Technology and workforce development for expanding markets are themes for the most extensive educational program ever presented at WMS 2015. When the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo runs November 5-7, it will be accompanied by a concurrent conference schedule in two-tracks: business, and technology. 
 
The business track will focus on workforce development, marketing, and uncovering resources to grow your business. The technology track will be underscored by Industry 4.0, the latest wood industry approach to running a lean and profitable business. There you will find the first major North American presentation during the education sessions at the WMS 2015 show in Toronto. This will include a special VIP show floor tour to include private showings of technologies, some still in development. 
 
U.S. woodworking business owners will want to remain north in Toronto to hear the scoop on small-shop robotics, enterprise programming, Batch One production, as well as live demonstrations of technology first seen at LIGNA 2015. The conference will have access to live tech demos, because it runs simultaneously with the Toronto Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo. 
 
“We plan to embed the WMS show into the conference with our VIP tour sessions,” said Bill Esler, WMS program director. “The Conference at WMS will provide a much shorter route to hear and see the key technology trends from LIGNA.”
 
Partnering with WMS 2015 is The Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at the University of British Columbia, and the newly-formed Wood Industry Educational Advisory Panel, which helped set the program. Registration is now open; here are the conference highlights.
 
Industry 4.0: Automation Strategy
 
All manufacturers are entering a “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” fueled by the need to regain manufacturing share lost to low-wage-cost regions in Asia and South America. Presenter Sepp Gmeiner heads Lignum Consulting’s Toronto office, opened in 2004, which specializes in the implementation of Industry 4.0 strategies (logistics, data systems, human resources, production technology) for cabinetmaking, furniture production and other wood industry segments.
 
Robotics for Mid-Sized Plants
 
Like humans, robots are adapting to short run and Batch One-production workcells. Attendees at this session will hear case studies on implementation of robotic automation showing it is practical for any sized plant.
 
Casegoods Production On Demand
 
Visionary Samir Shah’s 4 AXYZ is developing technology to produce wood products through “additive” manufacturing, which also simplifies the process for integrating electronics into furniture. An architect, designer, entrepreneur and consultant to the woodworking industry, Shah has 27 years of experience in various aspects of business, design, manufacturing and machine technology. His team envisions a global network for on-demand production of furniture.
 
Furniture Productions On Demand 
 
Massuni was launched by Verso Furniture in 2000. Based in Toronto, the company is in beta for its “mass customization” furniture production program. The factory is 60 miles north of Toronto. Significantly, eight of its 18 member start-up team are software developers - not wood crafters. A furniture configurator captures specifications set by customers online to be fed to production operations. Founder Jeff Wilson will present.
 
Automated Sanding & Prep 
 
As individualized orders for furniture and cabinetry transform the marketplace, Batch One production is a must. How this impacts sanding and finishing operations, and the technology that can make it happen, will be presented. The session will be moderated by Jason Thiu.
 
Workforce Development & Women in Wood Careers 
 
As business picks up, the shortage of labor is a rising challenge. The Wood Manufacturing Council has launched “Women in Non-Traditional Trades” program to tap a potential resource. In a 2014 test program in Moncton, NB, ten women who completed the training, with nine joining firms in the area. An update on the program will be presented at the Wood Machinery & Supplies Show in Toronto, by Richard Lipman. 
 
Go Global! Export Wood Products
 
Recognizing the strategic importance of timber processing and wood manufacturing to the economy, Canada provides support for companies that want to export. We’ll hear both from experts and exporters. Export Development Canada will present.
 
CNCs for Compact Woodshops
 
Craftsmanship and CNC machining are fully compatible, but some traditional shops fear they might not have the floor space for automating routers and shapers. We’ll look at the growing numbers of CNC solutions for smaller business settings.
 
Software: Nesting & Design
 
Along with automating machining comes adoption of software programs. We’ll look at the relationship between making designs that are compatible with CNC machining, including some inventive projects that create furniture from a single sheet of panel. 
 
3D Visualization & Design 
 
To drive automated woodworking machinery, more complex software applications are required. It’s a natural step to present 3D images not just to programmers and equipment operators, but to send them upstream where furniture and cabinetry buyers can see realistic images of the end product. 
 
Finding Business With Houzz
 
Your business’s online reputation precedes you, and through Houzz, you can shape what prospective customers and designers see. We’ll look at how to leverage Houzz to grow more sales. 
 
Wood Industry Groups: Why Join?
 
WMS 2015 partner associations will explain on the WMS Expo Stage the important role they play in setting industry standards, working with certified professionals in architecture and design, and how peer-to-peer business relationships can be mutually beneficial.
 
Finishing Roundtable
 
A perennially popular get-together brings experts from finishing and sanding suppliers and woodworking business professionals to address practical issues and troubleshoot real-life finishing issues.
 
Social Media Marketing ToolKit
 
You may not have be keeping your website up to date, but no matter - social media is rapidly overtaking the web as a means of communication and marketing. It’s surprisingly easy; we’ll get you started.
 
WMS Expo 2015 Exhibitors   
 
More than 120 companies (21 first time-exhibitors) are already signed on at WMS 2015. For more information or to register, go to woodworkingexpo.ca

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