Personal contact is also important for everyday work.
Clear. But all major events such as trade fairs, conferences and exhibitions have taken place online in recent months. Business trips to Asia, for example, fell flat. Such appointments are important, however: during the coffee break or over dinner, you make contacts and keep an eye on the pulse of the industry. I don’t “only” care about research. To some extent, I am also an entrepreneur and have to acquire orders. It is important to find out which problems companies need solutions for. Only on this basis can we offer suitable services.
What do you hear from companies about the crisis?
It is not problematic for all. Nonwovens manufacturers are currently living quite well because they supply the urgently needed material for hygiene applications such as masks. Things are also going well in the construction sector. But textile suppliers for the automobile and aircraft industries, for example, are really having problems at the moment.
So it often looks bleak?
Sure, the industry is crunching. But it is still important to seize opportunities now! Many companies are currently investing in the development of new products – instead of expanding production, for example by increasing efficiency, which is currently underutilized anyway. We feel this clearly in the increasing demand for support in product development.
Jokingly asked: So everyone will soon be producing innovative masks?
It’s not that simple either. Product development has to fit the company. A producer of heavy filter fleeces cannot jump into the development of textile hygiene products at short notice. It’s about dealing with the changed framework conditions. This includes digitization, for example: companies can use this to find a new channel to their customers, for example.
What role do the employees play in this?
It is very important that you get involved. After all, they have to support this change. In the long term, I see the problem with the next generation in the industry. The pandemic makes companies invisible in the competition for the brightest minds. Many factory gates are closed, schoolchildren cannot enter the company, and students cannot do research in the company. It is very difficult to inspire young people for a career in the textile industry.