Barcelona is once again the international capital of the textile industry with the celebration of ITMA, the world’s largest trade fair for textile machinery. The 2019 edition is taking place from 20 to 26 June, and it is the second time that Fira de Barcelona has been chosen, after its memorable success in 2011.
It is an itinerant fair that is held every four years in Europe and every two years in China. In terms of numbers of exhibitors, visitors and the surface area it covers, it can only be compared to the Mobile World Congress. The numbers for this year back this up: seven days of activity, 1,700 companies exhibiting, 127,000 planned visits, occupying the whole of the Gran Via site and generating a powerful financial impact on the city.
Towards industry 4.0
ITMA 2019 will present the latest innovations from a sector that is in full digital transformation (industry 4.0) and which is increasingly reliant on initiatives to increase sustainability, such as energy saving and the efficient use of water and other resources, reducing waste, etc.
European companies make up 60% of those exhibiting (Spain is the third EU country in terms of representation, following Italy and Germany) with the other 40% coming mainly from China, Turkey and India. They cover every part of the textile industry production chain: machinery and products for making clothes and for the home, digital printing and inks, logistics, technical textiles…
There are 70 companies in Spain that make textile machinery, with a turnover of 600 million euros and employing over 2,000 people. They are concentrated in Catalonia (70%) and the Community of Valencia (25%), and ten of these companies are world leaders, exporting over half of their production, mainly to the United States, Portugal, France, Italy, Mexico and Pakistan.
More than clothes
Can you remember how much you spent on clothes and shoes last year? According to the report by EAE Business School, every Spanish person spent an average of 429 euros in 2018. This figure would be much higher if we include other sectors of the textile industry besides that of clothes: medical bandages and materials, orthopaedic and hygiene products (sanitary towels and diapers) or home furnishings.
The sector covers a truly wide range of applications. For example, there are the so-called technical textiles, which account for 30% of all textile sales, and which have great potential for development as a form of innovation. This type of materials can be applied almost anywhere, such as in aeronautics, construction and civil engineering, goods transport, cars, packaging and packing for industrial, agricultural and food products, as well as medicines.
According to the Ministry of Industry, the textile and clothes industries employ some 4.3% of all persons working in the secondary sector. Catalonia has one out of three employees in the Spanish textile sector, providing work for nearly 30,000 people. The European Union is also the world’s largest importer of textiles: it imports 24.5% of all textiles made and 38.5% of all clothing.