W14 raises the game

26 September 2014

W14 is an opportunity to see the latest wood processing machinery in action. Exhibition director Angela McGowan outlines some of the show highlights.

The W shows, and their forerunners, have been the national trade exhibition for UK joinery and furniture manufacturing for some 40 years now. Running every two years, the exhibition is firmly knitted into the fabric of those who manufacture with wood and its autumn slot at the Birmingham NEC is well understood by the trade.

Not that the show has continued unchanged. Since it was purchased by Huddlestone from the Woodworking Machinery Suppliers Association in 2009 there has been a deliberate strategy of absorbing the former ASFI components show and embracing such aspects as materials, fixings and wood finishes. The culmination of that plan comes this year as the show has clearly grown in size and scope - now filling its three NEC halls. Content, however, is just as important as size and the W14 floor plan lives up to its billing as "everything for the UK joinery and furniture manufacturer".

We are especially proud of the fact that the show is specifically for its UK-based manufacturing audience. Ligna is obviously excellent as a world stage but it's important to have a substantial UK exhibition addressing the individualities of its UK market.

Of course the widening of the show is certain to provide an ever-more valuable experience for the visiting manufacturers, but TTJ readers will be especially interested in the progress of the wood technology aspects of the show. Here again we see pleasing growth, partially driven by better economic times and also by the way the show has grown.

All of the vibrant machinery names you would expect to put their wares on display to the UK market will be at W14. Homag, SCM, Felder and RW Woodmachines made early commitment to W14, having enjoyed very strong results at the W12 show.

Weinig UK made a decision in 2012 not to exhibit at the 2014 show. The market is set to welcome Biesse back to UK exhibiting with a large stand at W14 - booked shortly after a very successful Xylexpo show. The strongest machinery line-up for many years has evolved as economic conditions in the UK have become very attractive and these exhibitors, along with such stalwarts as Daltons Wadkin, Advanced Machinery Services (AMS) and JMJ Woodworking Machinery, have uprated their presence since W12.

A new product area this year is that of packing machinery. Packsize and Panotec have secured a substantial profile at the show and visitors will be interested to see their products.

Power of demonstration
Having the halls packed with machinery from across the world is one thing, but the real strength of the technology side of W14 is that the machinery can be seen and heard running. The power of demonstration is an essential aspect of all machinery shows - and it really is the jewel at W14.

With crowds around all the running machinery and people handling the materials and finishes, W14 is more than a simple buy and sell market. As products have become ever more technically sophisticated, actually seeing what can be done is essential. The show has been described by some visitors as "like having free consultancy". This is an easily understood viewpoint.

Manufacturers visiting W14 will be a range of businesses. Certainly no large manufacturer with an eye to the competitive edge is going to miss the national show. Look further though and you will see owner-manufacturers obviously investing their own funds in the future of making things here in the UK. In this sense the role of the show rises above a simple commercial exchange point - and addresses the nature of UK plc. Most would agree that a healthy, forward looking manufacturing sector is an essential ingredient of how we earn our living as a nation.

The co-located Timber Expo conferences and exhibition sit alongside W14 this year for the first time and the two events will look very comfortable together. Crossover visitor numbers are expected to be high and are also likely to spark new business opportunities for many. Both audiences come to learn and improve their abilities to work the amazingly versatile material that is timber, in whatever form. So, whether it's the TRADA seminar programmes in Timber Expo or the hands-on roaring machinery in W14, visitors will find a common enthusiasm.

The signs are that this will be a very strong exhibition. That's good news for our industry and your businesses.

W14 is at the NEC from October 5-8. For more information and free registration go to www.w14exhibition.com.

W14 enables visitors to see machinery operating and to handle the materials
Angela McGowan: “W14 is more than a simple buy and sell market”
W14 is billed as “everything for the UK joinery and furniture manufacturer”