Textination Newsline

Reset
Photo: Wilhelm-Lorch-Foundation.
11.08.2020

Wilhelm Lorch Foundation: Demand and Support - Qualifying young and up-and-coming Talents

  • Interview with Klaus Kottmeier, Elke Giese, Markus Gotta, Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Maike Rabe

In June 1988, the shareholders and management of Deutscher Fachverlag announced the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation to the textile and garment industry. Its purpose is to promote vocational training, including student assistance as well as science and research.

Upon its establishment, the Foundation received an initial endowment of DM 300,000 from Deut-scher Fachverlag. Today, the Foundation has assets of approx. 2,85 m. Euro (as at Dec 2019). Since 1988, the foundation has awarded sponsorship prizes of around EUR 1,933,564 (as of June 2020) to date, in order to fund the initial and further training of young people from all areas of the textile industry, with a particular focus on young and up-and-coming talents.

  • Interview with Klaus Kottmeier, Elke Giese, Markus Gotta, Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Maike Rabe

In June 1988, the shareholders and management of Deutscher Fachverlag announced the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation to the textile and garment industry. Its purpose is to promote vocational training, including student assistance as well as science and research.

Upon its establishment, the Foundation received an initial endowment of DM 300,000 from Deut-scher Fachverlag. Today, the Foundation has assets of approx. 2,85 m. Euro (as at Dec 2019). Since 1988, the foundation has awarded sponsorship prizes of around EUR 1,933,564 (as of June 2020) to date, in order to fund the initial and further training of young people from all areas of the textile industry, with a particular focus on young and up-and-coming talents.

Textination talked to the former chairman of the supervisory board of Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH, the current member of the executive board and founding member of the foundation, Klaus Kottmeier, as well as three members of the board of trustees: Mrs. Elke Giese - trend analyst and fashion journalist, Markus Gotta, managing director of Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Maike Rabe, who will take over the chairmanship of the foundation board on September 1, 2020, about the challenging task of continuing successfully the foundation's work in an environment characterized by the pandemic.

The figure 3 seems to play a very special role for the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation (WLS). In 1988 announced on the occasion of the 30th Forum of the TextilWirtschaft, it was endowed with assets of DM 300,000. 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the award of the sponsorship prizes. If you had to introduce the WLS in 100 words to someone who does not know the foundation: Which 3 aspects have particularly influenced its development and made it unique?

Klaus Kottmeier: In more than 30 years the WLS has been in existence, the foundation has received great support all over the sector from the very beginning. This continues to this day and is not only reflected in the financial support provided by generous grants, but above all in an active commitment of many sector leaders on the foundation board and board of trustees. A second aspect is the unique range in the topics of the support, which extends across design, business and technology, covering young talents in retail as well as university graduates, but also involving educational institutions themselves. And thirdly, the motivation of so many applicants we experience every year, who prepare their applications with incredible diligence and thus impressively demonstrate their willingness to perform.

 

The name of the foundation is a tribute to Wilhelm Lorch, the publisher and founder of the trade journal Textil-Wirtschaft and thus of Deutscher Fachverlag, who died in 1966. Which of his characteristics and traits do you still see as exemplary for the next generation in our industry today?

Klaus Kottmeier: We are a publishing media house where professional journalism based on sound research always forms the basis. This is associated with classic values such as entrepreneurial courage and will, diligence and discipline, but also a sense of responsibility and team spirit, which were exemplified by our founder and which still form the culture of our company today. These all are qualities young people should take to heart and which, coupled with a passion for their profession, encourage them to continue on their path.

 

According to its statutes, the primary purpose of the foundation is the awarding of "... awards and prizes to graduates of continuation schools of the German retail textile trade, textile-technical training institutes and [...] for final degree or doctoral theses from universities, as far as these deal with textile topics.” How nationally and internationally does the WLS work?

Prof. Maike Rabe: The prizes are mainly awarded to graduates and applicants from Germany and German-speaking countries, but there are also always talents from Europe, who have close ties to the German market.

