Joining forces at Fiera Milano

1 March 2018

Fiera Milano was once again the place to be for Simac Tanning Tech and Lineapelle on 20–22 February. The latter drew in the numbers for the fashion industry, shining a spotlight on leather, components, leather goods and various markets, but Tanning Tech’s focus on cutting-edge machinery and technology stole the show.

On one side of the main outdoor thoroughfare at Fiera Milano, Lineapelle showcased summer 2019 collections that filled the halls, but people were slow to do the same – at least on the first day. Despite some impressive stands from high-end international tanneries, one notable absence was JBS, which made just as much of a statement. The giant Brazilian beef supplier and tannery is still deeply mired in controversy following allegations of insider trading and bribery at the highest levels in the government. While JBS has sold off some of its overseas operations in order to maintain a lower profile, the company continues to invest locally – so it’s not to be ruled out in the slightest.

Pace did pick up, but, as is usually the case during this February leather gathering, a lot of the attention was drawn to the other side of the thoroughfare, where Simac Tanning Tech, the annual show dedicated to the latest developments in technology and machinery, took place.

It’s like industry meets fun fair in those halls, but without the prizes; there were spraying, cutting and drying machines humming away, drums spinning and company representatives giving animated demonstrations of their products, all of which contribute to a heady drone throughout the halls. However, the roller coaster of the industry, in terms of limping hide prices and the increasing encroachment of synthetics, was something everyone was concerned about. It was clear that long-term investment in technology was a priority.

According to Andrea Guolo, Leather International and European correspondent, the week before Lineapelle was characterised by further price decreases. “European hide pays for the competition of the dollar sellers,” he said, adding that at the beginning of Lineapelle, the euro recovered slightly against the dollar, but far from what it was in 2017. “For Europeans, it is really convenient to buy US wet-blue. If Europeans want to sell, they have to be ready to grant some discounts and this is what they are actually doing. But Brazilians are in a hurry to sell, having too many offers in their warehouses, and they must accept $0.85– 0.90 per square foot for TR1 wet-blue. It’s really a bad time for these selections.”

Increased activity

On day two of Lineapelle, the atmosphere picked up and, even though it didn’t stand out from previous events, it delivered a good amount of business and foot traffic. Unfortunately, a lot of this was directed to the textiles and synthetics hall, therefore confirming the direction where the industry is headed, in regard to trends and operational costs drifting towards alternative materials. “Lineapelle has confirmed that if it were not for the automotive industry, the price drop in the tanning sector would be much higher and would hit bulls in the same way that it hit cows,” added Guolo.

At Tanning Tech, the consensus was that visitor numbers vastly increased compared with 2017. The show’s 300 exhibitors were housed in an 18,000m² exhibition space, where their optimism brought the fair the momentum it needed in the period running up to APLF in Hong Kong on 14–16 March. Market wise, Asia recorded the highest growth rates, according to the National Association of Manufacturers of Footwear, Leather Goods and Tanning Technologies (ASSOMAC), which found that its tanning sector increased by 22.9%, with the footwear market rising by 34%, thus cementing the continent’s position as the most dynamic business area.

The Italian market

In Italy, Amilcare Baccini, CEO of Simac Tanning Tech, said that 2018’s foreign visitors increased by 19%. “In addition to this, we have, on the whole, recorded very positive visitor returns to the exhibition on the second and third days, showing a desire to exploit the event to [its] maximum [capability] and further knowledge of the technology on display, with [excellent] results in terms of business and sealed orders,” Baccini explained. Organisers stated that a large part of what stimulated the growth of Tanning Tech was focusing of prioritising machinery efficiency and more environmental responsibility throughput. This year, the show displayed a lot of new machinery and technologies to mirror that trend, including Zünd’s new prototype Digitizer that uses Mind software, which introduces digital-hide defect detection to increase efficiency.

Over the past year, the industry’s widespread commitment to having a more sustainable performance has been able to flourish following the double-digit growth of exports and production.

“For the fifth year in a row, the sector’s exports have grown substantially,” said Gabriella Marchioni Bocca, president of Simac Tanning Tech and ASSOMAC. “This growth confirms that Italian companies represent excellence in the global footwear, leather goods and tanning machinery sector, remaining strongly competitive on the international stage. Despite a turbulent market, our companies have positioned themselves at the top of the technological pyramid in terms of quality and innovation.”

Noteworthy project

With greater market resilience and a stronger commitment to cleaner and more transparent production came the Supplier of Sustainable Technologies project, which launched at Simac 2018, together with its main tool, Green Label; so far, 17 companies have implemented this and another 25 are in the process of doing so. Growing consumer awareness of environmental issues and the desire to purchase guaranteed products is driving the manufacturing industry towards energy-efficient production models that are less polluting, and more respectful of ethical and safety standards. This initiative consolidates a path that companies have embarked on before, with the introduction of increasingly innovative, high-performing, and eco-friendly technologies and processes.

“Traceability, sustainability, transparency and eco-friendliness have become essential requisites that cannot be ignored,” added Bocca. “It is our job to find the most innovative solutions and link production processes to environmental sustainability, which is not merely an indication of excellence, but also of competitiveness in a demanding international market that is paying more attention to such issues.”

Lineapelle and Tanning Tech were held side by side, with each event showcasing the industry’s best.
Simac Tanning Tech’s visitor numbers increased, as did its exhibition space.

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