Changing consumer demand is the main reason the world witnesses change in fashion almost every year. Knitting has also not remained untouched with this change, thus it sees new trends one after another and this pushes apparel manufacturers to look for those kinds of technologies which can combat production woes in knitting. Having existence in the market for over 14 decades, Germany-based flat knitting technology company STOLL has attained a level of expertise in technical innovations which is beyond exemplary. The company strives to fulfill the unique requirements of its customers of all kinds, right from basic product manufacturer to high-fashion product manufacturer. Apparel Resources gets in conversation with STOLL recently and sheds light on various topics – its transformation over the years, acquisition by Karl Mayer, latest breakthrough innovations and the way forward.
AR: STOLL developed the world’s first links-links-flat knitting machine in 1893. How has the knitting technology and industry transformed in the last 100 years? And, what is the contribution of STOLL in this transformation?
STOLL: STOLL is a name that inspires the industry and always stands for quality and flexibility in the world of knitting. For more than 145 years, the image of a consequently solution-orientated manufacturer of flat knitting machines has been maintained and this will continue to be the case in the future. Over the entire time, STOLL has stood for many customers as integrative link between the highly sophisticated technology in the area of developing and manufacturing flat knitting machines and innovative developer in the section of Fashion & Technology.
Over the years, it is the many services that render the brand and the whole of the company unique, starting with the planning and project planning, via giving advice on applications, to financing tailor-made solutions, also regarding the spare parts service and second hand machines. And, there is more: consulting in the area of development and production of technical textiles, a pattern database comprising over 1,000 patterns, not to be found anywhere else, support and advice on efficient knitting solution. Focusing on STOLL means focusing on intelligent progress, future-oriented quality and the experience of a German, medium-sized enterprise.
AR: Congratulations on your collaboration with KARL MAYER recently. How do you see this collaboration from your growth perspective?
STOLL: The merger enables us to benefit from the strengths of the KARL MAYER Group in the market, in particular from its strong international network of locations and longstanding presence in the Asian markets. Our new parent company runs its own production facilities in China and Japan. Due to the broader regional positioning, we can offer more customer proximity, and thus, generate more business. With the acquisition of STOLL, the KARL MAYER Group becomes the leading provider of solutions for the two most important stitch formation processes: knitting and warping.
This means that it can support its customers across technology boundaries, and it will be even more diversified in the future in the fields of warp knitting, technical textiles, warp preparation, flat knitting and digital solutions. This increases the attractiveness of the Group as a partner for cooperation, and promises further market growth. In addition, the combination of development skills and investments will provide additional innovation impulses for new customer solutions, and thus, business opportunities. We expect impulses especially in digital innovations. KARL MAYER pursues a strong digitisation strategy with KM.ON and also STOLL supports its customers with its own digitisation offers. By pooling our expertise in this area, we will gain new customers.
AR: Versatility in the machine is very much required to handle fine gauge to heavy gauge because of the changing preferences of the market. How are you addressing this in your machines?
STOLL: We always put efforts to meet the requirements of the market. That is why we have been offering machines in our portfolio for decades that can knit the whole range from fine to coarse. These machines are named with “multi gauge”. This means the customer is much more flexible and has more options to adapt to market requirements. Every multi gauge machine in the CMS generation speaks for itself – both in terms of technology and cost-effectiveness. STOLL has the right solution for every production requirement. The multi gauges machines allow the production of knitted garments using all traditional knitting modes such as Jacquard, Structures, Intarsia, STOLLapplications®, STOLL-racking effects® etc.
AR: STOLL launched ‘knitelligence machine generation’ in ITMA 2019. How does this technology help industry become more digitised in knitting process?
STOLL: The new knitelligence® machine generation takes the STOLL customers into the future of digitisation! Tailored to the specific needs of the digital world, this generation facilitates work through process automation, more transparency, shorter response times, shorter production cycles, and higher productivity. One part of the new knitelligence® machine generation is the new Multi Touch Panel. It’s much more user-friendly, thanks to its improved readability and brilliant surface. Faster response times, easier usability and other helpful features make the new Multi Touch Panel a true relief. In addition, the Extended Knit Report is a standard on every machine. The new remote access makes it easier to work in production, with the ability to directly access to our software packages.
