Ligna is a worldwide phenomenon of the timber and wood working industries. This year’s show brought together the World’s top suppliers and business visitors to another incredible event. As the show draws to a close Supplier Magazine’s Phil Ashley rushed the highlights from Germany.

Smart factories, digital integration and customer-centric manufacturing. These are the trends and themes currently shaping the global wood industry. Our comprehensive coverage of this year’s Ligna show will appear in the next issue of Supplier magazine. For now, take a few minutes to read about some of the latest technology from the show that never disappoints and always amazes. The line-up of solutions on show was extensive and included everything from 360-degree production control systems, smart CNC aggregates and digital embossing printers through to the latest CNC milling and Sawmill 4.0 technologies.

Altendorf Group introduced itself for the first time to the international trade-fair audience under their new name with Hebrock edge banding machines. Supplier is advised that they are ‘searching’ for a CNC machinery company to add to their suite of offerings but at this time they remain tight-lipped about this. What they did have on the stand however is a very clever safety device to protect the operator’s hands. It’s not a saw-stop; it’s a scanner that senses your hands near the blade and stops the blade, dropping it below the table in milliseconds. There is no damage to the blade and no brake to replace every time this happens. Australia’s Vit Kafka describes it as “Mercedes” technology, preventative rather than reactive.

AL-KO is a manufacturer of high-quality extraction technology and is represented in Australia by Ausmach. AL-KO demonstrated the new level sensor AL-KO ALC 21 that guarantees continuous and reliable level monitoring. The measurement is contactless; at maximum level, the compact meter sends a signal to the controller which automatically switches off the extraction system. The sensor can be easily retrofitted and can be integrated into a control station monitoring system in the course of automation processes. Ausmach also carry the OTT edge banders and Casadei Industria, not to be confused with Casadei Bussellato which is owned by SCM Group. Casadei Industria also make edge banders for other suppliers.

Biesse Group presented a software solution that can manage all stages of furniture production from 3D design to monitoring the entire production flow. The new B_CABINET Four software has a user interface to define and manage all processing stations and work steps essential for each order. In terms of machinery on display, Biesse confirmed and strengthened the bond between humans and robots; not only by presenting a greater number of solutions that make use of robots, but by demonstrating how people can benefit from them, validating their work and making production more efficient. The six thousand square metre Biesse stand; their biggest ever at Ligna, presented three process solutions that were automated from the raw material to the finished product. Several integrated lines and five robotised cells were also in action, offering high levels of customisation, modularity and flexibility, important requirements for modern production.

Costa’s Peter Vuille-Bille showed us a very interesting process developed in conjunction with Sherwin-Williams. It’s a process where camera’s pick up defects and then a robot filler dispenser fills the defect in a continuous process. After six hours of drying the filled board can be sanded without the filler shrinking. Also on the Costa stand, a refurbished sander from 1962 painted in what they call ‘Jaguar Green’ that’s been fitted with all the latest safety gear. It was there to demonstrate how Costa sanders stand the test of (55 years) time.

Felder Group presented some groundbreaking innovations including a new PUR gluing system for edge banders that you wouldn’t believe, the PUR glue comes as a tape edge that Felder feed into their newly-developed ‘glueBox’ system. It was a real eye-opener. And just when you thought they couldn’t top that, they’ve come up with a saw-stop system that has no wiring, no cameras, no warning lights….it just works. It’s called PCS and was actually demonstrated at Ligna with someone’s real finger! Hard to believe? It took five years to develop and is integrated into the saw unit itself; it’s arguably the most complete system for panel saw safety ever developed. Felder also announced a partnership with Mayer beam saws that is sure to benefit Felder Group customers.

On over 5,000 square meters of display space, HOMAG Group presented a range of integrated, networked solutions comprising woodworking machines, cells, systems and software that can help operations of all sizes take the next steps towards a digitized future. Homag was pleased to announce a strategic partnership with Hundegger Group who specialise in prefab housing, a sector Homag sees as developing world-wide. They also announced the formation of a digital printing association, another sector Homag believes will be a big mainstream technology in only a few years time. An interesting comment from Homag CEO Pekka Paasivaara is that after the recent election result in Australia, one hundred companies arrived at Ligna to take advantage of the positive business situation down-under.

