LIGNA conference: “Integrated production” is the future of furniture manufacturing

The first ever LIGNA conference was held on May 3-4 at the Robotation Academy at the Hannover Exhibition Center in Hannover, Germany. 13 speakers from the woodworking industry shared experiences on digitalisation, its practical deployment in manufacturing processes and its impact on development, production and distribution.

Day one of the conference began Timothy Kaufmann, Business Development Internet of Things at SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG, who examined the opportunities opened up by Industry 4.0; Per Berggren, Manager Industrial Strategies at IKEA, demonstrated that integrated manufacturing techniques could be tailored to mass production applications – as evidenced in IKEA’s PAX wardrobe range.

The second day of the conference was devoted to examples of best practice. Olaf Katzer, Head of International Job Family Development at Volkswagen AG, talked about the qualification of professionals in an Industry 4.0 environment. Amidst efficiency gains, cost-cutting and sustainability, the customer remains the focus and is essential in the overall production picture. As Industry 4.0 will impact production in terms of means, data flows and the workforce involved, he emphasised the importance of taking the necessary preparatory steps.

The LIGNA Conference arrived at the clear conclusion that Industry 4.0 is also directly relevant to small and medium-sized enterprises. However, it is essential that SMEs create areas of specialization and build new networks as a prerequisite for efficient and profitable production.

A highlight of the conference was the panel discussion on the implications of Industry 4.0 for the woodworking sector. The panel consisted Gregor Baumbusch (Michael WEINIG AG), Stefan Sieber (Beckhoff Automation), Andreas Bischoff (IMA Klessmann GmbH), Jürgen Köppel (HOMAG Group AG), Bernd Kressmann (JELD-WEN Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG), Federico Broccoli (BIESSE Group), Dr. Frank Prekwinkel (imos AG), Dieter Rezbach (LIGNUM Consulting GmbH), Christoph Rieke (Steelcase Werndl AG), Frank Westermann (WESTERMANN GmbH & Co. KG) and Luigi De Vito (SCM Group). The panel concluded that Industry 4.0 is not a revolution but an evolution that has already begun in the furniture industry.

“Thanks to its sharp focus on integrated production the premiere of the LIGNA Conference was a resounding success. The concentrated, intrigued looks on the faces of the 140 visitors testified to the major appeal of integrated production as the key to Industry 4.0. This opens up huge opportunities for furniture factories and members of the woodworking trades. It is up to each individual to shape this process within his or her own enterprise,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, Member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe.

Visitors also took this opportunity to swap ideas and build new networks.

“Given the high-calibre programme and line-up of speakers, I had high hopes for the LIGNA Conference. For me the most important realisation was that integrated production is not only a matter of adapting technology and organization, but also entails the unified interplay of all corporate departments. Industry 4.0 directly involves customers and the entire supply chain. The conference was extremely helpful and more than met my expectations,” said Frank Heuer, Purchasing Manager at the bathroom furniture manufacturer W. SCHILDMEYER GmbH & Co. KG in Bad Oeynhausen.