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Johann-Philipp Dilo
Johann-Philipp Dilo
Johann-Philipp Dilo

Interview with Johann-Philipp Dilo

Needled non-wovens growing worldwide at more than 5% annually

German company Dilo Group is one of the leading equipment suppliers of complete lines for staple fibre non-woven fabric production. Established in 1902, Dilo Group has gained immense expertise in manufacturing complete production lines for the non-wovens industry, including opening and blending equipment, carding machines and crosslappers. Dilo Group chief executive officer Johann-Philipp Dilo converses about the company's recent expansion in India, innovations at display at ITMA'19 in Barcelona and the growing global applications in needled non-wovens.

TT: Dilo Group opened a sales and service centre last year in Gurugram. How has the demand from India been? Are investments in the non-woven sector growing?

Dilo Group is quite satisfied with the move to open its own sales and service centre, Dilo India Pvt Ltd, in Gurugram. I have the impression that demand from India is increasing and with rising interest to invest in state-of-the-art equipment.

TT: Which are your major markets in Asia? Where does India stand?

Our major market in Asia is China, which has a considerable share of our total sales volume. India has a long tradition of producing general and classical textiles made on yarn-based technologies. In the non-wovens sector, there is still a lot of room for further growth and for investments in high-production, high-quality lines that produce quality non-woven products.

TT: Which countries have favourable programmes and offer financial aid to businesses in the non-woven sector?

I am aware of a programme and financial aid in India, particularly for manufacturing businesses. Therefore, Indian investors of machinery from abroad can file their application for financial aid from the Indian government.

TT: Where is the application of non-wovens growing? Which top five sectors do you supply to (application-wise)?

Generally speaking, needled non-wovens are growing at a rate of 5 per cent and more per year worldwide. The top five sectors are technical applications in the car industry, home furnishings and wipes, filtration media, geotextiles and synthetic leather applications.

TT: What innovations will you be unveiling at ITMA Barcelona next month?

At ITMA Barcelona, we will exhibit a complete production line for needled non-wovens, which will be shown under running condition with fibre. In the fibre preparation, opening and blending sector, several modifications and improvements are included to ease operation and the changeover to different fibre material and different colours. On the subsequent stage of card feeding, our new 'UniFeed' concept FRS-P now includes a fine opening stage and the possibility of enlargement to act as a buffer for the fibre flow. In some cases, this will save space on the shop floor. 

After our VQC card in 3 m working width with a double transfer intermediate section, the latest design of our Hyperlayer cross-lapper will be installed with a layering dimensions of 3 x 4 m; it is a demonstration of a cross lapper technology to achieve very high throughput speeds of up to 190 m/min; and at the small layering width of 4 m, it is meant to include 'difficult fibres' like viscose. This machine allows considerably increased throughputs in water entanglement lines for products with the quality feature of equal machine direction: cross direction (MD:CD) strength. 

After the cross-lapper, we show a revised and advanced compensation technology FC to adapt to the variable speed of the cross-lapping to the constant feed speed of a needle loom. 

Before the needle loom, we have added our new development, the '3D-Lofter', which is an aerodynamic web-forming unit with individual airlay spots to form a 3D structure of fibre mass. The fibre is placed at locations where it is needed for strength, strain or colour patterns. This unit foremost is intended to save fibre material, e.g. for moulded automotive parts. 

Then there is a new version of Hyperpunch technology, DI-LOOM HαV, with the potential of investment savings for this advanced technology that enhances web evenness and saves fibre at increased speeds.

TT: Like other textile machineries, do you face competition from Chinese manufacturers in this niche?

Of course, there is a lot of competition in our field between European manufacturers and Chinese manufacturers. Nevertheless, for many non-woven producers, particularly in China, high-quality products need to be made based on high-technology machinery.

TT: What is your annual budget allocated towards research and development (R&D)?

Our annual share of turnover that goes into the R&D field in some years exceeds around 7 per cent.

TT: What new innovations and technologies are you focussing on?

This is included in the above answers but needs to be supplemented by our focus on the needling technology based on staple fibre web-forming, which is the most important sector among all dry-laid non-woven technologies. Here Dilo is working particularly on increasing the application of higher needle densities for fine fleeces and fine fibre processing, which we call 'micropunch' as an intensive needling mode. We expect to be competitive in the future to produce medical and hygiene products associated with savings in investment and energy.

TT: What is the contribution of DiloTemafa, DiloSpinnbau and DiloMachines to the group's revenue mix?

During the last three years, DiloMachines contributed about 60 per cent of the total sales, compared to Spinnbau with nearly 25 per cent and Temafa with around 15 per cent. All three companies are valid assets and high-technology contributors to our unique non-woven lines, providing leading equipment on a very high level. There is no bottleneck within our highly efficient manufacturing lines.

TT: What are the new opportunities in non-woven production?

New opportunities related to technology features that will lead to new and improved non-woven products and highly efficient production, including features for investment savings, energy and material savings.

TT: Are you incorporating the elements of Industry 4.0 in machine design and engineering aspects?

Industry 4.0 addresses developments to improve controls and the degree of automation within our technological process, which is associated with improvements to ease operation tasks. This will lead to savings in the area of operating costs. In this regard, Industry 4.0 can be called 'smart', if the mentioned features make life easier to the manufacturer. Our Industry 4.0 features are based on what Siemens has created as a platform for software design and cloud storage on the basis of our own engineering features, which include condition monitoring, manufacturing monitoring, maintenance management, quality monitoring and 'smart start' as a feature to reduce manual interfering during start-up of the line. Additionally, 'DI-Lowatt' is a feature that can reduce energy consumption. All aspects are related to simpler operation, more control and data of the economics and technical condition of the lines.

TT: What has been your financial growth in the last two years and what are the targets set for the next two?

In 2015, our group increased the sales volume from around €80 million to €100-110 million, which was a considerable growth rate. This was a phase where capacity constraints were tested in a state near to overheating. Currently, the world economy is cooling off in some areas and can be considered going back to normal. Dilo Group is confident that in the long-term, growth in the demand of staple fibre non-wovens with an emphasis on needled non-wovens will continue. (HO)

Published on: 31/05/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.


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