Swiss Textile Machinery Association
celebrates its 80th Anniversary
When an organization reaches its 80th
anniversary, there is a strong chance that it has survived
several crises over those years. In the case of Swiss Textile
Machinery, the association was actually born out of a crisis
situation. Looking back over its history today inspires optimism
that current and future challenges will be met with equal
success. Past experience provides hope for the future...
In 1940, a year after the start of World
War II, events far away from the battlefields began to have an
impact on the local machinery industry in Switzerland. One
problem was a lack of skilled workers – through military service
call-ups – and another was a shortage of raw material, much of
which was diverted to weapons production.
1940: Steelworks bending department in the year of
the association’s foundation.
out of a need for steel
Leaders of the textile machinery industry
were increasingly concerned about their operations, especially
the need for non-ferrous metals and high-quality steel. The
situation became serious and some companies in the industry
wanted to request the Swiss Government to secure the required
raw material needed to maintain production. The established
principle of ‘united we are strong’ led representatives from 22
companies to join forces in forming the first textile machinery
group. This was the origin of what today has grown into the
Swiss Textile Machinery Association.
The members of the new Swiss Association
of Textile Machinery Manufacturers – including well-known brands
such as Rüti, Sulzer, Rieter and Saurer – were not actually
manufacturing machines from the start – but that was just
another crisis to be overcome.
manufacturing as a self-help solution
Making textiles was good business for many
companies in Switzerland, including the ones mentioned, before
1806. That was the year when the continental blockade imposed by
Napoleon created major problems. Machines from Great Britain –
the highly industrialized home of machinery development pioneers
– were in high demand by Swiss textile manufacturing companies.
But suddenly they were no longer available – and nor were the
vital spare parts.
Many Swiss textile companies responded by
starting to produce the urgently needed machines and components
for themselves. And soon it became apparent that the production
and export of machines was far more lucrative than their
previous textile manufacturing activities. The Swiss textile
machinery industry was born.
Over the years, there were numerous
periods of great difficulty for the industry: world wars, global
economic slumps and other crises of varying degrees of
seriousness followed one after another. The profile of the world
textile industry also changed. Mass production has long since
migrated to the East and South-East. Despite this, or perhaps
precisely because of this, Swiss textile machinery today holds a
leading position in the high-quality segment of special machines
and top-quality materials.
1945: Hardening processes at steel plant in the
early days of the association.
from another crisis
Who would have guessed that the year of
the Swiss Textile Machinery Association’s 80th anniversary would
see a pandemic crisis resulting in the biggest challenge of
recent industrial history? “This crisis has hit the textile
industry hard, and in my opinion the full impact will only
become apparent towards the end of this year,” says Ernesto
Maurer, President of the Swiss Textile Machinery Association.
The required skills for the present
situation are the same as previously: adaptability and
flexibility. Experience through history provides grounds for
some optimism for Swiss producers today. “On one hand, I rely on
innovative solutions and the confidence that Swiss Textile
Machinery members will emerge from the crisis stronger than
ever. On the other hand, I am convinced that we will also pass
this crisis in a Darwinian manner – just as we did when our
association was founded,” says Maurer.
“Some of our members might choose to
relocate abroad, while others could join larger groups. Maybe
some companies or activities will not stay in the market. Still,
I am sure that Swiss Textile Machinery will be successful and
maintain its leading position in post-corona times,
demonstrating that ‘united we are strong’ applies as truly today