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Chinese nonwovens industry turns out for SINCE '90.

Chinese Nonwovens Industry Turns Out For SINCE '90

The Chinese and Asian nonwovens industry that gathered in Shanghai, China for the Fourth Shanghai International Nonwovens Conference and Exhibition (SINCE '90) in October found relatively little Western participation but some significant enthusiasm among the local participants in the fledgling business.

Among the companies that traveled to mainland China for the Oct. 10-13 meeting were Nonwovens Industry, Freudenberg (Far Eastern Spunweb), Japan Vilene, Dr. Ernst Fehrer and Schaetti. There was, however, a significant Taiwanese contingent that numbered close to 70, as well as 10 companies from Taiwan exhibiting. The remainder of the participants were nonwovens manufacturers and suppliers from mainland China.

The exhibition was jointly sponsored by the China Textile Engineering Society, the Shanghai Textile Science Research Institute, Shanghai Textiles Corp. and the Shanghai International Science & Technology Corp. The aim of the gathering, according to organizer Wang Yanxi, was to demonstrate the achievements of the Chinese nonwovens industry that have taken place in the years since China was opened to the West.

"The meeting is to strengthen the technological exchanges between the Chinese nonwovens trade and that of foreign countries," read the official statement on SINCE '90. "It is also to improve the technical level of the new nonwoven products and to boost the technical and economic cooperation between Sino-foreign enterprises and increase foreign exchange earnings."

One of the opening speeches at the conference, attended by textile executives and government representatives from throughout China, was by Nonwovens Industry editor Michael Jacobsen, who provided an overview of the nonwovens industry in North America. Other foreign speakers included Lutz Bergmann, of Filter Media Consulting, LaGrange, GA, and Rudolf Gartner, vice president, Japan Lutravil, Osaka, Japan.

The Nonwovens Industry In China

According to a paper presented by Mr. Wang on the "Current Situation in the Nonwovens Industry in China," there are nearly 300 nonwovens enterprises scattered in 28 provinces of mainland China. From 1978 to 1988, the average annual growth rate of China's nonwovens industry was 30% and in 1988 the country produced a reported 55,000 tons of nonwovens (approximately 400 million sq. meters).

As was evident during the meeting, dry laid is the dominant nonwoven technology in the country, accounting for 95% of all Chinese nonwovens production. Now more than half of the nonwovens factories in China use locally made machinery and equipment; information on some of the Chinese-made equipment at SINCE '90 included news on needlepunching lines, saturation bonding equipment, crosslappers and coating machinery.

Most of the nonwovens production equipment operating in China, however, has been imported from Western European suppliers. Among the most evident were needlepunching lines, chemical bonding equipment, stitchbonding machines and a couple of spunbonded lines.

There are currently three spunbonded lines (one Reifenhauser and two from Italy's NWE) producing an estimated 1000-1200 tons of nonwovens annually. Samples from both were on display at SINCE '90. There was significant interest among attendees in the melt blowing and hydroentanglement processes, but to date there is no such production in China.

The primary end uses for the Chinese nonwovens market are interlinings, coverstock, thermal insulation, carpets, papermaker felts, filtration, geotextiles, coating substrates and electrical insulation materials.

SINCE '90 Participants

Altogether there were close to 50 companies exhibiting at SINCE '90. What follows is a synopsis of this participation.

Freudenberg Far Eastern Spunweb, Taiwan: Perhaps the most active booth during the week, the Taiwanese joint venture of Germany's Freudenberg Group was carrying the corporate banner proclaiming it as "The Origin of Nonwovens" to every corner of the globe. Apparently most of the interest by attendees was in acquiring the Freudenberg technology for production in China. The Far Eastern Spunweb operation is selling its spunbonded fabrics into mainland China, primarily through a Hong Kong sales agent.

Schaetti, Switzerland: Promoting its "Schaettifix" coating technology, the Swiss company was at SINCE '90 to continue its already established presence in the country. Schaetti has sold a number of machines to the Chinese nonwovens and textile industries in the past few years.

Dr. Ernst Fehrer, Austria: Most foreign needlepunching machines in China are supplied by Fehrer, although company officials report earlier relatively rapid expansion into the country has slowed somewhat in the past year or so. Nonetheless, there were quite a few samples of fabric produced at Fehrer equipment at many of the booths.

Nonwovens Industry: The leading nonwovens industry trade magazine in the world published a special Chinese language issue for the last SINCE gathering in 1988 and this year attended with the aim of continuing its long term commitment to the Chinese market.

