Every AWISA, Supplier Magazine presents its Gold Star awards for products that demonstrate excellence in innovation and value to the wood and allied manufacturing sector. At AWISA in Sydney this year the industry was provided with plenty of new and original product. While all of it was worthwhile and of a high standard, there is always some product that stands out from the rest. This year our judges were very impressed with many of the new products on display but set out to judge our winners based on the criteria we have used for previous shows. Previous awards have gone mainly to machinery, tooling and hardware products but this year, software supporting industry 4.0 manufacturing featured strongly.

The criteria for the award is that the product could be any exhibited at AWISA but the product must be exhibited at AWISA in the year it’s bestowed. It could be a new product or a product that has undergone recent significant development or improvement. The product must be original or a major development of an original idea produced by that Company. The product could build on an existing technology (such as a cabinet hinge) but the product must exhibit significant original development. The product must move the industry forward through innovation. This year we have six awards so in alphabetical order, let’s get started.

Biesse wins a Gold Star for the Sophia IOT software platform, developed in collaboration with professional service company Accenture. Sophia is an acronym for Services; Optimisation; Predictivity; Human; Innovation; Analysis. Based on the connection to a cloud service and special sensors applied to Biesse machinery; technical data on the performance of your machine is collected in real-time and used by the Biesse services platform to improve productivity and predict maintenance requirements. The manufacturer can access reports and data required to make decisions about his machine performance, all on his mobile device. Sophia also connects with a parts portal for ordering of replacement parts. Sophia also won at the Xylexpo technology awards in Milan.

Hafele wins a Gold Star for their Connect smart home, released last year at Interzum to huge crowds and great interest. Hafele Connect links and controls lighting, sound and furniture movements through their plug and play system, either through an app or a voice-activated controller they call ‘echo.’ Hafele actively pursues innovative technologies such as new design for inspiration to interior designers; and pushes the technology and design for small-space living.

Hideaway Bins wins a Gold Star for their Concelo bin. Seven years in the development, this product from the New Zealand family owned and operated company Kitchen King has taken just about every consideration into account. From installation and six-way adjustment; full extension so the rear bin can be removed without taking out the front bin; sealing of odours through an automatic active lid to cleaning through the simple removal of all cleanable elements. This product is an appliance in every sense of the word and just as important as a fridge or dishwasher. The system is push-to-open compatible and the installation at bench height is the ideal position for removing food scraps. Concelo is clever, smart, well-designed and is superior to every other waste system on the market; it’s a significant step forward and well-deserved for a Gold Star.

Homag wins a Gold Star for their Intelliguide operator assistance system. On panel saws and edge banding machines provided by the Homag Group, the operator is directed as to the orientation of the specific panel to be machined through a system of lasers, cameras and LED lighting. And if the operator picks up the wrong panel the system will recognise this and alter the program without any manual intervention. This is really what industry 4.0 (in the manufacturing context) is all about. The system is available in three levels from basic to advanced but every level has distinct manufacturing advantages.

The judges note that a Gold Star would have been awarded to Homag for their Tapio open ecosystem technology platform but as it has yet to be released in Australia, does not yet qualify under the award criteria.

SCM wins a Gold Star for their Maestro Digital Systems platform Maestro Connect. Only released recently at the Xylexpo fair in Milan, Maestro Connect is SCM’s IoT (Internet of Things) Industry 4.0 platform that collects and analyses data retrieved from SCM machines to monitor and optimise production processes. It enables full control of production performance by the manufacturer. It also allows other services such as predictive, timely and smart maintenance and optimized spare parts management. Maestro Connect is not just a maintenance app; it’s an intelligent production aid that observes actual production data and is able to plan corrective actions.

Wood Tech wins a Gold Star for the Anderson GS Series of CNC machines fitted with the ‘Magdrive’ Linear Motion Technology. The award is for the drive technology fitted to a CNC machine that is similar to that used on the maglev train. Maglev stands for ‘magnetic levitation’ and in a train, can achieve 600 kilometres per hour. Wood Tech claims it’s the first woodworking machine of its type in the World to be fitted with such a drive and the benefits include reduced wear; less noise and super-fast acceleration speeds. High speeds have been hyped in the past but acceleration speeds have always resulted in machinery that never meets its potential. The Anderson GS Series is different because of the acceleration provided by friction-free axes. Of all the technology seen at AWISA, the maglev driven Anderson GS Series is arguably the stand-out of the show.