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07.07.2020

Mayer & Cie.: “COVID-19 - A Challenge without a Blueprint”

Interview with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.

Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG will start the three-part series. The world market leader for circular knitting machines, founded in 1905 in Albstadt / Baden-Württemberg, employs around 400 people worldwide and today offers an international network of more than 80 sales and service representatives.

Interview with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.

Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG will start the three-part series. The world market leader for circular knitting machines, founded in 1905 in Albstadt / Baden-Württemberg, employs around 400 people worldwide and today offers an international network of more than 80 sales and service representatives.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally?
What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?

The corona era is a challenge without a blueprint. Because it is not an economic crisis as previously understood we have no tried and tested solutions with which to react to the situation. Nevertheless, and this is my personal opinion, there is never only a downside even though the pandemic situation has, of course, had the worst conceivable effect on our order intake.
A positive aspect is that we are forced to deal with issues we would otherwise have put off until the future. Web meetings and virtual trade fairs instead of travelling half way round the world. We can use the time gained to optimise our processes.
When the lockdown began I personally had more time for myself and a few hours more sleep than otherwise. But that positive side effect is already history.    
          
What has the pandemic meant for your company so far?
Let me go back a little further. The trade dispute between the United States and China and many other, smaller local conflicts led to the textile machinery market having faced an understandably most reluctant client base since 2018. After this rather lengthy lean period we noted from the beginning of 2020 a growing inclination to invest once more. Of course, corona abruptly interrupted that trend. So the pandemic hit us at a time when the industry was recovering. We now have a steady order intake once more, but at a lower level than we need if we are to fully utilise our production capacity. So after the summer holidays we will switch to short-time working until the situation is back to normal.
 
What adjustments or innovations to your product portfolio have you felt obliged by the pandemic to undertake?
Contact and travel bans have not only shown us how useful video conferences are; they have also demonstrated most vividly how important digital solutions are – and that we need to work on them intensively. Prior to the corona outbreak, we invested a great deal of time and knowledge in this area so that we were able to unveil knitlink at the 2019 ITMA 2019.
A Web shop for spare parts and our new service approach are both based on knitlink. Using a ticket system that we are developing from our CRM system along with digital measures in service support we can assist our customers faster and at less expense than previously. In addition, our customers will in future be able to record and analyse the production data of their Mayer circular knitting machines.

What are your views on global supply chains in the future, and will you be drawing consequences for your procurement policy?
We as suppliers noticed at the outset of the corona crisis in March that the desire for short supply chains on the part of clothing manufacturers was leading to more orders from countries closer to Europe. Now that the situation is hopefully starting to ease off, this trend is still apparent.
As for our own supply chain, throughout the entire lockdown phase we have had gratifyingly few problems and no downtimes whatever.
 
How do you rate the importance of partnerships within the industry in the future?
Does Covid-19 have the potential to promote the creation of new cooperation arrangements in the industry? Or have they already taken shape?

Cooperation arrangements can be a great enrichment. For over a year and a half we have been collaborating with a design studio in Amsterdam. Our partner Byborre not only develops designs of its own; it also supports sportswear and clothing manufacturers step by step in developing their textiles.
The customer uses his own partners and suppliers while Byborre supplies the machinery and parameters needed to manufacture the desired fabrics.
Byborre could be described as a kind of “translator,” interpreting between us, the machine manufacturers, and those who use the fabrics that are made on our machines.
We as engineers know of course what our machines are capable of accomplishing. Jointly with Byborre we coax new designs and uses out of these capabilities.
Apart from that we cooperate in various bodies such as the VDMA’s Marketing and Trade Fair Committee.
These, however, are not cooperation arrangements arising from or as a consequence of Covid-19. We have no such cooperation to report.

What initiatives or approaches for your industry would you welcome for the near future?
A positive mention must be made of offers by the state government to assist with digitisation projects that we must all take forward.
A strengthening of regional production would also be desirable. That said, even I cannot imagine how that could be achieved other than for high-quality or niche products.

What would you like to see as part of the German textile industry?
Do you feel that the status of the German textile industry has changed as a result of the pandemic, especially in respect of public procurement?

