IMB 2006: An Upbeat Affair


IMB 2006 was held at Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

MB – World of Textile Processing, a triennial event held at Koelnmesse in Cologne,
Germany, organized by Koelnmesse GmbH and sponsored by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA)
Garment and Leather Technology Association, recently concluded its 2006 edition amid expressions of
optimism from exhibitors and visitors alike. Six hundred thirty-one companies from 40 countries,
including 423 companies from abroad presented apparel and technical textile production technologies
and services at the four-day event. Organizers reported some 25,000 visitors from 115 countries
attended IMB 2006 — 3 percent more than attended the five-day-long 2003 fair. Of those visitors, 64
percent came from abroad, with greater numbers particularly from Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and
Ukraine; in addition to other eastern European countries, the Middle East, Latin America, South
Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Turkey.


A visitor examines fabric samples at the IMB Innovation Award pavilion (bottom); IMB
showcased the latest in textile processing innovations.

The 2006 event was the first IMB fair
to include technical textile solutions, and Koelnmesse reported nearly half of the respondents to a
representative visitor survey came from sectors that have some involvement in technical textile

“Many of our customers in the technical textiles industry who were visiting IMB for the
first time were pleasantly surprised to find such an extensive selection of solutions for their
specific needs,” said Henrik Mölleken, head of central marketing, Dürkopp-Adler AG, Germany. “This
shows how strong the IMB concept is and that the efforts to attract new target groups were very
successful.” Mölleken said Europe’s majority representation among visitors in the technical
textiles sector is evidence of the continent’s importance as a center of activity in that

“Many heads of development in the
technical textiles processing industry are here, and they are looking for new joining techniques
such as laser and ultrasound fusing processes,” said Martin Schmidt, marketing/sales promotion,
Pfaff Industrie Maschinen AG, Germany. “This makes IMB a great fair and generates new business for
us, although not necessarily immediately.”



A sample of the sights on the show floor at the recent IMB show

Overall, communication and sharing of expertise, establishing new business contacts and
maintaining customer relations were more significant than writing new orders, although customers
placed a substantial number of orders, according to many exhibitors.

“We concluded many business deals at the fair, and it has given us optimism and strong
momentum for an upturn in our everyday business,” said Günter Veit, head of the Germany-based Veit

Beyond the activities on the exhibit
floor, the IMB Forum provided opportunities for learning. The forum attracted some 500 participants
and focused on information technology and logistics, including presentations on such trade-specific
subjects as product life-cycle management. In addition, a Speakers’ Corner offered exhibitors the
opportunity to make in-depth presentations of new developments.

At IMB 2006, Koelnmesse and VDMA
presented the first IMB Innovation Awards for the best marketable innovations in flexible materials
processing. In the International Research Establishments category, the Institute of Textile and
Clothing Technology at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, received an award for
developing a machine that automates car-cover production. The IMB exhibitor prize was awarded to
Pfaff Industrie Maschinen for its programmable welding system, which features full parameter
control using a touch screen. Janez Potocnik, European Union commissioner for science and research,
was the awards patron.

Future IMB events include Textile Processing China – Powered by IMB, to be held Oct. 19-21,
2006, in Shanghai; and the IMB-Forum – IT for the Textile and Apparel Industry, to be held Nov.
21-22, 2007, in Cologne. The next IMB Cologne – World of Textile Processing will take place in
spring 2009.

A Vision Of The System

At IMB 2006, an interview was conducted with Daniel Harari, CEO of the Paris-based Lectra

Harari began the interview by saying
that the group — managed by his brother André Harari, chairman of the Board of Directors — operates
at a highly sophisticated level, according to a “genetic” setup that has been the basis of the
philosophy of corporate management ever since the company’s inception in 1973.

“In the sectors where we are every day striving to remain [the] market leader, the winning
factors are indisputably the product superiority, the process efficiency, the modern and complete
service — in other words, a quality integrated offer,” Harari said. “It is on this front that we
therefore commit ourselves to a competitive challenge that others face by relying on the uncertain
concept of lower prices. For our part, we thus endeavor to take part in a contest on the ground we
have chosen, bringing to bear tools that our competitors don’t have to the same degree. And such
instruments are called also culture, tradition, experience, creativity, expertise and synergy with
partners of the highest technical-commercial profile.

“Sure, prices also are important, but on this subject, the example of the automotive sector
can be given, where the offer is extremely broad and distinct, but where the premium products of
the best companies continue to win general approval all over the world. Very briefly said, this is
our basic policy which — to our considerable satisfaction — lately has been adopted as a strategy
of trend reversal by many distinguished customers and companies, which perhaps in consequence of
negative experiences start again convincingly to invest in Europe, especially Spain and Italy. We
also invest a lot and particularly in the human factor, training in-house a category of really
competent, motivated and modern technologists and managers. Therefore, we shall not go to produce
in China — we examined this project for two years, but in the end we rejected the plan — because,
after all, the opportunities to be seized are here at home.”

Harari highlighted a recent customer — Spain-based Mango — that has adopted Lectra’s new
product lifestyle management (PLM) system. That installation involves more than 800 operators,
among in-house personnel and suppliers, which really represents a step towards the future with
regard to the creative interest in design and development of fashion collections.

Lectra presented PLM at IMB 2006 as its star product, compounding the fruits of several
years of research and development work performed by a team of more than 100 highly skilled
engineers and technicians.

Lectra has operated for 30 years, employing 1,500 people all over the world to supply 17,000
international customers. Turnover in 2005 was US$260 million, 90 percent of which was obtained from
international customers.

By Piergiuseppe Bullio, European Correspondent

July/August 2006