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Steve Cole
Steve Cole
Director - Global Marketing
TT: Which are the core areas that you work in, in technical textiles? What is the growth potential in each niche?

As far as our specialty product group is concerned, the core markets that Xerium serves in include nonwovens, fibre cement, tanneries and glass mats. The nonwoven market has grown substantially in recent years and is projected to continue a six per cent annualised growth rate through 2020. Fibre cement production globally has slowed in recent months due to soft market demands and political uncertainty in some producing countries. The traditional tannery markets in Europe have experienced market share loss to Asian producers. The production of glass mat continues to increase at a steady rate as new applications for these products are developed. Xerium supplies a wide range of innovative fabrics (belts) and rolls technology to each of these markets.

TT: Where are your manufacturing hubs? What percentage of your product lines are manufactured in Asia?

We manufacture machine clothing and rolls products in North America (10 plants), South America (four plants), Europe (eight existing plants and with one new plant under construction in Corlu, Turkey), and Asia (four existing plants with one new plant under construction in Kunshan, China). With the Asia-Pacific market growing rapidly, we have invested significantly in our manufacturing asset base to address these market demands. The Kunshan machine clothing plant, starting in Q4 2015, will be one of the region's largest of its kind with state-of-the-art equipment producing the highest quality products in that market.

TT: What are the trends in your segment and what new developments can be expected from this field? How has the market for the same evolved over the years?

We see continuing demands for new fabric (belt) designs that will enable our customers to produce sophisticated nonwoven products that the global market demands. Softness, durability and cost are driving these new nonwovens products. Our patented Smart technology and Varibow roll technologies provide exclusive performance and analytical benefits to producers. Xerium is unique in its ability to provide both roll and fabric technologies and technical support to its customers. As stated earlier, new and exciting glass mat products are finding applications in non-traditional markets, and the demands on our fabric and roll technologies will grow in tandem with this.

TT: Which are your biggest markets and where does Asia feature in your growth strategy?

Historically, our biggest markets for nonwovens were the Americas and Europe. However, with the rapid growth of nonwovens production in Asia, we have responded accordingly with manpower and manufacturing to successfully engage this market. Since fibre cement production is global already, Xerium resources are strategically located to supply our global customer base. Tanneries, today, are primarily located in Europe and Asia, and Xerium is active in all regions. Glass mat production takes place primarily in the United States of America, and we are well-situated to cover this market from every perspective. Currently, Xerium is in the finals stages of completion of its Phase 1 US$ 45 million investment in Kunshan, China, which will produce a wide range of textile products for our core businesses including pulp and paper as well as other market segments. Xerium is the recognised global leader in roll technologies for all the markets mentioned.

TT: How has your business grown in the last two years and what is your target growth for the next two years?

Suffice it to say that our business has grown substantially in the technical textiles segment as a result of continued investment in R&D, equipment, manufacturing plants and industry expertise to keep up with this demand. Our expectations are to continue our steep market growth in the next two years.

TT: Which domestic or global fairs do you attend and what do you expect to gain from there?

Xerium has and will continue to attend most major global nonwovens' trade shows. These forums are critical to our success in showcasing our innovative product technology and presenting the unique benefits our approach delivers to customers. They present an ideal opportunity to personally connect with our global customer base both as exhibitors and within the technical forums.

TT: What are the qualities that distinguish Xerium's products from your competitors'? What is the most revolutionary work by Xerium in the past years that may have greatly changed the industry?

