Interview with Thomas Waldmann, Managing Director, VDMA Textile Machinery Association. The questions are raised by Mr. Ade Sudrajat, Chairman, Indonesian Textile Association (API)
Mr Waldmann, governments, textile manufacturers, NGO’s and other organizations place an increasing value on energy and raw material efficiency in the whole textile production and distribution chain. How does VDMA (German Engineering Federation) and its member companies handle this challenge?
Sustainability is of prime importance when shaping a future in which we would like to live. But what is technically and economically feasible? And particularly, how? The mechanical engineering industry is answering this question every day. With innovative, ground-breaking solutions. And with the Blue Competence initiative founded by VDMA. The motto “Engineering a better world” is not about paying lip service to sustainability.
What does Blue Competence stand for and what are the campaign targets?
Blue Competence links the strengths of the mechanical engineering industry across all areas of sustainability. Sustainability is understood here to mean balancing and integrating economic, ecological and social aims. It is thus about responsibility in a wider sense, for instance for wealth, education and security, the natural world and the economic consequences of globalization, structural change or demographic trends.
Blue Competence is involved in numerous discussions relating to topics such as electromobility, energy efficiency, energy policy, society, environmental policy and economy. The platform pursues the goal to maintain and expand the technological leadership of the mechanical engineering industry for ecological product development, production engineering and environmental technologies.
How many companies of VDMA and Textile Machinery Association participate in the sustainability initiative until now?
Until now, more than 330 partner companies from the mechanical engineering industry participate in the campaign. With 27 textile machinery builders our sector is well represented. The impressive list is to be seen here: www.bluecompetence.net/pages/en/initiative/participants.html
There are various sustainability campaigns and machinery labels used by the industry. What does Blue Competence differentiate from others?
There are numerous labels in the market that are applied to sustainable products. Some were originally created to textiles and later expanded to include textile machines. However, labels are not a cure-all. Above all, they are by no means a “simple solution” for a complex product such as a textile machine. A classification of textile machines into energy efficiency classes – analogues to the consumer goods industry – is not readily feasible. Textile machinery is generally built so that each individual textile manufacturer can determine his specific requirements for raw materials, quality and productivity. These decisions by the textile manufacturer also directly affect the specific energy use.
This also applies to many other mechanical engineering sectors. Therefore, Blue Competence is not a machinery label classifying complex products like refrigerators. However, the partner companies of Blue Competence offer sustainable solutions with which customers can significantly save e.g. energy and raw materials, such as cotton, in the production process.
The launch of Blue Competence at ITMA 2011 in Barcelona and at ITMA ASIA + CITME 2012 in Shanghai was a great success. What are your plans for Indonesia?
The international dimension of sustainability is the reason why our Association has launched the campaign on the occasion of ITMA 2011 in Barcelona and at ITMA ASIA + CITME 2012 in Shanghai which are the leading textile machinery exhibitions worldwide and in Asia respectively. As a consequence, VDMA will continue to market the company success stories towards textile manufacturers in Indonesia and other important textile production countries:
How do you address this topic during the VDMA conferences in Jakarta?
VDMA will present the the energy efficiency guide "Conserving resources - securing savings-potential. The comparison, measuring and labelling of energy-efficient textile machinery" (the English version can be downloaded at the bottom of this page). This publication will look at a part of Blue Competence – energy efficiency. The brochure will provide answers to questions such as
How do you measure energy efficiency?
How do you arrive at the famous “environmental footprint”?
What technology enables the energy balance of textile machinery to be increased significantly?
Moreover, the presentations hold by German experts will provide first-hand information on how to save energy, cotton or other materials in the whole textile production chain from spinning to finishing. Apart from the technology lectures there will be a panel discussion on the first day including statements about "Energy savings-potential in the finishing process" and "Sustainability meets profit: Life Cycle Costs in the textile industry".
Are there any economic advantages for Indonesian textile mills to consider energy and raw material efficiency in the production process? To which extent will higher investment costs of textile machinery and accessories have amortized within a few years?
In view of volatile commodity and energy prices and the general cost pressure textile mills are facing, an increase in efficiency provides clear economic benefits. Sustainability has concrete economic aspects in terms of optimized cost structures. That’s why we have chosen the slogan “Sustainability meets profit” for our activities in the framework of the Blue Competence initiative.
The long term advantages of German technology become evident if one takes a look in a product life cycle of a machine and the accumulating costs. Besides the costs for acquisition, installation and start-up there are many expense factors to examine: Costs for maintenance, service and repair - but also for energy and operating, production waste and so on. Due to low maintenance charges, reliability in production as well as energy efficiency, the initial investment for a German textile machine pays off after a few years.
Where can Indonesian textile and nonwoven manufacturers find further information on Blue Competence?
Mr Waldmann, thank you very much.