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Textiles Symposium 2015

On March 18, 2015 the 15th armasuisse Textiles Symposium was held at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Berne. It was attended by some 300 representatives from the national and international textiles industry as well as from the scientific community and government. Prominent guests included Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer and Claude Nicollier.

26.03.2015 | Communication

Auditorium in the Zentrum Paul Klee in Berne
Zentrum Paul Klee in Berne

The 15th armasuisse Textiles Symposium opened with words of welcome from Thomas Knecht, head of the Purchasing and Cooperations competence center and Martin Sonderegger, National Armaments Director. Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer then took the stage. The topics addressed by the head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) included, in particular, the Swiss Armed Forces' development plan and the current international situation.

A further highlight of the morning was the talk given by Professor Claude Nicollier. The Swiss astronaut told a fascinated audience about his experiences in space. The astronaut also benefited from Ueli Maurer's presence by underscoring the decisive role played by the Swiss Armed Forces in his career: «I am very grateful to the army and to our system», he said – speaking as someone who had gained a wealth of experience as an air force pilot at the start of his career.

«Sweat management»

As in the first symposium held 15 years ago, the main theme of this edition was «sweat management». Three of the speakers devoted their presentations to this topic. Jan Behringer, head of the department of textile hygiene and innovation at the Hohenstein Institute in Bonnigheim, Germany, began by presenting the Spacetex project and sweat management in extreme situations, especially in space. Behringer is one of the main researchers on this project, which aims to identify sports textiles that might counteract heat loss and help to wick off moisture when astronauts exercise under low-gravity conditions. The practical tests were conducted by an astronaut, Dr. Alexander Gerst, in the International Space Station (ISS). As the first analyses produced encouraging results, Spacetex II is likely to be launched some time between 2016 and 2019.

Hans Martin Henny, a career non-commissioned officer and mountain guide affiliated to the international mountain guides association IFMGA, gave an account of his personal experience with textiles and sweat management. According to Henny and members of his units who were interviewed, the clothing currently used by the Armed Forces are generally rated as being of good quality and fit for purpose. However, a preference was expressed for certain improvements and additions to the existing range – notably concerning new socks and thermal underclothes. The final talk devoted to sweat management was given by the head of the Protection and Physiology department at the Swiss materials science & technology institute EMPA, Dr. René Rossi. In particular, he presented the results of the latest research and analysis in this field at EMPA.

Future challenges

In addition to addressing the topic of sweat management, the symposium provided an opportunity to look ahead to the future of textiles. Thomas Knecht thus reverted to the theme of durability – a vital issue to which armasuisse accords a particularly high priority. Jean-Pierre Haug, COO of TESTEX and Secretary General of the OEKO-Tex association, also addressed the subject in his talk entitled «STeP and MySTeP: Measurement and Management of Supply Chain Sustainability». Finally, Peter Flückiger, Director of Swiss Textiles, talked about the challenges facing the industry. Given that the Swiss textiles industry exports about 80% of its production, it has been hard hit by the current strength of the Swiss franc. His concluding words of the day: «Innovation is our response to current challenges».

  • EMPA
    Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
  • OEKO-Tex
    International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology
    Independent Swiss testing and certification enterprise, focusing the textile sector
  • Swiss Textiles
    Swiss Textiles represents and speaks for the Swiss textile and garments industry
    International Federation of Mountain Guides Association 

Speakers at the Textiles Symposium 2015

Martin Sonderegger, National Armaments DirectorOpening speech Opening speech
Ueli Maurer, Conseiller fédéral, head of DDPSOpening speech Opening speech
Dr. Jan Behringer, Hohenstein Institute Sweatmanagement for extreme situations on earth and in space
Prof. Dr. Claude Nicollier, Swiss Space Center  
Thomas Knecht, head of Purchasing and Cooperations competence center Sustainability
Hans Martin Henny, career non-commissioned officer Functional underwear - Sweat management from a user's point of view
Dr. René Rossi, EMPA Sweatmanagement: 2000 – 2020
Dr. Jean-Pierre Haug, COO Testex AG STeP and MySTeP - Measure and manage sustainability in the supply chain
Peter Flückiger, director Swiss Textiles Overcoming global challenges with innovation and a level playing field
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