During The World New Fiber Materials Forum & The 24th China International Man-Made Fiber Conference (CIMFC) held on September 5th in Xiaoshasn, China. The reporter of China Textile found an opportunity to have an interview with Mr. Andre Wissenberg, Vice President, Head of Marketing, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs of Oerlikon Man-made Fiber Segment, who delivered a speech themed on “Man-made Fibers Manufacturing 2025 – Future Prospects for a Continuous Growing Textile Market”.
China Textile: How do you see the development of the man-made fibers industry in the near future?
Mr. Wissenberg: The man-made fiber industry will continue to benefit above average from the market growth and the shift of market shares from cotton to man-made fibers in the coming years. Polyester is the fiber number one. And, textile filament is experiencing the largest average growth per year with 3.8 percent. That’s a tremendous growth based on population growth, the needs for more technical textiles, and as we all know that the natural fibers are always in constant fight with food. If a country has to decide which comes first, food, textiles, or clothes? You go for food. So, natural fibers, especially cotton, have more and more problems. Water resources and climate change will also exert influences. That is a great opportunity for more growth. Right now at the conference, we just saw a a figure from Mr. Andreas W. Engelhardt who predicts that there will be around 160 million tonnes of fibers by 2030 with projected world population of 8.5 billion, most of which are man-made fibers. Particularly here for China, I talked about the Indian development, Turkish development, China development, and the U.S. development. For sure, for our perspective, as a machinery producer, there was kind of lack or stop in the market for further investment by 2015 and 2016. It was a tight situation for the manufacturers. The 13th Five-Year Program told there would be a slowly constant increasing comeback, but in 2017, the growth was like an explosion based on several reasons, such as subsidies from the government. There are also opportunities in the market, because if you are first in the market, you always have advantage. I came from cotton business when I entered the textile industry, so I know both sides pretty well. In 2003 or 2004, we saw a similar situation in Turkey for natural fiber investments. A lot of customers there wanted to be the No. 1 in the market.
China Textile: How does this positive trend influence the machinery market? Can you put your reflection in a global context, please?
Mr. Wissenberg: Our machine market is impacted by single measures. This has always been the case in the past and this will be also be in the future. There is no change. It’s a dynamic market that is difficult to predict. The long term average volume of the man-made filament and fibers machinery market will be in the magnitude of 2 billion Swiss franc. The new China policy on economics and reduced GDP does not shape the man-made fibers industry as expected in the 13th 5-year plan. And, there is a positive development in other markets like India, in individual cases in turkey and last but not least also in the USA as well as in the rest of the world.
China Textile: What do you expect for China’s future?
Mr. Wissenberg: The investment analysis of the Chinese market shows, that the downstream is in an obvious destock and restock process. The inventory of the filament industry has still been on a low level. But if I look at the investment cycles of recent years, I see that after a long period of a lack of investments, there was always a peak in new investments. I also see a clear development in replacement investments as well as a consolidation and concentration of market participants. The current excellent financing opportunities and the trend towards mergers and acquisitions once again clearly support this. Last but not least, another technology upgrade is currently taking place. The age of digitization and automation has now definitely begun for China’s textile manufacturing industry.
China Textile: What do you offer at Oerlikon for the future market? How about the exhibit highlights in the following ITMA ASIA + CITME 2018?
Mr. Wissenberg: We, as one of the major companies in the world who are supplying manufacturing equipment for the man-made fiber production, have half of our employees in Germany and the other half more or less in China, so we are a German-Chinese company. We will increase R&D and technological investment into the improvement of chemical fiber industry in China. One important thing is that in the following ITMA ASIA + CITME 2018, we will show the next step. The next, more decisive step is already announced – I am talking about our Oerlikon Industrie 4.0 automated plant solutions which combines automation and digitization. The “Digital Automated Factory” will increase an economic and efficient man-made fibers production in the future and will help you to control and reduce your OPEX expenses even better.
During ITMA ASIA + CITME 2018, the exhibits are focusing on automation and digitization in general. There will be artificial intelligence for customer solutions. Another point is that we will also announce that we have new solutions for PA6 for nylon. Companies that are already in PA6 or in nylon business are welcome to our booth to see how they can make their production more efficient. In addition, we will also present a new plant solution for staple fiber.
China Textile: In terms of OMF (Oerlikon Man-made Fiber) Industrie 4.0, does it mean that OMF has the plan to be the “Siemens” for man-made fiber industry with not only hardware but also software?
Mr. Wissenberg: It is always difficult to compare with companies like Siemens. But sure the Oerlikon Group is not existing only with man-made fiber segment, and we also have drive systems, and we are also looking into new technologies based on our surface solutions. But to compete or compare with Siemens, 40 times larger than we are, is quite difficult. But you are right, within man-made fiber industry, we can definitely compete with Siemens, because Siemens has no the key to the customers. What is most important for the customers is high efficient production of yarns, high quality yarns, and we can supply this to the customers.
We do not only have the hardware, but also have the date in our hands; however, Siemens does not have the date. They offer for sure a huge software and electronic know-how, but they do not have the right key to activate that in the industry as we can do. And we can do the other way round, since more than 15 years ago, we have had the so-called Plant Operation Center (POC), which is the software already implemented in more than 250 global companies. It allows you to analyze the data of your production. With that software in our hands and the competence in our machinery, we are in a much better position than Siemens. In this comparison, we might be the small one, but we have everything in hands, so we are the bigger one in textile industry. Instead of competing with Siemens, we are more cooperating to use the know-how of Siemens, as a supplier to us, for example invertor.