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The Rupp Report

The Rupp Report: Broad Success For Narrow Fabrics

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Not every organization these days can say that it is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Switzerland-based Jakob Müller AG can. Since 1887, the company has developed cutting-edge technology for the ribbon, rope and narrow fabric industry as well as peripheral sectors. It is a fact that the Swiss are the leaders in these sectors of the textile machinery industry.

Therefore, it was natural that the Rupp Report also visited the representatives of Jakob Müller at ITMA 2011 in Barcelona — the company's CEO, Christian Kuoni, also is president of the Swiss Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Industries' (SWISSMEM's) Textile Machinery Division, and therefore an important member of the CEMATEX committee.

Too many ITMAs
It was not easy to get hold of Eduard "Edi" Strebel, head of marketing at Jakob Müller at the busy booth to get an interview about the company's experience at the ITMA. The first question was inevitable: Are there too many ITMAs? "Yes," said Edi Strebel, "there are too many. The best way would be to go back to every four years an ITMA each in Asia and in Europe. So we would have again the perfect rhythm of one ITMA every two years."

Like many other companies, the Swiss are convinced that this would be enough. "There are so many local events. We must balance very well at which fair we are going to exhibit. The costs for exhibitions are soaring. And it's not only the costs for the square meters as such, but also for manpower, etc."

However, the company was very happy with ITMA in Barcelona. Strebel considered the visitor's frequency as well as the quality of the visitors to be good, and the company's expectations were entirely fulfilled. "Main visitor countries were India, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Turkey and Spain, in this order," Strebel added. As a supplier of a large portfolio of machinery, Jakob Müller considers the world to be one big market, as they claim on their website that  "the sun never sets on Jakob Müller AG" with a network covering 60 countries. "However," Strebel said, "in spite of the significance of the European market with its increasing ratio of technical textiles, it is obvious that the Asian markets are becoming more and more important for us."

Excellent Feedback
"Of course, the actual economical situation is distorting our business," Strebel said. "As a Swiss company, with the Swiss franc, we are not in a favorable situation at the moment. All our competitors are working with the euro or are based in the Far East." However, is there good news to report from ITMA? "Yes," Strebel said. "Our exhibits enjoyed an excellent feedback, mainly three new products, such as the label weaving machine MÜGRIP®MBJ6. These machines are exclusively developed and manufactured for label weaving. The exhibit is equipped with an additional sixth repeat, which increases the machine's rated weaving width to 120 millimeters. Shedding takes place via an SPE Jacquard machine with 1,536 hooks, and the machines on display have 1,152 and 864 Jacquard functions, respectively. The new machine also employs an innovative, energy-optimized drive concept."

Another successful exhibit was the narrow fabric loom NH2 53. This is an electronically controlled loom for the weaving of elastic and nonelastic narrow fabrics. Compared to conventional needle looms, the machine is fitted with considerably fewer mechanical parts, which results in both less wear and a cut in energy consumption, which is a maximum of 1 kilowatt.

And the third machine in the center of the visitor's attention was the Inkjet direct printing system — MDP2 E MÜPRINT2 E, a slightly modified model for the printing of elastic and non-elastic narrow fabrics and belts. The machine operates from roll to roll, from crate to crate and from roll to crate and vice versa. The contactless process permits the printing of relatively heavy and thick products with coarse surface structures.

What are the reasons for the success of these exhibits? "We consider ourselves to be the market leader in these sectors," Strebel said, "but first of all, it is a quantum leap in technology, which led to this successful presentation at ITMA."

The Look Into The Crystal Ball
For the future, one is slightly optimistic at Jakob Müller. Strebel said: "Yes, we are deliberately optimistic. Think the impossible to reach the possible. For the future, we have to work hard to get even better results in terms of less energy consumption and higher production output. The world always needs sophisticated products, and this is our business. We must and will remain in the profit zone, willing to provide our customers the best possible product to remain competitive. With this aim, we can stay competitive too, and remain the leader in narrow fabric technologies."

January 24, 2012