Timber frame machinery takes off

Hundegger’s first appearance at Woodmex underlines the continuing healthy growth of the UK timber frame sector.

The German company specialises in highly automated joinery production centres, particularly for the timber frame panel, trussed rafter and solid timber frame sectors.

“We are basically here for the first time because of the growing number of houses in the UK being built in timber and the further growth in demand that we believe will be created by the changes in Building Regulations on energy efficiency,” said Wolfgang Piatke of Hawangen-based Hundegger.

Further evidence of the company’s ambitions in the UK, he added, was its recent appointment of William Henry Martin of Shrewsbury as UK agents.

Hundegger had two automated joinery centres on show. The Speed-Cut SC1 is specifically designed for production of wall and trussed rafter components, undertaking drilling and milling of dimensions from 12x40mm to 160x450mm.

Hundegger also showed the heavy-weight K2 automated joinery centre which can produce dimensions from 20x50mm to 300x400mm. Billed as suitable for making everything from rafters to stairs, it is especially suitable for green oak building producers.

Combilift makes a sideways move

The C5000 SL sounds like it should be a Mercedes but it is actually a sideloader developed by Ireland-based Combilift Ltd and receiving its world premiere at this year’s show.

The new addition represents a widening of the company’s portfolio from its original multi-directional truck product, which has made significant inroads into the UK materials handling market.

Managing director Martin McVicar said: “This gives us a complete range to satisfy the needs of any timber handling company in the UK.”

The vehicle is a four-way sideloader which can also block stack like a forklift. It features a cab positioned to give the driver good sight of the forks, a low deck height of 750mm and is available in either diesel or LPG.

Mr McVicar added: “For us Woodmex is an important show because we get a lot more value than at a forklift show. A lot of potential customers are visiting.”

He said times are good for the company, with annual growth running at 35% and some 900 trucks built during 2004.

Stenner and Iseli display team

Stenner was clearly at Woodmex to sell machines, and by the second day had taken six orders for its ST100 band resaws which debuted at Woodmex two years ago.

But the company was also using the show to raise awareness of its partnership with Swiss saw servicing equipment producer Iseli. First announced last year, the relationship has already proved a success, according to Stenner’s David Parkman.

“We and Iseli are very pleased with the early progress we’ve made and we see Iseli as a major aspect of the Stenner offer for the future,” he said.

Further underlining the Iseli link, Stenner was showing machines jointly branded by the two companies.

Other focuses of the stand were Stenner’s retrofit DC brake packages and its consumables offer, notably a new vegetable oil-based lubricant developed with a specialist manufacturer.

“Many people are looking for a diesel alternative,” said Mr Parkman. “On a price per litre basis, ours is more expensive than diesel, but you only need a fifth of the quantity.”

Hoffman‘s winning combination

Business was booming on Hoffman’s stand, with two £20,000 double mitre saw/routing machines sold by day three.

These are typically used for complex window profiles, including boring of dowel holes and cutting of keyway slots.

The company used Woodmex to showcase a new combination machine, incorporating cutting and keyway routing features which until now were offered separately in the Morso Guillotine and dovetail router. The machine is aimed at kitchen and furniture makers producing face frames. It has not gone on sale yet but Hoffman says it has created “enormous” interest and will retail at between £6,000-7,000.

Hoffman’s Frank Pickering said: “When we were selling the two machines we were often asked why we didn’t do a combined machine. So we did.”

Top drawer

A machine for drilling and grooving of drawer fronts was demonstrated to visitors at the Koch UK stand.

The Manchester-based company said the Front-10 has been developed to fill a niche in the market and is aimed at kitchen and furniture manufacturers.

Koch says the Front-10 offers vertical drilling from top and bottom, as well as grooving, and can process 18-20 pieces a minute.

Stacking up sales

System TM UK sales manager Steve Chalmers reported a dramatic start to Woodmex for the optimising cross-cut and handling systems specialist.

By the second day the company had sold a stand alone opti-stack 3000 automated stacking system and a high output opti-kap 3001 throughfeed optimising cross-cut, complete with two more opti-stack 3000s.

This equipment was bought by Cheshire Mouldings, while WJ Handrahan bought a new resaw line.

High hopes

Consultec UK aims to boost its market share of the staircase design software market, following the launch of the latest version of its StairCon product.

The company, part of the Eleco building systems and construction software group, showcased StairCon 3.2, which can draw and price timber staircase designs and produce manufacturing instructions for CNC machines.

Consultec, already well-known for its timber frame software, says StairCon has a 60% market share in the Nordic regions but managing director Jason Ruddle has high hopes for its prospects in the UK market.