SMIT: Back To Its Roots

Corporate Profile

Textile World Asia Special ReportSMIT: Back To Its RootsWith the consolidation of weaving
machine manufacturers in recent years, a new landscape of weaving technology has emerged. The
European Union’s Antitrust Commission in Brussels, identifying a dominant market position among the
three major European weaving machine manufacturers, called for a splitting of activities, creating
an opportunity for an independent Italy-based SMIT S.p.A. to re-emerge.A pioneer of innovation,
SMIT offered the first rapier weaving machine to the market at the end of the 1950s. Since the
1960s, when owned by Nuovo Pignone and more recently by Sultex Ltd., SMIT has continuously designed
weaving machines that qualified them as reference models from the technological and performance
points of view.The Schio, Italy-based production plant is equipped with the most sophisticated
automated production systems. Over the years, the company has produced more than 40,000 gripper
weaving machines, many of which are still in operation around the world.Today’s SMIT, an
independent company whose majority shareholder is Borgosesia S.p.A., remains firmly committed to
the technical content of its products, while including commercial organization and service as
fundamental production elements.The weaving process inevitably is evolving, but characteristics
that make unique woven fabrics for many specific qualities must be retained. Performance
improvement, simplified management and cutting of machine costs must continue, while at the same
time meeting the needs dictated by fashion trends, the use of new fibers and yarns, and new
technical applications.SMIT approaches product development in full compliance with the
aforementioned parameters, while utilizing innovative criteria ranging from competitive analysis to
benchmarking, and from quality function development to risk management.

SMIT’s modular weaving machine strategy: Different machines for different textile
applications share a common undelrying platform.A weaving machine actually is a series of machines
coordinated and synchronized according to the weaving process. One can thus understand how
substantial progress is being made — with productivity increases in the order of 30 percent
achieved in the past 10 years — while the process continues to operate in a seemingly similar
manner.New machines are designed to use new light alloys or composite materials, mechanical
processes, surface treatments, electronics and servomotors. These units have the potential to
achieve great effectiveness. Research involves an onerous commitment in resources and costs, which
then affect mass production costs. A product range must compete in all application sectors and
markets. The research has induced SMIT to develop a product line with distinct characteristics of
multigenerational features, modular structure and multifunctional characteristics.The development
of a product line of this type, which involves various machine models, requires a long time and an
ongoing objective. The various models are made in sequence, and the needs of each version are
determined progressively through interactive methodologies. Over the years, SMIT has pursued this
program with a view to developing a common platform on which it could build, with appropriate
modules, diverse versions of looms designed for specific technological applications. The first step
taken in this direction was with the G6300 showcased at ITMA ’99. It was followed by the specialist
versions for technical fabrics, the G6300F version for terry cloth, and the the air-jet version,
which was exhibited at ITMA 2003.

Francesco Cecchinato (left) area sales manager, and Luciano Corain, president & managing
director, with the G6300 at ShanghaiTexThe common platform thus has become a technical heritage on
which the research and development activities of SMIT are focused, benefiting from all the
synergies allowed by product development.Without wasting resources and costs in various directions,
SMIT has presented a complete product range encompassing both the various application sectors and
the individual specific segments. Standardization and modular structure allow cost reduction
without jeopardizing product quality. Design work is focused on a less dispersed area, and
therefore development times are shortened; this leads to a shorter time-to-market for the launch of
innovations. Production also benefits from production flexibility.Since the 1960s, SMIT has had a
commitment to research, and has emerged to serve the weaving industry once again.

Spring 2004