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Chief Executive Officer Benninger AG
We are currently observing a shift in production from China and India to Bangladesh, which leads to increased capacity and new investment activity.
Gerhard Huber, Chief Executive Officer at Benninger AG, discusses about the opportunities and challenges in the global textile machinery industry with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Ilin Mathew.
The Swiss textile machinery manufacture Benninger AG develops and manufactures textile finishing and cord production ranges as well as provides complete system solutions. The company maintains a worldwide service network with service stations in all important textile markets and regions.
Mr. Gerhard Huber joined Benninger in 2003 as a member of the Managing Board, has served as COO since March 2009 and as CEO since June 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Huber was Head of Production and Sourcing at Benninger. Mr. Huber joined Benninger after spending three years at Datwyler and six years at ABB where he held various engineering and production related management positions. Mr. Huber holds a Masters in mechanical engineering and has successfully completed an 18 months general management program at the ABB academy.
Benninger has a history of more than 150 years in the textile industry, can you tell us about the technical innovations that are supposed to bring change in the global textile machinery sector?
There will be big challenges related to energy efficiency and the careful use of resources; in spite of that, production processes in the textile industry must maintain their competitiveness and sustainability over the long term. For the finishing segment, this means in particular using less water, steam, energy and chemicals.
This requires a holistic approach to the various application processes; we are involved here with development and innovation projects, thus supporting the principle of “best available technology”. To this end, we are also supporting and broadening intensive cooperation with specific customers in various fields of application.
How do you see the ongoing changes and developments in the textile machinery market worldwide? Please discuss vital issues and challenges.
In the near future it will be essential for the major players in the textile industry to have partners who can support them in building the most effective production processes in terms of quality, performance, operating costs and sustainability.
In recent decades, a clear trend has emerged – textile customers are expecting a partner to be more than a machinery ('hardware') supplier. Instead, customers are looking for a competent system supplier who can help across the board in all areas. So, in addition to the mechanical systems, we have broadened our service portfolio step by step in areas relating to compatibility with the chemical industry, technological results, productivity, operating costs and – more recently – ensuring that the use of resources is optimised (e.g. in terms of the so-called 'carbon footprint'). In doing so we have expanded our partnership to a much more comprehensive and holistic arrangement.
The textile machinery companies play a guiding role in helping to establish trends and set new directions, using its competence (which is based on the company's huge experience) to offer customers optimised and integrated solutions both in terms of processes and in terms of machine construction.
Last year, the company expanded its sales and marketing efforts in the field of continuous knit processing systems in the Indian textile machinery market. How do you see the prospects for trade relations with India?
In India, the technological change from a discontinuous to a continuous process is still in its initial phase and has to be built up in the future in order to generate the specific and significant advantages for the customers.
According to you, which are the countries with a high consumption of textile machines worldwide? What are the reasons?
It is highly likely that countries in Asia such as China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. will continue to be very important.
In addition, Turkey and South America are key markets for us as are emerging regions and countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and North Africa, which are becoming increasingly important.
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