If you haven’t been to a Ligna fair in Hannover – the home of timber processing machinery and equipment – then quite simply you haven’t lived.

The undisputed marketplace leader in timber technology is back for its latest mammoth show at the Hannover Messe on May 27-31.

Whether it’s sawmill machinery, moulding and planing technology, equipment for joinery or furniture production, timber construction manufacturing machines, biomass plants, material handling vehicles or forestry-based heavy equipment, all can be found at Ligna.

Every two years factory managers from UK and Ireland timber product firms make the journey over to assess what new equipment can help them in their businesses.

What is particularly valuable about Ligna and its biennial timing is that many machinery companies time their innovations for the show, so there are always genuinely new features to see.

When the world’s timber press gathered for the preview in February, organiser Deutsche Messe declared that the event was shaping up well.

“I know of no other event that has such a clear number one position in its industry,” said Dr Andreas Gruchow, the Deutsche Messe managing board member responsible for Ligna.

He also said the level of innovation represented at Ligna was unmatched.

“Nowhere else will you see so many machines in action,” he added.

Ligna also covers the entire process chain from logs to finished furniture. “In no other event will you find this,” he said.

In February, the visitor registration curve was outperforming the same point two years ago.

And 1,500 exhibitors will be displaying their technology, equating to 130,000m2 of net display space – again more than the previous fair.

Some 93,000 visitors attended in 2017, 42,000 from outside Germany, with 96% classed as business-to-business. Ten packed halls will feature on the sprawling site.

  • Wood-based panel production technology features in Hall 26
  • Surface technologies, Halls 16-17
  • Sawmill technology, Hall 25
  • Tools and machinery for custom and mass production, Halls 11-15
  • Energy from wood, Hall 25
  • Machine components and automation, Halls 15-16
  • Forestry technology (open-air exhibition area)

Germany’s woodworking machinery industry is a powerhouse, with production last year worth €3.4bn, exports worth €2.4bn and a global market trade share of 28%. Big trends include a lack of labour driving a take-up of automation technology, digitalisation, increase of environmental regulations and consolidation of industries.

Integration of production processes, enhanced data transfer and connectivity – so called Industry 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing – is also a massive movement in all industries. Such moves are exciting and will be heavily promoted at Ligna 2019, though calls are being made to create a common standard of digital communication so machines are compatible to communicate with each other.

Preview speaker Sebastian Bächer, CEO of Bächer Bergmann GmbH, explained how the joinery industry was redefining itself with the possibilities of digitalisation, with CNC, laser and 3D printing machines coming to the fore. Mr Bächer explained how his company was using a robot arm equipped with a chainsaw to bring new possibilities in manufacturing.

“If I can explain to the computer what I want to make I can get a similar level of pleasure as using traditional tools in the workshop,” he said.

But data sovereignty, he added, was a big issue and he called on industry associations and federal agencies to work on a robust IT infrastructure, standardised industry applications and open software architectures which were nationwide and independent of private corporations in order to safeguard the wave of new data being created.

Show Highlights

At Ligna this year, solid wood machining specialist Weinig will display machines on a 5,000m2 stand – much bigger than its exhibition space two years ago.

A highlight will be a complex production line in which all Weinig’s areas of specialism will be featured directly or indirectly linked.

There are three new developments in its planing and profiling product division. The new Hydromat moulder generation has its world premiere, with speeds of up to 300m/ min thanks to feeding via the new SF 200 accelerator. Pre-planing is designed to enable a high wood yield and finish planing to boost surface quality New control generation WMC (Weinig Machine Control) is also presented for the first time and will be standard on the new Hydromat class, featuring an individually configurable dashboard showing all production data at a glance.

Weinig’s Powermat 2400 3D allows production of furniture parts or designed workpieces by contour milling in a throughfeed process at high output – a breakthrough it says.

And completing the new moulder lineup is the Powermat 3000, a 100m/min unit designed for flexibility.

Some exciting Weinig machining centre advances in the Conturex range are also promised.

UK sawmill machinery producer Stenner will, once again, be in Hannover, with sales director Fred Harding chalking up about 40 years of Ligna attendance.

In Hall 25, Stenner will share new developments in wide band horizontal resawing, including a newly developed spray lubrication system, fast accurate electric rise and fall of the saw units and remachinable sawguides.

“Maximising machine performance, minimising labour input and reducing saw kerf continue to be our major drivers for product development,” said Mr Harding. Featured on the stand will be a three head MHS9 Horizontal Resaw line destined for a client in New Zealand.

Applications range from the manufacture of high quality accurately sawn flooring material to simple fencing and pallet components.

The ST range resaws will also be represented, featuring latest innovations in accurate high speed radial arm resawing using single stand alone machines.

Stenner partner companies will also be presenting their products with Primultini and Pribo (bandmill and handling solutions) Paul (ripsaws and cross-cutting solutions) and Iseli (saw servicing equipment) all having a significant presence at Ligna.

Another UK company exhibiting is timber marking equipment specialist Timbermark. It will show some new applications focusing on two product ranges.

The first is the Chinese-manufactured Sojet “Elfin” range of inkjet printers, with demonstrations of how to use the print technology to replace bar code labels. Timbermark has developed a new control module, which allows for easy integration of the technology with other systems, for applications such as variable data for grading C16/C24, or external data for part-numbering or live batch codes.

Timbermark will also show a bulk ink system from Danish supplier, HSA. Menahwile, cost-effective crosscut saw producer Salvamac will demonstrate its Classic 40, 50 and 60 semi-automatic and manual cross-cutting saws, billed as requiring a limited investment but being decisive step towards a faster, safer and more efficient production.