Although “textile” is part of our description as textile machinery manufacturers, our actual home is in the second part of the name – in mechanical engineering. Its status in Germany is, as is known, very high.
That of the textile industry is, from my external vantage point, unchanged. At the beginning of April, when face masks were desperately sought, there were many good intentions, but German firms that offered to manufacture them were refused long-term assurances by the government.
So naturally nobody invested in the idea and everything will probably remain as it is, with the price reigning supreme and competition continuing unabated.

Until now the big issues have been globalisation, sustainability / climate change / environmental protection, digitisation, the labour market situation and so on.
Where do they stand now and how must we rate them against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic?

The overriding issue right now is Covid-19, and everything else is subordinated to it. At the same time it functions like a magnifying glass. Take precarious jobs, for example. The high rates of infection in abattoirs have meant that they can no longer be ignored. Covid-19 has also created facts in respect of environmental protection. Next to nobody is flying, people are working from home and doing less shopping. That leads to lower emissions. The ailing global economy is a blessing for the planet. Germany too is likely to be on climate target for 2020; without corona we would have failed to do so. As for globalisation, it is at least marking time as regional production fills part of the bill.
How long that will continue to be the case remains to be seen, of course, but it is clear that we can be extremely flexible if we need to be.
 
What lessons are to be learnt in respect of these targets for the post-corona era?
There is unlikely to be a “post-corona era” inasmuch as we will no longer get rid of the virus. We must learn to cope with it.
The virus or rather the restrictions it has imposed on us have forced us to be creative. We must deal with existing processes differently – both in private life and professionally. By that I mean such everyday activities as shopping as well as Web meetings and working at home, which was not previously a widespread option at our company. They have certainly made us more efficient.
Another realisation applies to us as an SME just as it does to politics. We have an opportunity to master the crisis and maybe even gain in strength and size from it. But only because we have invested sensibly when times were good and above all managed our business soundly and solidly.

This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Source:

Textination GmbH

Compostable agricultural textiles with adjustable service life Foto: Pixabay
30.06.2020

Compostable agricultural textiles with adjustable service life

In the "AgriTex" innovation project, WESOM Textil GmbH, together with the Fiber Institute Bremen e.V. and the Institute for Polymer and Production Technologies e.V., has set itself the goal of developing a compostable technical textile that is to be used in agriculture, among other things. The project is funded over three years by the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) and has a funding volume of around 570,000 Euros. A corresponding application was approved by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) in April 2020.

In the "AgriTex" innovation project, WESOM Textil GmbH, together with the Fiber Institute Bremen e.V. and the Institute for Polymer and Production Technologies e.V., has set itself the goal of developing a compostable technical textile that is to be used in agriculture, among other things. The project is funded over three years by the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) and has a funding volume of around 570,000 Euros. A corresponding application was approved by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) in April 2020.

Plastics have become an integral part of our everyday lives and are used in a wide variety of areas. At the same time, pollution from plastic waste is one of the greatest global problems of our time. There are already various options for the sensible and environmentally friendly disposal of plastics, e.g. recycling or thermal recovery. However, it cannot always be guaranteed that the waste is also disposed of in the corresponding disposal routes. For example, in agriculture, even if used properly, a release cannot always be prevented or a return is not possible depending on the application. Biodegradable plastics can help to solve this problem, but many of today's products only rot very slowly, as otherwise the required stability and robustness cannot be guaranteed.
     
The aim of the "AgriTex" project partners is to develop an innovative, biodegradable textile for applications in agriculture. On the one hand, the textile withstands the highest mechanical and weather-related requirements during use, on the other hand it rots quickly after a predefined period of use under natural conditions in the environment or on the compost. This two-phase behavior is made possible by a new type of bicomponent fiber made from the biodegradable plastic PLA. The new technology is to be developed and tested using a hail protection net for fruit growing. Hail protection nets are exposed to considerable loads from various weather conditions and usually have to be replaced after a few seasons. Proper disposal of the old nets represents a considerable cost factor for agricultural businesses. With "AgriTex" the nets can be composted with other biological waste in a cost-neutral manner. In addition, unintentionally released netting components from the structure remain, e.g. by storms or damage caused by game, no longer in the long term in the environment and the pollution of ecosystems by plastic waste is effectively prevented. The ecological and economic advantages of the new technology are not only in demand in fruit growing, but will also be of interest for many other applications in agriculture, landscaping or fishing in the future.
 