Markus Gotta: The focus is clearly on the core market of Germany or Germany-Austria-Switzerland respectively, which we cover with the TW - accordingly, we do not advertise internationally, but there is no exclusion for foreign applicants, the only requirement is that the submitted works and reports must be written in German or English.

 

Over the past 31 years in which the foundation has been awarding prizes to people, projects and works, you have met many young talents who have moved our industry or will certainly do so. Are there any unusual stories or special award winners that have remained in your memory? And how do you assess the development of the applicants' educational level over the years?

Elke Giese: The applicants come from very different schools and universities, differing significantly in their profiles and focus. The demands on teaching have grown enormously, especially as a result of increasing digitization. Since the job profiles in the fashion business are also constantly changing and will continue to be subject to major changes in the future, the challenges for schools and students remain very high.
From each year, particularly talented and creative personalities remain in one's memory. To name one, Elisa Paulina Herrmann from Pforzheim, who was twice among the prize winners in 2017 and 2019 with her bachelor's and then master's thesis. Her ability and originality were overwhelming for the board of trustees. She now creates exclusive knitwear collections for Gucci. Among the young men is Niels Holger Wien, who received WLS funding in 1995. He has been the specialist for color trends and zeitgeist of the German Fashion Institute for many years and is currently president of the world's most important color committee INTERCOLOR.

Klaus Kottmeier: There are many award winners who have subsequently made a great career, to name just one example, Dr. Oliver Pabst, current CEO of Mammut Sports Group AG and WLS award winner in 1994.

 

Due to its proximity to TextilWirtschaft, the foundation is primarily associated with fashion design and topics related to clothing production or marketing. In 2020 you have put Smart Textiles in the virtual spotlight with two project sponsorships. How do you see future topics in the field of technical textiles? Can you imagine creating a new focus on that field?

Prof. Maike Rabe: First of all, the WLS supports talented young people who, thanks to their training, can take up a career in the entire textile and clothing industry. Of course, this also includes the field of technical textiles, which is of great importance in terms of production in Germany being a technological leader. Here the boundaries to clothing are fluid, just think of outdoor or sports equipment.    „    

Klaus Kottmeier: Our excellently staffed board of trustees is open to all innovative topics in the industry. Innovations in the field of technical textiles in particular are important topics for the future. In 2017, for example, the sponsorship award went to the Anna-Siemsen-School, a vocational school for textile technology and clothing in Hanover, through which we supported the procurement of a pattern design software.

 

The Wilhelm Lorch Foundation has set itself the goal of supporting qualified young people in the textile and fashion industry. However, you preclude the support for business start-ups. In times, in which start-ups receive increasing attention not only through corresponding TV formats but also through industry associations, there must be reasons for this. What are they and how do you assess future prospects?

Klaus Kottmeier: Support for business start-ups is precluded by §2 of our statutes, which defines the purpose of the foundation. The WLS is exclusively dedicated to the charitable purpose. Support for start-ups and business start-ups would contradict this. We therefore concentrate fully on the further education of young professionals in the sector and the promotion of educational institutions, from which the entire sector benefits.

Prof. Maike Rabe: WLS funding is aimed at further developing the skills of graduates and young talents from the sector. They should receive specific further training, possibly reach a further academic degree, and also learn in an interdisciplinary manner. All of this benefits the sector as a whole and this is our strict objective.


          
The foundation also promotes the training and further education of young and up-and-coming talents who are already working in the textile retail trade. Grants are available to cover course or study fees for further qualification. The closure of shops caused by the lockdown  during the pandemic hit the stationary retail trade hard, and even today we are still miles away from regular business operations. Against this background, how do you see focused funding opportunities for further training in the e-commerce sector?

Markus Gotta: The topics of stationary retail and e-commerce can't really be separated, both have long since become part of the basic requirements in fashion sales and thus also of the topics of training and further education in general.
 
