existing products on exhibit have been well received. A prime example of this is Noemi, the redesigned electronic architecture integrated into our LX/LXL/LXXL Jacquard machines. This Stäubli technology boasts a reduced number of connectors while ensuring extremely stable data transmission for reliable hook selection, which is crucial in the operation of Jacquard machines. Investments, was it in automation solutions for weaving preparation, in shed formation machinery or knitting solutions, are showing a positive trend, currently somewhat subdued due to ongoing crisis.
Capacity utilisation in the weaving sector is picking up gradually. When do you expect new projects in the sector to start taking shape?
On the one hand, there is some post-crisis pent-up demand which should help boost certain business opportunities. On the other hand, demand for new applications and fashions is driving investments in new machinery in order to cope with the new or additional requirements this generates. The major industry events scheduled next year in the main markets like India, Turkey and China are expected to stimulate business as well, with the introduction of new and improved technologies that boost productivity and expand design capabilities.
What is Stäubli doing differently for its customers and the industry, today?
First of all, Stäubli has always provided machinery with unsurpassed reliability and requiring a minimum of maintenance, allowing weaving mills to profit from high productivity. With our global network, we provide spare parts rapidly and our teams are there to support our customers with local services. This is the key to even greater efficiency in the mill. In recent months, we distributed to our customers the essential information on machinery handling they needed to prepare for efficient restarting after the lockdown. Of course they have manuals for their machinery, but in extreme situations like the world is facing in 2020, our specific instructions were deemed helpful for certain weavers and their teams.
We made use of the lockdown period to provide online seminars, which were highly appreciated. These seminars were organised in-house or in collaboration with associations such as Swissmem, and they have been providing helpful information for our customers and other interested parties. Subjects include our large product portfolio, the advantages and benefits of our solutions, and our online services and support.
Can you give a comparison of the Indian weaving sector, and weaving industries of other countries, during this lockdown? And where do you see better prospects for Stäubli?
The ongoing health and economic crisis has been difficult for all textile manufacturers around the globe. Our Indian customers have suffered the same as those in other countries. It’s clear that a second wave is now impacting our countries and markets; we all have to make sure that there will not be any major lockdowns anymore since the financial burden would be enormous. Consumer confidence has to be rebuilt – which will be important in getting the textile industry back up to speed – and this will take time. The recovery pace may differ from place to place. Various textile sectors have suffered in differing degrees; for example, manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) have fared better than traditional apparel companies. We expect to see some light at the end of tunnel going into 2021.
Given these challenging times for the industry, what according to you are the prospects for the adoption of more automation, robotics, in the weaving industry in India, and other countries?
There is a clear trend towards more automation. We’ve been seeing this for some time now, with growing demand for automatic drawing-in machines even in countries with lower labour costs. Automatic drawing-in is an example of a typical automation process in warp preparation in the mill. Robotic automation is entering other areas of the textile industry, examples being pick & pack of yarn bobbins or robotic package mounting onto warp preparation creels in weaving. Also in garmenting, more and more robots are being used to handle repetitive processes in apparel production.