Xerium takes great pride in our fabrics, aprons, belts, roll covers and spreader rolls for nonwoven fabric machines. Our unique product portfolio of clothing and rolls technology provides an exceptional range of products for every line configuration in every global market. Our global manufacturing footprint and teams of application engineers ensure optimum performance. Xerium's on-going commitments to continuous improvement and innovative new products are focused on helping our customers further reduce operating costs, improve product quality and get greater value from their assets. Our R&D teams are closely aligned with leading OEMs and machine suppliers to enhance our product development initiatives while speeding new product deployment to our customers. With these initiatives, Xerium has successfully introduced a wide variety of uniquely designed products specifically for nonwoven applications. Our Huycon portfolio offers an outstanding range of belts, each specifically designed to produce top quality webs, from robust industrial to highly critical medical and hygiene applications. Huycon is specially engineered for: 1. Flawless belt handling and reliable performance across full width and material range 2. Extremely clean line operation 3. Excellent web-hold-down and minimised drag at web release 4. V2 seam technology provides fast, stable and mark-free seams Recently, we introduced Huycon air-belt technology which extends our highly successful Huycon spunlaid technology to the airlaid manufacturing process. Huycon Air provides: 1. Reduced mark due to high Fibre Support Index 2. Excellent static electricity dissipation 3. Improved retention of super absorbent polymer 4. Superior life potential due to special weave pattern and improved material properties Xerium Huybond woven fabrics are manufactured on modern high-speed looms using proprietary Cleanmesh yarns which provides superior contamination resistance and reduced web picking. The primary applications are on machines producing hydroentangled and spunlaced products and provide: 1. Single layer and multilayer variants for any web weight 2. High fibre support and excellent web uniformity 3. Low bleed and excellent resistance to contamination Xerium Huycoil assembled fabrics are ideal for positions on machines producing airlaid, as well as applications where elevated temperatures are used. The Huycoil family of spiral fabrics are manufactured from a wide range of polymers to match machine requirements including high molecular weight polyester, PTFE fluorocarbon for contamination resistance and PPS. Benefits include: 1. Excellent contamination resistance 2. Superior dimensional stability 3. Ease of installation, no seam Varibow adjustable spreader rolls help the operator improve the performance of any web by allowing adjustment of the bow for each application. Varibow is recommended when it is difficult to predict the spreading requirements due to variables encountered on machines that run different grades, types and weights of material. Varibow rolls are available in sizes from 1-1/2" (38mm) OD to 13-1/4" (336mm) OD on rolls up to 5-1/8" (130mm), the bow is adjusted by manual ratchet and for the larger a removable hydraulic pump is fastened to a hydraulic ram mechanism. Smart technology, the world's first system for dynamic nip measurement, is now available with new functionality for use in more positions and applications, and is ideal for embossing applications on nonwoven lines. 1. Dynamically measures and displays: MD nip width, MD pressure profile and CD pressure profile 2. Enhanced connectivity software for DCS and PI systems 3. Supports multi-nip positions for unprecedented simultaneous analysis 4. Expanded pressure range enables installations on soft and high intensity nips 5. Enhanced user interface reports real-time nip width, historical trends and standard deviation In summary, Xerium is the only supplier offering the total solution of fabrics, belts, roll covers, spreader rolls and intelligent nip monitoring.

TT: What percentage of profits do you earmark for R&D annually?

Our R&D spend has continued to grow in recent years. This drives our innovation platform delivering measurable value to our customers and stakeholders.

TT: Which are your sourcing hubs for raw material?

We source our material from all four regions of the globe: North America, South America, Europe and Asia. The global sourcing group reports to the Chief Technology Officer, and thus our material sourcing has a strong, technical focus. We work with suppliers who have a good focus on new material development and are technologically innovative. We partner with them to develop single sourced innovative materials for Xerium.

TT: What are your views on sustainability and how can sustainability be integrated?

Xerium believes that how nations, companies and individuals respond today to the sustainability challenges that are facing us may have a strong impact on our quality of life in the 21st century and beyond. As we evolve with the sustainability challenges that confront us, it is important that we carefully plan for how we will integrate social and environmental responsibility and business ethics into our daily operations and personal lives. In 2014, Xerium initiated a multi-year effort to establish a formal sustainability programme. Some of the key performance indicators that the company plans to monitor are safety, environmental compliance, greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water consumption and waste.

Published on: 13/07/2015

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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