Prof. Maike Rabe: E-commerce has become an integral part of our industry and is naturally reflected in many grants and subsidies. The junior staff members are allowed to make their own suggestions as to where and how they would like to train. We support this. But we would also like to strengthen the connection between stationary and digital trade in particular. Our prize winners have come up with wonderful concepts for both sales channels, and of course they can be combined.

 

Breaking new ground means willingness to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which decisions in your foundation work are you particularly happy to have made?

Markus Gotta: That we implemented the Summer School project last year. We broke new ground with the foundation, and this - in cooperation with the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences - was very successful.

Elke Giese: Especially in the field of design and creation, it is important to recognize an applicant's future creative potential from the work at hand and the information provided by the applicant. I am therefore always particularly pleased when the board of trustees makes courageous and progressive decisions.    

 

The Wilhelm Lorch Foundation offers project funding of € 10,000 to universities and educational institutions. They do not make any thematic restrictions here, but simply demand that there must be a clear reference to the sustainable further training of young up-and-coming talents in the textile and fashion industry. According to which criteria do you finally decide which project will be funded?

Elke Giese: One criterion is the relevance for future developments in the textile and fashion industry. Projects in recent years have enabled schools and educational institutions to train on laser cutters and 3D printers, for example, but also to purchase modern knitting machines or software programs.

Prof. Maike Rabe: All the projects submitted are evaluated very strictly by the jury's experts using a points-based system. This results in a shortlist which is presented to the board of trustees and intensively discussed by them. In this way, we ensure that all submitted applications are honored and that we then award the Wilhelm Lorch Prize to the outstanding project submissions in a joint consensus. The most important criteria are sustainable teaching of innovative learning content, practical training and the feasibility of the submitted project.

 

There are many different definitions of sustainability. Customers expect everything under this term - from climate protection to ecology, from on-site production in the region to the exclusion of child labor etc. Public procurement is increasingly switching to sustainable textiles. What does this mean for WLS, and what are you doing to promote sustainable thinking and acting, not only among young professionals?

Prof. Maike Rabe: At the foundation, we base our definition of "sustainability" on the 1987 report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, the so-called Brundtland Commission: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The textile and clothing sector plays a pioneering role as a globally enormously connected industry with complex supply chains, which should definitely also play a model role. We therefore make it a priority for all award winners to observe these criteria and at the same time try to provide a platform for people who, through their work and actions, offer suggestions for improvement or even already implement improvements.

 

Virtual instead of red carpet: Usually the awards are presented in the festive setting of the TextilWirtschaft Forum. In 2020, due to the Covid-19, there was only a digital version in the form of a short film. How important do you consider networking opportunities that arise from meeting influential personalities face-to-face? Or has such a format become obsolete in the age of video conferencing?

Prof. Maike Rabe: It is certainly remarkable what digital event formats can achieve. But one thing doesn't work: spontaneity, personal contact and closeness. Therefor it is a real pity that the Forum had to be cancelled this year due to corona. Especially for career starters, the chance for direct networking is of great value.

Markus Gotta: The need for personal exchange and meetings will continue to be of great importance and demand in the future. And I can say at this point: We are already working on the plans for the TW Forum 2021 as a live and meeting event with the top decision-makers in the sector.

 

In which socially relevant areas do you see a particularly great need for innovation and action during the next five years? What is your assessment that funding - for example from the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation - can provide targeted support for solutions? And what role do the experiences from the corona pandemic play in this assessment?

Prof. Maike Rabe: We don't think in five-year periods, today's world requires much greater agility - this applies to the Foundation as well as to the entire industry. With each award we re-orientate ourselves towards current topics. Topics such as aesthetics, function and innovation will certainly continue to play a major role, as will quality instead of quantity, eco-social justice and customer loyalty. It is also important, however, that our economy, which is strongly supported by medium-sized companies, is clearly perceived by the public and in politics; we still have to work on that.

