Interview with Ferdinando De Micheli

Ferdinando De Micheli
Ferdinando De Micheli
Group Sales Director
Itema
Itema

To serve weaving mills in every edge of the world
Itema is a global provider of advanced weaving solutions, including best-in-class weaving machines, spare parts and integrated services. The company is the only manufacturer in the world to provide the top three weft insertion technologies: rapier, airjet and projectile. Ferdinando De Micheli, Group Sales Director, Itema, discusses about the company’s current size and scale, the new products showcased in ITMA Asia 2021 and its future sustainability goals.

What is the current company size of Itema in terms of people and manufacturing units? Where do you have your footprints on the global map?

Itema Group features 7 manufacturing plants and more than 1000 employees worldwide. Besides the weaving machines manufactured under the brands Itema and Itematech in Italy, Switzerland and China, also Lamiflex and Schoch are part of the group. Lamiflex is a leading provider of composite materials products for the textile, aerospace and defense industries with production units in Italy, whilst Schoch is a renowned producer of reeds and other accessories for the textile industry with plants in Italy and India. Furthermore, we also have commercial and after-sales branches in India, US, Japan, Hong Kong and Dubai.

What are the merits of being an Italian company? What country specific qualities are ingrained or trademark of your machines?

Made in Italy is worldwide recognised as a seal of excellence. Especially in the textile industry it represents an added value due to the historic textile tradition of our country, of which we leverage the unique know-how and passion for fabrics. The Itema weaving machines are renowned worldwide for their textile mastery, which means the capability to produce at best any kind of fabric with the widest range of yarns, even the most sophisticated ones. And this comes from the strong heritage we collected through the longstanding partnership with the Italian weaving mills that produce fabrics for the most famous fashion brands.

You have been a major supplier of machines to the weaving industry. How have the machines changed over the years with respect to this niche?

Weaving machines evolved as all the other industrial machinery. Compared to earlier times, the Itema weaving machines are more user-friendly and sustainable today. The intuitive user interface, supported by an advanced electronic platform, is now available on a latest generation touch-screen console and ensures the possibility to programme many of the machine’s operations thus reducing setting time for the operator. The design of the Itema weaving machines have also evolved considering the most recent sustainability principles and today our machines guarantee a reduced energy consumption compared to previous models.

Which countries and brands are you exporting to? Is the domestic market of Italy also consuming your products?

Every year on an average, we deliver our weaving machines to 50 countries and our OEM spare parts to more than 80 countries. The Itema weaving machines are running in the main textile markets such as China, India, Turkey, Pakistan and, at the same time, we are supporting emerging markets with our technology and services such as Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Kenya and the African continent in general. Other traditional markets for our weaving solutions are Europe - Portugal, Spain, Germany and UK just to mention a few countries - and Asia Pacific, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan where we are the main supplier of weaving machines for the technical fabrics production.

Italy is our stronghold, and we lead the market of high-end silk, furnishing, wool and apparel woven fabrics. Compared to past years when the Italian market suffered contraction, it is still the main market in Europe with a significant yearly volume not only in terms of number of weaving machines installed but also in terms of quality of fabrics produced.

Which are the key factors that differentiates Itema from its competitors?

Customer centricity is our mission. The sale contract we sign with our customers isn’t the end of the game, it is just the starting point of our relationship. Moreover, textile mastery of our weaving machines is no doubt an added value we provide to our customers. Versatility and premium quality production are in fact some of the most appreciated characteristics of the Itema weaving technology.

In an increasingly digitised world, how are your machines keeping pace? What new innovations on the anvil?

Digitalisation is a core driver for Itema Group. We are implementing cutting-edge digital solutions to evolve our processes, services and products. We took the digital evolution as a real and essential path to follow. In the near future we will unveil brand-new digital solutions and products designed to completely and globally rethink our customers’ experience.

Did you participate in ITMA Asia 2021? If yes, what did you showcase at the event?

At ITMA Asia 2021, our lined-up products were designed to meet the demand of the Chinese weavers as we knew that due to COVID-19 restrictions only local visitors would attend the exhibition. We therefore exhibited the Itema rapier R9500-2denim since denim production in China is one of the largest in the world. Also, the Itematech rapier Hercules attracted large scale interest of the technical fabric’s producers. Moreover, we highlighted our OEM spare parts portfolio and their capability to extend a weaving machine’s lifetime and the innovative weaving accessories manufactured by Lamiflex and Schoch.

World over sustainability has become a big movement. How do you keep your processes and products sustainable?

The introduction of iSaver in 2018, that equipped the Itema rapier R9500-2denim, allows the elimination of the waste selvedge on the left-hand side of the machine. It represented the first sustainable innovation introduced in the weaving industry. With iSaver, it is possible to significantly reduce the usage of cotton, and this reflects on a more sustainable approach to cotton cultivation and water wastage. Important green innovations have been implemented on our airjet machines such as software and devices to manage and control the air flow leading to reduction in air consumption. Eco-efficiency is another core advantage of the Itema weaving machines and it is a cross-cutting and ever-changing concept related to the sustainable approach towards raw materials and energy, the economic saving for our customers, and the lower operating costs in the market that our looms today guarantee.

Where do you want to lead Itema to next? What’s your vision?

My mission is to create win-win partnerships with our customers, those of today and those who will come. We will serve weaving mills in every edge of the world, providing the same top-quality service and assistance.
Published on: 21/07/2021

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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