End-of-show report on LIGNA.Conference 2018 in Guangzhou

Attendees were unanimous that the conference gave a clear and compelling overview of the challenges currently facing the woodworking and timber processing industries, providing a quality roundup of the latest approaches and developments in digitization, automation, IoT platforms and product individualization. Over the course of two busy, thought-provoking days, 11 speakers from diverse sectors of the woodworking, timber processing and other, allied industries shared their thoughts and experiences on digitization and the way it is being implemented in their respective production processes, focusing on current best practices. The speaker lineup, consisting of experts from China and abroad, was very high-caliber, making for an engaging, stimulating program.

Day one kicked off with a talk by Dieter Rezbach from Lignum Consulting, speaking on “The Symphony of Integrated Woodworking”, followed by Dr Giuseppe Bacci, CEO, Bacci & Bacci Automation, who spoke on “Cutting-edge-Technology in Solid Woodworking”.

Other highlights included a much-anticipated and controversial presentation on “The Digital Twin-tool-lifecycle in the Cloud” by Udo Leiber, Managing Director, LEUCO Asia PTE Ltd, and a presentation by Yiqun Gong, general manager of Hangzhou Ji Dong Woodworking Machinery Co., Ltd., who offered insights into current applications and developments in intelligent woodworking machinery in China.

Day two was opened by Chengzhi Zhang, Secretary General of the Guangdong Furniture Association, who presented an analysis of future market demand and its implications for furniture manufacturing in Guangdong. Other presentations dealt with topics like digitization and automation solutions in mass production, a German-Chinese Industry 4.0 project called “The Industry Corporation”, the integration of data intelligence into furniture manufacturing, and a case study on digitization.

One of the major highlights of the conference consisted of the closing panel discussion, which provided a global perspective on industrial applications and solutions for the furniture and wood industry. The following experts took part in the discussion: Piergiorgio Franca, Biesse China Director, BIESSE Group; Luigi de Vito, SCM Division Director, SCM Group; Mario Kordt, Managing Director, WEINIG DIMTER GmbH & Co. KG; Dieter Rezbach, Managing Partner, Lignum Consulting; and Ernst Esslinger, Director Methods/Tools Systems, HOMAG Group. The discussion was highly informative, especially when it came to topics like the challenges currently facing the wood and furniture industry and the extent to which the necessary applications and solutions had already been implemented.

“The LIGNA.Conference in China was a complete success,” commented Christian Pfeiffer, Deutsche Messe’s global director of LIGNA & Woodworking Events. “With its lineup of engaging, highly relevant topics based around the overarching themes of digitally integrated woodworking and wood processing, the challenges currently facing the industry in China and around the world and the resulting opportunities for industrial and small-scale furniture manufacturing, the conference delivered real value for its attendees. Our decision to stage this year’s conference in Southern China, the heart of the Chinese furniture industry, was right on the money.”

The Chinese furniture industry is an extremely important market for European machinery manufacturers. One such manufacturer is HOMAG GmbH. Ernst Esslinger, Director Methods/Tools, made the following comment, “The Chinese market is very important for HOMAG, and its importance will doubtless continue to grow. The conference highlighted this fact and demonstrated to us that our current focus on integrated solutions and our progressive development of the LIGNA format are precisely what the market is looking for.”

The central theme of the LIGNA.Conference, “Integrated Woodworking – Customized Solutions”, is also one of the lead themes of the upcoming LIGNA show in Germany. Christian Pfeiffer: “At LIGNA 2017, China was already No. 4 among the show’s top 10 visiting nations. This conference has served to further stimulate the interest of members of the Chinese furniture, subcontracting and automation technology industries. Thanks to the conference, they are now interested in going to LIGNA in May 2019 in order to gain a window on the global industry.”

The two-day conference also featured presentations and displays by Biesse, Durst Phototechnik, HOMAG Group, Leuco Ledermann, SCM Group, Siempelkamp, Wemhöner Surface Technologies, Michael Weinig and Rosenheim University. Conference participants used this part of the event for informal dialoguing and networking.

The LIGNA.Conference was staged with support of the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association. 

After the conference, attendees headed to the China Shunde International Woodworking Machinery Fair (Lunjiao), which opened the next day in the neighboring city of Foshan.