Klaus Kottmeier: I gladly agree with Prof. Rabe's closing statement. Agility is also of great importance in a media company like ours. We live in a constant transformation process with constant changes that have to be faced. The corona pandemic has shown us very impressively how quickly original plans can become waste. Today, and more than ever before in the future, a constant willingness to change is required, and this applies not only to us but also to our hopeful young employees.
 

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
CEO Textination GmbH

Cell cultures or microorganisms can already replace many animal experiments. This is even more successful if the technologies are integrated into suitable data models. Photo: EMPA
04.08.2020

Nanosafety Research without Animal Testing

  • Risk analyses for nanoparticles

In order to reduce the number of animal experiments in research, alternative methods are being sought. This is a particular challenge if the safety of substances that have hardly been studied is to be ensured, for instance, the completely new class of nanomaterials. To accomplish just that, Empa researchers are now combining test tube experiments with mathematical modelling.

  • Risk analyses for nanoparticles

In order to reduce the number of animal experiments in research, alternative methods are being sought. This is a particular challenge if the safety of substances that have hardly been studied is to be ensured, for instance, the completely new class of nanomaterials. To accomplish just that, Empa researchers are now combining test tube experiments with mathematical modelling.

They are already in use in, say, cosmetics and the textile industry: Nanoparticles in sun blockers protect us from sunburn, and clothing with silver nanoparticles slows down bacterial growth. But the use of these tiny ingredients is also linked to the responsibility of being able to exclude negative effects for health and the environment. Nanoparticles belong to the still poorly characterized class of nanomaterials, which are between one and 100 nanometers in size and have a wide range of applications, for example in exhaust gas catalytic converters, wall paints, plastics and in nanomedicine. As new and unusual as nanomaterials are, it is still not clear whether or not they pose any risks to humans or the environment.

This is where risk analyses and life cycle assessments (LCA) come into play, which used to rely strongly on animal experiments when it came to determining the harmful effects of a new substance, including toxicity. Today, research is required to reduce and replace animal experiments wherever possible. Over the past 30 years, this approach has led to a substantial drop in animal testing, particularly in toxicological tests. The experience gained with conventional chemicals cannot simply be transferred to novel substances such as nanoparticles, however. Empa scientists are now developing new approaches, which should allow another substantial reduction in animal testing while at the same time enabling the safe use of nanomaterials.

"We are currently developing a new, integrative approach to analyze the risks of nanoparticles and to perform life cycle assessments," says Beatrice Salieri from Empa's Technology and Society lab in St. Gallen. One new feature, and one which differs from conventional analyses, is that, in addition to the mode of action of the substance under investigation, further data is included, such as the exposure and fate of a particle in the human body, so that a more holistic view is incorporated into the risk assessment.

These risk analyses are based on the nanoparticles' biochemical properties in order to develop suitable laboratory experiments, for example with cell cultures. To make sure the results from the test tube ("in vitro") also apply to the conditions in the human body ("in vivo"), the researchers use mathematical models ("in silico"), which, for instance, rely on the harmfulness of a reference substance. "If two substances, such as silver nanoparticles and silver ions, act in the very same way, the potential hazard of the nanoparticles can be calculated from that," says Salieri.

But for laboratory studies on nanoparticles to be conclusive, a suitable model system must first be developed for each type of nanoparticle. "Substances that are inhaled are examined in experiments with human lung cells," explains Empa researcher Peter Wick who is heading the "Particles-Biology Interactions" lab in St. Gallen. On the other hand, intestinal or liver cells are used to simulate digestion in the body.

This not only determines the damaging dose of a nanoparticle in cell culture experiments, but also includes all biochemical properties in the risk analysis, such as shape, size, transport patterns and the binding – if any – to other molecules. For example, free silver ions in a cell culture medium are about 100 times more toxic than silver nanoparticles bound to proteins. Such comprehensive laboratory analyses are incorporated into so-called kinetic models, which, instead of a snapshot of a situation in the test tube, can depict the complete process of particle action.