Leitz Tooling introduced several new tools this year including ProfilCut Q Plus and ProfilCut Q Premium Plus with five-times re-sharpen-able, diameter and profile-constant cutting edges for the window industry. A new compact hogger ‘DT Premium’ with a re-designed tooth profile, suited for batch size 1 production as well as for processing large quantities in furniture production was also released. Another feature this year was the LeitzXPress Button.  Presented for the first time at the Holz Handwerk trade fair last year, it’s a technical service concept that enables Leitz customers to contact Leitz quickly and easily at the touch of a button via an online interface. Not least was a new solid-carbide hinge boring bit said to significantly improve production.

A focus for Leuco Tooling is new materials. Chipboard for kitchens and furniture, shop and exhibition construction have many different layers. These include fire protection layers, abrasive coatings and anti-fingerprint materials. Most of these layers are harder than wood. Visitors were able to gain tooling and application know-how for these materials. Visitors were invited to bring samples of their special materials to the stand where Leuco tool experts provided solutions for sawing, milling and drilling these materials. Announced during the show was a German innovation award for their new ‘airstream’ system developed in conjunction with Holz-Her to almost completely remove all dust from the tool edge.

Schmalz are a World-leader in vacuum blocks for CNC machines. The company demonstrated a VCBL-G K1 vacuum block specially designed for nesting tables. The vacuum block is directly positioned on the top of the CNC machine’s grid table without having to remove the tabletop first. The low working height of 30 mm means that the VCBL can also be used in 3-axis machining centres with low Z movement.

SCM Group presented its “Smart&Human Factory,” a cutting-edge production model based on innovative, modular and easily configurable cells integrated with digital and automation systems including robots and automated transport vehicles that sense when a human is present. It allows for advanced man-machine interaction and 360-degree control over the entire production flow. This automated, user-friendly wood panel processing system is designed to respond to the challenges of mass customisation and Industry 4.0. The process aims at optimising panel cutting; edge-banding and drilling operations, reducing waste, rejects and retooling requirements during product changeovers. Orders are then reassembled back together at the end of the process. A play on the song title, SCM say ‘You will never work alone.’

Weinig exhibited a complex production line including eight integrated components demonstrating the entire production process, from raw material to finished product. The production line included both robotics technology and Weinig scanners, all controlled centrally by Weinig’s new single-operator Control Suite system. Semi-finished goods including window parts were manufactured and further processed into various products at downstream stations like the Conturex CNC centre. Weinig showed their new Hydromat generation with a performance potential of up to 300 metres a minute. Their new Powermat 2400 3D allows for the contour of furniture parts from right and left during through-feed.

Also, from the Weinig Group, Holz-Her released the new Evolution 7402 vertical CNC processing machine capable of 4-side formatting and drilling with a 5.6kW spindle, and ‘Automation Pro’ that interconnects the entire production from the ‘Store-Master’ panel warehouse to finished furniture components across the entire range of Holz-Her machines.

From Wood Tech Group we saw the new Vector profile edge banding machine developed by New Zealand’s Duncan Such of Doctor Buzz fame. Several have now been installed in NSW and Tasmania already. IMA showed their ‘Performance.cut’ panel cutting centre. The machine offers the advantages of real batch-size-1 panel cutting, independently of the required cutting plans. It ensures effective panel cutting, maximizing capacity while minimizing floor space. A feature is the cutting of free-form parts such as nested desktops. It also offers the possibility of processing panels with finger pull profiles. The revolutionary Anderson Mag-Drive CNC nesting machine was unfortunately not shown at Ligna.

In addition, Beck Fastener’s LignoLoc® wooden nails, made of locally grown beech wood can be fired into solid timber or engineered wood without pre-drilling using the LignoLoc® pneumatic nail gun, ‘welding’ the nail to the substrate to create a seamless permanent bond. Pade released their twin-head, 15 axis CNC machining centre that produces jambs in large quantities while enabling the highest possible design flexibility and quick changeovers. Gewema demonstrated the world’s first heavy-duty ‘wooden’ single cutting-head CNC router that can handle a variety of clamping systems, including vacuum clamping. Once again in 2019, LIGNA served as the industry’s showcase of choice for unveiling the latest innovations.

Pictured: Biesse Group

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