Turkey is One of Our Biggest Export Locations

Cornelia Buchwalder, ‘’The 2020 export statistics of the Swiss Textile Machines showed a minus of around 25% compared to 2019, the top five export countries being China, Germany, Turkey, the US and India.’’

  28 April 2021 09:25 Wednesday
Turkey is One of Our Biggest Export Locations

Well-known brands such as Rüti, Sulzer, Rieter and Saurer were taking part in the establishment of Swiss Textile Machinery Manufacturers Association known as SWISSMEM that was operational it first in 1940 with 22 member companies.Swissmem by providing demand driven services, increasing competition power of nearly 1100 close member associates both locally and globally. These services include professional advice on employment, trade, contract and environmental law, energy efficiency and technology transfer.Swissmem manages various strong networks involving its 27 expert groups. . The Swiss Textile Machinery Association is the oldest division, founded in 1940. It represents the interests of Swiss textile machinery manufacturers.Both of the instutitions, Swissmem and the Swiss Textile Machinery Association are headquartered in Zurich. We had a keen conversation with Cornelia Buchwalder, Swissmem General Secretary.

Q. Would you give us some background information about your association with the level of progress it has gone through since its establishment?

A. 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 until today, 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.

Q. Would you share some information on the novel concepts as such sustainability, recycling, environmentally-friendly production and digitalization and their adaptability to Swissmem members? What actions are taken by your members to manufacture with the understanding and application of these major changes?

A. The big challenges for the textile industry in the coming years remain sustainability and the careful use of resources. Raw materials are scarce and energy is expensive, therefore making our machines more efficient in both aspects is key. The industry must find even better and more effective solutions to tackle these challenges.

The last few months have shown us how important digitisation is in everyone's life. But they have also shown by way of example how important remote maintenance, for example, is. As far as our member companies are concerned, digitisation has been an integral part of every innovation for some time now. Digitisation offers a wide range of opportunities, whether in product or process optimisation or in the development of completely new business models. Our member companies use these opportunities to generate maximum customer benefit.

Q. Would you give us some information about changes in the way you do business within the presence of Covid-19? What impact does Covid-19 have on your future strategies?

A. One thing that became apparent last year, was the vulnerability of very long supply chains, for example between Europe and Asia. This is a great opportunity for Turkey, as it lends itself to building shorter and more agile supply chains with its textile expertise. And in general, the business world will find a better and more balanced mix of virtual and physical meetings in the future. For our Swiss textile machinery manufacturers, we are very confident that they and their business models are well prepared for future disruptions.

Q. What would you say about re-scheduling and postponement of fairs during pandemic? What would be the appropriate action taken by the companies and by the associations?

A. Due to the current global situation, physical meetings and exhibitions had to be postponed or cancelled in 2020 and also in 2021. However, we assume that physical exhibitions will gain in importance again. After all, direct contact between manufacturer and customer is absolutely central in the capital goods business. But digital possibilities have also developed and will be indispensable in the future. We assume that the best of both worlds will prevail.

Q. How would you evaluate 2020 for your members? What gains and losses you experienced in 2020? Would you assess global markets and turkish market in 2021?

A. After quite a few years with "best-ever" order volume and results, Switzerland, as many other industrial countries, encountered a heavy slowdown of our industry. It has become apparent that 2020 and 2021 will be a very difficult years for all market players due to the global corona pandemic. In Switzerland we never had an imposed lockdown for the industry. So most of companies continued production – on a lower level, due to postponement of orders and projects, supply chain difficulties and the unsecure situation in general. The 2020 export statistics of the Swiss Textile Machines showed a minus of around 25% compared to 2019, the top five export countries being China, Germany, Turkey, the US and India.

But our members have also adapted very quickly to the new circumstances in this difficult year. For example, sales talks and machine demonstrations were conducted via modern virtual tools. Of course, this was not new, but it led to a real push.

Q. Given that textile machines are manufactured across Europe, Asia and other parts of the world.…what makes Swiss textile machinery companies as leaders in segments which they operate in?

A. Tradition and innovation are two keywords that provide a first answer. Our member companies together have an impressive 4077 years of experience. And with that they have constantly managed to anticipate changes, developed their business strategy and have continuously evolved. This naturally also means that they have expanded their production, service and sales organisations in the customer countries. This enables them to respond more closely, better and faster to customer requirements. Within our membership we cover the entire textile value chain, from spinning, winding, to weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing, embroidery and quality control.

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