Finally, with the aid of complex algorithms, the expected biological phenomena can be calculated from these data. "Instead of 'mixing in' an animal experiment every now and then, we can determine the potential risks of nanoparticles on the basis of parallelisms with well-known substances, new data from lab analyses and mathematical models," says Empa researcher Mathias Rösslein. In future, this might also enable us to realistically represent the interactions between different nanoparticles in the human body as well as the characteristics of certain patient groups, such as elderly people or patients with several diseases, the scientist adds.

As a result of these novel risk analyses for nanoparticles, the researchers also hope to accelerate the development and market approval of new nanomaterials. They are already being applied in the "Safegraph" project, one of the projects in the EU's "Graphene Flagship" initiative, in which Empa is involved as a partner. Risk analyses and LCA for the new "wonder material" graphene are still scarce. Empa researchers have recently been able to demonstrate initial safety analyses of graphene and graphene related materials in fundamental in vitro studies. In this way, projects such as Safegraph can now better identify potential health risks and environmental consequences of graphene, while at the same time reducing the number of animal experiments.

More information:
Empa nano particles
Source:

EMPA

Cost-effective Ways to minimize Risks in the Supply Chain Photo: Pixabay
28.07.2020

Fraunhofer ITWM: Cost-effective Ways to minimize Risks in the Supply Chain

  • Algorithms for optimized supply chains

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy hard. What lessons can be learned from this experience? And what’s the best way for companies to protect themselves against this kind of crisis in the future? The answer will certainly involve a combination of different approaches – but new mathematical methods developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM look likely to be a very promising piece of the puzzle. These methods aim to calculate how the risks posed by supply shortages can be reduced significantly at very little extra cost.

  • Algorithms for optimized supply chains

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy hard. What lessons can be learned from this experience? And what’s the best way for companies to protect themselves against this kind of crisis in the future? The answer will certainly involve a combination of different approaches – but new mathematical methods developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM look likely to be a very promising piece of the puzzle. These methods aim to calculate how the risks posed by supply shortages can be reduced significantly at very little extra cost.

 Nobody ever expected hospitals to be struggling to get hold of the face masks and other personal protective equipment they need. The supply chain had always run smoothly in the past, yet the coronavirus crisis has now caused shortages of these products on multiple occasions. Previously, these supply chains had worked well – but the necessary restrictions on the global flow of goods led them to collapse.In many cases, for example, Chinese suppliers were unable to make deliveries even while factories in Germany were still working as normal, a situation that had a knock-on effect on goods production in Germany. And viruses are not the only potential risk: international suppliers can be paralyzed by all kinds of unforeseen factors, from natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, storms and floods to strikes or other unexpected political developments. If a company chooses to rely on just one supplier for its production needs in order to reduce costs, this can have devastating consequences that may even bring production to a complete standstill. It can take a very long time indeed for other suppliers to ramp up their production and start delivering the required products.
 
Analyzing and safeguarding supply chains
This is where methods developed by Fraunhofer ITWM come into play. “The algorithms analyze how diversified the supply chains are in different areas of the company and thus how great the risk is of running into critical supply problems in an emergency, in other words in the event of regional or global disruption,” says Dr. Heiner Ackermann, deputy head in the Department of Optimization at Fraunhofer ITWM in Kaiserslautern. “The question is how you can minimize the risk of supply shortfalls without incurring significant additional costs.” The dilemma is similar to that of buying a house: Is it best to opt for the lowest possible interest rates, even though there is a risk that follow-up financing will offer much worse rates? Or is it best to play safe and pay slightly higher interest rates from the start if that means having the reassurance of reasonably priced financing for the entire term?
 
