Interview: Alex Zucchi, President, ACIMIT
ACIMIT (the Association of Italian Textile Machinery Manufacturers) is a private non-profit making body and its main purpose consists in promoting the Italian textile machinery sector and in supporting its activity, mainly abroad, through the most updated and innovative promotional means, constantly improved during its 70 years of life.
Alex Zucchi, President, ACIMIT, speaks on the emerging trends in the Italian textile machinery industry, and segments in the Italian textile machinery industry that hold out good scope for the Indian textile industry.
What are some of the emerging trends in Italian textile machinery industry?
Digitalisation of production process and sustainability are major terms in the agenda for many textile companies. The digitalisation of the textile sector is essential to achieve increasingly higher quality standards in the production processes. To achieve this goal, a strong partnership among technology providers and textile companies is required. The Italian manufacturers are now on the cutting edge on some issues, such as predictive maintenance, the use of collaborative robot and 3D printing. On the topic of sustainability, Italian textile machinery manufacturers are in the front row too. Through the sustainable technologies project, realised by ACIMIT, our member companies are constantly engaged in offering machines with a lower environmental impact and reduced consumption of raw materials.
Which are the segments in the Italian textile machinery industry that hold out good scope for the Indian textile industry? How does India fare with Italian technologies compared to other emerging economies of Asia?
India is a well known market for our associated member companies. In 2019, the country was in third position among the main foreign destinations of the Italian textile machines. The Indian demand for machinery and investments in the textile sector declined last year, but we are confident that the Indian market will remain among the primary trade destinations for Italyâ€™s machinery builders once the healthy emergency due to COVID-19 is over.
How do you look at the future of global textile industry? What role ACIMIT will be playing and what are the new developments that one can look forward to for the growth of the textile industry?
Attention to each customer requests and speed to market will be some of the keys for the success in the future. Therefore textile companies will have to focus on technologies able to support the digitalisation process that will involve the global textile industry. I believe that ACIMIT is already playing an important role today, raising awareness among its member companies on these issues and supporting them in this process.
Were there any special efforts mounted in recent times to boost Italian machinery industryâ€™s presence in Asia, especially India? What were the results?
ACIMIT initiatives often target Asian markets, to which Italy exports roughly 50 per cent of its total exported machinery. For the Indian market we have implemented many initiatives over the past years. The most recent ones include incoming missions for Indian textile entrepreneurs to Italy in March 2019, in order to more deeply know Italian technological supply and the implementation of a technological training center in Ichalkaranji, in the district of Kolhapur, in the federated state of Maharashtra, in cooperation with DKTEâ€™S Textile & Engineering Institute and with the financial support of Italian Ministry for Economic Development (MISE). I think the results of our activities are tangible: Italy is among the leading suppliers of textile machines on the Indian market.
What are your views on India as a potential market for Italian machinery industry in the next few years?
Despite the pandemic due to COVID-19, India remains one of the main destinations for Italian exports of textile machinery. In 2019 it was the third foreign market of Italian manufacturers with a value of approximately 106 million euros. Indian demand for Italian machinery mainly concerns machines for finishing, weaving and spinning. The Indian market is one of the most dynamic and I believe that as early as 2021, the demand for textile machines in the country will return to growth.
How flexible are the Italian companies to adapt to changes in the textile industry?
Innovation and tradition are the keys to our success in Italy. We focus on technological innovation and on the know-how deriving from a strong tradition in Italyâ€™s textile supply chain. Flexible and versatile machinery born out of the creativity of our entrepreneurs â€“ thatâ€™s the winning formula for Made in Italy in the textile machinery sector.
How has been the going for the Italian textile machinery industry during 2019-2020 in terms of performance?
In 2019 the Italian textile machinery industry recorded a decline compared to the previous year. Production decreased by 11% and exports by 12%. The negative trend of 2019 will also be confirmed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first half of the year, the order intake of Italian companies was about 40% lower than in the same period of 2019. However ACIMIT estimates a rebound in Italian exports in 2021, although it will not balance the losses of 2020.
Since most the exhibitions are cancelled due to Covid, what are the new strategies Italian companies may be exploring to boost their investment and collaborations in India in the near future?
Assuming that the hope is to return to having a face-to-face contact with our Indian customers in this particular moment, Italian companies have strengthened our digital presence by organizing webinars aimed at presenting the technology supply to Indian textile operators.
What kind of challenges are you anticipating post-Covid?
Covid-19 represents a break point for everyone, both at a social and working level. We will have to get used to a new normal. In organizing work, we will have to exploit what this pandemic has taught us by making full use of digital technologies. Even in the relationship with customers, we will have to introduce new ways of communicating and working together while being distant. These are great challenges that we are called to face in the future.
Italy has always been at the forefront of textile technologies. What is the wishlist for the Indian industry and Indian government to promote textile industryâ€™s growth in India?
Competitiveness on international markets is the key factor for the survival of every national textile industry. Collaboration with Italian textile technology suppliers can only strengthen the role that Indian textile sector already has on the world market.