Expect order book to improve in first half of 2021
The Picanol Group is a diversified industrial group active worldwide in the fields of mechanical engineering, agriculture, food, energy, water management, the efficient (re)use of natural resources and other industrial markets. In a chat with Fibre2Fashion, Erwin Devloo, marketing communication manager of Picanol Group, speaks about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the company's production capacity and its efforts to tide over the exigencies.
Trade events are extremely important for textile machinery manufacturers. With so many events being cancelled around the world since the pandemic, how have these developments impacted your company? Could you elaborate both in terms of orders (since buyers were so adversely affected) as well as shipments (since supply chains were disrupted)? Are you looking at the future differently than earlier, especially since brands/retailers have been heavily hit and are likely to cut down on investments?
Most of the textile machinery fairs where Picanol would have had a physical presence in 2020 were cancelled or postponed to 2021. Against this background, Picanol increased its online efforts on its website, app and social media in 2020. In addition, for the first time in our history, a brand new airjet weaving machine was launched virtually. The new TerryPlus-i is the market's most efficient and versatile airjet weaving machine for terry cloth. With this launch, Picanol set a new standard in terry cloth weaving. The TerryPlus-i distinguishes itself by, among other things, providing the highest industrial speeds on the market, combined with the best fabric quality and the most complex terry designs.
Given this backdrop, how are you going to adapt to a post-pandemic world? Investment in textile machinery is done keeping the next 3-5 years in mind. Do you think buyers will now think more in terms of short-term investments (after all, one full year was lost to the pandemic)?
The year 2020 started with a positive outlook. After the strong growth of the order book in Suzhou at the end of 2019, orders in Ieper were also increasing strongly, leading to preparations for an increase in production capacity at both locations. However, due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the global machinery market, Picanol was then faced with stagnating global demand for weaving machines. A gradual market recovery started in the second half of the year, with a very strong fourth quarter for the Suzhou plant. By the end of 2020, there was also a clear increase in incoming orders in Ieper. Further capacity expansions were prepared, both in Ieper and Suzhou. The pandemic also illustrated some of our strengths: we were able to quickly restart production in Suzhou and Ieper. The presence of our own local teams in important textile countries also made it possible for us to stay close to our customers in terms of sales and service, despite the travel restrictions in place.
In an increasingly digitised world, how are your machines keeping pace? What new innovations on the anvil?
Picanol expects the order book to improve in the first half of 2021, compared to the previous year. However, it remains difficult to estimate the impact of covid-19 and some geopolitical uncertainties. In 2021, Picanol will keep building on its technological leadership by further extending its weaving machine product range and offering applications for new market segments. The main challenges continue to be the further strengthening of (weaving) performance, product quality and service, as well as helping to strengthen the customers' cost competitiveness-and to do all of this in the most sustainable way. At the same time, previously launched initiatives on connectivity and digitalisation will continue undiminished. In the areas of product development, sourcing, and assembly, Picanol will intensify its efforts to further improve both productivity and process efficiency.
Where is the manufacturing/ production done for your machines? What is your installed capacity? How is the demand and supply worked out?
The Picanol Group's Machines & Technologies segment comprises the development, production and sale of high-tech weaving machines (Picanol), foundry and mechanical finishing (Proferro), and electronics development and production (PsiControl). Production locations: Belgium, Romania and China. Sales offices for weaving machines, spare parts and after-sales services are located in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and the US.
What will you showcase in this year's ITMA Asia fair?
This info will be communicated through a press release in the second half of May.
What are key machinery industry trends for future?
Picanol's R&D effort is aimed not just at development and production of the most advanced weaving machines and related products and services, but also at achieving the most profitable weaving process in the world. In this way, the Picanol Group is able to offer its customers innovative solutions for raising the efficiency and productivity of their weaving process. And since its technological know-how can also be applied in related fields and other branches of industry, the Picanol Group confirms its strategy of expanding sales of this technology to third parties. This diversification builds on the group's existing competencies, including knowledge of and access to the textile markets, and development and production know-how. (PC)
Published on: 27/05/2021
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.
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