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The Swiss Section of the The Textile Institutes organizes two yearly events. The spring event is always combined with the Annual General Meeting. Each event has the topic to visit a textile producing company in Switzerland or in the closer area of a surrounding country. Our events are frequented regularly by 10 to 25 members and friends of the section. Each conducted event demonstrates, that still today there are a lot of fascinating activities in the Swiss textile and garment industry.

Section Chairman:

Dr Johannes Bruske
CText ATI
Section Chairman

Section Sectretary:

Mr Roberto Riedo
Honorary Secretary
E:
r.riedo@rotecno.ch


 

77th Meeting of the Swiss Section of The Textile Institute from March 15 2016

We were happy to welcome 21 members and friends of the Swiss Section, some of which came from Germany to Hermann Bühler AG in Sennhof Winterthur.

Our chairman Dr Johannes Bruske welcomed the visitors with some introductory words. He began will apologies which was followed by giving thanks to the hosting company for giving the opportunity to have our Annual General Meeting and to be guided through the long-standing Hermann Bühler production facilities so rich of tradition.

After the Annual General Meeting, Mr Martin Kägi, CEO and member of the owner families (7 th generation) and Mr Oswald Baldischwieler, Head of Production welcomed the group.Mr. Kägi started with a presentation of the family run company being active for 204 years. Hermann Bühler AG in the meantime is the last surviving cotton spinning mill in Switzerland. With a total of 285 employees (140 in Sennhof, 145 in Jefferson, USA) Hermann Bühler AG produces in 2 production plants annually 6‘700 t of short staple yarn (whereof 3‘000 t in Sennhof). The Winterthur based facility disposes of 33‘000 ring spindles, 15‘000 compact spindles and 480 air jet positions, they produce also Siro (Royal) and slub yarns. The product portfolio is completed by Bühler exclusivities as Organic Supima, Rainbow Mélange, Be Dry and Tencel C yarns. The offered yarn count range is between Nm 28 and Nm 224, average count is Nm 100. Hermann Bühler works with Supima Cotton (USA and Mexico), Micro Modal (Lenzing) and Tencel (Lenzing) fibers. 88% of these Swiss yarns are sold in Europe (including Turkey), 6% in Northern and Southern America, 4% in the Near East and 2% in the Far East. Export rate was declared at more than 80%. 52% of the production is used for knitting, 38% for weaving, 9% for twisting and 1% for warp knitting. Hermann Bühler AG currently offers 7 product families with a total of 268 different articles. Frequent, complex and time consuming article changes represent today one of the main challenges. Standardised products of good quality are not interesting to Bühler since available at low prices all over the world. Hermann Bühlers strength today is the master tailored flexibility. In order to meet the requirements of the continuously increasing economic pressure, processes are permanently improved. Annual working hours will be increased from 7'800 hours to 8'240 hours from the coming business year on. Bills are based on Euro, even in Switzerland. The balance between volume production and service delivery is very demanding. Hermann Bühler AG runs a company owned water driven power station which would cover 15% of the mill consumption of electrical power (equal to the consumption of about 700 households). This electrical power is fed to the EKZ grid as renewable energy. Bühler is one of the three largest private customers of EKZ.1812 Johann Jakob Bühler founded a mechanical workshop in Illnau. That was the start of Hermann Bühlers 204 year old company history. The first mechanical spinning unit started in 1825. In 1858 the company moved to Sennhof, where it is still located today. Since 1897 the company is called Hermann Bühler. The company was completed with the realised greenfield project of Buhler Yarns USA in Georgia Jefferson in 1996.

After the company presentation all visitors were equipped with headsets. Mr Baldischwieler started a guided tour through the production facility. First stop was the yarn laboratory, where fibers and yarn is tested. The lab disposes on all important testing devices. Fibers are measured (fineness, length, tenacity, trash, honeydew), intermediate products (e.g. sliver, roving) (trash, neps, changes in fiber length) and yarn (evenness, tenacity, hairiness, abrasion, black board). All testing activities destroy the test sample materials. About 0.01 – 0.05% of material (of the overall production) ends in the lab. Bale stock lasts for about 3 months. The bale positioning is done 24h before production start due to conditioning of the raw material. For 1 kg of cotton yarn, 1.3 kg of cotton fibers are required, for 1 kg of MMF yarn, 1.05 kg of fibers are necessary. The difference leaves during production due to cleaning and selection processes. Due to the fact that only one part of the ring spinning frames are linked with the winders, Hermann Bühler runs a cops stock with a capacity of 3 days. Different yarn qualities are marked with differently coloured cops. We were guided from the opening line through the blow room, carding, drafting to the combing. Latest investment was done only few months ago in the combing preparation where with the Omegalap the latest technology was installed. At combing 12 – 18% of fibers are separated. Comber noils are sold in Switzerland and then transformed to banknote paper. With the investment into air jet spinning, Hermann Bühler AG has decided to go for a promising technology which still requires pioneer spirit. The machines offer high productivity combined with low energy consumption but ask for highly qualified operators. Today there is still some free capacity. Hermann Bühler AG produces air jet yarns of Micromodel, Tencel and Cotton, mainly dedicated to the body wear segment.

After this very interesting guided tour through the historically grown production facilities, Hermann Bühler AG invited us generously to an aperitif. We would like to forward our thanks to Hermann Bühler AG and particularly to Mr M Kägi and Mr O Baldischwieler for this great hospitality.

