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The Rupp Report

The Rupp Report: INDEX 2014 - Showcase For The Nonwovens Industry

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Every three years, the nonwovens industry meets at INDEX to show the latest developments and products. This year, the exhibition will take place for the 11th consecutive time in Geneva April 8-11, 2014.
Over the last four to five decades, nonwovens have become a cornerstone of steady business in the textile industry. Products have penetrated into many new application areas. The phenomenal rise of the nonwovens is due not only to the displacement of more traditional textile products. Thanks to the constant development of raw materials, technologies and manufacturing processes, these products have conquered new areas that were unthinkable 10 years ago. All kinds of different wipes are just one recent example. Due to the very heterogeneous markets as well as the usual secretiveness of the nonwovens industry, it is rather difficult to get reliable figures about the industry. However, the nonwovens industry continues to record double-digit growth rates, especially in Asian markets.
A very important factor for this success is the continuous development of the applied fiber materials. Nonwovens hold an ever-increasing share of the global consumption of man-made fibers. Today, these fibers represent 72 percent of global fiber consumption, and this share continues to rise.


Most Important Event
The traditional gathering place for the textile(machinery industry is ITMA; for the nonwovens industry, it is INDEX at Palexpo in Geneva. At INDEX, this very independent sector meets in its entire diversity, from polymeric raw material manufacturers and suppliers to manufacturers of baby diapers. For the last INDEX in 2011, more than 12,600 people traveled to Geneva, and 530 exhibitors from 43 countries presented their latest products.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Geneva exhibition company Orgexpo SA and EDANA, the International Association Serving the Nonwovens and Related Industries. More than 220 member companies are united in EDANA, making the organization one of the leading associations and voices in the global industry. Founded in 1971 as the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association, EDANA has developed into a modern organization that has a European focus and worldwide influence and profile. The association provides comprehensive services mainly including difficult-to-get information and data on the consumption of nonwovens.
Ideal Location
Several times attempts have been made to move the INDEX to other sites — so far without success. For the 11th time since 1984 the fair will be held at Palexpo in Geneva. According to the organizers, the convenient location is the perfect venue. With the international airport within walking distance, Palexpo is within easy reach. Only the Swiss franc and Geneva prices are now and then a topic of foreign exhibitors.
All Areas Covered
At INDEX, one really finds all areas of nonwovens production, from fiber suppliers, nonwovens producers and equipment manufacturers to monitoring and laboratory equipment. According to the organizers, all important brands and suppliers will be present. Of course, the different bonding technologies are at the forefront, such as needlepunch, spunbond, spunlace, airlaid and wetlaid — but also recycling and the increasingly important composite materials.
Products for the following applications will be seen: filtration, packaging, automotive, shipping, aircraft, composites, civil engineering, sanitary, medical and all kinds of wipes. A very important sector for nonwovens is civil engineering. Applications here are, for example, printed covers for buildings, geotextiles and many more. Protective apparel is another application. The list can be easily extended. One has to know that nonwovens are developed “from the back,” which means the final product determines the production technology. What a great chance for smart and clever producers.
However, important peripheral sectors of the industry are also represented: they include adhesives and binders, chemicals, superabsorbents, films and membranes, as well as wood pulp and cores such as armoring nets for strengthening or solidification of composite materials.
Strategic Partnership With China
China in on the rise; not only in the traditional textile industry. The last five-year plans of the Chinese government clearly demonstrate that technical textiles and nonwovens “Made in China” should grow and improve. And the growth-rate figures are in fact already gigantic. At the last INDEX, China was represented by a large group of exhibitors and products. Therefore, it is not surprising that EDANA signed a framework agreement a strategic partnership with the China Nonwovens and Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA). The Sino-Euro Nonwoven Industry Cooperation also involves the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) and the Sub-Council of Textile Industry, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT TEX).
The agreement is intended to intensify the cooperation, to promote the discussion of common issues and relevant details before the implementation of cooperation projects. The strategic partnership will focus on four main areas:
mutual agreement for the exchange of information in the area of product testing and standards; mutual agreement for the exchange of information in the field of statistical methods and data; a search for ways to ease trade between China and Europe with regards to nonwovens as well as to find an effective cooperation with regards to exhibitions; and last, but not least, information and data exchange and exploiting the potential for the coorganization of international conferences. 

Both sides are happy: Li Lingshen, president of CNITA, is convinced that “this partnership will further strengthen the good relations between the two organizations that have existed for years.” And Pierre Wiertz, general manager of EDANA, said: “We are pleased to cooperate with CNITA to play an active role in building with innovation and the inclusion of free trade a more sustainable world in our efforts with nonwovens. We are convinced that the further development of these planned events for the nonwovens industry will be beneficial for the industry and its participants.”
Information Exchange
However, no one should forget that, as with every professional exhibition, INDEX is not only the showcase of the industry. It is also the best opportunity to get an up-to-date overview of this industry, which is increasingly important. The event is the perfect place to see and talk to industry experts, and also to the Rupp Report. The report and its sister magazines from Textile Industries Media Group will also be present: A bientôt à Genève.
February 11, 2014