The ITMA Blog


Looking towards full integration and service

by Adrian Wilson | 18 Nov, 2015

Not only did Italy’s Tonello claim the First ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award for its NoStone® denim finishing technology developed with Levi Strauss, its Water Brush was named Launch of the Year at last night’s Future Materials Awards.

This robotic abrasion system for denim runs on water that is completely re-circulated within the system, consuming nothing, in a truly closed loop process. As a consequence, it will make a significant environmental contribution.


Tonello takes the Launch of the Year Award

There were a total of 17 award categories at last night’s event and by the time they were announced the evening was in full swing. There was some confusion over envelopes, but nobody seemed to mind. The winners are in any case too many to list here, but will be detailed on the official site for the event, which was a lot of fun.

Big business
Meanwhile, everyone is reporting significant business here in Milan. Roland Seidel of narrow fabric systems specialist Jakob Müller – which has a huge array of technologies in Hall 3 – told me his company has been seeing around 300 customers every day, while a manufacturer of small-scale ancillary equipment spoke happily of securing orders worth €6 million in just the first two days last week.

In addition to contract announcements already made, manmade fibres leader Oerlikon reports that it has secured a very significant new order – and when we’re talking technology that has the capability to produce up to 3,000 tonnes of synthetic staple fibres a day, significant really does mean just that.

Specifically designed for the economic production of staple fibres in smaller batch sizes of up to 15 tons per day, however, the compact Staple Force S 1000 on show in Milan requires low initial investment and is also very compactly constructed.


Oerlikon’s latest spunbond systems allow energy savings of 20 – 30% to be achieved

Oerlikon Neumag is also highlighting its technology for the efficient production of spunbonded nonwovens for technical applications which is reducing energy consumption by 20-30%. Check out a virtual reality demonstration of this technology at the company’s stand in Hall 4.


Take a virtual tour with Oerlikon

General contractors
It’s interesting to note how the nonwovens industry has developed quite separately to conventional textiles, in terms of technology.

At yesterday’s EDANA Nonwovens Forum, Johann Philipp Dilo, General Manager of Germany’s Dilo Group, described his company as a ‘general contractor’.

He explained how, back in the 1970s, the degree of automation was low, and the nonwoven manufacturers had sufficient in-house mechanical know-how to bring together different machines acquired from separate companies.

By the 1980s there was a new reliance on electrical engineers to link the machines together and a decade later, with the advent of electronic drives and full automation, nonwoven manufacturers were under pressure to guarantee sufficient uniformity across their entire lines, from fibre bale to finished material.

“As a result, what had previously been separate companies started to join together to become suppliers of complete lines and guarantee the necessary engineering and services, as happened with our group,” Dilo said.

There is, however, no such thing as a ‘general contractor’ in conventional textile manufacturing, with suppliers of yarn spinning machinery being completely separate to suppliers of weaving and knitting technology. And dyeing and finishing system specialists are separate again, as often, are garment-making machinery companies.

The possibility of a completely unified line – from fibre to finished garment – was explored by the EU-funded Leapfrog project a few years ago, but so far has not been taken up as a serious proposition.

Mention must be made here, of Mayer & Cie’s new spinitsystems® technology as a fully functional and market-ready system at ITMA 2015.
With this technology, the spinning and circular knitting processes, along with cleaning, are uniquely combined, with single knitwear made not from yarn, but directly from rovings, resulting in a much shorter process, with ring spinning, cleaning and rewinding all eliminated.


Marcus Mayer at the Mayer & Cie spinitsystems

This will make single jersey production much more cost efficient and also enable the production of interesting new fabric qualities. As such, it was a worthy contender for the first ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award.

Industry 4.0
With a globalised, networked world and Industry 4.0, however, integrated services will certainly trend in this direction, and a clue to what the future might hold was given in a short statement by Zhang Jie, Chairman, of China Hi-Tech Group Corporation (CHTC).

It may even become much more than was envisaged by the EU’s Leapfrog project, in time.

At the ITMA Asia + CITME 2014 exhibition in Shanghai, CHTC had the largest hall virtually to itself, staking its claim – following a succession of major acquisitions – to being the global leader in the supply of textile machinery in 2015.

Here in Milan, with many of its brands having their own stands dotted around the halls, its presence, in Hall 3, stand A101, is much more modest and its expectations perhaps not quite as high.

CHTC is the only major textile machinery manufacturer in China under the control of the country’s state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. It consists of over 200 subsidiary and branch companies employing more than 54,000 people, with other activities including fibre manufacturing, textiles trading, financial investment and real estate.


CHTC is the largest manufacturer of textile machinery in 2015

At the press conference held during the ITMA 2015 exhibition, CHTC Chairman Zhang Jie said that as far as textile machinery operations are concerned, the company’s current focus is understandably on synchronisation of all of its operations and restructuring, in addition to extending levels of service.

He also mentioned that the company has recently installed its first intelligent spinning factory in China, which can be fully controlled by mobile phone from anywhere in the world.

“Increased automation and digital control will be accelerated across all of our machines ranges and this is only the first step,” he said. “We anticipate the further full integration with both suppliers and customers, because completely integrated supply chains are the future.”