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Textile machinery industry’s future belongs to innovative digitization and Industry 4.0

In terms of offering expertise in combination with attractive digital solutions, the latest state-of-the-art in the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). Industry 4.0 sector, and energy-efficient technology extending from spinning to finishing – German Textile Machinery Association VDMA is playing a major role in the global textile apparel manufacturing industry.

Figure: Regina Brückner, Chairperson, VDMA Textile Machinery Association

VDMA’s goal is to increase the competitiveness and innovativeness of its members and to secure the future viability of the textile machinery industry. For this reason, the economic and technical representation of the industry’s interests, networking and exchange of experience as well as professional services are the focus of its work.

Not to mention that VDMA is one of the oldest associations in the world. VDMA has a legacy of providing comprehensive and innovative solutions, and its member companies, spreading from spinning to finishing, many of them world market leaders, and represent around 90 percent of the total volume of the industry.

Regina Brückner has been Chairwoman of the VDMA Textile Machinery Association since 2017. She accomplished to lead the family enterprise of Brückner through any terrain throughout the last 15 years.

Furthermore, she proved her capable leadership since 2008 as Vice-Chairperson of the Textile Machinery Association.

Recently, Regina Brückner, Chairperson, VDMA Textile Machinery Association shared her visions and future plans with Textile Today. Here are some of the highlighting portions of the discussion for readers.

Textile Today: VDMA is one of the oldest associations in the world which was established in 1892. As an old and experienced organization, how many members do you have now and how is it setting its future goal? 

Regina Brückner: Its approximately 3,300 members making the VDMA the largest network organization in the European mechanical engineering industry. The association represents the common economic, technical and scientific interests of this diverse industry. VDMA is sub-divided into 36 trade associations and various working groups. One of them is the Textile Machinery Association with 120 member companies.

Textile Today: As the first woman chairperson of such a big association, how are you managing and enjoying the roles and how have you led such an unexpected situation like COVID-19? 

Regina Brückner: First of all, I don’t focus on the differences of a female or male chairperson, I´m focusing on the needs of our members. But I´m happy to realize that more female leaders are taking over the businesses of their fathers at our customers and also in textile engineering companies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we as members of VDMA met more often and instead of physical meetings we arranged online-meetings, just as everybody did in their companies. Most of our members are medium-sized companies. Being present all over the world with sales and services in these difficult times was quite difficult for all of us. VDMA was helping by sharing ideas and advice regarding traveling issues, etc. But most important is: VDMA is a great network and helps everybody with their different needs.

Textile Today: As the whole world passed a very difficult situation last year. How were the VDMA Textile Machinery Association Members affected? How was the impact it on the worldwide textile machinery industry?

Regina Brückner: Of course, the general conditions for the mechanical engineering industry have been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic since spring 2020. Sales are particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19. Due to postponed trade fairs and travel restrictions, companies, as well as VDMA as an association, have increasingly been using web conferences/webinars to keep in touch with customers around the world.

“What VDMA member companies offer to customers, goes far beyond pure technology. We are not just looking at being ahead with our machines but also with the technical advice we can give to our customers. Our focus as a general industry is to give our customers an overview on how to manage better the whole factory.”

Regina Brückner

With the web series “Textile Machinery Webtalks”, the VDMA has developed a marketing platform that is attractive to potential customers and members alike. The aim of the webtalks, in which three VDMA member companies each present their technologies along the textile chain, is to educate and motivate potential customers to look beyond their textile horizons, especially when it comes to introducing efficient and sustainable technologies.

Very up-to-date and future-oriented topics as well as solution approaches were and are dealt with, such as mask production, circular economy, digitization and artificial intelligence in the textile chain and much more. We know from the feedback from several member companies that concrete projects and business deals have been initiated through the webtalks.

Since June 2020, 13 Webtalks have been held with more than 2,600 actual participants from 80 countries (on average 200 per webtalk). In March 2021, the Textile Machinery Webtalk will move to the recognized platform IndustryArena (industryarena.com).

Textile Today: How VDMA is promoting and strengthening the textile machinery of its member companies to convert challenges into opportunities?

Regina Brückner: A challenge for companies is to enter new markets or partly difficult sales markets. To support members, VDMA organizes so-called business initiation trips to markets that are not very well established. Participating companies get a detailed country briefing.

During these trips, there is always a presentation event of the German participants in front of potential customers and investors. The German companies have the opportunity, to present their products and services or possible fields of cooperation to the local expert audience (companies, representatives of state institutions, investors and associations).

Sales support is in general a key activity of VDMA. Not only new markets are in the focus but also well-established ones. The textile machinery association is very active in organizing symposia in major textile markets. During these symposia, VDMA member companies present in lectures their latest technologies to high-ranking experts and decision-makers from the respective textile industry. The lectures are completed with B2B meetings.

Textile Today: Sustainability is now the core of any business. How German textile machinery manufacturers consider this issue particularly in the arena of reducing chemical, water, energy consumption and environmental impact?

Regina Brückner: With its market-leading technologies and machinery, many German textile machinery manufacturers are already successfully offering energy- and resource-efficient solutions around the entire world – even without a mutually agreed machine label to identify energy efficiency.

An expert team of member companies of the VDMA Textile Machinery Association has studied the energy-saving effects across the entire production chain of five textile products: a cotton T-shirt, a functional T-shirt, a textile billboard, an architectural fabric and a hygienic nonwoven.

The result of this analysis is impressive: in the manufacture of these products today’s German technology can save up to 30 percent of energy compared to what was available ten-fifteen years ago.

Frankly speaking: Today it is nearly impossible to sell machines that do not resource-efficient because costs for commodities and energy are among the major ones in textile production.

Textile Today: Automation and digitization are two of today’s most important movements which directly help organizations to improve efficiency, productivity, safety and customer experience. How VDMA members are addressing these issues and contributing to both areas.

Regina Brückner: Our member companies support textile producers to automate things. Automation can help to make working conditions safer. Integrated robotics for instance can replace unhealthy and dangerous work as the transport of chemicals in buckets by the operators.

This also reduces the human error rate. Digitization is a key to increase production efficiency. Member companies of VDMA have developed software tools, that network extensive machine parks. The time-consuming programming of every single machine with the specific job order and so on is no longer necessary.

Textile Today: As Bangladesh is the 2nd largest garment exporting country, how can VDMA help Bangladeshi textile manufacturers to adopt automated and digitalized cost-effective processes?

Regina Brückner: What VDMA member companies offer to customers, goes far beyond pure technology. We are not just looking at being ahead with our machines but also with the technical advice we can give to our customers. Our focus as a general industry is to give our customers an overview on how to manage better the whole factory.

Not only single machines but the whole concept should be best. We have good set-ups in many countries all over the world, so we can support customers all over the world including Bangladesh with services and advice.

Textile Today: What are the latest innovations coming up by VDMA members considering the recent challenges keeping in mind?  

Regina Brückner: The main trend in the textile industry for the years to come is digitization and Industry 4.0 (also called Industrial Internet of Things for intelligent and integrated manufacturing). The future of the textile industry is more and more determined by Industry 4.0. It has many dimensions and possible fields of application and the key solutions are provided by the machinery industry.

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

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