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LIGNA 2019 bedded for future investment

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 the mastodon event made it amply clear that technology users are now "getting smart" with regard to digitization and automation.

According to preliminary figures from Deutsche Messe, the organisers of Ligna 2019, the five-day forestry and woodworking industry event with 1 500 exhibitors in Hannover, Germany attracted over 90 000 visitors from over 100 countries.

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. 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 unrivaled 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, remarked Dr Andreas Gruchow, Deutsche Messe Managing Board member.

Preliminary figures from the organisers Deutsche Messe tally more than 90 000 visitors from over 100 countries came to Hannover, Germany to check out the industry’s latest advances of which over 40 000 were from abroad with notable numbers from North America– an indication of the show’s international appeal, and an achievement unmatched by any competing tradeshow worldwide.

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. 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, 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.

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.

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, said Luigi De Vito, SCM Division Director, Rimini, Italy.

Meanwhile, robotics technology is increasingly becoming the norm across all areas of industrial manufacturing, from materials handling 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.

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, said Dr Giuseppe Bacci, CEO BACCI, Pradamano UD, Italy.

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.

Viafly drone

Drones from Viafly designed for specific aerial surveillance are finding forest management applications.

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 along with cross-laminated light.

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.

Different biomass and RDF fuels on display at the Sugimat stand at Ligna 2019.

One can only concur with the organisers – with three days spent at the event, the priority was on halls 25 and 26, the outdoor area and pavilions 32, 33 and 35. This was where forest machinery, grinding, chipping and shredding technologies, biomass boilers, wood energy, pellet- and briquette presses, material handling and conveying technologies along with other ancillaries were mainly to be found. The other halls were passed through in transit to access the North or West entrances to the gigantic exhibition fairground.

A close up of a Ponsse H8 harvester head in action during LIGNA 2019.

Ponsse was a sponsor to the German logging championships at Ligna 2019 and had a harvester with an H8 head kitted with debarking rollers to debark and buck post-championship tree-length logs.

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 next LIGNA will be held May 10-14, 2021 in Hannover, Germany.

CPM stand at LIGNA 2019.

CPM was one of several pellets- and briquette press technology providers that
exhibited at LIGNA 2019.

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