ITMA 2019 featured a record-breaking number of exhibitors and positive discussions, as well as strong U.S. participation.
By Rachael S. Davis, Executive Editor
Despite news reports about global trade wars, economic uncertainty and rumblings of investment hesitation, the recent ITMA 2019 was well attended, filled with positive discussions throughout and labeled a success by its owner, the European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers (CEMATEX). A record-breaking number of exhibitors since the show’s inception — 1,717 exhibitors from 45 countries — participated in the 2019 edition of the quadrennial show, which largely focused on innovation, Industry 4.0 and sustainable solutions.
“We are glad that ITMA has been providing a reputable platform for textile machinery manufacturers to market their innovations,” said Fritz P. Mayer, CEMATEX president. “This has enabled us to record the largest number of exhibitors in ITMA’s history.” Net exhibition space totaled 114,500 square meters, filling all 9 halls as well as the under the linkway space at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain. To accommodate as many exhibitors as possible, some companies were actually offered smaller floor spaces than they applied for, but even given this scenario, some applicants had to be turned away. “The exhibition would have been larger if we had not turned away applicants due to a lack of space,” said Charles Beauduin, chairman of ITMA 2019 organizer ITMA Services. “Unfortunately, we could not accommodate a wait-list of about 250 applicants who booked some 8,200 square meters.”
By country, the largest number of exhibitors — 364 — came from Italy, followed by China, Germany, India and Turkey.
“The digital transformation of the textile and garment manufacturing value chain and sustainability concerns of the industry have driven up visitor interests in ITMA 2019,” CEMATEX’s Mayer said. “Many of our exhibitors were pleasantly surprised with the large number of serious buyers attending the exhibition. Considering that for this ITMA edition, the exhibition duration has been shortened from eight to seven days, we still enjoyed good visitorship.”
The show attracted approximately 105,000 visitors over those seven days. The largest percentage of visitors came from Spain, followed by Italy, India, Turkey, Germany, France, the United States, Portugal, Brazil, Pakistan, China and the United Kingdom.
No, that isn’t a misprint, more visitors from the United States attended ITMA 2019 than visitors from Pakistan and China. This statistic is consistent with comments expressed by multiple exhibitors who noted unexpectedly high numbers of U.S. visitors spotted throughout the show floor. Several news reports linked to ITMA also pointed to investments by U.S. companies.
“The show has been fantastic,” said Jonathan Bell, president, Eltex U.S. Inc. “Really, really busy every day. For me personally, I’ve been surprised at the number of U.S. visitors because I wasn’t expecting a good turnout. And I’d say a lot of the visitors are working on investment projects and are in investment mode.”
Stephen A. Charron, vice president, Meera Industries USA LLC, High Point, N.C., estimated 20 percent of visitors to the Meera booth were American. “The show was wonderful,” Charron reported. “We’ve sold just about every machine on the show floor.”
Rick Stanford, business development, textiles, for St. Louis-based Baldwin Technology Co. Inc., reported: “I’m seeing more Americans than I saw at the last ITMA, and I think that’s a good sign for the U.S. industry. We had several quality U.S. customers here and I definitely think that people feel positive about the U.S. industry.” Stanford mentioned that several brands had expressed interest in the company’s TexCoat G4 coating system. “I’d say a big bullet point at this show is sustainability,” Stanford said. “Manufacturers are now looking at ways to be good stewards of the environment.”
“ITMA is always a meeting point for the whole world,” offered Klaus Heinrichs, vice president, Germany-based A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG. “We saw visitors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh; but the U.S. representative PSP Marketing also was very busy the whole time. We saw more Americans than usual, and the market in North America becomes more lively for Monforts. I think today, it is on the move to make investments. The U.S. is looking at finishing filter media, airbags, fleece as well as traditional materials. We think we will have some good projects to come in the U.S., which we haven’t had for two to three years.”
“Visitors from the United States came in as planned and engaged us in very dynamic discussions as they get ready to gear up some very innovative projects,” added Cyril Guerin, president, Picanol of America Inc., Greenville, S.C.
Deals Done, Investments Announced
ITMA 2019 also was a platform to officially announce investment deals.