The idea for the “AgriTex” project came about as part of the PREVON - Production Evolution Network innovation network, which is funded by the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM). As part of the membership, the partners are actively supported in the implementation of R&D projects and in securing funding.

More information:
agricultural textiles AgriTex
Source:

IWS Innovations- und Wissensstrategien GmbH

(c) Messe München
23.06.2020

ISPO Re.Start Days: New digital live conference

Orientation for the sports and outdoor industry on June 30 and July 1, 2020 

  • Digital live conference for the sports and outdoor industry
  • Main topics: digitization, sustainability and health
  • European Outdoor Group and Association of German Sports Retailers support event

In the course of the current corona pandemic, the international sports and outdoor industry is facing far-reaching challenges. The ISPO team also had to cancel OutDoor by ISPO 2020 and the ISPO SDG Summit and postpone the ISPO Digitize Summit. However, the focus and motto of the current anniversary year, "50 years of tomorrow", will remain.
 
Based on the feedback and needs of the most important industry stakeholders, ISPO developed a digital live conference for the sports and outdoor industry. The ISPO Re.Start Days on June 30 and July 1 2020 offer orientation and growth strategies during and after Corona.

Orientation for the sports and outdoor industry on June 30 and July 1, 2020 

  • Digital live conference for the sports and outdoor industry
  • Main topics: digitization, sustainability and health
  • European Outdoor Group and Association of German Sports Retailers support event

In the course of the current corona pandemic, the international sports and outdoor industry is facing far-reaching challenges. The ISPO team also had to cancel OutDoor by ISPO 2020 and the ISPO SDG Summit and postpone the ISPO Digitize Summit. However, the focus and motto of the current anniversary year, "50 years of tomorrow", will remain.
 
Based on the feedback and needs of the most important industry stakeholders, ISPO developed a digital live conference for the sports and outdoor industry. The ISPO Re.Start Days on June 30 and July 1 2020 offer orientation and growth strategies during and after Corona.

Based on this year's anniversary, ISPO proclaimed "50 years of tomorrow" at the beginning of this year. The existing events, supplemented by new formats, were intended to further promote sports and the outdoors and to make them drivers of global, sustainable change. However, the developments around the corona virus made the original planning obsolete. OutDoor by ISPO 2020 had to be cancelled, the premiere of the ISPO SDG Summit is postponed to 2021 and the ISPO Digitize Summit will be held at ISPO Munich 2021. But also, or especially under the new circumstances, the ISPO group continues to focus on its motto.

Digital format for a restart
"Corona is changing the world, the rules are just being rewritten" says Klaus Dittrich. The Chairman of the Board of Management of Messe München is certain: "We are living up to our pioneering role even in these difficult times and are making a fresh start with the sports and outdoor industry. We are focusing everything on the '50 years of tomorrow'.”

European Outdoor Group supports  SPO Re.Start Days
The digital live conference is aimed at an international audience and is developed in close cooperation with industry associations such as the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and the Association of German Sports Retailers (vds). Mark Held, President of the European Outdoor Group: "Access to nature is important and helpful for the well-being of all people.
This is where we continue to see a growing importance and major role for the outdoor industry. At the same time, however, we must discuss the negative consequences of the crisis for society and the economy as a whole and rethink the challenges it poses. We can only do this together and we will be fully involved.”
 
Focus on digitization, sustainability and health 
The event will focus on three main topics: Digitalization, Sustainability and Health. The program is dedicated to best cases in times of Corona and will present ideas, projects and campaigns implemented at short notice. Experts will talk about the boost the pandemic is giving digitization, which aspects of it will be preserved and which counter-movements are already forming as a result. Industry experts will show in which areas consumers are questioning the behavior of companies and how brands should react.

ISPO Re.Start Days

More information:
ISPO ISPO Munich
Source:

Messe München GmbH

(c) SANITIZED AG
16.06.2020

‘WHAT SMELLS LESS HAS TO BE WASHED LESS OFTEN’

Swiss Quality Principles plus Innovation Strength: Hygiene and Material Protection from SANITIZED 

SANITIZED AG is known as a worldwide leading Swiss company in hygiene functions and material protection for textiles and plastics. Globally oriented, pioneering work is done with federal thoroughness in the development of innovative, effective and safe technologies for antimicrobial equipment. Textination had the opportunity to speak to CEO Urs Stalder about the growing importance of hygiene in times of the pandemic.

