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India is very important market for Uster: Thomas Nasiou

Jun 29, 2020
India is very important market for Uster: Thomas Nasiou

Quality in textile industry is synonymous to Uster - the Switzerland-based manufacturer of analytical instruments and on-line monitoring systems for the textile industry. Uster Technologies is the global leader in textile testing and quality control. Its testing and monitoring instruments and systems - which set the standards for innovative, easy-to-use technology - optimise processing and provide assured product quality throughout the textile chain from fibre to fabric.

Thomas Nasiou, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Uster Technologies, spoke exclusively to ITJ’s Rakesh Rao from his Switzerland office on the trends in the textile industry and how Uster is supporting its growth by providing right tools for quality management. He also shared his view on the impact of COVID and Uster’s plans for India.

Excerpts:

Uster is known as a leading technology player in quality management for textile industry. Could you please brief us about your product offerings for textile industry?

As Uster tagline says “Think Quality”, we are quality driven organisation. Whatever we do it is related to quality. We offer products and solutions for measuring and benchmarking quality in the entire value chain of the textile industry.

In fibres, we offer products for measuring, and classifying the quality of cotton, which has been used as a basic ingredient for trading cotton globally.

For textile mills, we have our instruments to measure the properties of the fibres during processing. The key value received by our customers is that they are able to optimise their machines and control the performance of the machines in terms of waste and efficient utilisation of the fibres.

We have systems for controlling the contamination in the blow room. Contamination is becoming an important issue with cotton sourcing becoming global. So, our solutions help customers in controlling contamination and they are able to process different types of cotton, and guarantee a more uniform result in terms of contamination (needless to say, to the minimum extent).

For laboratories in the spinning mills, Uster’s laboratory instruments are used to measure the quality of fibre and yarn. These instruments are equipped with almost everything that technology and innovation can offer today to automate.

Moving into the ring spinning, SENTINEL is a comprehensive solution for ring spinning optimisation and to deliver assured quality, along with greater efficiency and control of costs. In the old days, we used to call it the ring data, and today we refer it as spindle optimization system. We have QUANTUM 3 - the preventive yarn clearing system - that not only measures but also controls the quality of the yarn.

In the last five years, we have invested in developing a platform that provides all information about quality. The platform, called Quality Management Platform, was launched in the last ITMA and connects contamination control, laboratory instruments, Sentinel, the ring spinning monitoring system, as well as the yarn clearing system. The platform helps in creating additional value by filtering all this information, combining it in ways that make sense, in order to produce results. We call it fibre-to-yarn engineering by combining all the information derived during the conversion of fibre to yarn.

As part of our efforts to cover the entire value chain, we are having three offerings in fabrics segment. Uster’s Q-BAR 2 detects faults during manufacturing, thus preventing long-running defects. This helps to deliver constant and reliable quality and helps fabric producers stay competitive in the market.

Fabric producers need to guarantee reliable quality. EVS Fabriq Vision ensures this is achieved, by using automated control during intermediate and final inspection, removing the need for costly manual inspection. The value proposition here is to automate and digitalize processes which are very tedious and labour intensive and are often the source of many problems in the downstream process. The last product in the Fabric Inspection business is EVS Fabriq Shade - the fabric shade optimisation system.

Beyond the traditional textile business, we are offering a solution for contamination control in the non-woven industry. Our Fabriq Vision system is tailored to make the classification of the quality for non-wovens.

We also offer solutions for filament industry. Laboratory instrument, Uster Tester, is used to measure homogeneity, uniformity, intermingling and tensile properties of the filament, thus focusing on the most important aspects of the quality in filaments. Our products and technologies cover the entire textile value chain starting from fibre to fabric. We are providing the quality benchmarks for the textile industry to measure what they are doing or to identify if it could be done differently or better. For the machine manufacturers, we help them set the standards for the performance of their machinery.

From business point of view, how was 2019? How been the performance in 2020, so far?
Though 2019 was rewarding for us, it was also quite challenging. Challenges we faced were mainly from the signs of fatigue and overcapacity in some regions, blended together with the disruption caused by the US and China trade war, and its implications on the global commerce.

In 2020, COVID 19 outbreak has disrupted not only businesses but also the life of people. We are proud that our organisation and our colleagues have managed to deal with the disruptions with flexibility and agility. Since we do not know how long it's going to last, we just need to adapt to fast-changing conditions. While 2019 was a good year, this year is a different challenge and quite unknown to be honest with you.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for a major share in textile manufacturing industry in Asia and India.

How is Uster serving SMEs? Our contribution to SME sector in the textile industry in Asia and also in India is focused more on automation as a value proposition, and leveraging information data in order to make informed decisions. We are trying to build technologies to work together with the people in the mills. Automation, machines and technology needs to work together with people, because there are a lot of opportunities to learn from each other. Our offerings are to create the conditions that will enable spinning mills to adopt automation and help the management to take informed decisions based on quality data, in order to help them remain ahead of their targets and the competitors.

From the headquarters in Switzerland, what are your views on the Indian market?

Indian market for us is a very special market. First, it is a very traditional market because India has a long history in textiles and a very strong position in the textile world. It is focused more on the domestic market. The future for textile industry in India is bright as we believe leaders in the industry will take necessary steps not only to modernise, but also to expand into more verticals by adopting new and more sustainable methods in a scale for producing textiles. This will highlight how something that has been considered traditional with a long history can move to a new era and set an example for the future. India is a very important market for Uster. We are very proud of having our organisation, partners, and customers in India. I believe that the future is only bright for the Indian textile industry.

Are there any expansion plans in India?

We are building up our Fabric Inspection business in India because it was not been so much in our portfolio until two years ago. There is an opportunity to expand our business, team and know-how in India. Of course, non-woven textiles sector, which has been expanding in the country, is an area of opportunity for Uster. We offer a wide range of solutions for contamination control and quality inspection, thus helping the textile industry in India to create more value.

Are you looking at recalibrating your growth plans for 2020?

One lesson that we have learned - and theoretically we were aware of it, but practically now we are exercising it - is to implement the short-term planning. We used to run on yearly plan with some milestones for calibrating. Now, we are running on a shorter-term planning (3-month plan) with even shorter milestones for calibrating. We are not targeting the growth, but measuring the growth and creating value. We focused more on helping customers, during this challenging time, rather than discussing only about business and expansion. In normal times, we are running behind the clock, but this crisis has provided us a unique opportunity to become a little bit more reflective, selective, and adaptive to our plans to bring real value to our customers. It is also a good time to test our values, which drive the organisation, and to live them more vividly than before. So, it is a good opportunity to reflect, to distill and to become a little bit more human.