On the first day of the show, Switzerland-based Oerlikon announced Greensboro, N.C.-based Unifi Manufacturing Inc. placed an order for a significant number of its new eAFK Evo texturing machines. The machine made its debut to selected clients during ITMA. Unifi and Oerlikon worked together to develop the texturing machine, and Unifi obtained exclusive rights in the Americas to its own unique design, which will be used to produce a variety of polyester and nylon yarns for its virgin Unifiber and REPREVE®-branded recycled product lines. The machine made its debut to selected clients at ITMA with Oerlikon exhibiting a version of the eAFK Evo texturing machine designed for cost-effective commodity yarn production.
“Unifi is proud to collaborate with Oerlikon Barmag on its innovative new texturing technology that is positioned to revolutionize yarn manufacturing,” said Tom Caudle, president and COO, Unifi. “True innovation starts in the fiber, and the new eAFK Evo texturing machine will allow us to continue our history of manufacturing excellence and provide our customers with an expanded portfolio of performance products with broad market appeal.”
Belgium-based Picanol reports Milliken & Company, Spartanburg, S.C., purchased more than 75 Omni-Plus-i airjet machines — a loom that made its debut at ITMA 2019. According to Picanol, Milliken ran trials and after many months of consideration chose the Picanol machines citing speed improvements, efficiency and overall versatility as well as local support by Picanol America Inc. as reasons for its decision. Milliken — the first U.S. customer to make a significant investment in the new airjet machine — will use the Omni-Plus-i machines for its weaving operations in the Carolinas.
Lexington, N.C.-based finishing machinery manufacturer Navis TubeTex also had a successful ITMA. The company reported the sale of a TM-100 open-width compactor to a company in Colombia, as well as the sale of a Pak Nit e3+ compactor to M.N. Dyeing, Bangladesh. “We are very excited to announce the sale of the machines that we have on display at our booth at ITMA 2019 in Barcelona,” said Will Motchar, president and CEO, Navis TubeTex. “The activity at our booth has been outstanding. Customers are appreciating our new developments that provide energy, chemical, and water savings.”
Other exhibitors also reported sales during the show, with several saying machines on the show floor were heading straight from Barcelona to customers’ facilities for installation.
ITMA 2019 also hosted a press conference to announce a very large investment by Egypt-based Cotton & Textile Industries Holding Co. Designed to modernize Egypt’s textile industry and leverage the prestige of Egyptian cotton, the initial 1.1 billion euro ($1.25 billion) investment phase will modernize spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing, printing and cut-and-sew manufacturing. Machinery manufacturers included in this first-phase of the program include Benninger, Brückner, EFI Reggiani, Itema, Karl Mayer, Rieter, Savio and Thies.
“I was encouraged with the innovation and advancements in automation that were showcased during the event,” said Dan Sistrunk, Milliken’s vice president of global sourcing, operations. “It is clear from ITMA that the textile machinery industry is aligned and in-tune with the increasing challenges regarding labor in our industry. I was impressed by the continued expansion and diversity of the show beyond traditional textile machinery and further encouraged by the focus of the exhibitors in regard to providing more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions for the textile producing community.”
ITMA also offers a unique opportunity for colleges, universities, and associations, with several hosting exhibitor booths including North Carolina State University’s Wilson College of Textiles, Jefferson University and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. “ITMA was an inspiring show,” said Marcia Weiss, director of Fashion & Textiles Futures Center, Jefferson University, Philadelphia. “It provided a magnificent platform to showcase the many facets of textile industry innovation. Given our focus on textile design and innovation, the show offered numerous opportunities to connect with industry partners and meet or reconnect with peers and friends from industry and other institutions, as well as showcasing Jefferson University’s textile design activities. We are looking forward to participating at ITMA Milan in 2023!”
Alex Zucchi, president of the Association of Italian Textile Machinery Manufacturers (ACIMIT), was very positive about this edition of ITMA. “This Barcelona edition has confirmed ITMA as the main B2B platform in the textile industry,” Zucchi said. “The many innovations seen here, especially in the field of sustainability and digitalization, have increased the interest of visitors. It is essential to focus on these issues also for the next edition of ITMA to be held in Milan in 2023.”
Aside from the buzz about investments and interesting innovations (see “ITMA 2019 – Just A Few of the Cool Things On Display,” TW, this issue), ITMA was packed with conferences and networking events. Look for additional reporting from ITMA with highlights from concurrent events and more exhibitor impressions in the November/December 2019 issue of TW. Technical coverage of ITMA innovations by industry sector will begin in the January/February 2020 issue of TW.