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The Rupp Report: ITMA Asia + CITME 2012: Don't Forget The Peripheral Equipment

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The reporting about ITMA Asia + CITME is coming close to its end. However, there are a few more comments and opinions left — first of all, the suppliers of testing and monitoring equipment and accessories. And here, two companies play an important part in the world of textile machinery: Switzerland-based Uster Technologies AG and Germany-based Groz-Beckert KG.

Uster Technologies
Today, the name Uster is almost a generic brand for quality measurement and certification for the textile industry. The company's testing and monitoring instruments, systems and services that allow optimization of quality through each individual stage of textile production — from the raw textile fiber up to the finished fabrics — have set the standards for decades in textile processing. In the past few months, Uster Technologies was in the news because of a tender offer in May 2012 from Japan-based Toyota Industries Corp. Today, it is virtually a daughter company of Toyota. In talking to Uster staff, it is evident that everybody feels very good with the new owners.

Until 1980, the portfolio of Groz-Beckert was limited to latch and bearded needles for various textile machines. Since 2000, the production range was extended to include weaving machine accessories. Today, Groz-Beckert develops and produces a comprehensive range comprising parts for knitting and weaving machines, felting machines, tufting machine needles, modules, loopers, tufting knives and reed fingers as well as sewing machine parts. In July 2010, the company opened its Technology and Development Center (TEZ).

Mission Accomplished

The Rupp Report spoke with Reine Wasner, Uster Technologies' head of marketing & business development, and Birte Kleefisch, Groz-Beckert's senior manager of corporate communications, about their experiences and thoughts from this ever-so-important event. Kleefisch mentioned that "the booth in the first two to three days was crowded with people all day long."

Wasner mentioned that "visitor attendance was not overwhelming, but the quality of the people was excellent. We were able to discuss concrete business."

Also for the accessory suppliers, most of the visitors came from China, as well as from Pakistan and Indonesia. "There was quite a good mix of Asian customers," said Wasner.

Kleefisch added that "not many Turkish people came to see us." The overall impression of both persons about the event was rather positive. "However," Kleefisch said, "the last ITMA Asia was a better one, probably because this time, we were badly positioned in the hall."

Positive Response On Novelties
Both companies introduced products for the first time in Asia at ITMA Asia + CITME, and both had very encouraging feedback. "We showed the Classimat 5 and the Quantum 3," said Wasner. "On both products, we had very good feedback from the visitors." The Classimat 5 is said to deliver all the traditional classification standards, while broadening its scope to include outliers. The system detects and quantifies for the first time outliers for periodic faults, evenness, imperfections and hairiness, in addition to critical thick and thin places. Wasner mentioned that "especially important are its powerful foreign matter tools for assessing colored foreign fibers, vegetable matter and — for the first time — polypropylene content."

The Quantum 3 yarn clearer combines random sample testing with continuous process monitoring. Uster reports that the clearer tests every meter of yarn for compliance with particular quality parameters, and simultaneously detects and removes unwanted faults and contamination. The new capacitive, optical and foreign matter sensors see virtually everything, in greater detail than any previous yarn clearer generation. Multiple light sources are used to detect new colored foreign fibers and to help separate colored foreign fibers from mostly non-disturbing vegetable matter. It also offers a polypropylene clearing option.

"The feedback on both products was excellent," Wasner said. "We see a big trend in further automatization, also in monitoring and texting equipment. Our systems can provide total quality over the whole production process."

Groz-Beckert presented some products new to the Asian market as well, including knitting cylinder and precision parts for production of knitted fabrics in gauge E90; the CylinderMaster for simple, reliable, safe and fast cylinder changes on single-jersey circular knitting machines, enabling 85 percent of all cylinders to be changed and removed; and last, but not least, the PremioBox, a new packaging solution for fine-gauge needles, providing optimal protection, improved removal and safe needle handling.

"Especially the PremioBox was in the center of attention," Kleefisch mentioned. "With ever so much finer needles, the knitters need safe needle handling, and the PremioBox can provide this. The E90 gauge cylinder also was a big attraction for our customers. The trend in knitting is going to finer gauges, G80 and even G90, for very sophisticated fabrics."

Europe Is Still A Must
Of course, the European market is still important for both suppliers: "Yes," said Wasner, "Turkey is very important for us. This country mainly produces high-quality yarns."

"Europe is very important for technical textiles," Kleefisch added. "In our portfolio, there are a lot of products for technical textiles."

On the other hand, Asia is very important. "For us," said Wasner, "it is about 50/50 with Europe." Kleefisch added, "Apparel still holds first place, and these products are mostly produced in Asia." China, India, Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan are the most important sales markets at the moment for Uster Technologies and Groz-Beckert.

Is the somewhat shaky economical situation distorting the business? "Well," said Kleefisch, "at the end of 2011, we had a little slowdown, but not too much. For 2012, we think that the markets will remain steady at this level."

Wasner added: "Some projects are postponed. However, we can help the customer to save money with our monitoring and testing systems. This is vital in times of volatile raw material prices."

Positive Outlook
Wasner and Kleefisch are optimistic for 2013: "We are convinced that the markets will increase slightly in 2013," Wasner said. "We see rising turnovers in the second half of this year and hope that this trend will go on. The basic need for textiles is still apparent and will fuel the business in the future."

Kleefisch mentioned another point: "The consolidation in the garment-producing markets is more or less finished; nevertheless, there is a move towards other cheap-labor-cost countries. Yet, technical textiles will also have increasing importance in Asia."

To Remain In The Premier League

To keep the position at the top, Wasner is convinced that the future of quality monitoring is not selling single instruments, but, rather, complete systems. "To produce ongoing quality takes more than simple components. To have a better quality, it must be even over the whole production chain."

And what is Groz-Beckert doing to keep the position? "Education is the key word," Kleefisch said. "With our own academy, we can achieve this target. And at the end of the day, we rely on a partnership with our customers. Only long-lasting faith and mutual friendship will give the needed results to carry on for both sides."

July 31, 2012