The Next event of the Swiss Section of The Textile Institute will take place:

7 th Meeting of Swiss Section 25 October 2016
38th AGM and 79th meeting of the Swiss Section 14 March 2017

Meeting locations are not yet defined but will be communicated in advance.

Simon Hugentobler

 


76th Meeting of the Swiss Section of the Textile Institute of 20th of October 2015

We were able to welcome 30 TI members and friends of the Swiss Section in the meeting room of Traxler knitwear factory in Bichelsee in the sunny Southern Thurgovia. 4 visitors came from Germany.

Mr Gerhard Schwerbrock, sales director of Traxler, warmly welcomed the group at the main entrance of the company facilities.

With some introductory words our Chairman Dr Johannes Bruske welcomed the participants. He named the excuses and addressed his thanks to the hosting company for giving the opportunity to have our autumn meeting at Traxler knitwear factory. He presented a helpful introduction into the world of flat knitting explaining in detail the technological differences between the Whole Garment concept of SHIMA SEIKI and the STOLL Knit & Wear technology, which both are operated in the hosting mill.

Mr Schwerbrock started with a historical review on the Traxler knitwear factory from the beginning up to date.

The textile production at Traxler started in 1909. During the first 50 years of operation Traxler was an embroidery mill. After 2 nd World War the company started knitting activities. The company now was a combined knitting / embroidery mill. Number of embroidery contracts declined continuously. Since the end of the 70ties mainly the public sector (police and army) was served with own collections. With the increasing trend of globalisation this business model was increasingly confronted with difficulties, turnover started to weaken, price pressure increased and margins shrank. As a consequence the philosophy was changed and the company resigned own collections. Traxler started a direct collaboration with clients. Within 3 years the turnover could be tripled. With the change to seamless knitwear products in two phases (first with STOLL, later due to limited gauges additionally with SHIMA SEIKI) Traxler became the technologically leading knitwear manufacturer in Europe.

Today the portfolio consists of 3 product lines. Uniforms and workwear are still produced with seams, since it's necessary for functional reasons (200 – 300 washing cycles). The fashion line consists out of the own label ‘erfolg' with seamless products from body wear over T-shirts, polos to outerwear manufactured 100% in Switzerland. On average 250 pieces are necessary per design and size. The third line is the ‘Ecoline' with the Coop Naturaline products (partly manufactured in Bichelsee, partly produced in the sister plant in the Baltic States), products for Wanda (Waschbär) and ‘Grüne Erde' (Austria). All these products fulfil all requirements of sustainability, traceability, and social compliance (which cotton, which machine, which sewer).

Traxler puts major attention on sustainable, biologic products and production processes fulfilling social compliance aspects over the entire added value chain. Still there are no Swiss fibres available, however the flax projects are followed actively. The transformation to products is still vision and dream. Organic cotton (for Traxler products) is grown in India and Tanzania. Wool comes from New Zealand and Uruguay and is dyed in Germany. Müller Strengelbach dyes and supplies twisted cotton yarn. Innovations are the combi twists of organic cotton and merino wool, the so called BioCotWool. Further, Traxler runs challenging trials with cotton cashmere blends (challenge is mainly to avoid pilling which scoures the cashmere fibres out of the compound). Experiments are conducted with

extremely robust workwear (50% organic cotton, 50% recycled polyester) what up to date unfortunately is not sellable.

Traxler is organized very lean and operates already for a long time with a constant headcount of 28 full time employees, whereof 22 in the production facilities. Traxler has an annual capacity of 100'000 pieces. The annual production is 150'000 to 160'000 finished pieces. The difference is produced in the sister plant in the Baltic States. Already since 2012 Traxler produces CO 2 free. The process energy is supplied by the woodchips power station in Balterswil, electrical power comes at 100% from Swiss hydroelectric power stations. With each ton of processed cotton, Traxler pays a donor fee to BioRe which runs a demeter compost works including an own biogas production.

For the guided tour through the facilities two groups were formed. We were introduced into the highly complex patterning work on computer for STOLL and SHIMA seamless flatbed knitting machines. This work asks for experience since the computer identifies only technical errors. Completing a new design asks for 1 – 3 days computer work, a prototype costs therefore between 1‘200 and 1‘500 CHF. 25 seamless flatbed knitting machines could be seen in operation. They work with minimal manpower. A piqué pullover asks for about 55 minutes machine time. The knitted parts afterwards pass a washing process. Yarn material, dyestuff and knitting technology influence the shrinking rate. In the sewing department the parts are completed. At the end of the production process, the parts are packed and prepared for shipment.

After this interesting guided tour through the production facilities, Traxler and the TI Swiss Section jointly invited the participants to an operative. Traxler further offered the opportunity for shopping in the own factory store at very attractive conditions. This opportunity was well used. We would like to forward our thanks to Traxler knitwear factory and especially to Mr Gerhard Schwerbrock and Mr. Norbert Traxler for the location and the very competent guidance.

The Next event of the Swiss Section of The Textile Institute will take place:

37th AGM und 77th meeting of the Swiss Section March 03 2016
90th World Textile Summit 25-28 April 2016
78 th Meeting of Swiss Section 25 October 2016

Meeting locations are not yet defined but will be communicated in advance.

Simon Hugentobler

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The TI is pleased to announce the latest issue of its members magazine, textiles. This edition is offered in both digital and print versions. Institute members can read the digital edition in the "Members Only" section of this website.