LIGNA 2017 drew to a close on Friday, 26 May, having delivered big in terms of innovations and global appeal, with a significant upswing in the number of exhibitors and visitors from abroad and new impetus for the wave of digitalization currently redefining the industry. After five action-packed days, the organizers could look back on a truly impressive event. The world's leading trade fair for woodworking and wood processing plant, machinery and tools is booming.
"LIGNA 2017 will go down as a milestone in the digitalization of the wood industry," said Dr. Andreas Gruchow, the Deutsche Messe Managing Board member in charge of LIGNA, at the end-of-show press conference on Friday in Hannover. "Industry 4.0 concepts for the wood industry were the dominant theme at this year's LIGNA, with major emphasis placed on digitalization, integration and automation. The exhibitors covered everything from sophisticated approaches to plant integration right on down to entry-level systems for the skilled trades, thus offering the right technology for any scale of operation."
LIGNA 2017 featured a new site layout and an array of display categories chosen to reflect the increasing technology convergence between the skilled trades and industry. "The new layout has proven to be a great success. Our customers have found it very easy to navigate", remarked Wolfgang Pöschl, Chairman of the Woodworking Machinery division of Germany's Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, VDMA (Frankfurt/Main), and Chairman of the Management Board of Michael Weinig AG (Tauberbischofsheim). "Digitalization and integrated production are the new keys to success for our customers. There is huge demand across the board, resulting in full order books. The challenge now is to shorten delivery lead times as much as possible."
LIGNA's new approach is contributing to stable growth throughout the industry. More than 1,500 exhibitors, including 900 from abroad, were on hand to showcase innovative plant, machinery, tools and solutions on some 129,000 square meters (1,388,544 sq. ft.) of net space. According to Gruchow: "Many exhibitors have opted for stands with a highly classy design, in some cases even going for radically new structural approaches. This has put a fresh face on LIGNA and gone down very well with all concerned. LIGNA's international pulling power has also shot up considerably, thus underscoring the show's reputation as the industry's No. 1 event worldwide."
LIGNA 2017 attracted a total of 93,000 visitors, including some 42,000 attendees from outside Germany who had come to Hannover from more than 100 different countries. The show's increasingly international turnout was reflected in the figures for virtually every corner of the globe, and particularly for Asia, North America and Europe. As noted by Gruchow: "These impressive figures confirm that international decision-makers have come to place their trust in LIGNA as the only event that can give them a full grasp of the latest wood processing and woodworking trends and developments." The top ten visitor nations after Germany were France, Austria, the United States, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, China, Poland, Italy and Russia.
More than 80 percent of all attendees rated LIGNA's new thematic layout as "good" or "very good". The special highlighting of surface technology at the show also met with a very enthusiastic response, with one in three visitors expressing an interest in the topic.
Pekka Paasivaara, CEO of the HOMAG Group (Schopfloch, Germany): "This has been an outstanding LIGNA for us. We had excellent visitor turnout at the HOMAG stand. Highlights included our 100-meter long, 'batch size 1' plant, our innovations center and, above all, tapio – the new digital woodworking platform. Our skilled trades display was very well attended. There was a higher international presence this year, and LIGNA has clearly confirmed its profile as the leading global trade fair in its sector."
Jürgen Philipps, Spokesperson for the Management Board of Siempelkamp Maschinen und Anlagenbau GmbH(Krefeld, Germany): "LIGNA is our innovations fair, where we translate innovations into tangible reality and demonstrate our customer service approach in practice. LIGNA 2017 has been a complete success from our point of view."
Luigi De Vito, Director of the Woodworking Machinery Division of the SCM GROUP SPA (Rimini, Italy): "We were overwhelmed by the internationality of this LIGNA. We had customers from more than 60 countries at our booth. This has created significant opportunities in new and existing markets for SCM."
Marcel Pfost, Director of Training & Fairs at Festool GmbH , Wendlingen: "The new layout concept for LIGNA has worked extremely well. The mix of large and small-scale machinery attracted some new visitor categories to our stand. The interplay between outdoor exhibition space and indoor stands was just what Festool needed, as the ideal way for us to reach the target group of joiners and cabinetmakers. We noted an especially strong interest in our products on the part of international visitors over the first two days of the fair."
Klaus Longmuss, General Manager of Wood-Mizer Sägewerke Vertriebs GmbH (Schletau, Germany): "We have never had so many foreign visitors at our stand. The concept of exhibiting our large-scale sawmills to an international audience on the open-air site was a complete success."
Market leaders used the flagship fair to introduce new software for integrating the complete range of plant components. In line with the mega-theme of Industry 4.0, visitors were especially interested in the trend towards visualizing process and work steps. The wood industry's capacity for innovation was showcased via solutions ranging from a service app for machine monitoring to a digital graphical operator saw guide, plus a bucket camera system for wheel loaders. Cloud-based digital twins of tools and machines were used to present effective processes for faster machine commissioning and life-cycle documentation.
A further key trend at LIGNA consisted of ways of significantly boosting production efficiency with minimal demands on the operator. One exhibitor presented the first-ever "three-click" process for producing a complete item of furniture. Meanwhile, in the area of machine components and automation, robots continued their forward march.
In the pavilion next to Hall 11, the first LIGNA training workshops for joiners, cabinetmakers, carpenters and mobile assemblers were held in partnership with the Sprint Academy (Cologne, Germany). Festool, Jowat, Mafell and Dr. Koch from the Thünen Institute were the training partners who delivered a program of practical-based content. The speakers communicated their knowledge and expertise on technology applications in the skilled trades in nine training workshops of one-and-a-half to two hours each. This included explaining the distinctive features of new commercial timbers or how the latest adhesives work. Participants were given the opportunity to put the manually-operated woodworking machines through their paces, under the watchful eye of expert technicians. Participants picked up many useful tips and tricks and praised the workshops as a valuable addition to the other LIGNA offerings.
The LIGNA program also featured a series of brief presentations on the processing of plastics and composites at the Robotation Academy. Industry experts were on hand to share information and ideas on current themes and trends. Many exhibitors featured displays showing that woodworking machines can work not only with wood, but also with plastics, composite panels, and insulation and building materials. These applications are ideal for caravan and boat construction and for the interiors of vehicles, ships and aircraft as well as for plastics production.
The new LIGNA layout was also well received by primary industry visitors, with the four thematic areas of Forestry Technology , Sawmill Technology , Wood-based Panel Production and Energy from Wood . The focus was on the production of wood as a raw material for products or energy generation, through the planning, felling and retrieval stages. The current state of the art on the use in forestry of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), or drones, proved a popular drawing card, along with the latest forest surveying processes.
For the first time at this year's fair, an open-air demonstration area was set up at the foot of the Hermes tower, in partnership with the German Forestry Council (KWF). Several moderated technology presentations were staged each day on an area measuring approximately 1,500 square meters (approx. 16,145.87 sq. ft.). Every step in the process was covered: pruning, the extraction of standing timber with harvesters, removal to the forest roadside with forwarders and logging trailers, and transport to the sawmill.
Another standout attraction, particularly for the international primary industry audience, was the second Wood Industry Summit . Fifteen delegations from 13 nations (including Canada, Colombia, Chile, Bulgaria and Romania) availed themselves of the opportunity for dialogue with industry experts. Under the motto of "Access to Resources and Technology", summit participants debated the latest trends and developments in the categories of "Forestry and Wood Industry 4.0", "Resource Roads", "Forest Fire Control" and "Fleet Management".