Springtime in Milan is the season to see a cornucopia of woodworking machinery and technology.

Xylexpo, the biennial international exhibition of wood and furniture industry technology, has been one of the world’s largest woodworking technology exhibitions in the last few decades.

This year’s edition, taking place on May 21-24, will be the 28th Xylexpo and the show typically attracts a range of timber product manufacturing visitors from across the world.

Software and digital services from major Xylexpo exhibitor SCM

More than 250 exhibitors will be demonstrating their technology, covering the full spectrum of wood-using sectors – including sawmilling, furniture production, timber product manufacturing, timber construction, wood-based panels production and finishing/laminating.

The location will once again be Halls 1 and 3 of Fieramilano Rho, which is situated a short Metro ride from the centre of Milan.

This year’s event is back to its traditional May timing, after being held in October in 2022 as a result of the Covid pandemic impacting its timetable.

“Today more than ever, exhibitions accurately reflect the market health, and Xylexpo definitely offers a clear picture of the current situation of our industry, in Italy and globally”, said Dario Corbetta, exhibition director.

“The record revenues of recent years have long been replaced by an inevitable reduction of orders. This situation was expected, but nevertheless, it caused many companies – despite high revenues supported by outstanding orders – to wait and see, to suspend investments in some activities, exhibitions on top of all.

“In recent weeks, many companies are reconsidering such decisions, but Xylexpo 2024 will inevitably have a different face”.

Organiser Acimall – the Italian Woodworking Technology Association – said many key players of technology will be attending, leveraging the opportunity to be under the spotlight in a challenging landscape, with many visitors expected from Italy and abroad. SCM, Felder, Naxing, KDT and several of the big German and international brands “have renovated their trust” in an event that is not just attractive for buyers, importers and international operators, but is located in one of the world’s most important markets for wood and furniture technology, with total demand exceeding €1bn.

Stromab will be demonstrating its cross-cutting solutions

Exhibitors attending include Weinig / Holz-Her, SCM, Salvador, Stromab, Storti, Altendorf, Barberan, Biele, Dalso Automation Technology, Felder, Firefly AB, Giardina Group, Greda, IMAL PAL Group, Incoplan, Kleiberit, Maggi Technology, Salvamac, Siempelkamp, Striebig and Termolgeno.

Acimall recently released its latest report on Italy’s powerful woodworking technology industry, covering Q4 2023. It said the quarter had continued with the negative trend for the processing industry of wood and wood-based materials.

The October-December 2023 figures show an overall reduction of orders by 23.6% compared to the same period of 2022, resulting from the combination of incoming orders from abroad (minus -6.3%) and a sharp decline in domestic demand (-48.1%), largely due to a wait-andsee attitude encouraged by the expected implementation of the new “Industria 5.0” measures.

“So, the back-to-normal trend after the exceptional results of 2020-2022 has combined with the wait for the new decree, whose details are being delayed, inevitably causing a negative impact on investment decisions for instrumental goods,” Acimall said.

However, the wood and furniture technology industry can still rely on a significant order backlog of 4.5 months. Prices are rallying, up by 1.9% since January 2023.

According to the Acimall survey, 55% of the interviewed companies expect substantial stability in production, while 25% predict an increase and 20% further reduction.

Acimall Director Dario Corbetta said the current situation must not scare Italian companies.

“For sure, the definition of details of the ‘Industry 5.0’ decree and its tangible consequences might have a strong impact on the trends emerging from our data, and this is the direction where the entire community of mechanical engineering is heading.”

The last Xylexpo in 2022 attracted 16,000 unique visitors in Milan, when it was co-located next to 33.BI-MU, the biennial exhibition of machine tools, robotics, automation, digital and additive manufacturing, as well as visual communication fair Viscom Italia.

Organisers say the attendance figure reached to over 22,000 visits when factoring a single visitor coming back several times over four days.

The share of international visitors decreased by a few percentage points (from 28% in 2018 to 25% in 2022), in line with the expectations of organisers due to the closure of markets like China, Russia and Ukraine, traditionally interested in Italian technology.

One of the largest exhibitors at Xylexpo will be Italian machinery giant SCM, which will promote its Smart & Human evolution concept.

SCM said integrated solutions and complete processes for any kind of woodworking application will be on show in a completely innovative and multimedia format.

Taking centre stage will be the Digital Control Room with new Maestro connect digital services, as well as a new and improved performance MES and other new software entries.

The Smart & Human evolution will focus on everything new within the automated, integrated and complete processes, designed to meet the new production challenges dedicated to every field of application: furnishings and kitchens, windows and doors, flooring, timber construction, surface treatment, nautical and caravan industry and joinery.

Solutions will be aimed at making the processes more sustainable and efficient even in batch-1 production and at achieving bespoke products.

A fully operational version of SCM’s Digital Control Room will be reproduced, offering the chance to discover how data is processed to provide proactive and advisory assistance services, with the aim of guaranteeing the client production continuity.

The new eye-M console for all of SCM’s machines brings the bonus of ergonomics and ease of use to make the operator’s work easier. It boasts modular programming and increased computing power.

With regard to CNC machining centres and drilling solutions, SCM will present Maestro lab for both office and machine CAD/CAM programming.

This software transforms an idea into a finished product thanks to intelligent and technologically advanced programming functions and more than150 already integrated apps.

“From the office to the factory in a flash via a pleasant and fast user experience,” SCM said.

For the beam saw, Maestro optiwise is the new cutting optimization software for the gabbiani panel saws. Developed for programming production in the office, the software allows for the automatic generation of cutting diagrams identifying the best solution in terms of waste, time and costs based on the parameters selected by the user.

Also showcasing is the Maestro stackwise, a state-of-the-art solution designed to increase efficiency and productivity.

The system uses advanced algorithms to analyse and optimise piece stacking during the made-to-measure cutting process, ensuring that they are strategically placed to achieve maximum efficiently, reducing scraps to a minimum and maximising return.