TMAS’ winning formula
TMAS – the textile machinery association of Sweden – celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2017.
While most national associations are much older, the majority of TMAS companies have a much longer history – indeed, the tradition of textile production and machinery in Sweden goes back to the early 1800s.
“Before the formal establishment of the association the companies were collaborating in informal ways,” explains TMAS Secretary General Therese Premler-Andersson. “Most of them were concentrated in the southern part of Sweden, which made it rather easy. It was the desire to move closer to the European community as Sweden joined the EU that led to the establishment of the association and also the membership of CEMATEX.”
Therese Premler-Andersson, TMAS Secretary General
Since then, she adds, the activity level within the association has increased every year.
“Above all, we support our members with activities to raise awareness about Swedish machinery, market information, access to an educated workforce and other local activities to promote the industry and our member companies. The fact that the companies are not competing makes the association rather unique and the network very strong. This is something we see the customers benefiting from as they collaborate and support each other.”
There are pros and cons, of course, to being based in Sweden for TMAS member companies, but in general, the long tradition and history of textile production in the country, combined with a good climate for innovation, brings many benefits.
“Successful Swedish brands such as IKEA and H&M ensure that we are on our toes, constantly developing and improving,” says Ms Premler-Andersson. “Another advantage is the access to highly educated people.”
The geographical location in the north of Europe may be seen as a disadvantage, but because the market is global, there is no large difference to peers elsewhere in Europe, she adds.
“Our good infrastructure and travel connections, the use of digital solutions, and a wide network of local distributors, agents and partners around the globe put Swedish companies in a good position. Coming from a high cost European country we are forced to be lean and cost efficient in everything we do, with the result that customers constantly benefit from continuous improvements.”
China, India, Turkey and the EU are the largest markets for TMAS companies, while among the fastest growing are Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Considerable potential is also seen in North Africa with Egypt and Algeria.
Sweden also always ranks as one of the leading countries when looking at international ranks and the innovation index. The reasons for this include a historic tradition of inventors, a commitment to gender equality and a strong belief in the individual. Close collaboration between research institutes and the private and public sectors are another key factor.
As an association, TMAS collaborates with The Swedish School of Textiles and several of its member companies also have individual projects with the university, which has national responsibility for research within the area of textiles and fashion.
“Through this collaboration, we secure future innovation and a trained workforce for our industry,” Ms Premler-Andersson says. “Trained and educated people are the key to innovation, which is closely linked to research and development. Sweden is one of Europe’s top spenders in this area, and this also applies to our member companies, who all commit to a high level of re-investment in R&D.”
In addition, Sweden has had a stable political climate and a relevant, high-quality educational system for decades.
The membership of TMAS is very broad-based in terms of specialisations, with a number of companies enjoying market-leading positions, including:
- Eltex of Sweden, a world leader in yarn break sensors and yarn tension monitors for textile machines.
- IRO, which is at the forefront of the production of yarn feeding equipment, where its wide range of high-tech yarn feeders is known for their high speed and quality.
- Kinna Automatic, which specialises in textile machinery for the fully automated production of bed linen. The company has a unique pillow-closing machine designed to close the open end of the pillow using lock stitch. The machine has an output of nine pillows per minute.
- ES Automatex Solutions, a leading manufacturer of automated machines for home textile production. An example of its inventions is the Terry Towel cross-hemmer, which increases production to up to 1,000 pieces per hour for the size of 50x100 cm in one lane.
- Eton Systems, the inventor of the Unit Production System for material handling. The company offers flexible and unique solutions for apparel and home textile.
- Baldwin Jimek, which provides solutions for finishing, remoistening and water/chemical management. The system has many advantages compared to traditional methods of applying process chemistry. Some of these include the reduced consumption of chemistry and water, reduced waste of process chemistry and water and shorter drying times.
Of key importance to TMAS as an organisation is building relationships in developing markets and it has a number of activities planned in this respect going forwards.
“People are what matters most in business,” says Ms Premler-Andersson. “Being a reliable partner and building long term relationships explains the success of the Swedish companies. Constant travelling to customers and exhibitions to meet and greet new and old customers is the daily life of our members. As an association, we always attend the ITMA shows in Europe and Shanghai. We also attend other local shows but our main activity this year is setting up our own local office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to respond to the demand for highly innovative, quality solutions. Together with other European textile machinery producers we also plan a roadshow to Colombia this Autumn.”
TMAS member companies were very happy with business development during 2016, and so far, 2017 is continuing in the same direction.
“We know that things can change quickly, as in Turkey last year,” Ms Premler-Andersson concludes. “Operating on a global basis there will always be challenges, and the industry moves fast. Being in the industry for a long time, our companies meet these challenges with a high degree of flexibility and are quick to make adjustments when required.” Image Courtesy of TMAS.
Adrian Wilson is an experienced analyst and writer specialising in textiles, nonwovens and composites, and current editor of Sustainable Nonwovens and Smart Textiles and Nanotechnology.