Taiwanese Companies At SINCE '90

Despite well-known political differences, there was a significant contingent of Taiwanese nonwovens producers and suppliers at SINCE '90 as well. Jung Chi Tai, president of Kang Na Hsiung Enterprise, Taipei, and president of the Taiwan Nonwovens Association, also attended the Shanghai meeting. Among the Taiwanese participants:

Kang Na Hsiung Enterprise: A supplier of thermal bond and through air bonding equipment.

Full Shine Nonwoven Corp.: Producer of needlepunched nonwovens and felts for specialty end use applications.

Hwang Sun Enterprise: Builder of hot melt application systems for the diaper and feminine hygiene products market. The company also produces the "Cupid Baby" line of two-piece disposable diapers, as well as sanitary napkins, wet wipes and make-up pads. It has plans to begin building baby diaper machines as well, with Asia as its target market.

Shi Wang Enterprise: Producer of wipes, buff puff pads and cleaning pads.

Sun Leather Co.: Producer of needlepunched synthetic leather and other needled fabrics.

Tung Lien Enterprise: A supplier of fiberfill and highloft nonwovens used for home furnishings and quilting material.

Shoou Shyng Machinery: A needlepunch machinery maker. Also at the Shoou Shyng booth were K-Skin Leather Co., a manufacturer of needlepunched synthetic leather, and Kweng Cheng Garments Material Co., a producer of needled shoulder pads.

Berlin Chemicals and Dyestuffs: The company is the Chinese agent for Union Carbide "Ucar" nonwoven binders. It has seven latex manufacturing locations in Asia and has plans to construct a plant in mainland China by 1992. Berlin now supplies parts of the country from its Hong Kong plant, primarily for fiberfill applications.

Chinese Nonwovens Participants

Among the significant number of mainland China companies exhibiting at SINCE '90 were:

Bengbu Nonwoven Factory, Anhui Province: Producer of print bonded nonwovens for an array of domestic applications.

Huaibei Nonwovens Factory, Anhui Province: Producer of needlepunched fabrics.

Manshan Nonwovens Factory, Anhui Province: With a staff of 230 persons, it supplies primarily melt spun adhesive linings and needlepunched fabrics for apparel and home furnishings.

Hefei Sanitary Materials Factory, Anhui Province: Supplies nonwovens fabrics primarily for medical applications.

Taihe Nonwovens Factory, Anhui Province: This 30-year-old company also does some needlepunching but primarily produces polyester adhesive bonded nonwovens for home furnishing applications.

Shanghai Needlepunched Nonwoven Factory, Canton Province: A needlepuncher in China located near Hong Kong.

Shantou Synthetic Wadding Factory, Canton Province: A joint venture between Shantou Special Economic Zone and Shantou Synthetic Padding Co., it produces needled fabrics for an array of durable applications.

Changze Nylon Chemical, Hunan Province: A supplier of nylon fiber to the domestic textile and nonwovens industries.

Zhengzhou Huade Carpet Plant: A producer of needlepunched commercial and residential carpeting.

Pingdingshan Chemical Fibre Factory: The company makes polypropylene and polyester fiber for nonwovens. In addition, it converts a small number of sanitary protection products.

Xing Yang Sishui Nonwoven Factory, Hunan Province: It produces nonwoven fiber and fabric.

Yizheng Textile Machinery Works: Part of a large fiber and chemical company, it supplies nonwoven and textile production machinery

Hunan Vinylon Plant, Nonwovens Branch: Utilizing Fehrer needlepunching machinery, the company makes needled fabric for geotextiles and agriculture.

Changzhou No. 4 Cotton Mill: Located near the Yangtze Delta, the entire mill employs close to 3000 people. Its nonwovens operations center on the production of needlepunched carpeting, geotextiles, interlinings and waddings.

Jing Jiang Nonwovens Machinery Factory, Shanghai: Supplier of needlelooms, pre-needlers and impregnating rolling machines. The company also produces needlepunched nonwoven fabrics.

Nantong Haimmen Nonwovens Factory, JianSui Province: Produces "paste point" nonwovens for packaging materials and laminates utilizing technology developed by the Shanghai Textile Research Institute.

Taicang Shuanfeng Nonwovens Machinery Works: Maker of needlelooms and a producer of needlepunched nonwoven fabrics.

Shanghai Eaho Chemical Lining Material: This joint venture between companies from China and Taiwan produces needlepunched fabrics for imitation leather and other technical markets.

Qilu Polypropylene Fibre Factory: Like many Chinese fiber suppliers, this polypropylene producer also makes fabric. The company has Dilo needlepunching equipment and was exhibiting "DiLour" patterned carpeting.

