AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- A special joint technology presentation titled “Demystifying AI, AR, VR” led off the last day of sessions at the Woodworking Industry Conference.

Coordinated by Woodworking Network’s David Biggs, WIC attendees learned more about artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality.

Jeff Onsrud of C.R. Onsrud explained the basics of artificial intelligence and offered the example of robots unloading machines as one application. Jason Dingess of Quis Machinery defined virtual reality and augmented reality and provided the example of remote service as an application of the technology.

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The Manufacturing Executives Panel was also coordinated by Woodworking Network. Harry Urban moderated the discussion of challenges faced by wood products managers.

Edward San Juan of E.F. San Juan had one of the biggest challenges when his custom moulding and millwork company was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael in October. His company is back in operation but recovery is still underway.

Dennis McCahan of Appalachian Wood Products told about his background and what led to the establishment of this company and its strategy to survive the recession. Darrell Turner also described his background and strategy at Fiber Commercial Technologies, a maker of wood composite products. He believes that startups should operate with no debt, and companies should be willing to spend on technology and material handling.

Earlier at WIC, an industry trends panel featured a look at the cabinet market by Leland Thomasett of Taghkanic Woodworking and CMA. He discussed strong sales in that market, small shops working together and the transition away from face frame. Also, there was a discussion of fiber reinforced materials from Tom Dobbins of the American Composites Mfg. Assn., and the wood flooring industry from Brett Miller of NWFA.

Alan Beaulieau of ITR Economics spoke on the current economic situation during the WIC meeting.

He told WIC attendees that an economic slowdown is likely in 2019, but it won’t be a major downturn and growth will resume in late 2020.

Then there is the great depression in 2030, due to government spending, debt and the health care costs of aging baby boomers. Millennials will have to make decisions in the not too distant future.

If you want to see him live, he will be at EBC April 14-16.


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