With this modern IoT technology, customers can not only design their processes to be considerably more efficient, but they can also react far more flexibly to the requirements of the market. Our aim is to always develop further for the benefit of our customers. knitelligence® is an important step in that regard.
AR: STOLL also has the service, where many knit fabric/garment designs are created by STOLL design and development team and are available in a portal. Any client anywhere in the world (having STOLL machine) can download the design soft copy (against some cost) and knit the style physically in a STOLL machine. The client can also do design modifications on the style. How is the demand for such service? Which all countries are using that service?
STOLL: Our pattern shop enjoys a great number of visitors from different parts of the textile chain. The visitor profiles range from design, press, production through retail and education. Everyone has a different motive to browse and/or download data from the shop. Some are looking for ideas and others for technical inputs. Our dust mask is currently the hottest item on the site.
Besides, our tool for concept to store is also an eminent tool which takes care of every process such as Research, Design & Adaption, Artwork Development and Production. Patternshop.stoll.com is an excellent source for design ideas and technical inspiration alike. STOLL provides this valuable service copyright-free. As a designer, you can use the patternshop to download high resolution images for moodboards and techpacks. You will also find all important yarn information and Adobe Photoshop files related to each style. STOLLartwork® is an Adobe Photoshop extension that simplifies the creation and redesign of graphics. Exported BMP files can be sent to the manufacturer to simplify the workflow. This way, you stay in control of the final result. Changing existing PSD files from our patternshop further speeds up the process. It just takes a simple briefing to the manufacturer about your source of inspiration in the patternshop, as they can download related machine programmes from STOLL website. This helps with faster sampling and saves wasteful iterations.
AR: STOLL also has Knitrobotic technology in its basket which is acclaimed by the industry and is said to be a device for fully robotic production process. How has STOLL been able to make the entire process robotic and what are the long-term benefits of this for a user?
STOLL: Over the last few years, the processes involved in digitalisation have gotten more and more automatic. This leads from the pattern creation over the machine preparation, production planning and machine control, etc. Therefore, STOLL developed STOLL-knitrobotic ® – one part of our software solution knitelligence®. Due to STOLL-knitrobotic®, our customers have following benefits: facilitating work through process automation, more transparency, shorter response times, shorter production cycles, higher productivity, and many more.
AR: How do you see the growth of seamless garments? What is STOLL’s take on entering that segment?
STOLL: The trend for seamless garments is uptrend and STOLL has also been using this technology for years. With the solid STOLL knit and wear® machines, the manufacturers can produce ready-to-wear garments in high quality – quickly and efficiently. The unique STOLL-knit and wear® technology combines several manufacturing operations into one economical process. This means that knitting, shaping and connecting the knitted pieces can be performed with only one machine, within a single process. The result: the machine produces a garment that is almost ready-to-wear. Moreover, processing steps are omitted completely. The result is a first-class seamless knitted garment that offers a high degree of comfort. The quality of STOLL-knit and wear® is appreciated by end customers, producers and retailers. Production can be performed efficiently and in a time-saving manner. And the seamless properties of the garments speak for themselves. Thus, the entire logistic and material usage can be reduced – hello, sustainable production!
AR: What’s the way forward for STOLL from 2020 onwards?
STOLL: Over the next few years, we will strengthen and expand the STOLL brand as an independent brand within the KARL MAYER family. Even in the future, STOLL will stand for innovative ability, stability and durability and also for the competence of the KARL MAYER Group in the field of flat knitting technology. We will also establish ourselves as a strong division of the KARL MAYER Group. We will help KARL MAYER to prevail over its competitors as an innovative market leader in the fields of warp and flat knitting machines. The shared use of our capacities and competencies will advance the development of general technology bases, digital solutions and markets.