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Amid pandemic Cematex and Swissmem are optimizing processes and launching innovations to ensure a sustainable future

Cornelia Buchwalder is a leading name in the European textile industry leadership with her aptitude and skill. She has been serving the Swiss Textile Machinery Association, Swissmem for more than 10 years.

Currently, Cornelia Buchwalder is the Secretary-General of the Swiss Textile Machinery Association, Swissmem.

At the same time, Cornelia Buchwalder is serving as the permanent Secretary-General of Cematex, the European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers.

Swiss Textile Machinery Association is the representative body for Switzerland’s producers of textile equipment, systems and services – which observed its 80th-anniversary last year. It is part of Swissmem – the leading association for SMEs and large companies in Switzerland’s mechanical and electrical engineering (MEM) industries and related technology-oriented sectors.

Cematex is the official representative body for Europe’s national textile machinery associations – comprising 9 national European textile machinery associations including Swissmem, Switzerland; VDMA, Germany; ACIMIT, Italy; AMEC-AMTEX, Spain; SYMATEX, Belgium; UCMTF, France; TMAS, Sweden; GTM, Netherlands; BTMA, UK – and has been in charge of organizing the ITMA exhibitions, since the inaugural show in 1951, and subsequent editions in both Europe, Asia and China.

In a recent interview with Textile Today, Cornelia shared her thoughts on ITMA expo, Swiss technology and innovation for the textile industry and many other aspects.

Cornelia-Buchwalder-Swissmem-Cematex
Figure 1: Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary-General, Swiss Textile Machinery Association, Swissmem and permanent Secretary-General of Cematex.

Textile Today: Swiss Textile Machinery Association reached its 80th-anniversary last year. As an old and experienced organization, how is it setting its future goal?

Cornelia Buchwalder: Let me first talk about the start of the association in 1940. Leaders of the textile machinery industry were increasingly concerned about their operations, especially the need for non-ferrous metals and high-quality steel.

The situation became serious and some companies in the industry wanted to request the Swiss Government to secure the required raw material needed to maintain production. The established principle of ‘united we are strong’ led representatives from 22 companies to join forces in forming the first textile machinery group.

This was the origin of what today has grown into the Swiss Textile Machinery Association. The members of the new Swiss Association of Textile Machinery Manufacturers included well-known brands such as Rüti, Sulzer, Rieter and Saurer.

Over the years, there were numerous periods of great difficulty for the industry: global economic slumps and other crises of varying degrees of seriousness followed one after another. The profile of the world textile industry also changed. Mass production has long since migrated to the East and South-East.

Swissmem-key-roles
Figure 2: Some key roles of Swissmem.

Despite this, or perhaps precisely because of this, Swiss textile machinery today holds a leading position in the high-quality segment of special machines and top-quality materials. It is their entrepreneurial spirit that anticipates developments and incorporates them into the new machines and solutions.

The situation became serious and some companies in the industry wanted to request the Swiss Government to secure the required raw material needed to maintain production. The established principle of ‘united we are strong’ led representatives from 22 companies to join forces in forming the first textile machinery group.

This was the origin of what today has grown into the Swiss Textile Machinery Association. The members of the new Swiss Association of Textile Machinery Manufacturers included well-known brands such as Rüti, Sulzer, Rieter and Saurer.

Over the years, there were numerous periods of great difficulty for the industry: global economic slumps and other crises of varying degrees of seriousness followed one after another. The profile of the world textile industry also changed. Mass production has long since migrated to the East and South-East.

Despite this, or perhaps precisely because of this, Swiss textile machinery today holds a leading position in the high-quality segment of special machines and top-quality materials. It is their entrepreneurial spirit that anticipates developments and incorporates them into the new machines and solutions.

Textile Today: How is Cematex promoting and strengthening the textile machinery of its member associations?

Cornelia Buchwalder: Cematex’s main promotional tool is ITMA. The leading exhibition of the textile machinery industry, which is held every four years in one of the nine-member countries.

It is a great showcase around the innovative power of the approximately 500 companies affiliated with the nine national textile machinery associations from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, the UK, Netherlands, France and Sweden.

Cematex-key-roles
Figure 3: Some key roles of Cematex.

Textile Today: The COVID pandemic has added a new dimension of Safe and Protective Textiles. Consumers are demanding special finishes as protection against infections. How are Swissmem member companies working on this aspect? Have there been any specific initiatives by Swiss companies to combat future crises?

Cornelia Buchwalder: At the beginning of the pandemic, about a year ago, it became apparent that Switzerland had hardly any production capacity for face masks and protective clothing. By then it was dependent on imports, which proved to be difficult because these products were in short supply globally and supply chains were also interrupted.

Several of our member companies have contributed to the fact that the supply of protective masks in Switzerland is now assured. For example, the company Autefa Solutions Switzerland. It has enabled the import of two machines with a production capacity of 40’000 FFP 2 masks per day.

Two further examples are our member companies Jakob Müller and Steiger Participations. These companies reacted quickly to the supply crisis and launched the production of certified community masks which are still needed today.

Textile Today: How can Swissmem and Cematex help Bangladesh textile manufacturers to adopt cost-effective process?

Cornelia Buchwalder: The European textile machinery manufacturers cover the entire textile value chain, from spinning, winding, to weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing, printing, embroidery and quality control. With this and with their extended network of production, sales and services around the world, they established strong and close ties with the textile manufacturers also in Bangladesh.

This enables them to respond more closely, better and faster to customer requirements, including cost-effective processes.

Textile Today: What are the latest machinery Swiss textile machinery manufacturers have innovated amidst environmental concerns on energy, water consumption and chemical toxicity in textiles?

Cornelia Buchwalder: This is a big and important field that our members are constantly following up. The optimized utilization of resources, be it water or energy is one of the major topics, which is an integral part of any development process.

Raw materials are scarce and energy is expensive, therefore making our machines more efficient in both aspects is key. When it comes to rethinking a whole process

Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary-General, Swiss Textile Machinery Association, Swissmem and permanent Secretary-General of Cematex

Raw materials are scarce and energy is expensive, therefore making our machines more efficient in both aspects is key. When it comes to rethinking a whole process, I could mention our member company Sedo Engineering.

They developed a new technology for the denim industry. Their technology uses electricity instead of chemicals to reduce and make indigo able to dye.

Textile Today: What are the plans of Swissmem and Cematex for this New Year?

Cornelia Buchwalder: In the Swiss Textile Machinery Association we are on the one hand preparing events and Swiss pavilions for the time after the pandemic. There is still a lot of uncertainty, but we want to be ready when international meetings with customers are possible again.

In the meantime, we are switching to digital platforms to maintain some contact with customers, including in Bangladesh. And further, we are supporting our companies in this period, in optimizing processes and launching innovations.

Cematex’s focus is on holding ITMA Asia + CITME in Shanghai in June 2021. Besides, intensive work is already being done in the background of ITMA 2023 in Milan. Registration for this exhibition will start in March of this year.

And last but not least, we are also driven by digitalization. What do the current developments mean for trade shows? We are convinced that, especially after the pandemic, exhibitions will again be a very popular platform, enriched with virtual tools. That’s what we’re working on.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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