By Max W. Sung
Sustainable innovation at ITMA 2015: the quadrennial international
textile machinery trade fair, came to Milan November 12-19 for its 17th
venue since its debut in Lille, France, in 1951.
ITMA is owned by CEMATEX (nine national textile machinery associations
from Western Europe) and this latest edition in Milan was organised
by the Singapore-based MP Expositions.
The ITMA venues used to be held on a rotational basis amongst the nine
member associations, but since attaining behemoth proportions with its
1991 show in Hanover (185,546 sq m exhibition space, 1,391 exhibitors
and 149,564 visitors), there were only a few exhibition centres in Europe
that could offer the large venue the show required. Fiera Milano Rho,
where this edition of ITMA was held, is one of the biggest fairgrounds
in the world, spanning 345,000 sq m of covered gross exhibition space,
14,000 parking spaces for visitors, and easy access to the city centre
by railway and metro. World Expo 2015 was held at this venue just before
ITMA 2015, thus, ITMA benefitted from the abundant supply of hotel rooms
with easy access to the exhibition site.
Milan had hosted ITMA four times previously - in 1959, 1975, 1983 and
1995. For 2015, ITMA attracted 1,691 exhibitors, the highest for the
show since its inception. More than 108,000 sq. m of exhibition space
was used, with exhibitors from the nine CEMATEX countries occupying
69% of it. The largest participating country, in terms of exhibition
space, was Italy. It took up 32,540 sq. m of space to accommodate 353
exhibitors. Right behind Italy was Germany taking up 21,380 sq. m, followed
by Switzerland (5,530 sq. m) and Spain (4,540 sq. m). For non-CEMATEX
countries, the top four were Turkey (7,590 sq. m), China (5,880 sq.
m), India (4,870 sq. m), and Japan (3,060 sq. m). The 2015 show attracted
almost 123,000 visitors from 147 economies, which, though lower than
the record 158,000 visitors came to the 1987 ITMA in Paris, kept the
exhibition halls fully packed for a major part of the eight-day show.
Italy, the host country, accounted for 18% of the visitors. Next stood
India, but half way behind, accounting for 9% of visitors, followed
by Turkey (8%) and Germany (7%).
ITMA over the years has lifted its restriction to only textile machinery
exhibits, or to products that have not been shown in the previous two
years in a European venue. The index of products has expanded to 19
chapters and included, in addition to spinning, web formation, winding
and texturing, weaving, knitting and hosiery, embroidery and braiding,
also finishing dyestuffs and chemicals, software, logistics, plant operations,
recycling, education, garment making and textile processing, printing,
fibre and yarn. At this show, dyeing, finishing and printing occupied
33% of the exhibition space with 416 exhibitors while spinning, with
290 exhibitors, took 14% of space.
The theme of ITMA 2015 was "Master the Art of Sustainable Innovation."
The theme of the previous show in Barcelona was "Mastering the Art of
Innovation." ITMA 2015 is to be commended for making this commitment
to promoting sustainability in the textile industry. During the past
four years, more and more textile machinery manufacturers have developed
innovative sustainable solutions to energy and water savings, and reduction
of carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2010, the Italian Textile Machinery Association (ACIMIT) had launched
the project, "Sustainable Technologies" with the ACIMIT Green Label,
a voluntary declaration of the energy and/or environmental performances
of Italian textile machines. More than 800 ACIMIT Green Labels have
since been produced. The international certification organisation, RINA,
has validated the Green Label issuing process and the evaluations it
contains. Every year RINA verifies the Green Label designation on 20%
of the participating companies. The data provided by the companies permitted
an estimation of the environmental impact generated by the project.
D'Appolonia, an engineering company, has estimated emission reductions
of 221,181 ton CO2 eq. for 2014 compared with the previous year. The
highest reduction of emissions was in the finishing sector.
At ITMA 2015, the German mechanical engineering association VDMA updated
progress with "Blue Competence", its sustainability initiative. This
is an international initiative for sustainable solutions of the machinery
and construction sector across the entire spectrum of industrial applications
and distinguishes those companies that have aligned their development
and production to the principle of sustainability. Textile machinery
is one of the thirty mechanical engineering branches within Blue Competence.
At this time, 35 textile machinery companies have joined the VDMA sustainability
initiative. Blue Competence has demonstrated with many examples as to
how energy-efficient textile machinery can offer significant savings
CEMATEX launched the first ITMA Sustainable Innovation Awards at ITMA
2015 as part of its ongoing efforts to encourage and recognise outstanding
contributions to the sustainable development of the global textile and
garment industry. A panel of distinguished judges reviewed the entries
and picked the finalists and winners. The winner of the ITMA Industry
Excellence Award for ITMA 2015 exhibitors and their clients went to
Levi Strauss & Co., which had started preliminary development work in
its Plock facility in Poland using the NoStone garment washing technology
from Tonello. The challenge was in denim finishing and the use of pumice
stones that have environmental, economical and mechanical disadvantages.
While ITMA is unlikely to restrict exhibitors to only those with sustainability
practices, it is highlighting and raising the consciousness of textile
machinery manufacturers to the importance of sustainability. As Mr Charles
Beauduin, President of CEMATEX noted: "Necessity is the mother of invention,
and the synergies from both parties (technology providers and industry
users) working together towards a common goal will bring about more
innovative solutions that will positively impact the environment and
business bottom line."
To master the art of sustainable innovation, I would add, one also has
to understand and learn the science.