Companies also have to get the right balance between risk and costs. If a company chooses to rely solely on the cheapest supplier, they are taking a major risk. But if they procure a raw material from multiple suppliers at the same time, that risk drops significantly. “And in this case the difference in cost is much lower than the difference in risk,” says Ackermann. In other words, the risks fall dramatically even when a company increases its costs by just a few percent – so it is possible to eliminate much of the risk by accepting just a slight rise in costs. Companies can use the algorithm to discover what would work best in their particular situation. “This method lets companies optimize their supply chains based on multiple criteria, helping them to find the optimal balance between costs and risks,” says Ackermann. “The underlying algorithms work equally well whether you are dealing with supply shortages caused by an earthquake or a virus. So, unlike existing software solutions, we don’t try to make assumptions as to the likelihood of any particular scenario.” With this new method, a company starts by entering various parameters – for example areas in which they think disruption could be likely and how long that disruption might last. The algorithms then calculate various cost/risk trade-offs for this exact raw material, including the possible allocations of suppliers that would correspond to each point on the scale. They even take into account options such as storing critical products in order to cushion any temporary supply shortfalls.
 
Substituting raw materials during supply shortages      
Another option the algorithms take into account is whether a raw material could potentially be replaced by different materials in the event of a supply bottleneck. If so, this can be taken into consideration from the start. Essentially, the method calculates the costs and risks of different courses that a company can follow in regard to their suppliers. Procter & Gamble is already using a software-based variant of this methodology which has been specially tailored to its needs.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM

Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH, Michael Steidle (c) Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH
21.07.2020

„COVID-19 - We could and should have appeared better as noble knights" Michael Steidle, Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

  • Interview with Michael Steidle, Managing Director Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

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.

  • Interview with Michael Steidle, Managing Director Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

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.

The Interview with Michael Steidle, managing director at the textile printing company Heinrich Mayer GmbH, marks the provisional end of our series that started with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Services at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG and was continued by Andreas Merkel, managing director of Gebr. Otto Baumwollfeinzwirnerei GmbH & Co. KG. The textile printing company Mayer, a family business on the Swabian Alb, is a leader in textile printing, in screen, rouleaux, rotary, sublimation and flock printing and as well as in 3D coating. They are increasingly using these skills in the area of technical textiles.

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 time hit us hard. At the beginning of April, sometimes it felt like the lights would go out within the next 24 hours. In numbers there is a drop in sales of 30 percent.
And that's not just the way we are, this crisis has incredibly broader implications. Involved in the word of the Chamber of Commerce I am concerned with many companies in the region. Sectors that would not come to mind spontaneously also feel the effects. This also includes recycling companies. After all, there is also less commercial waste when companies are on short-time work.
At a personal level you can deal with the crisis, hand hygiene, sneeze etiquette, you can learn all of this. But we miss people-to-people contacts. We have a teenage daughter; young people in particular lack the ability to be out and about with their peers.

 
What has the pandemic meant for your company so far?
As I said, the Corona period brought us a significant drop in sales. That means we think twice before spending money. At the beginning of the year we moved to our new, spacious company building. There are still a few small investments to be made. So far, we have put it off until the situation has calmed down again. And so do many. The economic network extremely got out of hand due to the lockdown.
We applied for short-time work, which has been running for three months now. However, you have to see how long that makes sense. Our customers also had a drop in sales, which they first of all have to recover.

 
What adjustments or innovations to your product portfolio have you felt obliged by the pandemic to undertake?
The mask production was a very strong topic in April and May, the phone almost rang continuously. This enabled us to compensate for many orders that were lost otherwise.
We reacted quickly, not only printing masks classically, but also developing coatings for medical face masks and protective clothing. The coatings that we offer are antibacterial and have the lotus effect. This results in the formation of droplets in the aerosols. We have had checked and certified these innovations in an urgent procedure.
We converted our machines ad hoc so that we could apply innovative coatings instead of paint. This was even possible for ready-made masks.
In general, I rate this ability to react quickly as one of our great strengths. We are a small company, so the path from idea to implementation is rather short. If we recognize a trend, an opportunity in our industry, we examine ourselves: Do we have resources that could be used or adapted to offer a solid, marketable solution in a very short time? This refers to know-how, ideas, machines and, for larger projects, also partners. Experience has shown that on the one hand we have the necessary imagination, but on the other hand we also have a fairly realistic view of ourselves. If we can answer the question with “yes”, then we get started without delay. We can evaluate a trial in the evening and continue working on it the next day. There is no need for a meeting with five persons beforehand.
 

