Swedish Textile Machine Expo – a new hub for sustainable textile production

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"We felt that there was a lack of a physical meeting space for the textile industry in Sweden and therefore created the Swedish Textile Machine Expo where the textile industry can meet to exchange experiences and ideas. For us, it is important to work closely with the business community and ensure that our students and researchers have access to the best available on the market," said Anneli Bentzlin, Director of the Textiles Labs at the Swedish School of Textiles

Therese Premler Andersson, Secretary General of the Textile Machinery Association of Sweden (TMAS), is very positive about this initiative at the Swedish School of Textiles.

"It's been several decades since this type of meeting opportunity existed in the industry. For our members of TMAS, it feels extra fun to showcase Swedish technology in Sweden. Swedish machine builders have for many years contributed energy-efficient and resource-efficient technical solutions and expertise to the textile industry globally. Now we have the opportunity to convey our experience and expertise from projects all over the world to the Swedish market. I am also convinced that if we are to be able to solve the sustainability challenge, business and academia need to work even more closely together and this expo is an excellent opportunity to make new contacts for this purpose.”

Interest in sustainable local production in Sweden is growing

New requirements regarding sustainability and transparency mean that many companies are needing to review their methods of production. With new technology, automation and machines at the forefront, and it is now more possible to move home all or parts of production that were previously located abroad.

"There are several factors that are contributing to an increase in interest. The pandemic was an awakening for many. It became clear that everyone needs to review their supply chains in order to be less vulnerable. But even prior to that, there was an awareness that sustainable production should, by definition, take place closer to the end customer. Not least, we now also have technical solutions that enable more flexible production with a higher degree of digitisation and automation. This is a prerequisite for achieving cost-effectiveness," said Therese Premler Andersson.

The industry faces several challenges

Despite the fact that technology has rapidly advanced, there are still major challenges in the industry that need to be solved in order to be able to move more production home to Sweden. Therese Premler Andersson emphasises the importance of daring to test new ideas and continuous training to ensure the right skills are in place. 

"We need to get going and test new ways and ideas to develop and get better. The technology already exists. Better support and risk-taking by some financial actors in larger projects could be an important contribution.”

She says that the willingness to invest in automation among brands has previously been low as production has been moved to regions where the workforce has been cheap. Now, however, a change is noticeable, but textile companies need support to be able to make the investments that a transfer entails. 

"Not all production can be moved home and neither is it necessary that it does so.  However, it should be produced in a more sustainable way, wherever production takes place.

In addition, the Secretary General of TMAS sees a lack of skills as one of the major challenges facing the industry:

"In order to be able to invest locally, we need to invest in education in the textile area as well as automation and digitalisation. The skills shortage will be an obstacle if we do not get young people to enter the industry and use the skills that we have actually gained in Sweden in the textile area from, for example, Syria and Ukraine.

Significant interest

The organisers and the industry are very pleased with the first Swedish Textile Machine Expo. Anneli Bentzlin sees this as the start of a recurring event.

"It's been two days filled with exciting and rewarding meetings! The interest in the Swedish Textile Machine Expo has been significant from both Swedish and international machine manufacturers and textile producers. The expo was also well attended by many visitors. Word has really spread, which is really great! We see the Swedish Textile Machine Expo as the start of a recurring tradition.”