HANNOVER, GERMANY - Large numbers of U.S. wood products manufacturers attended the big German trade show, LIGNA 2015, which ends today in Hannover. A resurgent economy and rapid pace of expansion in North America, Asia, and emerging markets brought 96,000 visitors to the 5-day show; about 40,000 were from outside Germany.
Some 1,567 exhibitors filled 120,000 square meters (about 2.1 million square feet). Visitors from outside Germany were up 22%, with (in order) Austria, France, Italy, and the United States the
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largest numbers, followed by Great Britain, Russia, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, China and Brazil. Deutsche Messe, which owns the show, says 96 percent of attendees were professionals from the wood manufacturing industries.
Attendance from Asia was surged 67%, from 2,800 in 2013 to 4,700 in 2015; the Middle East Attendance rose 86 percent; while South, East and Central Asia attendees increased 62%. Despite economic challenges there, Central and South American attendances was 2,800, up 64% over the last LIGNA.
“For anybody interested in doing international business, Hannover was clearly the place to be. More than 25 percent of trade visitors here were either planning to place orders at the show or had already done so,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, the Deutsche Messe Managing Board member in charge of LIGNA.
Major trends at LIGNA include the move to "Industry 4.0," a pan-European effort to link automated plant production to extend connections from computer-controlled manufacturing in the plant to customer design and order entry at point of sale; and packaging and shipping at the delivery end. The initiative also intends to reduce the "islands of automation" that exist within plants, but linking more and more equipment to Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, systems.
To show off these efforts, live demonstrations of production in simulated factory settings were put together to provide a first-hand look at integrated manufacturing. New ideas for customized mass production - or Batch 1 production - were another major theme. This offers the potential for small custom woodworking shops to compete on a footing with big firms, at least when it comes to quality and efficiency.
LIGNA 2015 is also a national woodworking show for Germany - with 60% of attendees from there - and as such puts on display sometimes surprising scenes like master and apprentice carpenters, cabinetmakers and house builders dressed in tradition costumes (top hats, leather vests and pants) dancing, and competitions with trained draft horses pulling logs.
LIGNA also focuses on energy from wood, and forestry technology such as harvesting equipment and mobile debarkers. Primary sawmill technology and custom carpentry tooling is also on view, though the small shop aspect of LIGNA has gradually migrated to a Holz-Handwerk show in Nurnberg,, Germany.
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