Swiss Quality Principles plus Innovation Strength: Hygiene and Material Protection from SANITIZED 

SANITIZED AG is known as a worldwide leading Swiss company in hygiene functions and material protection for textiles and plastics. Globally oriented, pioneering work is done with federal thoroughness in the development of innovative, effective and safe technologies for antimicrobial equipment. Textination had the opportunity to speak to CEO Urs Stalder about the growing importance of hygiene in times of the pandemic.

Founded in 1935, the majority ownership of the public company SANITIZED still lies with the founding families. You are the market leader in Europe in hygiene functions and material protection for textiles and plastics. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who doesn't know the company: What influenced you in particular in the development of the company and what made it unique?
Preventing odor in shoes, that's how it started in 1935. This is where our business model came from: the antimicrobial protection of plastics and textiles.
SANITIZED develops ready-to-use additives that are individually tailored to the protection goals of the end products and that work, for example, against the development of odors in work clothing, against permastink (resilient odors) in synthetic textiles or against mold growth.
The 360-degree service is unique: This includes backing in product development, support for all regulatory questions and assistance with marketing topics.
SANITIZED AG is globally active and yet committed to Swiss quality principles. More than 400 brands worldwide use the ingredient brand Sanitized® on their end products.

Think global – act local? You have sister companies in France, the United States and Asia. Your roots and headquarters are based in Switzerland. The pandemic is currently increasing the question of intact supply chains. What does this mean for your company in the future?
Indeed, the broad global positioning enables us to do business locally. The local anchoring results in synergies, also in sourcing. That will be even more important for us in the future. And, of course, the issues of speed and customer proximity are also positive aspects of this approach.

From textiles to plastic surfaces to cans: SANITIZED Preservation AG was founded in 2018 to take care of colors and coatings. SANITIZED is thus opening up another market. Which markets are you particularly interested in and which product areas do you feel particularly challenged by?
Customers want paints and varnishes without solvents, which is better for people and the environment. But with the alternative water-based products, there is a high risk of contamination by microbes. This starts with the production, continues with the storage in the can and also in the application. The result is mold formation.
Antimicrobial protection for paints or coatings is particularly relevant in hygiene-sensitive areas of industrial production and, of course, in the medical environment. The risk of contamination and mold multiplies in regions with high air humidity. This is another reason why India is a growth market for this business area.   

To break new ground means decisiveness, overcoming fears - and thus the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect - about which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made it?
Let me mention just three decisions that are important for corporate development: This is definitely the foundation of the SANITIZED Preservation division. This is about the antimicrobial protection of paints and varnishes. This also includes setting up our in-house TecCenter, in which we can perform laboratory services even faster. It was recently accredited by the International Antimicrobial Council. And right now it is the sales cooperation with Consolidates Pathway on the US market for our textile hygiene function solutions.

You state that innovation is embedded in the company's DNA. How do you live your inno-vation management and which role do the requirements of end consumers and your indus-trial customers play in this setting?
We ourselves as well as our global sales partners are in close contact with the manufacturers of textile products. This is also why we know the requirements and needs of the market. Sustainability is emerging from the niche in the mass market.
This is exactly what our product Sanitized® Odoractiv 10 has been developed for and awarded by the Swiss Innovation Award.
It is a dual-acting, biocide-free, patented technology against odor development and odor adsorption in textiles. Many customers appreciate our expertise and use it in the development of new products to create innovative textiles with additional benefits for the requirements of the market.

Tailor-made or solutions only for major customers? The topic of individualization up to lot size 1 takes up a lot of space today. What do you think about individual product solutions - or can you cover everything with the SANITIZED portfolio comprising 40 products?
We have a very versatile technology “kit” at our disposal. It is part of our daily business to respond individually to the special customer needs and the respective product requirements. We offer tailor-made recipes for this and our extensive application know-how flows into the advice for the individual application situation at the customer.