Shanghai Industrial Fabrics Factory: A producer of needlepunched papermaker felts, tennis ball covers and other fabrics. It belongs to the China National Import & Export Co.

Shanghai Synthetic Fibers Research Institute: The company owns and operates a two-year-old, 1200 ton annual capacity NWE spunbonded line. It is able to make fabrics between 16-160 grams sq. meter with widths up to three meters. Applications range from filtration and geotextiles to agriculture, home furnishings and medical nonwovens.

Shanghai Chemical Fiber Co.: This unit of the local government owns factories that produce medical nonwovens and protective apparel. It boasted of Stork, Fehrer, Mohr, Hergeth and Kusters nonwovens equipment at its plants.

Nonwoven Technical Development Centre, Shanghai: The owner of the other NWE machine in the country, it produces spunbonded polypropylene and polyester nonwovens for medical and home furnishing applications. It also has Fehrer needlepunching equipment.

Chaoyang Interlining General Factory, Liaoning: An interlining producer that boasted of owning equipment from Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Japan.

Rohm & Haas Development Centre: A two-year-old Asian unit of the U.S. raw materials supplier, it produces "Primal" binders for the Asian nonwovens industry as a joint venture between Rohm & Haas and Beijing Eastern Chemical Works in Beijing.

Zhejiang Xianu Needle Works: Supplier of flocking and felting needles to domestic needlepunchers.

Editor's Notebook: Shanghai, China

The desire is there, the people are there, but the ways and means have a long way to go.

The nonwovens industry in China, such as it is, put on its best clothes at the Fourth Shanghai International Nonwovens Conference and Exhibition (SINCE '90) in mid-October. After spending four days immersed in the nonwovens industry there, the overwhelming feeling is that the Chinese are willing to do anything to further the cause of nonwovens in their country but, despite the apparent approval and backing of the Textile Ministry within the Communist government, there are still too many obstacles to overcome for it to promise any immediate returns for any foreign supplier.

The key word here, however, is "immediate." There has been much talk about the enormous "potential" of the one billion person Chinese market and, indeed, that potential remains as great as ever. Viewed from a distance - as so many American companies seem to favor - this incredibly pent-up demand seems about to explode. Unfortunately, the internal situation exploded first in Beijing a year ago.

There are companies selling nonwoven fabrics and machinery into mainland China. Freudenberg Far Eastern Spunweb spent the better part of four days at SINCE '90 in active negotiations; unfortunately, many of those who approached Freudenberg were primarily interested in licensing its extensive spunbonded technology. Machinery and equipment suppliers have had more modest success as the government has favored spending its scarce hard currency on products that promise a return on investment rather than fabric for internal consumption.

But all of this nonwovens sales activity is caught in a maze of government intervention, cultural barriers and hard currency shortages. This doesn't even factor in the incredible void in technical and marketing knowledge. We were approached by at least a dozen representatives of Chinese manufacturers hoping that we were either selling production equipment or licensing technology; since we were just there talking about our magazine, they had to settle for recommendations of suppliers (many of whom can expect a fax from China any day now).

We like the prospects of the Chinese nonwovens industry. There is an incredible, perhaps unparalleled, thirst for nonwovens knowledge. Nonwovens as an industry has the imprimatur of the government and it is obvious the textile industry at the Shanghai gathering has an enthusiasm and dedication too often absent in other, more advanced parts of the world.

But our enthusiasm is tempered by the distance China still has to travel politically, economically and, most importantly, technically - to ever draw even with where the U.S. and European nonwovens industries were a generation ago.

As an industry we can do something about the technical shortcomings, but we have no control over the other two factors. Unfortunately, for now it appears the political and economic realities will determine the future of the nonwovens industry in China. Until they are straightened out in favor of business, nonwovens will remain an industry with more potential than reality.

PHOTO : Nonwovens Industry editor Michael Jacobsen meets with Gi Guao Biao, vice minister of China Textile Ministry, Beijing.

PHOTO : Two of the Western participants in SINCE '90 were Rudolf Gartner, of Japan Lutravil, and Benno Hitz, of Schaetti.

PHOTO : One of the more active companies was Freudenberg Far Eastern Spunweb, whose president Rolf Koehler, reported much interest in Freudenberg technology.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Rodman Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Shanghai International Nonwovens Conference and Exhibition; includes related article on Chinese nonwoven fabrics industry
Author:Jacobsen, Michael
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Previous Article:Women in the nonwovens industry.
Next Article:Story of the year: 1 + 1 = 1.

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