The PCI Fibres Conference was held here in Milan on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among other things, this very content-rich meeting revealed the scale and size of the industry that the machinery builders and raw materials suppliers assembled here at ITMA 2015 are responsible for powering.
Global apparel consumption had a value of US$1.6 trillion in 2014
Prashant Agarwal of the Indian consultancy Wazir Advisors said that global apparel consumption had a value of US$1.6 trillion in 2014, with Europe’s market worth US$420 billion last year, the US market worth US$301 billion and Japan’s worth US$109 billion.
Tremendous growth is inevitable in markets where middle class incomes are escalating, like China, with an apparel market worth US$192 billion in 2014, and India, with US$56 billion of domestic sales last year.
Efficient textile machinery allowing sustainable production processes can certainly make the decisive difference to such huge volumes, as Thomas Waldmann, VDMA Managing Director pointed out at the organisation’s ITMA 2015 press conference.
Thomas Waldmann, Regina Brückner and Karen Schmidt of VDMA
“The textile machinery manufacturers affiliated with VDMA constantly optimise machines, components and technology to offer energy and resource-efficient manufacturing,” he said. “The demands on the textile product, the material and the fibre supplier all have an influence on energy efficiency. Intuitive assistant systems, databases that hold the sum process knowledge and simulation of the entire process cycle are just some of the promising developments.”
As far as sustainable production is concerned, the extent to which some of the major textile companies are now going to improve their practices is impressive.
At yesterday’s World Textile Summit, for example, a series of case studies illustrated the value creation that can be achieved from clean manufacturing initiatives.
Maurizio Ribotti, Marketing Director of Canepa SpA, based in Battaglia, near Como in Italy, pointed out that his company was the very first textile manufacturer to sign up to the Greenpeace-promoted Detox initiative.
With around 750 employees – 25% of whom are creative technicians developing over 25,000 original designs every year – Canepa produces around three million linear metres of jacquard fabric each year, both single-colour and printed, on over 160 looms. In terms of finished garments, 1.2 million neckties and 700,000 scarves are produced annually, as well as 300,000 items made by its beachwear division
In 2008, Canepa embarked on the Save the Water Kitotex project, with the aim of eliminating substances harmful to the environment from its manufacturing processes and drastically reducing water consumption. Through the use of non-toxic, biocompatible and biodegradable natural materials it has consequently reduced its water and energy consumption by 95% and totally eliminated pollutants.
Roger Yeh, President, of Everest Textile in Taiwan, explained that his vertically-integrated company now adopts a ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’ approach to its operations and products. This extends to the ‘green’ building technologies employed at its Everest Eco-Industrial Park and to the creation of the Everest Natural Agriculture Educational Farm, which includes a park and artificial wetlands to support biodiversity.
India’s Aditya Birla is another diverse industrial group with textile activities that extend from fibre to finished garments. Its Vice-President Ajay Sardana explained said a company-wide programme has been developed to help its subsidiaries formalise and integrate policies and standards to develop and enhance the sustainability of their operations. One example is viscose staple fibre producer Grasim, which has instigated technologies including wastewater cleaning, biogas conversion, the reuse of all by-products and reduced water usage and air emissions. It also claims to be the only plant in the world operating a zero-emission, closed-loop bleaching process.
This afternoon at the show, my focus has been on the nonwovens sector, where such issues are certainly taken very seriously.
The overall production of nonwovens in Europe grew by around 4.7% in 2014 to reach 2,165,000 tonnes, according to EDANA.
The European nonwovens organisation has teamed up with event organiser MP International to hold the ITMA 2015 Nonwovens Forum, which will take place on Monday (November 16th) in the Kappa 6 meeting room on the second floor above Hall 6. It will serve as a valuable introduction to anyone new to this rapidly growing industry.
The two key nonwoven bonding processes currently enjoying the highest growth are hydroentanglement (spunlacing) and needlepunching – both of which are being showcased to impressive effect in Hall 3.
Germany’s DiloGroup, for example, is demonstrating not just one, but two full needlepunching lines over an area of 1,232 square metres at stand C104.
These consist of fibre preparation units from DiloTemafa, cards and card feeding systems from DiloSpinnbau and crosslappers and needlelooms developed by DiloMachines.
Dilo’s 3.2-metre-wide staple fibre needling line in Hall 3
The company’s 3.2-metre-wide staple fibre needling line is highly suited to the production of technical materials, and especially geotextiles. A second, more compact line is designed for the production of high quality felts used in the medical sector and for those made from fibres such as carbon with a working width of 1.1 metres and a layering width of 2.2 metres.
Another leader in needlepunching technology is Autefa Solutions Group, which is now also producing spunlace units – the first such system having already been sold to a German company.
Autefa’s Marco Fano and Jutta Soell at the company’s latest carding line
On show at stand A102 in Hall 3, is the company’s latest card, which has been tailored to the demands of today’s market in terms of ease of operation and easy access for high speed production, as well as the Stylus needle loom.
The neXecodry spunlace nonwoven drying and dewatering system from Andritz Nonwoven, meanwhile, is suitable for both new and existing spunlace production lines. It is the result of the company’s systematic approach in moving a project from idea stage to commercial-scale production, according to R&D Manager Frederic Noelle.
Andritz Nonwoven R&D manager Frederic Noelle and marketing manager Helga Kennis demonstrate just how effectively the flushable wipes made on its Wetlace lines will disappear
“This ensures that our technologies are ‘proven’ before ever finding their way into a customer’s plant,” he said at stand stand B122 in Hall 3. “We are now optimising the equipment and processes that are already in place on the spunlace production line, because the risk is virtually zero, and the opportunity for savings is large. Customers tell us that their energy costs for dewatering and drying the nonwoven webs account for roughly 40% of their total energy operating costs. This is a significant figure, and improving on it has a direct effect on our customer’s bottom line. So clearly, it was something we wanted to focus on.”