In the timber and woodworking sector, maximum efficiency and productivity used to be the preserve of large industrial-scale operations. However, thanks to technology transfer and innovation, these technologies are now accessible to a much wider group of companies. Phil Ashley reports on what Ligna will showcase this year.

In the timber and woodworking sector, achieving maximum efficiency and productivity used to be exclusive to large industrial-scale operations. Thanks to technology transfer and innovation, these technologies are now accessible to a much wider group of companies. Highly specialised joinery, cabinetmaking and carpentry operations are opting for digitalised production solutions to boost their competitiveness thanks to equipmet supplier’s successes in smoothing out the distinctions between industry and trade.

The latest generation of CNC systems combines improved performance with a smaller footprint and easier operation. The latest entry-level machines include both all-round and individually configurable models offerig three to six-axes machining in a single pass. More complex machines can perform a wide range of operations from standard panels to complex 360° shaping of solid wood parts. Many CNC centres offer nesting in addition to standard operations, such as routing, drilling and sawing. Combined five-axis machining and edge-banding technology is becoming increasingly common, as are CNC centres with a very small footprint; perfect for smaller workshop-style operations similar to what we have in Australia.

Another key trend is the transition from stand-alone systems to integrated solutions, with more companies automating and integrating their operations. Owners of small workshops will be pleased to learn that integration has now matured to the point where it supports start-to-finish production line processing of small lots and custom, one-off manufacturing. Communication between the individual components of these integrated systems is made possible by intelligent workshop solutions, including standardized operation systems specialised software.

Another trend in small-scale woodworking is the rapid evolution of combined sawing-and-storage systems for individual panel production. These systems are extremely efficient in that they support one-person operation and combine elements of both logistics and production, thereby doing the job of multiple machines. Woodworking shops now also have access to small-scale edge-banding machines capable of producing the kind of seamless finishes that were once the exclusive domain of the big players. Some of these machines even feature automated return conveyor systems, effectively streamlining workpiece flows and reducing manual labour. LIGNA is the trade fair of choice for anyone who wants to reap these benefits and find out how they can optimise their business.