Interview with Nicolai Strauch

Face2Face
Nicolai Strauch
Nicolai Strauch
Head of Public Relations
VDMA Textile Machinery Association
VDMA Textile Machinery Association

Automation in garment manufacturing to increase in future

With more than 3,200 members, the Verband Deutscher Maschinen -und Anlagenbau (VDMA), or the German Engineering Federation, is the largest network organisation for mechanical engineering in Europe. The association represents the common economic, technological and scientific interests of this diverse industry. Founded in 1892, it represents the issues of the mechanical and plant engineering sector in Germany and Europe. Head of public relations Nicolai Strauch expresses his views on automation ad sustainability in the textile niche.

How many members does VDMA have?

The VDMA has around 3,200 member companies, making the association the biggest industry network in Europe. Within VDMA, the textile machinery association, with around 130 member companies, is one of the more than 30 machinery sectors within VDMA.

How is the association helping members increase their business?

Sales support is an important activity. VDMA organises industry events like conferences or business initiation trips to textile markets around the world. Another field of activity is trade fairs. VDMA is part of CEMATEX (the European umbrella of national textile machinery associations). CEMATEX is also the co-owner of ITMA, with an influence on the organisation and development of the fair. ITMA is the flagship show in the textile machinery industry. It is the place to set new standards for technical renewals and assimilation to today's textile market.

Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation; which of these do you think would drive the future of the textile industry?

The future of the textile industry is more and more determined by Industry 4.0 (also called Industrial Internet of Things for intelligent and integrated manufacturing) including smart services. Industry 4.0 has many dimensions and possible fields of application. In three of them-smart services, operations and factory-key solutions are provided by the machinery industry. The other ones-from smart textile products, marketing, sales, employees to strategy and organisation-are specific know-how issues for textile mills. At ITMA 2019 in Barcelona, visitors had the chance to see how Industry 4.0 solutions are already impacting the textile process chain. For example, there are intelligent machine assistance systems that monitor the settings of the entire production in the background. Deviations are immediately signalled to the machine operator and suggestions for trouble shooting or optimisation are displayed.

With so much automation happening, is textile industry soon going to lose its labour-intensive tag?

The textile production chain, from spinning to fabric production to finishing, has been capital-intensive rather than labour-intensive for decades. The labour-intensive tag is in production, especially in the garment manufacturing. Automation will increase in the near future in this sector as well.

Can the textile industry ever be 100 per cent sustainable and eco-friendly? Why?

Forecasts are difficult to make. But it is worth to note that a lot has already been achieved with the help of technology to make production processes more sustainable. VDMA's approach towards sustainability has always been to focus on best practice examples instead of scientific certification experiments and theoretical approaches. An integral part of sustainability is energy efficiency. An analysis by VDMA experts examined the energy saving effects over the entire production chain of five textile products like t-shirts and hygienic non-wovens. The result of this in-depth analysis is impressive. In the production of these products, up to 30 per cent energy can be saved with German technology available today compared to the one available 10 years ago. (HO)
Published on: 09/07/2019

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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