Charlotte -- The buzzword, Industry 4.0, has been heard in virtually every woodworking trade show and conference around the world in this decade.  Add a few other information age expressions like "Internet of Things" and the "Smart Factory" and you have a list of topics that might appeal only to the largest, most high tech manufacturing operations in the industry, right? Not really.
 
According to Georg Frey, president of Lignum Consulting, Inc., Industry 4.0 is a high tech strategy but the time is ripe for shops of any size to adopt it.  Frey will deliver the Wood Pro Expo Charlotte keynote on February 14 to launch the three-day event.  Frey will discuss the seven building blocks that are critical for organizations to enable a smart factory: Product, Technology, Strategy, Data Integration, Organization, Logistics, and People.  "It is important for companies to get out of the habit of running a small shop like a traditional cabinet shop whereby the thought process is 'give Joe a sketch and he’ll work it out,'" said Frey.  "Successful start-ups are more techie and do not necessarily come from a cabinetmaking background. But they understand e-commerce and integrated processes."
 
Frey said one of the obstacles to productivity improvement involves managers getting hung up on legacy practices because they say "we have always done it this way."   Another problem is the lack of smart processes and/or the discipline to stick to those processes.  
 
Wood Pro Expo is the regional show that brings education, equipment, and supplies close to cabinetmakers and custom woodworking businesses around the country. It will include a strong educational program on best practices for shop production, and as well as an expo oriented to equipment and supplies geared to the small- and medium-size shops, including CNC basics, employee recruitment, finishing, lean manufacturing, business management, software, and shop safety.
 
Launched in 2014 in Baltimore, the show moved this year to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and will appear in 2018 in Charlotte February 14-16, and returns to Lancaster in October 2018. www.woodproexpo.com 
 

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