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Sales at record levels – Digitalization a key driver of growth


German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association

Germany’s woodworking machinery manufacturers had a record year in 2016, topping the all-time high of 2007. Provisional figures indicate that the industry surged past the forecast 5 percent mark to achieve double-digit sales growth. They also point to further, moderate, growth for 2017. “That puts our industry on track for record sales of around 3.4 billion euros, meaning it is set to significantly outperform Germany’s mechanical engineering industry as a whole,” Wolfgang Pöschl, CEO of WEINIG AG and Chairman of the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, told the international media at the LIGNA Preview in Hannover.


Digitalization moving ahead at pace

“One of the key drivers of this growth is digitalization, which is experiencing rapid uptake across all sectors,” Pöschl added. In woodworking, the resulting increase in integration across all production steps is enabling firms of all sizes to meet market demand for maximum flexibility and individualization in terms both of product dimensions and design. This digital integration of functions encompasses all areas within and across company boundaries. Even small stand-alone machines can now be digitally integrated into the production flow, and large industrial plants are able to “learn” and continually self-optimize so as to reduce the consumption of wood and other resources.


No less importantly, machine tools are able to collect and share information with their machines right from the word go (Plug and Play). Servicing is also improving, with sensor-powered predictive maintenance increasing machine uptime. The ever-growing pools of data resulting from all of these digitalized processes (Big Data) are assets that can be used to optimize a whole range of parameters.


Moreover, these digitalization-powered innovations are not the exclusive preserve of highly industrialized nations. They are also being used in emerging markets, where they are facilitating modernization. The exhibitors at LIGNA 2017 will be showcasing these developments on an unprecedented scale.


Outlook: LIGNA 2017 as a business barometer

In conclusion, the German woodworking machinery industry can look forward to a very favorable overall situation for the current year. In anticipation of rising sales to take shape at LIGNA, many companies are concentrating their tradeshow spending on the sector’s flagship fair. As a result, the show’s organizers are experiencing the first significant increase in leased exhibition space for several years. The upcoming LIGNA will thus offer visitors a wider scope, making it more important than ever before as a window on the future of woodworking and wood processing.