Softness, durability and cost driving new sophisticated nonwoven products
Steve Cole of Xerium Technologies discusses the industry. Xerium is the only supplier offering total solutions for fabrics, belts, roll covers, spreader rolls and intelligent nip monitoring.
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.
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.
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.
Our R&D spend has continued to grow in recent years. This drives our innovation platform delivering measurable value to our customers and stakeholders.
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.
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