VDMA: Technologies for transforming the textile industry

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ITMA 2023, the world’s leading trade fair for textile machinery, taking place in Milan, is once again marked by a significant presence of VDMA member companies. The 110 exhibiting VDMA members cover nearly all different machinery chapters with a focus on spinning, nonwoven, weaving, knitting, warp knitting, braiding and finishing. They are part of a strong German presence with a total of around 200 German exhibitors – including non-machine manufacturers – on approx. 17,700 square metres, covering 15% of the total space.

 Photo: f.l.t.r. Nicolai Strauch, Dr. Harald Weber, Wolfgang Schöffl, Dr. Janpeter Horn, Dr. Uwe Rondé, Verena Thies, André Wissenberg. Image source: VDMA

How are leading VDMA members contributing to the transformation of the global textile industry? On the occasion of the VDMA press conference at ITMA, themed “Transforming the World of Textiles: efficient – digital – circular”, five renowned VDMA member companies presented their innovative solutions on sustainability, circular economy. digitalisation, efficiency enhancement and resource-saving.

André Wissenberg, chairman of the exhibition and marketing committee of VDMA Textile Machinery and vice president, of marketing, corporate communications and public affairs at Oerlikon Polymer Processing Solutions Division, presented a world premiere at ITMA in form of the EvoSteam process. This process enables, for example, annual water savings of up to 10 million litres. With regard to digitalisation, he highlighted Oerlikon’s digital Ecosystems, a solution to provide real-time alerts, condition monitoring, machine learning, predictive maintenance and to steer all plant shopfloor operations. Wissenberg stated: “At Oerlikon, we contribute with our innovative technologies shown at the ITMA Milan 2023 for resource-saving use in almost all manmade fiber spinning mills in the world. Our promise for the future is to continue to expand the zero-waste production approach, being more efficient, digital and circular, and thus take care of achieving our customers’ and our own sustainability goals.”

Dr. Uwe Rondé, a member of the board of VDMA Textile Machinery and CEO of Saurer Group, emphasised the efforts of Saurer to dress the world sustainably by offering to spin and twisting solutions for yarns made of mechanically recycled or chemically regenerated fibres. At the press conference, Dr. Rondé said: “Saurer has driven the transformation of the textile industry for more than 170 years. We support the textile industry in the areas of sustainability, digitalisation, and automation. As a trendsetter, we anticipated early the need for processing short fibres. Today we already have a portfolio optimised to spin and twist recycled or regenerated yarns.”

Wolfgang Schöffl, Lindauer Dornier, head of the product line weaving machines and member of the extended management stated: “The challenges of the textile industry are driving the machinery building industry to new dimensions to fulfil very much related targets such as a constant increase in productivity, quality, innovation in a very dynamic and fast-changing environment with regard to digitalisation and at the same time to secure the highest good, the life of human being and to preserve our natural habitat. These are the targets to whom Dornier is very much committed for now over 70 years, serving successfully our customers all around the world.”

Dr. Janpeter Horn, chairman of the VDMA Textile Machinery Association and managing director of August Herzog Maschinenfabrik, showed that textile machines are enablers of CO2-neutral energy production. “Herzog as the worldwide market and technology leader for braiding, winding and rewinding equipment, is at the forefront of transforming the textile world efficiently, digitally as well as circularly for braided applications. More than just developing braiding and winding technology taking this transformation into account, Herzog also enables the development of braided products which are needed for a circular. CO2-free economy such as extra-long and strong ropes replacing steel-wire strength-members for wind energy and deep sea exploration”, he said.

How circularity is addressed in the dyeing process, explained Verena Thies, vice-chairperson of VDMA Textile Machinery and managing shareholder of company Thies. She highlighted the Signature Series of Thies that enables an advanced after-treatment process: “Thies is opening a new chapter in fabric coloration: Signature’s innovative ultra-low liquor ratio significantly enhances dye effectiveness, resulting in up to 20% decrease in dyestuff consumption. By combining Thies’ cutting-edge advancements, water usage is minimized by 52%.”

Digital Networking Demonstrator

The digital networking of machines paves the way for a variety of possible applications, such as a central overview of the status of all machines, order management and the exchange of process information. At the press conference, Dr. Harald Weber, managing director of VDMA Textile Machinery, presented a web-based demonstrator for digital networking of machines using the OPC UA standard. Standardised interfaces facilitate the integration of different devices. In a first project, the VDMA Textile Machinery has developed the interface specification called OPC UA for Textile Testing Devices. At ITMA, devices from exhibiting companies, among them the VDMA member Textechno, will use this specification to send live data to a demonstrator. This can be accessed at https://umati.app/overview/itma/ [2].

Investment in the future

ITMA is traditionally an event for junior engineers. With financial support of VDMA and under the guidance of their lecturers, 320 students
from nine technical universities take the chance to see high tech live in Milan. “Our financial support in the amount of EUR95,000 is an investment in the future of our industry. Highly qualified engineers are the precondition to developing marketable technologies for the textile industry”, said Dr. Weber.