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Local Resilience and Digital Keystone: theme of two-day TIFE2020

“Membrane Composite Textiles” is one of the R&D achievements on display at the Textile International Forum and Exhibition 2020.

The Textile International Forum and Exhibition 2020 (TIFE2020) kicked off in Taipei on Wednesday with bigwigs and experts from the industry discussing how Taiwan can be able to utilize its edges to become a key driving force in the post-pandemic textile world.  

The two-day event, organized by the Taiwan Textile Research Institute (TTRI), centers on the themes of “Local Resilience” and “Digital Keystone.” The forum offers tips and countermeasures for those in the industry which has hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of this year.  

According to TTRI Vice President Chen Hung-en, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Taiwan’s textile industry is less severe compared with the rest of the world. 

Chen Hung-en, vice president of Taiwan Textile Research Institute, speaks on the TIFE2020 during an interview at the venue of the two-day event held in Taipei on Wednesday-Thursday, September 23-24.

“We conducted a survey on 123 upstream-to-mid-and-downstream companies in Taiwan in May on the pandemic impact on our textile industry. We found that in the first quarter of this year, the local textile industry suffered a loss of just some 20% in business, compared with 40 to 50% suffered by other countries, including those in America and Europe,” Chen said. 

Although the percentage of Taiwan’s full-year loss is estimated at around 30%, it is still lower than some 40% in projection by other parts of the world, Chen said, adding this allows Taiwan to proactively seize the moment for global deployment in order to maintain its key position in the world market ahead of the expected recovery.  

Chen said because of its quality and years of efforts in research and development, Taiwan’s textile industry has enjoyed an advantage in international supply chain and global deployment. 

“This explains why we have been able to continue to receive orders while China has seen a sharp drop in orders. This is all because the international supply chain has a high level of trust in our products,” Chen said.  

Chen pointed out that because of the pandemic, most orders have been for non-woven fabric and antibacterial fabric, which have seen a sharp rise, helping Taiwan to offset some of the overall loss in textile demands from home and abroad. 

“High Color Fastness Fluorescent Textile” is being displayed at TIFE2020.

Chen said according to the TTRI survey, while 50% of the companies still held a wait-and-see attitude over what to expect, the rest were looking for ways to cope with the change in the post-pandemic era. 

“The pandemic has changed people’s habits all over the world, and some companies are concerned if there would be new products to meet the future market needs and whether they are able to transform their operations digitally,” Chen said, adding for end sellers, what they are most concerned is smart selling.  

He said smart selling is getting more and more important as they could help reduce the risk of contracting the virus through human-to-human contacts. Digital transformation is also needed due to the growing shortage of manpower, Chen noted. 

In the development of new products, Chen said it is necessary to focus on the high-performance functions of a product, which should include whether it can resist odors, bacteria, and even viruses and whether the fabric materials are smart enough to be easily dissolvable, recyclable and breakable.    

For this, TTRI has decided to put forward four major topics – forthcoming materials, innovative textile, circular sustainability, and digital transformation – for discussions. It has invited 12 experts to speak on the subjects, Chen said. 

On the topic of forthcoming materials, which Taiwan is in leading position, Chen said they include functional materials, smart materials, and green materials.  

While the topic of innovative textile involves the development trends of high-performance filtering, non-woven fabric, anti-pandemic, safe, comfortable and smart textile products, circular sustainability focuses on whether a recycled product can be remade and keep its recycling function in the next or more rounds of circular productions, Chen said, adding traceability and IDs of the products are also discussed to make sure of their sources and origins.   

Digital transformation concerns artificial intelligence which is essential for a company to transform its operation digitally, Chen said, adding both the technologies and application examples are discussed in the forum.  

In addition to the forum discussions, three R&D achievements, including equipment, products, and services are displayed during the event.  

For equipment, on display is the “Digital Solution of E-Textile, which features an information database and whole textile process and equipment application to allow a company boss to discuss business cases through the internet. 

On the R&D product, on display is “Membrane Composite Textiles” which demonstrates the moisture permeability and breathability functions of a textile product despite the product’s high waterproof function. 

Lee Kuei-chi, president of Taiwan Textile Research Institute, poses in front of an exhibited product “Smart Clothing for Rehabilitation Assistance” after the opening of the TIFE2020 in Taipei on Wednesday, September 23.

In the service part, on display is the “Evaluation and Verification Technology of Motion Capture Smart Textiles,” which examines the durability of the smart textile products, the electrical resistance of sensing materials, and the human body test signals. The evaluation helps certify that a product carries all the functions as stated. 

Also on display is the “Sportswear Market Intelligence System” which allows the manufacturers to search through several hundred websites worldwide, including Google and Amazon for the latest trends and products, and automatically compiles them into the information the manufacturers need, according to Chen. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, with the support of the Department of Industrial Technology of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the TTRI is able to continue to hold the event this year and invite experts to share the latest industry dynamics and trends to inspire businesses in Taiwan to develop high-value and innovative textiles of great variety, thereby creating new opportunities and favorable prospects for the domestic textile industry. 

In addition to six presentations and discussions on Wednesday, six more will be held on Thursday with experts and academics invited to share their insights with all participants. 

(Taiwan Textile Research Institute Advertisment)

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