In other news, read on for Jump in MDF imports; Ligna 2019 key themes and already 80% booked; Wood, Naturally Better; Iran trade fair cancelled; Vauth-Sagel opens in Brisbane; Robots take jobs; Industry 4.0 covers skills shortages; New safe space from Felder; HOMAG Group and KUKA.

Jump in MDF imports

Imports of MDF soared 41% over the year-ended February, totalling more than 131,000 cubic metres. The rise in imports of MDF, along with higher imports of all other panel products raises strategic questions for the domestic industry. Source: IndustryEdge. “We have seen over the last year that imports of MDF have risen by a substantial 41%,” Tim Woods, managing director of IndustryEdge said. Other panel products have also seen large import increases over the last year. Plywood imports totalled 500,000 cubes, a rise of more than 27% while Particleboard imports were up 37% with imports totalling almost 120,000 cubes. Demand for these products does not appear to have increased significantly. Mr Woods said “Markets have their ups and downs but we simply can’t see the additional consumption this volume of imports would be supplying.” In related news, IndustryEdge reports that the number of free-standing furniture imported to Australia over the year-ended May 2018 totals 5.150 million units.

Ligna 2019 key themes and already 80% booked

The next LIGNA, which runs from 27 to 31 May 2019, will put the spotlight on three key themes: “Integrated Manufacturing – Customized Solutions”, “Smart Surface Technologies” and “Access to Resources and Technology”. For primary wood industry players, the world’s leading trade fair for machinery, plant and tools for the woodworking and timber processing industry serves as an important platform for dialogue and the latest technologies as well as a gateway to new markets. The same is true of the fair’s Wood Industry Summit, which will be themed “Access to Resources and Technology”.

The LIGNA fair organizers, Deutsche Messe and the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association (VDMA), have announced that exhibitor registrations are coming in at a very pleasing pace. While opening day is just less than a year away, exhibition space at the world’s leading trade fair for machinery, plant and tools for the woodworking and timber processing industry is already more than 80 percent booked. To put that in perspective: LIGNA 2017 featured 1,520 exhibitors and occupied 130,000 square meters of display space.

Wood, Naturally Better

Award-winning architect Peter Maddison, host of Grand Designs Australia is working with Planet Ark and Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA). Commercials, produced under Planet Ark’s Make It Wood brand and co-branded Wood, Naturally Better will run on free-to-air and pay TV in metropolitan and major regional markets, plus online, in an impactful, targeted schedule. The 30 second and 15 second spots cover the wellbeing and productivity benefits of wood in the workplace, supported by messages about the advantages of other uses of timber, including framing and wood in the home. In related news following our recent articles on high timber buildings, Timberbiz reports that Edinburgh Napier University in the UK has introduced a Master’s of Science on Timber Architectural Design and Technology. This is the first program of its kind in the UK, to develop the technical and commercial awareness needed to work as a design professional within the timber building industry. However in the US, a 12-story mixed-use building, known as Framework; under development in Portland, Oregon since 2014 has been put on hold due to inflation, escalating construction costs and fluctuations in the tax credit market. The building proposal was recently criticised because it would be far more expensive to build than a traditional concrete and steel structure.

Iran trade fair cancelled

Hannover/Tehran. The MEDEX trade fair in Iran was cancelled this year. The international trade fair for woodworking and wood processing, materials, accessories, furniture and laminate flooring was scheduled to be held at the Permanent Fair Ground in Tehran, 10 to 13 July 2018. However, unexpected changes resulting from the current political conditions in Iran have materialized, and the Iran Furniture Manufacturers & Exporters Association (IFA), Deutsche Messe AG and the exhibitors have jointly decided to cancel the fair in 2018. It was determined that the predictable conditions the industry needs to advance do not exist at this time of political uncertainty. They decided to postpone the fair until conditions change.

Vauth-Sagel opens in Brisbane

With the opening of a new showroom in Brisbane, Australia, Vauth-Sagel is expanding its international activities. The presence in the target markets is to increase the interest in innovative space solutions on the spot according to the corporate crèche “Think global, act local”. The new showroom has been designed completely in the style of the new corporate identity, ensuring a consistent brand identity. As the site for the showroom in Brisbane, Vauth-Sagel chose the well-known Brisbane Build and Design Centre, where various manufacturers show their services under one roof. With its consistent design, which completely takes on the look of the new corporate identity of Vauth-Sagel, the room stands out at first glance. Located in the South Bank district with its many cultural institutions, the showroom is located in the cultural heart of the city; in close proximity to the Queensland Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art. For Claus Sagel, this neighbourhood has a special meaning “”These are places of inspiration, of new ideas – and, of course, of exchange. And we will add a mosaic to this forward looking look: the awareness of smart, universal space solutions.” The new Vauth-Sagel showroom is located at Brisbane Building and Design Centre, 66 Merivale Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101.

Robots take jobs

Robots for the furnishing industry have been shown at the last two AWISA shows; one in Melbourne and this year in Sydney. Robots can improve productivity and provide a more accurate and predictable manufacturing solution. However, the effect on jobs will be significant in the coming years. The Herald Sun reports that in the UK, Oxford University suggests that a robot covers 3.6 human jobs. The figures show that 18,500 robots are now performing work previously done by 66,000 people. That’s 33,000 families where the breadwinners are now looking for other work. While computers increase the demand for highly skilled software developers, robots provide very few jobs for human beings.

Industry 4.0 covers skills shortages

Furniture manufacturing in Poland is still growing; 2017 was a record-high year for furniture manufacturing in that country with the value of sold production amounting to PLN 41.8 billion and still on the rise. Manufacturers are seeing an increasing number of orders. However, there is a lack of qualified staff, a situation found in most countries. This means that many factories are increasingly relying on production automation to both increase their production capacity and optimize their delivery times. Polish furniture manufacturers aim to keep up with the changes resulting from the development of the economy and are increasingly taking up Industry 4.0 production options, which are already established in the minds of Polish and world entrepreneurs. The Polish national furniture machinery exhibition DREMA in September this year will be a yardstick for the local industry.

Safe space

The Austrian premium CNC machinery supplier Felder can now offer a completely enclosed CNC environment they call FORMAT-4 safeSpace. It’s offered on the H350, H300 and H200 machining centres and a claimed 5.3 metres less installation space is needed over traditional safety technologies. Added noise reduction is a benefit along with increased operator safety.

HOMAG Group and KUKA

The HOMAG Group and KUKA (robots) announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement at the Holz-Handwerk trade fair in Nuremberg. The companies have agreed intensive cooperation on global development projects. Two such projects have already been launched in China and Germany. The aim of the partnership is to join forces in developing smart robot solutions and selling them to the global woodworking market.