But its new innovation is a first-time Ligna appearance for Salvastop, which electronically manages the stopping and positioning of the boards or profiles to be cut, thanks to a stateof- the-art brushless electronic motor.

It is the real solution to “save” (Salva in Italian) labour costs, productivity waste and human measuring errors.

Smart Factory

From its 4,000m2 stand, Italian woodworking giant SCM will present its “Smart & Human Factory”.

SCM goes further with its Industry 4.0 technology with its new concept of Smart Manufacturing: a cutting-edge production model based on digital and automation systems and allowing for advanced man machine interaction and 360O control over the entire production flow.

The model is based on innovative, flexible, modular and easily reconfigurable systems, designed to respond in an increasingly effective way to the challenges of mass customisation. Integration of robotics minimises low-added value and repetitive human tasks.

“The current, new production trends, which will be the focus of the next edition of Ligna, are expected to widen the gap between more and less intensively automated companies,” said SCM division director Luigi De Vito.

An automated system for all the phases of furniture production will be presented: from furniture designing to the generation of machine programs and from panel processing to cabinet assembling, using KUKA industrial anthropomorphic robots, assisted by collaborative Universal Robots in the final process stages (assembly, hardware insertion, glue dispensing and surface finishing).

The Maestro Connect Internet Of Things (IoT) platform will be applied to a wide range of SCM machining options (cutting, edgebanding, boring, milling and edge machining) for both panels and solid wood. Fellow Italian machine producer Biesse, exhibiting over 6,000m2 of space, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Guided by the Automaction concept, Biesse confirms and further strengthens the bond between man and robot, by presenting a greater number of solutions that make use of robots.

The Biesse stand will present three process solutions that have been automated from the raw material to the finished product. Biesse’s SOPHIA IoT service platform has been expanded to embrace predictability functionality.

Wood Hardening Technology

On the treatment side of things, IWT-Moldrup, a niche specialist in plants, processes and wood treatment (preservatives, modification and thermal treatment) will show its newest developments in Hall 25.

Its biocide-free wood modification plants are used by the likes of Lignia in the UK and Edwood in Poland.

The IWT-Moldrup TMT (thermal modification plant) uses a heating process called the SSP-process. The company has recently introduced its Melamika-system using a combination of resins and starch to make the TMT treated wood surface much harder and resistant to termites as well as fungal attack in humid areas.

A pilot scale plant is working in New Zealand both on untreated wood which is not thermally modified (for flooring, table tops etc) and TMT-wood.

In materials handling, Hubtex will present its new electric multidirectional counterbalance forklift truck, FluX 70 for the first time.

Hubtex says FluX 70 is capable of safely transporting long and heavy loads weighing up to 7 tonnes – even over rough terrain and in narrow aisleways, whether indoor and outdoor. The idea is combining advantages of an electric multidirectional forklift with those of a heavy-duty forklift with a combustion engine.

It will also exhibit the latest generation of its core product: the electric multidirectional sideloader in a new design with added features to meet the challenges presented by Industry 4.0.

Homag Features

Homag, the world’s largest woodworking machinery producer, will once again fill Hall 14 with machines, software, and technical innovations for wood processing over 5,000m2. An extra-large solid-wood platform will feature automation solutions for prefabricated housing, with its Weinmann brand presenting the latest machine technology for timber construction industry at a separate stand in Hall 13.

Weinmann will show fully automatic insertion of loose insulation material in wood frame components.

Homag moulder developments are covered in our Moulder Feature on pages 38-40, but the big news is the appearance of the Mouldteq M-300 planing machine, with the emphasis on flexibility and precision. Homag launched its first planer/moulder range at Ligna 2017 and the development takes it further forward.

On the sawing front, Homag’s Sawteq B-300 flex represents an entirely new generation of robot saws as they also enable manual use of the saw. Ligna will be the saw’s first live action demonstration on an international platform.

Decorative finishing of wood panels sees Homag optimising the Lamteq laminating system product range, with a special focus on efficiency and ergonomics. The Lamteq F-200, is an optimised, modular Lamteq machine system to enable laminating systems to be configured in a simple way.

And Homag will seek to answer the question: What concrete possibilities does digitalisation offer small and medium-sized businesses today?

The short and encouraging answer for smaller companies bewildered by the world of Industry 4.0 and terms like IoT is they don’t have to invest in an entire system – they can opt for individual machines, hardware, applications and apps that can communicate with each other and integrate them into their workshop.

Wooden Collated Nails

A genuine innovation in nailing technology has been Austria’s Beck Fastener Group’s award-winning LignoLoc wood nail system.

The new F60 system offers larger dimensions, better pull-out and shear values and more possibilities for ecological timber construction.

The system consists of the F60 LignoLoc pneumatic nailer and beech wood nails with a length of 45 to 90mm and diameters of 4.7mm and 5.3 mm.

The LignoLoc F60 pneumatic nailer provides the necessary power to shoot the wooden nails directly into wood or wooden materials without pre-drilling.

When LignoLoc nails are driven in they fuse with the surrounding wood, in an effect known as lignin welding.

Beck told TTJ that cross-laminated timber panel production without glue is an application attracting interest for the system, while the beech nails’ carbon profile was 75% better than steel nails.

Last but not least, TTJ has created a Smart Manufacturing Award for its TTJ Awards 2019 to reward timber product manufacturers who have invested in latest technology, making strides towards Industry 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing. Full details about how to enter will be released this month.