The global focal point and meeting hub for the international wood industry is only a few weeks away and this year marks a shift away from what visitors will have seen before with a new layout featuring more exhibitors than ever.

The 2017 edition of the most important event in the woodworking, panel and furniture production industries is taking place from 22nd to 26th May in Hannover, Germany. This year there are more than 1500 exhibitors from 45 nations attracting visitors from around the world. Visitors should allow ample time – and comfortable footwear – to navigate the show’s 10 halls plus the venue’s extensive open-air site. 

All the market-leading companies will be there with impressive presentations to highlight their latest products and innovations. They will be joined by a huge number of other exhibitors, some of whom will be appearing at Ligna for the first time. 

The show’s organiser, Deutsche Messe and the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, say they have successfully implemented a new thematic layout this year. “The new approach and, more importantly, the new physical layout have been extremely well received.” remarks Dr Andreas Gruchow, the Deutsche Messe managing board member responsible for Ligna.

He adds that: “This year, the exhibitors are presenting a wide array of innovations for intelligent, networked manufacturing systems, not to mention new ideas and strategies for the many value-creation networks at play in the wood processing and woodworking industries.”

This year’s five-day show covers all the technologies that wood industry companies need to succeed in tomorrow’s Industry 4.0 world. The range includes tools and machinery for custom and mass production, surface technology innovations, wood-based panel production solutions, sawmill technology, wood-energy technology, machine components, and automation and forestry technology. 

“Ligna 2017 is where key solutions and applications will be showcased. It’s where business relationships and networks will be built that will benefit the entire wood industry for years to come,” comments Andreas.

The central focus of Ligna 2017 is on intelligent concepts for integrated manufacturing across multiple links in the wood processing chain. The solutions on display promise growth and efficiency. They give wood industry companies a route to business development that does not depend on being big. And they provide a rapid roadmap to the capabilities needed to meet growing market demand for custom production.

The revamped layout includes a new Tools and Machinery for Custom and Mass Production display in halls 11-15 and 27. The display encompasses machinery for processing solid wood, plant and machinery for industrial-scale furniture production, and machines and hand-tools for crafting custom products from both solid wood and panel products.

It will present a comprehensive range of solutions for companies of all sizes at one convenient location and in a way that is supremely quick and easy for visitors to navigate. “The new layout of themes reflects the fact that, in modern woodworking, the type of technology used is more about what’s needed to get the job done than about the size or scale of the user’s operation. In other words, new technologies and their applications are converging,” says Andreas.

“Ligna brings these innovations to life, making it easier for visitors to experience all the most relevant innovations for their particular needs.”

Under the new layout, the Surface Technology area remains in hall 17, but now stars as a fully-fledged display category in keeping with its growing importance within the Ligna universe. “The Surface Technology area has won a large number of major international players as new exhibitors, and many of those already on board have opted for significantly larger displays,” says Andreas.

The Machine Components and Automation Technology showcase in hall 16 has also become a fully-fledged display, thus reflecting the rapidly rising importance of integrated manufacturing and automation. These technologies promise greater efficiency, improved accuracy and shorter production cycles for a wide range of applications.  

This is the world of Industry 4.0, where machines are increasingly being networked with one another and robots are being deployed. Automation translates into significant efficiency gains – for small-scale joinery and carpentry firms as well as for large industrial processors and manufacturers. Industry 4.0 is on a growth trajectory and offers major opportunities for niche providers of the many products that go together to create fully integrated, automated production processes. Demand for integrated, networked solutions is growing worldwide, and the uptake of robot technology is forecast to increase sharply, especially in the CNC machining segment.

The Wood-Based Panel Production and Energy from Wood displays in hall 26 and the Sawmill Technology displays in hall 25 are fully booked, thanks to strong support from global market leaders and a host of other exhibitors back for another season or joining the show for the first time.

Meanwhile, the Forestry Technology displays will feature on the open-air site and in the pavilions beneath the EXPO canopy with a fresh new look. These outdoor displays will boast a new layout that more accurately reflects the various links in the wood value chain. With an outdoor demonstration site, avenues addressing specific themes, an activity zone, and the Wood Industry Summit, the enhanced Ligna is putting forestry technology on centre stage.

The other big highlights at Ligna 2017 include an array of displays themed around Integrated Manufacturing, a Processing of Plastics and Composites presentation that profiles the non-wood uses of today’s woodworking machines, a series of training courses for joiners, cabinetmakers, carpenters, assemblers and installers, and, of course, the Wood Industry Summit. The many highlights of the Wood Industry Summit include innovative solutions for timber harvesting and primary processing, advanced technologies for integrating all the processing steps involved, and a strong showing by international delegations. 

Andreas concludes the preview by saying: “Ligna encourages a progressive approach to the possibilities of new networks. New technological opportunities lead to great gains in efficiency.”