What are your views on global supply chains in the future, and will you be drawing consequences for your procurement policy?
We cannot avoid global supply chains; and it will remain this way. In the short term, you may reflect on regional procurement, as far as that is still possible. Many things are simply no longer available and the development over the past 30 years cannot be turned back. Let's take pigment paint: it comes from India and China, otherwise it doesn't exist anymore. Nobody in Europe can keep the prices. And yes, that also means that the production of systemically relevant products can no longer be guaranteed.

          
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?
Existing partnerships are important. We must keep the ball rolling: Interrupted projects have to be continued with existing partners.
I think it is important to maintain partnerships at eye level. Sure, now everyone has to see how they can make ends meet. It will be shown, however, who works loyally in the long term and with respect to the business.
Personally, it is important for me to be true to my word. Only a few days ago I spoke to a student, whom we promised her internship and a corresponding payment in February. This young woman can start her internship with us; what paying is concerned, I had to tell her honestly that we have to talk about it again. Fortunately, that was not a problem. It is important to the student that she can complete the required internship at all. This is not so easy since most companies do not accept anyone right now. That is understandable too, but we will need the well-trained people again soon, that’s for sure!

 
What initiatives or approaches for your industry would you welcome for the near future?
I would be very interested in a positive and comprehensive description of what value added is still available in Germany. An initiative that illustrates that the textile industry is an important industry, with many companies that have been family-owned for generations, often with a young, dynamic management and high-quality products. Really nobody has that on his radar. Just today, two designers from a company nearby visited us. They were surprised which services we offer in the field of technical textiles - they were not even aware of it.
The textile industry has played itself down for a long time, that has to stop. Of course, we no longer have added value like the machine building industry. But now, in the corona crisis, it would have been the right time to take advantage of the situation and to initiate much-needed lobbying..


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?
No, only at very short notice. Everything was taken during the crisis, the main thing was that the requested product, i.e. masks and protective clothing, was even available. Now the old cycle is back: I have a certain budget, where can I get the most for it? This is frustrating because the willingness to face this challenge was high on the part of the companies.
We also have driven the development and had our coatings for masks certified in an urgent process. Others have switched their entire production at a significant cost to meet demand. Nobody became a millionaire this way.
I think the textile industry could have sold better here. We could and should have appeared better as noble knights. Unfortunately, this was lost in the heat of the battle.

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?
We take sustainability into account with our certifications, with GOTS and ISO 9001. Digitisation does not work quickly for us; it will take years before we can digitise processes. Sure, in administration we are now increasingly working with web meetings and video conferences, but personal contact is important to me. I regularly give lectures; my next one will be at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and I very much hope that it can take place. I am just a guy for direct contact.
The labour market situation depends on the pandemic and how it develops. In any case, it remains difficult to get young people excited about textile professions. When I open a mobile phone store, I don't need a day to have my employees together. When we present ourselves at a training fair, we are happy to have a handful of good conversations.
Training is so valuable. Someone who has one will always have a different status than an unskilled person, even if - at some point - he works in a completely different branch. The dual training system is absolutely untouchable for me, because we live from this economic performance. We have nothing else but our knowledge. And we have to keep developing because only the high level gives the necessary output.
 

What lessons are to be learnt in respect of these targets for the post-corona era?
Innovation, innovation, innovation. You must not stand still. Nobody knows what to do next. But in three years from now I have to live from what I am developing today, just like I live from what I developed three years ago. Now, in times of Corona, it is much harder to remember, but it does not help: I can’t stand still, waiting for what is happening next, being like a deer caught in the headlights.

This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH