Textile Value Chain talked with Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General Swiss Textile Machinery Swissmem on the premises of ITMA 2023

Please tell us bit about the Swiss Textile Machinery Associations current projects and developments

As an association, we support our members in many ways. On the one hand, we promote the Swiss textile machinery industry. Be it via symposia in markets such as Indonesia last August. Or through our presence in social and print media. Furthermore, we invest a lot in innovation support for our member companies. We regularly organize company-specific workshops on current topics and challenges. Currently on the topic of sustainability. We also have a cooperation with the Swiss Textile College, where we offer our member companies introductory training for their new employees from outside the industry.

On the premises of ITMA 2023, we would like to know about what new innovations we can expect from your members?

As always, the companies 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.

As we are entering Industry 4.0, what are your projections regarding automation in the industry?

Digitalization offers a wide range of opportunities, be it in product or process optimization or in the development of completely new business models. Our member companies use these opportunities to generate maximum customer benefit.

There are certainly many opportunities for automation in our industry. But there are also limitations. Nevertheless, I assume that the textile industry will gradually rely on automation solutions.

As the ITMA 2023 approaches, what do you expect to see or look forward to in the exhibition from your members and other countries? 

ITMA continues to be the Olympics of textile machinery exhibitions. Accordingly, all Swiss exhibitors have great expectations of the upcoming ITMA in Milan. Even though the current business climate has been hampered by the challenges, it will be the place to meet in 2023.

Exhibitor spaces are almost sold out, visitor tickets are already being taken and there are new features at the exhibition. For example, for the first time there is a Start-up Valley, where sixteen young companies will present their solutions for our industry. The great added value of such an exhibition, however, is the opportunity to be in personal exchange with the global textile industry again.

Are there any challenges you identified in the textile industry globally due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and other Geo-Political issues?

We live in a time with probably more simultaneous challenges than ever before. The Ukraine war, the 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. These are major challenges for the global textile industry. For example, investments in new machinery and equipment are being put on hold. And consumers are cutting back on their consumption. And despite everything, I am very confident for our industry. It is used to strong cyclicality and has continuously adapted.

What are Swiss Textile Machineries Goals for the next 5 years?

Both digitalization and sustainability are not just buzzwords but continue to influence all developments and innovations over the coming years, not only in the textile machinery industry.

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. As an association, we have also taken on this topic and are currently running an individual program for our member companies. Of course, some member companies are already very advanced in this topic, but others are certainly able to benefit.

Is there anything you want to say to visitors and exhibitors who are going to be participating in ITMA 2023?

Bring enough time with you: A fully booked trade fair with over 1600 exhibitors in 12 halls, interesting presentations in the Innovator Xchange and conferences, to name just a few of the highlights.