Hannover, Germany. The five-day LIGNA 2019 closed on an impressive note. The world's leading trade fair for woodworking and wood processing plant, machinery and tools gave a considerable boost to the wood industry, paving the way for future investment. Smart, futureproof solutions were at the top of the agenda, and LIGNA 2019 made it amply clear that technology users are now "getting smart" with regard to digitization and automation. Major emphasis was placed on integrated solutions enabling companies of all sizes – from niche woodworking firms to large-scale manufacturers – to meet current market demands and prepare for future challenges. And digitization featured prominently for the primary wood industry, as well.
"LIGNA has clearly underscored its reputation as the global woodworking and wood processing industry's definitive event, and the place of choice for unveiling the latest innovations," remarked Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Andreas Gruchow. "A total of 1,500 exhibitors from 50 nations presented their impressive solutions for the future, making innovations tangible and easy to grasp for users from every sector of the industry, on a scale unrivalled throughout the world. By focusing on digitization, automation, robotics and revolutionary surface technology applications, LIGNA's exhibitors played a major role in driving technological advancement. Technologies considered to be visionary at the previous LIGNA have now become reality," he added.
"LIGNA 2019 demonstrated that we have taken a big leap forward in the direction of digital wood processing, and that interest in advanced technology is running high throughout the world," commented Pekka Paasivaara, President of the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers' Association, CEO of HOMAG Group AG and member of the Board of Management of Dürr AG. "It is truly amazing to meet up with so many customers from around the world interesting in making specific capital investments. The new solutions on display are relevant to small firms and large industrial processors, alike. This gives us all good cause for optimism."
"More than 90,000 visitors from over 100 countries came to Hannover to check out the industry's latest advances and find exactly the right technologies and approaches to help them stay competitive and grow their businesses. Well over 40,000 trade visitors came from abroad – an indication of the show's international appeal, and an achievement unmatched by any competing tradeshow worldwide. We were also particularly pleased to note increases in the number of attendees from North America and Southeast Asia."
Over 50 percent of LIGNA visitors rated the importance of Industry 4.0 as being high to very high. Some 40 percent of them were either upgrading their existing machinery or considering the purchase of new machines to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 technology. The Scandinavian firm Moelven Industrier AB was a case in point: "We've been preparing for our visit to LIGNA for weeks," reported Moelven CTO Peter Rockedahl, in a joint statement with Petri Luomala from Research & Development. "For Moelven, LIGNA is the most important event for learning about what's currently available on the woodworking machinery market. We took advantage of this year's LIGNA primarily to draw inspiration for new work processes and as a springboard for getting into digitized manufacturing."
Here's what the exhibitors had to say about LIGNA 2019:
Dr. Giuseppe Bacci, CEO BACCI, Pradamano UD, Italy:
"This year, LIGNA showed again that it is the world's top trade fair for the wood processing industry. LIGNA attracts a high number of visitors from around the world so, from a commercial standpoint, it is the best platform for presenting new and innovative machines and process solutions. LIGNA 2019 featured a large number of robotics solutions for production process automation. For many machinery manufacturers, robotics-based automation offers exciting new development opportunities and solutions. We decided to showcase the Bacci Group's entire product range at LIGNA 2019 and are pleased to say it was a great success. We offer our sincere thanks to the LIGNA team and are looking forward to coming back again in 2021."
Canzio Costantini, CEO of Biesse Group Iberica and Portugal:
"This year's LIGNA was a fantastic show for us. We met a lot of customers from Spain and Portugal, and received numerous orders worth several million euros. LIGNA is the only place where we can seal such major deals and connect with an international audience. One example was the order for a turnkey manufacturing plant from a high-end furniture maker from Spain. We offer solutions that enable manufacturers to boost their competitiveness and increase their level of automation without sacrificing flexibility."
Jürgen Schröer, CEO, and Olaf Rohrbeck, CSO/CTO, Robert Bürkle GmbH, Freudenstadt, Germany:
"This year's LIGNA earned its stripes again as the world's most important tradeshow for our industry. We had a great response to our tradeshow motto 'Technology Arena', our significantly enlarged display stand, and our inclusion of new technologies in the process chain. The inquiries we fielded during the show were markedly better than in 2017, both in terms of quantity and quality. Despite the current subdued business climate, we were highly satisfied with what we achieved at LIGNA."
Alberto Maestri, Managing Director Business Unit Finishing Cefla s.c., Imola BO, Italy:
"We achieved double-digit growth in the number of visitors compared with 2017 – and the clear majority of them were from abroad. What's more, we noted a high level of purchasing motivation among our customers, notwithstanding the current uncertainties in the global economy. We were also pleased that see that digitization has become a key strategic consideration for customers looking to invest in new process control, service management and digital printing technologies."
