Textile Value Chain had a conversation with Mr Kevin Socha, MD of KARL MAYER (Hong Kong), Mr G V Aras, Director, A.T.E. and Mr Navin Agrawal, VP, A.T.E. during TECHTEXTIL 2019.
KARL MAYER is a German, family-owned business which has been in operation for nearly 85 years. They are active in different business areas of the textile industry such as warp knitting, weaving preparation, technical textiles, spares and components and after sales services, and digital solutions for the textile industry. KARL MAYER are deeply involved in the Indian textile market and have committed large amounts of resources to service, support, and manufacturing as well.
About the market in India
Mr Kevin Socha: KARL MAYER is one of A.T.E.’s oldest partners with a relationship of more than 6 decades. Starting with the warp knitting business and then the warp preparation business, this relationship has grown further with the tripartite joint venture – KARL MAYER Textile Machinery India Private Limited – among KARL MAYER, Rabatex Industries, and A.T.E. KARL MAYER Textile Machinery India is based in Ahmedabad and focuses on the manufacturing and sale of warp preparation machines and creels mainly for the Indian market, as well as service and spare parts sale for warp preparation and warp knitting machines.
KARL MAYER’s joint venture with Rabatex and A.T.E. will not only encourage Indian textile manufacturers to try German technology from India but also provide Indian textile manufacturers with a number of advantages. KARL MAYER India has a 50-strong team of experienced service people and KARL MAYER’s KM.ON digital service portfolio will help customers on the path to digitalisation. KARL MAYER’s WEBSHOP enables customers to order genuine parts and components online.
Mr G V Aras: Thanks to KARL MAYER’s long history in India, its customer-focus and strong service support in warp preparation and warp knitting, the company is firmly embedded in the minds of Indian customers. With A.T.E.’s support, KARL MAYER will have a lot of opportunities in the years to come.
Mr Navin Agarwal: We are very happy to be associated with KARL MAYER. While A.T.E. is completing 80 years, KARL MAYER is celebrating its 85th year, and both companies are growing hand-in-hand. The values of KARL MAYER and A.T.E. are very similar. Today, KARL MAYER’s machines and A.T.E. are well known in the corporate sector, and we expect to do very well in important textile clusters like Surat, Silvassa, Ichalkaranji, Coimbatore, Salem and Erode, etc., as well.
Enjoying market leadership
Mr Kevin Socha: Undoubtedly the market leader in warp knitting as well as in warp preparation in India, we are also a technology leader in both these segments. KARL MAYER has a portfolio of specialised machines for the technical textile sector as well – a segment that is beginning to pick up in India.
Mr G V Aras: Our warp preparation machine supplies were confined to A grade customers previously, but in the recent past, A.T.E. and KARL MAYER have worked together in the mid-range segment. These efforts have borne fruit – a number of aspirational customers now use KARL MAYER machines for warp preparation. One of the reasons that has contributed significantly to this is that air jet weaving (which has become very popular) demands good warp beams – something that KARL MAYER’s warp preparation machines are renowned for. KARL MAYER now caters to large and mid-size customers successfully.
Research and development is in KARL MAYER’s DNA
Mr Kevin Socha: KARL MAYER understands the importance of research and development and has spent a considerable amount of resources on R&D. We spend between 5 to 10% of our revenue in R&D and have R&D centres in Germany, China and Japan. R&D is part of KARL MAYER’s DNA.
By investing heavily in its digital solution – KM.ON – KARL MAYER’s is committed bringing the textile industry into the digital age with the help of industry 4.0 and IoT. KM.ON is expected to be the future of the business – it will help improve their machines’ connectivity and provide more information and feedback to the customers on how to improve machine usage and process optimisation.
Knitting Design Studio launch & digital presence
In the last decade, knitting has grown in prominence in India. Products that could be made only through weaving can now be made through KARL MAYER’s warp knitting machines. A recent initiative to promote awareness about this, is the KARL MAYER Design Studio which will help customers manufacture a variety of fabrics. Customers will be able to visit the KARL MAYER Academy (located at KARL MAYER’s factory in Ahmedabad) with samples and learn how to get the best from their machines and learn contemporary designs which will help them improve their design portfolio.
Mr Navin Agarwal: These designs will be created on a specialised EL (electronic control) machine and tailored to run on KARL MAYER machines. KARL MAYER anticipates that this will change the dynamics of the market by changing the way customers purchase machines. A.T.E. is a part of this endeavour as well; A.T.E.’s office in Surat will help warp knitting customers create designs. The KARL MAYER website also has a virtual showroom which contains samples of the kinds of products that can be made.
Warp knitting in active wear segment
Mr G V Aras: Though there are a good number of warp knitting manufacturers in India, the demand for active- and sportswear in India is met mainly by imports. Unfortunately, we lack good finishing facilities. Once these facilities are available, investment will roll in for active- and sports-wear manufacturing as the demand for these are quite high in India. This, coupled with the fact that the growth of this segment is likely to be sustained due to the rising awareness of staying active to stay healthy, leads us to expect that the active wear segment is a huge opportunity.
Home textile segment
Mr Navin Agarwal: Another area that KARL MAYER is looking to grow in is home textiles. KARL MAYER’s terry towel warp knitting machines help weavers produce terry towel fabric of high quality for different applications. The demand for terry towel fabric is on the rise. KARL MAYER’s terry towel warp knitting machinery can serve a wide range of customer requirements – from large institutional requirements to the beach towel segment.
Warp knitting will partly replace weaving technology
Mr Navin Agarwal: Products that could previously only be manufactured through weaving can now be also manufactured using warp knitting. Additionally, there is a cost advantage when manufacturing the same product using warp knitting – you can produce the same thing at a lower cost. Woven-like structures are also possible with proper finishing especially in shirts, jackets, and the like. In the future, it is possible that woven garments or fabrics might be replaced by warp knitted garments – an area that KARL MAYER excels in.
Partnership between A.T.E. and KARL MAYER
Mr G V Aras: KARL MAYER and A.T.E. have been active in the Indian market for more than 60 years together and we plan to keep going on for at least another 60 years. KARL MAYER has invested quite heavily in India. KARL MAYER wants to be associated with customers closely and wants to help them with their machinery.
Mr Navin Agarwal: Considering the huge potential for growth, KARL MAYER is committed to the Indian market. KARL MAYER is quite happy with its growth in China and is waiting for things to pick up similarly in India. We, at A.T.E., are happy to have KARL MAYER as our partner on this journey.
Mr Kevin Socha: Unless you have competition, you can’t have development. We are mainly competing with Chinese warp knitting manufacturers. In warp preparation, we face competition from local manufacturers with whom we compete mainly on price. Our warp knitting business faces competition from China and partly from Korea and Taiwan as well. However, KARL MAYER’s technological superiority has stood us in good stead. Despite the competition, we are the undisputed market leader. There are KARL MAYER machines that have been running for more than two decades and customers are as happy using them now, as they were when the machines were brand new!
Mr Navin Agarwal: As far as the market situation is concerned, ups and downs are a part of the textile market. Economic slowdowns like the one happening right now are opportunities to develop stronger relationships with our customers. We do our best to guide customers to help them utilise their equipment more efficiently.