Hannover. During two action-packed days, 13 speakers from diverse sectors of the woodworking industry reported on their visions and experiences in relation to digitalization, its practical deployment in manufacturing processes and its impact on development, production and distribution.

Day one of the conference began with an interactive presentation by Timothy Kaufmann, Business Development Internet of Things at SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG, who examined the opportunities opened up by Industry 4.0.

In the course of the day the visitors found out more about the positive impact of Industry 4.0 on our everyday lives. Per Berggren, Manager Industrial Strategies at IKEA, demonstrated that integrated manufacturing techniques can be tailored to mass production applications – as evidenced in IKEA's PAX wardrobe range.

The second day of the conference was devoted to examples of best practice. Olaf Katzer, Head of International Job Family Development at Volkswagen AG, talked about the qualification of professionals in an Industry 4.0 environment. In his view it is essential to bear the human factor in mind, despite all the euphoria about efficiency gains, cost-cutting and sustainability. The customer remains the focus of attention and is an essential factor in the overall production picture. It goes without saying that Industry 4.0 will impact the production in terms of its means, data flows and the workforce involved. He emphasized the importance of taking the necessary preparatory steps.

The LIGNA Conference arrived at the clear conclusion that Industry 4.0 is also directly relevant to small and medium-sized enterprises. However, it is essential that SMEs create areas of specialization and build new networks as a prerequisite for efficient and profitable production.

A major highlight at the conference was the panel discussion on the implications of Industry 4.0 for the woodworking sector. Significant progress has already been made with the implementation of Industry 4.0. At the beginning of the discussion the audience was confronted with controversial assertions such as "Industry 4.0 is the logical continuation of what we've been doing for the past 20 years". The panel consisted of Gregor Baumbusch (Michael WEINIG AG), Stefan Sieber (Beckhoff Automation), Andreas Bischoff (IMA Klessmann GmbH), Jürgen Köppel (HOMAG Group AG), Bernd Kressmann (JELD-WEN Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG), Federico Broccoli (BIESSE Group), Dr. Frank Prekwinkel (imos AG), Dieter Rezbach (LIGNUM Consulting GmbH), Christoph Rieke (Steelcase Werndl AG), Frank Westermann (WESTERMANN GmbH & Co. KG) and Luigi De Vito (SCM Group). The wide-ranging discussion culminated in the conclusion that "Industry 4.0 is not a revolution – it is an evolution which has already begun in the furniture industry."

"Thanks to its sharp focus on integrated production the premiere of the LIGNA Conference was a resounding success. The concentrated, intrigued looks on the faces of the 140 visitors testified to the major appeal of integrated production as the key to Industry 4.0. This opens up huge opportunities for furniture factories and members of the woodworking trades. It is up to each individual to shape this process within his or her own enterprise," said Dr. Jochen Köckler, Member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe.

On each of the two-day LIGNA Conference, presentations were given by Biesse Group, HOMAG Group AG, IMA Klessmann GmbH, imos AG, SCM Group, 20-20 Technologies GmbH, abaco Informationssysteme GmbH, Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG, dmaic software GmbH & Co. KG, Leitz GmbH & Co. KG, LEUCO Ledermann GmbH & Co. KG, Michael WEINIG AG and SDI Project Automation GmbH. The visitors took this opportunity to swap ideas and build new networks.

"Given the high-caliber program and the lineup of speakers, I had high hopes for the LIGNA Conference. For me the most important realization was that integrated production is not only a matter of adapting technology and organization, but also entails the unified interplay of all corporate departments. Industry 4.0 directly involves customers and the entire supply chain. The conference was extremely helpful and more than met my expectations," summarized Frank Heuer, Purchasing Manager at the bathroom furniture manufacturer W. SCHILDMEYER GmbH & Co. KG in Bad Oeynhausen.

The first LIGNA Conference was supported by VDMA German Woodworking Machinery Association, LIGNUM Consulting GmbH and Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences. The program and speakers are listed here