Amid hustles and bustles in the first quarter of the year 2020, the industrial textile sector (internationally known as technical textile industry) in China proved a high confidence index in the textiles for medical and healthcare, safety and protection, filtering and isolation, besides in nonwoven and equipment and accessories subsectors. It is worthy of mentioning the nonwoven manufacturers who proactively added more production lines and improved process flow to increase capacity for the first-aid medical textiles to ensure a quick-response supply at the time when emergency materials for fighting virus were called for, more often than not, on short notice.
It does not necessarily mean a thriving business for the whole industrial textile sector even though some subsectors were doing pretty well in the past few months. In recent days, China Nonwovens &Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA) has concluded its survey in the member companies to see how the business was going on in the first quarter of this year. CNITA got 233 respondents out of 240 companies that the questionaires were sent to, and 11.16% of them responded to say that they were doing very well in the first quarter, 30.47% of them said they had a fairly good business, 38.63% of them were of the opinion that the business was just so so. On the negative side, about 20% of them simply said that their operations were not good, 4 percent out of which said the first three months was a very bad period for their business performance. CNITA analyzed all the situation to process the data on business climate index model to conclude that the first quarter of 2020 witnessed the prosperity index on averaged 63.7 level in such subsectors as the medical and healthcare, safety and protection, filtering and isolation, nonwovens, equipment and its accessory parts, and the medical and healthcare subsector stands out to rise to 79.2 as a result of urgent demands for these protective gowns and face masks in the virus-ridden period. On the other side of the picture, the subsectors in civil engineering and construction, ropes and nets, linings etc. were rated on the level below 50, a demarcation line to define business expansion or contraction.
In the domestic demand, despite the coronavirus impacts, 31.33% of the companies responded to say that the rising demand for medical-grade nonwovens spurred their business growth while 21.03% of the sampled companies had a negative reply, saying that the coronavirus outbreaks reduced their business, and 4.12% of the companies under questionaires survey replied that their clients’ orders for production were postponed, but expected to recover within the year, and 6.44% stood out to say that the COVID-19 did not impact their business at all. In the export business, 34.4% of them expressed that their OEM orders from international clients stayed stable, and 32.79% of them said their manufacturing orders were called off to some extent, and 8.2% of the companies under survey replied that their export orders were not in effect on voluminous basis, except for 9.84% of the companies which were reported to maintain a moderate growth in their business orders.
In the first-aids materials, 20.6% of the companies in subject had, as always, been engaged in face masks, protective clothing and its accessary businesses, and 31.76% of the companies shunted their business to the production tied to anti-virus products, leaving 47.64% to remain their old businesses not pertaining to the pandemic.
In the fixed assets investment, 66.09% of the companies expressed the plan of the new investment in 2020. In the investment in the project that was halted by the coronavirus impact, 67.53% of the companies would continue to implement the construction as scheduled, 29.87% remained in two minds as to whether or not to prolong it or start construction immediately, only one company decided to put the investment plan on the shelf.
With a lot of hometown of nonwovens in China，China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) has nominated many hubs of nonwoven and technical textiles manufacturing industry to brand them as “Famous Town of Nonwoven Industry”, like Xiantao in Hubei province, Changxing , Xialue , Xiaojiang and Yiwu in Zhejiang province, Zhenzhou and Rudong in Jiangsu province, and Changle in Shandong province, where the companies producing medical and healthcare textiles were expanding their capacity to meet the needs of the market.
Let us take a look at Xiantao city which is branded as “China Famous Town of Nonwovens”. Over 300 nonwoven manufacturers all are in operation, some of them had actually turned themselves into this nonwoven business by reshaping their production lines. For example, High-tech Jiahua Nonwoven Company diverted their original business to the melt-blown nonwovens on emergent notice in the middle of February to keep daily output for more than 20 tons, adequate for 20 million pieces of face mask with the granules and bacteria filtering effect levelling 99% in a quality-assured and quantity-sufficient supply to the market. As the domestic situation improves, these newborn nonwoven companies turned their supply to the international demand. According to Mr. Zhou Zhihong, Secretary General of the CPC Party Committee in Xiantao city, there are 146 nonwoven companies eligible for licenses to do export business, over 80% of them rely mainly on international market, and half of the total companies are qualified with ISO9002 and the other international certications. As the national manufacturing base for the first-aids and emergent materials reserves, Xiantai city is capable of producing over 20 million protective clothing, 100 million N95 medical masks and over 2000 million one-off face masks.
With the analytical report out of these companies in the survey, China Nonwovens& Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA) predicts an industrial upgrading trend especially in the sector that pertains to medical, healthcare, environment, emergent monitoring and handling etc., where the relevant companies should find more opportunities for business growth through reshaping and upgrading investment. When the crisis is over, the relevant companies in the technical textile industry will expedite the reconsolidation process by virtue of merging and acquiring to be qualified for national reserves base. The industrial clusters should develop a well-matching supply chain to forge a strong manufacturing pivot.