A focus on customer service, aligned with the drive to constantly innovate, has long ensured that the member companies of TMAS – the Swedish texile machinery manufacturers’ association – stay well ahead of the curve.
“All of the Swedish textile machinery companies are doing really well in major markets such as Europe, China, India and the USA,” says TMAS Secretary General Therese Premler-Andersson. Premler-Andersson expects to see new players and partnerships as we enter the industry 4.0 era for real and adds, “Our customers expect a lot of in terms of knowledge and our ability to customise and offer turnkey solutions.”
The forward-looking attitude of the Swedish companies is perhaps best summed up by Reimar Westerlind, the owner, since 1961, of ACG Gruppen.
At the age of 90, Reimar still travels to his office every day to oversee the operations of the diverse companies operating under the ACG umbrella.
“Everything now is about automation and digitisation,” he says. “We have to be on that track or we will be lost – innovate or die.”
One ACG Gruppen company moving rapidly forward with new innovations in this area is ACG Kinna, which at ITMA 2019 proved dramatic live demonstrations of its new robotic pillow filling system. This has the ability to fill and finish some 3,840 pillows per eight-hour shift, which is a considerable improvement on what is currently possible with existing systems, resulting in significant savings in both labour and energy for busy home textile businesses.
“There has been much talk about the potential of Industry 4.0 enabled by advanced software, but I believe we are at the forefront of pioneering it in the textile industry,” says ACG Kinna CEO Christian Moore. “The use of robotics is now standard across many industries dealing in solid goods, but the handling of soft materials such as textiles is a little more complex. Nevertheless, we have already begun commercial shipments of our new system and we believe it made a real splash at ITMA 2019,” adds Moore.
“Successful Swedish brands such as IKEA and H&M ensure that we are constantly on our toes and this latest technological breakthrough from ACG Kinna Automatic is a good example of how Industry 4.0 is helping our companies to further develop their products,” adds TMAS Secretary General Therese Premler-Andersson. “The latest Eton Systems concepts for fully automated work flows in finished garments and textile-based products are another strong example of this.”
At ITMA 2019, Eton demonstrated a complete material handling solution with advanced software providing real-time information covering every aspect of the process. “Our systems are a natural fit with the major Industry 4.0 networked manufacturing plants that are now being constructed worldwide for sectors such as the garment and home textiles manufacturing and automotive industries,” says Eton’s Sales and Commercial Director Roger Ryrlén.
Advanced sensor developments are playing a large part in moving many areas of the textile industry forward too. Eltex of Sweden, for example, is achieving considerable success with its yarn fault detection and tension monitoring systems across a range of sectors, including the tufting of carpets, the creeling of woven materials and even the production of woven reinforcements for the composites industry.
“Unlikescanning inspection systems, we are monitoring each individual yarn position in real time,” says Eltex managing director BrianHicks. “As a consequence, we concentrated on the further miniaturisation of our sensors, as will be demonstrated at ITMA 2019.”
At successive ITMA shows, IRO AB has also consistently introduced new milestones in the field of yarn feeding technology for weaving machines, and ITMA 2019 was no exception. “Following significant investment in our R&D capabilities, we have been making great progress in further boosting the efficiency and performance of our expanding X3 range,” says IRO AB Managing Director and Chairman of TMAS Mikael Äremann. “I can’t remember a time since the 1980s when we had so many new innovations to unveil at an ITMA, and I’m greatly looking forward to the positive response to them.”
ITMA 2019 also saw the launch of TexCoat G4 – the next generation of Baldwin Technology’s non-contact precision application system for fabric finishing. The TexCoat G4 enables a continuously high-quality and productive textile finishing process with zero chemistry waste and minimised water and energy consumption.
The non-contact spray technology brings a range of advantages including single or double-sided application, the elimination of Foulard bath contamination, low wet pick-up levels leading to the elimination of drying steps, zero chemical waste in changeovers of chemical, colour or fabric etc. “We are immensely proud to be launching the TexCoat G4 at ITMA 2019,” says Eric Norling, Baldwin’s segment leader for precision application technology. “This is an opportunity to assess innovation-enhancing productivity, while saving valuable resources and contributing to a sustainable future. The TexCoat G4 can process a wide range of low-viscosity water-based chemicals, such as water-repellents, softeners, anti-microbial and more.”
Other TMAS companies exhibiting in Barcelona include Texo AB, whose wide-width weaving looms make the belts for machines on which half of the world’s paper is made, ES-Automatex, which specialises in bespoke automation concepts and Svegea, a company leading the field in a number colarette machines and cutting and slitting equipment.
“At the last ITMA in 2015 in Milan, there was much talk about Industry 4.0 technologies but certainly from the perspective of TMAS, ITMA 2019 became the place for concrete solutions as to how data and the new tools we have available can be exploited to the full,” says Therese Premler-Andersson.