Thorgen Jüttner, Sales Manager Germany, Festool GmbH, Wendlingen am Neckar, Germany:
"We were very satisfied with how the show has gone this year in terms of the quantity and quality of the customer contacts we had. Our decision to invest in a location in Hall 13, targeting joiners and cabinetmakers, and a second location on the open-air site targeting carpenters, paid off. At these stands we connected with a large number of seasoned woodworking professionals and vocational students who demonstrated a great deal of interest in our high-end tools and services."
Luigi De Vito, SCM Division Director, Rimini, Italy:
"For me, it has been a great pleasure to be back here in Hannover. It's exactly 60 years since we first exhibited at LIGNA, and, for us, this year's show has been the most successful yet, bringing customers from more than 70 countries to our stand. Visitors showed immense interest in our 'Smart & Human Factory' showcase and the more than 60 SCM technology solutions on display. For us, LIGNA has opened up some major opportunities in new and existing markets."
Trends and innovations at LIGNA 2019
Manufacturers of wood processing machinery for solid and engineered wood concentrated on automation and integrated systems, especially on modular technologies as a gateway to digitization. The approach here is one of end-to-end digitization – with concepts spanning everything from planning and design to production and monitoring – as opposed to island solutions. The other notable feature of these new digitization technologies is that they are as easy and intuitive to use as smartphones.
Meanwhile, robotics technology is increasingly becoming the norm across all areas of industrial manufacturing, from materials handing to collaborative processing by humans and machines, right through to surface finishing. The surface-finishing link in the value chain is becoming increasingly integrated into the overall production system. Automated guided vehicle systems are optimizing materials flows. And advanced central system control modules are intelligently managing the associated data and aggregating it quickly and efficiently for even the most demanding of single-batch production scenarios.
From the cloud technologies on show, it was abundantly clear that cloud-based data management has now fully made the transition from proprietary systems to digital ecosystems. Thanks to a growing array of digital assistance solutions, the use of production data for preventive maintenance and production planning is getting more efficient all the time. At this rate, the vision – presented at this year's LIGNA – of end-to-end cloud-based material and tool management may soon be a reality.
Another vision that is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality relates to networking based on standardized communication protocols for all machines. On that score, the European Federation of Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers (EUMABOIS) and the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) used LIGNA to present a framework for a new P&W (Plug & Work) standard. The framework is a joint project by eight leading European manufacturers of woodworking machinery.
Another key trend in the woodworking and wood processing industry is augmented reality – most notably the use of VR headsets and tablets to visualize work-steps and machine states.
LIGNA 2019 also presented "all-in-one" solutions that can efficiently bring together multiple standalone machines to create integrated process flows. The show likewise featured new developments in saw technology that deliver industrial safety benefits. These involve high-performance sensor systems for material detection – a new generation of self-learning scanner technology that represents an exciting initial implementation of AI in woodworking.
The highlights of the wood-based construction area of the show included the world premiere of a six-axis aggregate that can process work-pieces on all sides without repositioning. There was also a newly developed membrane press that can handle curved and uneven surfaces. And in the digital printing part of the LIGNA surface technology showcase, visitors witnessed a new software that can generate even extremely challenging decorative laminate layers, such as stone-look, in a single pass while maintaining an extremely high level of quality.
In the forestry technology section of this year's show the spotlight was on climate change, Forestry 4.0, digital machine integration, supply chain tracking, timber flow management, the use of VR headsets for machine control, and apps for various in-forest operations. Other key themes related to the development of forest access routes and new approaches to forest logistics.
The program also included an array of special zones and events that generated a great deal of visitor interest, among them the LIGNA.Forum, the LIGNA Campus, and, of course, the LIGNA Training Workshops for equipment users from the joinery, cabinetmaking, carpentry and assembly trades. And then there were the absolute visitor magnets, chief among them the Crane Driving Championships and the German Logging Championship.
The next LIGNA will run from 10 to 14 May 2021 in Hannover, Germany.
Woodworking Shows Worldwide
Deutsche Messe is constantly leveraging its extensive and highly experienced network of partners to create new market platforms and expand its portfolio of events in promising growth markets around the globe. Apart from LIGNA in Hannover, Germany, the company has a key stake in the IFMAC event in Jakarta under its "Woodworking Shows Worldwide" portfolio. IFMAC (International Furniture Manufacturing Component Exhibition) is the leading tradeshow for woodworking machinery in Indonesia and will next be held from 9 to 12 October 2019.
The "Woodworking Shows Worldwide" portfolio also includes MEM Industrial, which is dedicated to the markets of Mexico and South America. The next MEM Industrial will be held from 22 to 24 January 2020 in Mexico City.