There are various definitions for sustainability. Customers expect everything under this term - from climate protection to ecology, from on-site production in the region to the ex-clusion of child labor, etc. Textile finishing does not always sound unproblematic. Public procurement is increasingly switching to sustainable textiles. What does this mean for SANITIZED and what do you do to bring the concept of sustainability to life for your company, and which activities and certifications do you focus on?
Resource conservation is a key issue for us. Since we “think” about the topic of sustainability along the entire production chain, including in research and development, resource-saving application techniques for the textile industry are important to us. Sanitized® additives can be integrated into standard production processes, so that additional energy is not required for complementary finishing processes.
Our portfolio also includes biocide-free products. Sanitized® Odoractiv10 prevents odors from sticking to textiles. Sanitized® Mintactiv uses the natural antibacterial effect of mint and was specially developed for cotton textiles.
And what smells less has to be washed less often. This saves water and electricity and extends the useful life of textiles.
          
SANITIZED supports its customers with a so-called 360° service. What do you mean by that and why don't you concentrate exclusively on the technical aspects of the products?
The SANITIZED brand wants to create real added value for its customers. That is why we have expanded our core competence as a developer and provider of innovative antimicrobial additives with an all-round service. The obvious thing to do is to support the production process, of course that is part of it. Furthermore; we also provide the latest knowledge on regulatory issues - world-wide. And we offer comprehensive marketing assistance for our license partners who use Sanitized® as an ingredient brand. Making correct advertising statements is important not only in times of Corona. Because it's always about transparency and security for people. Warning letters or delivery stops due to incorrect claims can be prevented.
Cooperation with the institutes is absolutely sensible; after all, it is their job to do research for com-panies that they cannot shoulder on their own. This includes testing facilities, as well as applying for funding, which is only possible in cooperation with research institutes. However, they are public institutions and therefore have different objectives per se than a company: We have to bring a promising idea to the market as quickly as possible to show a profit. A research institute does not have this pressure.

Which goal do you pursue with the website https://www.sanitized.house for example?
Yes, it may seem unusual when SANITIZED as a B2B company designs a platform for end customers. But more than 400 brands use Sanitized® as an ingredient brand. So, we are connected to the end customer in this way.
In the virtual house - Sanitized® the house -, visitors can playfully experience in which areas of life hygiene and material protection contribute to the quality of life. A click in the wardrobe links to products - including brand names - that have been equipped with Sanitized®: clothing in the wardrobe, the carpet in the living room or the towel in the bathroom. The best thing to do is try it yourself.

The company is working consistently on implementing Sanitized® as a brand. The hygiene function for textiles and plastics shall be documented and thus offer added value to customers and consumers. Co-branding is not always welcome, especially in the clothing, sports and outdoor sector. How rocky was the road until Sanitized® was advertised as an ingredient brand by 400 license partners on the product?
Of course, there are brands that do not want a second brand on their end product. But a trend is causing more and more manufacturers to rethink: Customers are increasingly asking questions about ingredients and their origins. Elucidation and transparency are growing needs. And that's exactly what we contribute to. In addition, this is an opportunity for a textile brand to stand out positively in the flood of suppliers. Differentiation through added value - donated by Swiss technology from SANITIZED. Those arguments work worldwide.

You have a diversified network. Just to mention to two of them - you have been a system partner since the foundation of bluesign® and you work closely with Archroma in sales matters. In which aspects do you see the special value of partnerships? Are there segments existing where you can imagine new partners and collaborations?
Partnerships are important and work if all pursue common goals and can mutually fertilize each other. For example, the partnership with the company Consolidates Pathway in the United States is brand new one.

For which socially relevant topics do you see a particularly great need for innovation and action in the next 5 years? What is your assessment that your company will be able to offer solutions for this with its products? And what role do the experiences from the corona pandemic play in this assessment?
Nobody can predict what the corona pandemic will change in the long term. Environmental protection and thus the conservation of our resources is and remains an important issue.
The fact that the textile industry can make a big contribution to this is slowly gaining awareness among the masses. Keywords are cheap production or water consumption for jeans production. People are becoming more sensitive to what companies and brands are doing. It will be all the more important to act and communicate openly and transparently.
For SANITIZED, it is a mission and a matter of course that only products with official approvals are used and that we work ac-cording to the bluesign principle. This is where traceability and transparency begin.


This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH