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The Rupp Report: ITMA Asia + CITME 2012: The Important Weaving Machinery Sector

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

After the general impression reported two weeks ago of the third ITMA Asia + CITME at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, the Rupp Report this week begins reflecting on the various executive interviews with machinery manufacturers. Weaving machinery representatives will open the review. The Rupp Report talked to Carlo Rogora, CEO, and Jürg Kundert, corporate communications, Itema (Switzerland) Ltd. (Itema Weaving); and Erwin Devloo, marketing communications manager, Belgium-based Picanol NV.

Soaring Weaving Machinery Sales
Several weeks ago, the Rupp Report posted the latest weaving machinery shipment statistics compiled by the Switzerland-based International Textile Machinery Federation, which reported that worldwide shipments in 2011 of shuttleless weaving machines continued to soar, with Asia the destination for 96 percent of the machinery — and China taking 83 percent of the total (See " The Rupp Report: Positive News Ahead For ITMA Asia + CITME 2012," TextileWorld.com, May 22, 2012).

Expectations Fulfilled
Rogora and Devloo expressed their satisfaction with the visits at ITMA Asia as well as the quality of the visitors: "The most important customers from the region were here," said Rogora. Devloo added that "as usual, the first three days were okay for Picanol." And where did the visitors come from? Both agreed that 75 to 80 percent of all visitors came from China, followed by people from India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Taiwan; and some visitors from Turkey.

Rogora added: "India as a market for weaving machines becomes more and more important, thanks to the recent investment program. But to carry on with this, the industry needs new incentives from the government."

Too Many People

And was there any difference between this ITMA Asia and the last one? "Oh yes," Devloo said, "this time, for everything we had to contact different organizations and people, which complicates the handling of the event drastically. And everything is extremely expensive. Soon the day will come when we will have to pay for the air that we breathe."

These facts were confirmed by Kundert, who was responsible for setting up the Itema booth, and who noted that "the funny thing is, we have to pay everything in cash."

But the biggest problem was the infringement of intellectual property. It was at the Picanol booth, where the Rupp Report witnessed the handling of a copy of a Picanol weaving machine. Just opposite, a copy with even the same color was shown. After the protest from Picanol about this situation, the organizers covered the copy. However, soon afterward, the Chinese exhibitor took away the cover and wrote on the machine (in Chinese letters): "Picanol says this is a copy of their machine. Have a look and check if this is right."

Picanol showed for the first time on the Asian continent its new Omniplus Summum air-jet weaving machine. Devloo explained that this machine would be the new platform for further developments in this segment. The main highlights of this machine are said to be the new insertion system and the Picanol BlueBox system, the new electronic platform for Picanol machines. Devloo mentioned that this microprocessor is 10 times faster than comparable processors. Thanks to this improvement, the airflow is constantly monitored over the whole weft-insertion process, resulting in reduced air consumption.

Itema presented its new Sultex A9500 air-jet weaving machine. The main features, Kundert said, are the productivity and operational simplicity with its high performance and simplified design. Rogora added that "the A9500 produces excellent fabric quality with very low air consumption. The machine is equipped with a special shed geometry designed to promote a long dwell while drastically reducing air consumption. The long weft insertion time and the highly efficient nozzles ensure the optimum acceleration curve for any type of yarn." According to Itema, the new air-jet weaving machine is especially suitable for medium to heavy denim, colored weaving and sheeting applications.

And how was the feedback to these products? "Very good," reported both suppliers.

Important Markets

In spite of the growing importance of the Asian markets, Europe is still important for both companies. For Picanol, it is important mainly for weaving technical textiles and other value-added products, especially for European customers.

"And," said Rogora, "if one includes Turkey as part of Europe, then the Turkish market is very important for us. Turkey is the second-biggest market for Itema. On the other hand, Asian markets are more important for mass products."

The most important markets are rather similar: Rogora mentioned China, followed by Turkey and Brazil. Devloo mentioned China, India, Brazil and the former Soviet Union countries.

When asked if the actual economical situation is distorting their business, both companies replied "Yes and no." The volatile currencies are a problem. One factor is the weak euro. "However," said Devloo, "for exporting European suppliers, the low exchange rate for the currency is an advantage."

Rogora added: "But today, the customers have problems getting money from the banks due to the big problems in Europe. As long as the Europeans cannot solve their internal financial problems with some countries, the uncertainty will remain. And uncertainty is poison for the markets."

The Chinese Market

The Chinese market is slowing down somewhat on a high level. Rogora and Devloo did not see any stimulation from the recent reduction of interest rates by the Chinese National Bank. Both mentioned that whether or not the importance of the Chinese market will further increase depends on Europe. And the Chinese customers want more and more sophisticated machinery.

A Look Into The Crystal Ball
Estimation for 2013 is quite difficult to predict, Devloo said. "But we hope that the positive conditions will remain."

And, Rogora added: "Again, it all depends on Europe. Problems are everywhere, but the financial situation in Europe must be solved first."

And what are the focal points for Itema in the next few years? "I am convinced that the air-jet technology will enhance its importance in the near future," Rogora said. "Today, this technology is mature. However, some special applications for rapier will increase. We have to do a lot of R&D. The A9500 is the sum of Sulzer, Vamatex and Somet. Those companies are now in the past and we are itema today - in small letters. We want to deliver the best possible machines for our customers' applications regarding energy consumption and maintenance."

Devloo said: "Do what you can do best, no experiments, stay with your roots and you will succeed."

Thanks For The Feedback
The Rupp Report would like to thank all readers for a strong feedback on the June 26 report. Please continue sending in your opinions about the future of ITMA Asia to jrupp@textileworld.com. As usual, the source of information will not be published if you do not wish to be named.

July 10, 2012