ITMA continues to be the Olympics of textile machinery exhibitions

ITMA continues to be the Olympics of textile machinery exhibitions


At present, the textile machinery industry is simultaneously facing multiple challenges like high energy and raw material prices, disrupted supply chains, high inflation rates, etc. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General, Swiss Textile Machinery Association, analyses the present status of the industry and explains how Swiss exhibitors will use ITMA 2023 to showcase innovative solutions to overcome some of the prevailing challenges.

What is your analysis of the global textile machinery market at present, especially in Europe and Switzerland?

We live in a time with probably more simultaneous challenges than ever before. The Ukraine war, the (meanwhile easing) related energy shortages in Europe, the still unresolved supply chain challenges. Added to this are the high inflation rates and the resulting curbing of consumption, to name just the most prevalent ones. All these challenges, including increased raw material prices, have an impact on production. In the meantime, we see, for example, that the supply chain problems are calming down. Irrespective of inflation, the leading economic indicators give no cause for optimism. Although unemployment rates in the industrialised countries remain very low by historical standards, consumer sentiment is at an all-time low in the face of rapidly rising prices and major geopolitical risks. In all major economic regions, consumer sentiment is well into contractionary territory. These indicators suggest that it will take some time for consumer and business sentiment to turn around. This applies to both the Swiss and the European textile machinery industry.

ITMA 2023 will be held after a gap of four years. What are your expectations from the mega event?

We believe that the exhibition is very timely for the industry. We were very lucky that the last show took place in 2019 and now after four years it will take place again in 2023. By June, almost all travel restrictions should be removed. And I even think that the pent-up demand for a physical meeting place is very high again. Therefore, we do not expect any major deviations from the last editions of the exhibition, both in terms of number of visitors and origin.

Companies are still launching their innovations towards ITMA. In this sense, there will be many new or improved solutions to the major challenges facing our industry. For all these reasons, I am very much looking forward to the exhibition and the many innovations, among others with a focus on automation, more sustainable solutions and further digitalisation.

How has the textile engineering (machinery) industry changed in the last four years?

As mentioned above, it is a gradual development that addresses the challenges of our time. The industry has come through the crisis years well, partly because the products of technical and medical textiles were in great demand. The pandemic also made it clear that the supply chain must be robustly positioned in the future. Diversification and localisation of the supply chain was a big issue and will be reflected in the companies’ sourcing strategies in the longer term.

With the theme of “Transforming the World of Textiles”, how will ITMA 2023 be different from previous ITMA editions?

The theme “Transforming the World of Textiles” has hardly ever been more appropriate than at the present time. We have so many parallel developments and challenges to which the industry must find solutions. Even though the topics of digitalisation, automation and sustainability have been high on the agenda of our industry for many years, they have lost none of their relevance. Regarding sustainability, it is and stays a big and very important topic. It has been for years, but now it is even more important due to the new EU strategy for sustainable textiles. This development is a huge opportunity for our textile machinery industry, as the machine industry offers solutions to meet these challenges.

What will be the focus of Swiss textile machinery manufacturers at ITMA?

ITMA continues to be the Olympics of textile machinery exhibitions. Accordingly, all Swiss exhibitors have great expectations of the upcoming show in Milan. Even though the current business climate has been hampered by the challenges, it will be the place to meet in 2023. That’s why I firmly believe that this exhibition can give our entire industry a boost.

As always, the companies are currently in full swing preparing their exhibition presentation. They will only present their innovations at the exhibition itself. However, it can be assumed that the areas of automation, digitalisation and the further development of machines and solutions to reduce the consumption of raw materials such as energy, water and chemicals will continue to be the focus.
How are Swiss textile machinery companies helping textile firms in their low-carbon pathway route?
Swiss textile machinery manufacturers apply their innovative power to make production as sustainable as possible – tackling issues such as saving water, chemicals, raw material waste and energy, as well as improving hardware life-cycles. Machine developments empowering more environmental production are continually growing in importance, as producers invest in them enthusiastically.

How are Swiss textile machinery makers looking at India at present? What kinds of opportunities are they eyeing to tap in India?

India remains the second most important market for our Swiss textile machinery manufacturers. On the one hand as a sales market, but also as a location for our member companies’ own production and service. In this sense, India remains and is absolutely central for our member companies.