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Secretary-General Textile Machinery Association of Sweden (TMAS)
The future will not be about doing things faster, but smarter
The Textile Machinery Association of Sweden (TMAS) made up of the leading Swedish companies within textile technology, automation and production processes, is made up of people developing the very best for customers in the textiles industry. Therese Premler-Andersson, secretary-general, explains the flexibility and customisation within the textiles and apparel industry.
How many members does your association have?
The Textile Machinery Association of Sweden (TMAS) has nine members who are involved in diverse sectors along the textile value chain, from weaving to the handling of finished garments and home textiles. TMAS member IRO AB, for example, is the global leader in the supply of weft yarn feeding and tension control systems for weaving machines, while Eltex specialises in equipment for monitoring warp yarns. Both significantly improve weaving quality and minimise production downtime. Texo AB makes weaving machines for the production of paper machine clothing (PMC) and other technical textiles, while Svegea has over 60 years of experience in exclusively designing, manufacturing and installing the highest quality collarette and band cutting machines for the garment industry. It is now also successfully adapting its technology for specialised technical textile applications. Automatic production and the robotic handling of goods are areas where we have seen big developments involving several Swedish companies such as ACG Kinna, ACG Nyström, Eton Systems,and ES Automatex. These companies are truly among the leaders within automation for garment and home textiles production. The real time monitoring of production data opens up the opportunity for textile manufacturers to react instantly and optimise and fine-tune their production. Within the finishing sector, our member company Baldwin stands out with its system enabling continuously high quality and productive processing with zero chemistry waste and drastically reduced water and energy consumption.
How is your association/organisation helping member companies in increasing their business?
We support our companies in different ways. We provide access to market information and insights in order to enable them to react quickly to market changes, as well as organising networking, meetings and seminars where knowledge is shared and opportunities discussed. We spread the knowledge about Swedish machinery and our member companies through different campaigns and PR. We organise joint stands at shows and also roadshows together with our colleagues within the European association for textile machinery, Cematex. Recently, these have included delegations to both Mexico and Colombia. We also support our companies at ITMA exhibitions both in Europe and China as these are the most important shows. To support access to developing markets and increase speed to market we have also had a representative in Vietnam involved in generating leads. This has been a highly successful project we are considering trying in other markets. We also carry out training and education within various fields in order to secure the future competence of our members by working closely with schools and universities.
AI, IoT, automation and other disruptive technologies are coming up. Which of these do you think would drive the future?
I do not think there is one innovation that will be the key to progress in the textiles industry. It will rather be a combination of innovations and technologies that will make the difference. In the future, it will not be about doing things faster, but smarter. Digitisation, using sensor technology to understand production in real time, will play a key role, as an enabler of the integration of the value chain via new interfaces between process steps. This is already providing a new flexibility and customisation within the textiles and garment industry. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, the use of 3D scanning for the personalisation of clothing and the reuse of materials will also make huge differences in the medium-term.
With so much automation, is the textiles industry soon going to lose its labour-intensive tag?
It is a fact that we can do things within textile production today that were not possible 10 years ago and that the potential for further automation is huge. Better sensors and artificial intelligence have helped overcome obstacles such as the handling of soft fabrics by robots. The Sewbots, for example, already work twice as fast as a person. Maybe, however, the textiles industry is moving from being labour to capital-intensive in the future. But this also suggests the potential to improve labour conditions. And above all it requires a lot of investment.
Can the textiles industry ever be 100 per cent sustainable/eco-friendly?
I think it is a challenge. In the textiles industry, it is very clear that there is the need to improve and the will to drive change within the area. To develop energy and water-efficient machinery has been a priority for Swedish companies for many years. Likewise, there is also a focus on minimising waste, in order to contribute to sustainable production. When the big brands start pushing this development as a reaction to pressure from their customers, we will see an increasing interest among many of our customers and the willingness to invest in sustainable technology and equipment will increase. At this ITMA, I met a lot of visitors looking for sustainable solutions throughout the value chain. I am both happy and proud to represent the Swedish textile machinery producers in this respect. In Sweden, these questions have been a priority for many years and Swedish companies are well prepared to supply solutions designed from a sustainable perspective. (RR)
Published on: 16/07/2019
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