The Swiss Textile Machinery Association is the representative body for Switzerland’s producers of textile equipment, systems and services. 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.
Currently, 44 companies are affiliated with the machinery association, including manufacturers of machines and components, and service providers, for the textile industry. The companies offer solutions covering the entire textile value chain, from spinning to weaving, knitting, finishing, embroidery and quality control.
Cornelia Buchwalder, Secretary General, Swiss Textile Machinery Association, Swissmem in a recent interview with Textile Today shared on ITMA expo, Swiss technology and innovation for the textile industry and many other aspects.
Textile Today: Please share us about Swissmem and how is the ITMA going for the Swissmem?
Cornelia Buchwalder: Swissmem is the largest industry association. We have all sorts of machinery – mem stands for machine and electrical metals. So, we are the Swiss association for all the machine and electrical metals industry. We have about 1150 member companies from all the sectors.
Within Swissmem we have 27 groups, who focus on technology. Where we do more specialized activities for our members. And Swiss textile machinery is one of our concern. It has 44 members. And it is the oldest among the members, turning 79 years in 2019.
If I say about ITMA for us, it is surprisingly positive. Estimating the current global economic climate, we are observing a downtrend, not only in textiles but also in other industries around the whole world economy. This is also a difficult business climate for an international exhibition. But everyone is positive about the number of people and the quality of people.
Textile Today: How this year’s exhibition is going in terms of technology and innovation compared to previous ITMA.
Cornelia Buchwalder: If you look at the European company’s booths, you will see that in the last four years rather than completely a new machine, updates, and new features are much more prominent. Also for us – the Swissmem – it is the same drive to innovate like four years ago, then it is now.
Textile Today: Kindly brief us on how many Swiss companies are participating in the event?
Cornelia Buchwalder: Out of our 44 members, 40 are exhibiting. Meaning most of our members are participating. In addition, 6 Swiss companies which are not members of our association participate in ITMA 2019. Swiss companies are in the top 7 when it comes to occupying space in this exhibition.
Textile Today: What type of support do you provide for your members, generally?
Cornelia Buchwalder: When it comes to support in the markets, we do various activities to help spread our members business. At ITMA our members are well versed, so we just provide some side support like media coverage, press conferences, etc. But we give a higher focus on markets where our members will have more potentials to establish themselves. So, at the moment we are not going to more saturated markets. Rather markets which have some challenges but also gaining.
Like last year we did a Swiss symposium in Uzbekistan with 20 members going there. In recent years Uzbekistan textile industry has been going through a lot of changes from spinning to weaving, knitting, finishing where they were not very strong before. So, we see big potential there. Especially for those Swiss members who do not have enough own resources to grab opportunities in different markets and business.
Also, we have plans to go for more market diversification. Like next year we will go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for an exhibition. Which is an interesting and promising market. So, Swissmem provides this sort of various activities where members need an association’s support.
Textile Today: How do you see the Bangladesh market opportunity?
Cornelia Buchwalder: I say Bangladesh market is always on top 5 to 7 markets for our Swiss textile machinery industry. So, it is one of the most important markets for us. In addition, Bangladesh is one of the markets where our members feel that they are well established and comfortable with business contacts – understanding the market, knowing the dynamics, knowing the company’s – however, Swissmem is always ready to provide any kind of support they need.