French Textile Machinery reaches order level before financial crisis
According UCMTF the umbrella organisation of French textile machinery manufacturers, the reporting members have achieved order levels from before the worldwide financial crisis of 2009 and the following slowing of the world economy
The membership of UCMTF entails a group of specialty textile machinery manufacturers, often world leaders in their specific segment of machinery. Their annual consolidated turnover is around one billion EUR (USD 1.3 billion). France is ranking sixth of textile machinery exporters. French manufacturers offer particular strength in long fibre spinning, yarn twisting and texturing, heat setting, Jacquard and dobbies, dyeing, nonwoven and recycling processes.
In an interview with Bruno Ameline, President and Evelyne Cholet, Secretary General of UCMTF, they stated that the French textile machinery manufacturers have reached the best levels before the financial crisis. Many of the member companies were registering in 2012 record sales and order intakes. The only drawback: Delivery lead times are close to one year and sometimes beyond, resulting in full capacity load for 2013 and the better part of 2014. These results reflect however great changes as to the time before the crisis. For some time, the prospects in the national market for apparel and home textiles have collapsed. In recent time this was valid also for some of the historical European markets since those markets shifted to China and India, as well as Turkey, all of these are meeting the challenge of volatility. As we all know China has been less buoyant recently but seems to come back. India reports very active governmental and local investment incentives. The Technical Textile sector represents close to 40 % of the fibre consumption, however the situation is more balanced as the production of fast growing segments is representing approximately one third each in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
It is obvious that these French manufacturers are not competing in mass markets like cotton spinning, because most of the member companies are SME’s, designing, producing and servicing specialised machines offering the latest innovations under the motto Hi Tech machinery for Hi Tech textiles. All of the French textile manufacturers support their customers by local offices, warehouses, gents or distributors. Also in view to spare parts these firms act proactive, some have recently opened warehouses in important markets to deliver these needed parts without transportation lead time and of course supporting services. They work with the customers to assist them in introducing new products, all with reliable and cost efficient production processes.
To cope with the copy cat business, UCMTF has established an active working group to protect intellectual property, probably the most important asset of a company. As we are well aware there are counterfeited machines and parts deriving from a small number of countries. These are sued aggressively when they infringe patents and brands. On the other hand, the customers of the French textile machinery industry are long term partners, thus they understand that this attitude is in their own best interest. UCMTF becomes even more vigorous on the use of counterfeited parts and will refuse to guarantee for a machine provided with counterfeited parts. It is obvious that national machinery manufacturer’s associations and the umbrella organisation Cematex, as well as the organisers of machinery fairs have to take joint efforts to protect the sensitive features of the machinery business. More and more there is also support from governments, international bodies and judiciary authorities.
Have you ever been reflecting on the definition of sustainable development? The two interviewees draw to Wikipedia: “A mode of human development in which resource use aims to meet human needs, while ensuring the sustainability of natural systems, and the environment, in order that these needs can be met presently but also be conserved for future generations”. Sustainable development are not natural enemies per see. Consumers are also increasingly demanding sustainable produced goods. The textile value chain has to respond to these requirements, including textile machinery manufacture. In France, public procurement criteria entails also sustainability. Textile machinery producers design machines and apply production processes which save energy, water, and raw materials by fine tuning machines, finding new processes for individual machine types and by optimising the entire production process lines. Especially textile producers in the area of apparel, home textiles and technical textiles are extremely sensitive to energy, water and raw material savings and they evaluate investment costs and savings, mostly allowing profitable returns on their investments. Investment in technical expertise results in sustainable profits for the French textile machinery manufacturers for the benefit of all stakeholders and the global community. The machines have to be manufactured with the least footprint on the environment and human health. More emphasis is put on eco design by upgrading schemes and plans on how the materials will be recycled at the end of their life cycle. UCMTF is promoting such a policy.
Contrary to the apparel manufacturers where there are labour intensive processes, the French textile machinery is not used for garment production, but in the high capital intensive textile industry with a high degree of automation. The labour force in the textile industry consists also of numerous engineers and skilled labour. These customers do not face the same risks as some garment makers since their products have to be both eco friendly and people friendly.
The French manufacturers offer mainly complementary machinery or full lines because it permits customers a single technology technological point of entry, this is really a competitive edge. UCMTF is very active globally to promote the French textile machinery and by assisting smaller companies to organise a national pavilion to collectively promote French exhibitors at important fairs. UCMTF organises also seminars jointly with Ubifrance and the French local representations to attract and inform prospect and existing customers. There, the focus was on Indonesian and Indian markets and with great outturns. Another mean of promotion are press conferences where the most recent highlights of the member companies are presented.