Industry 4.0  is a name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies which motivates enterprise in the woodworking industry to move forward. INNERGY, the company who specialized in sustainable installations with generating energy from biomass, shares their view on Industry 4.0 with us. 

In the current market, the phrase Advanced Industry or Industry 4.0 can be heard everywhere. Manufacturers of machinery, components, integrators, consultants, continue adding this phrase to all their catalogues, websites and presentations.

But the question is what it is really. Where did this concept come from? How does it become tangible? And perhaps most importantly, how does it become an opportunity and a competitive advantage?

The term Industry 4.0 was coined by the German government to describe the intelligent factory, a vision of computerized manufacturing with all processes interconnected by Internet of Things (IOT). It is what we know as the Industrial Internet of Things, I2OT.

Why 4.0? The 4 refers to the fourth industrial revolution and it is expected to come with the interconnection of all elements.

In the end, Industry 4.0, advanced industry and digital factory are all completely the same.

Value creation in the industry is increasingly focused on pre-production (design and R & D) and post-production (sales and marketing). It is for all this that we must be able to generate and manage the necessary information that allows us to create that value. There is a worldwide trend towards total customization of products, which forces us to be flexible and agile, both in decision making and manufacturing execution.

The advanced industry must allow the company to be able to change the business model to make 1000 units of one thing, or to make 1 unit of a thousand things.

Therefore, we must ask the question: How is this done?

Usually the company can group 6 technologies that bring them closer to that future:

1.Internet of Things

2.Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing

3.Big Data

4.Artificial Intelligence

5.Collaborative Robotics

6.Virtual or Augmented Reality

It is almost an obligation to understand them and apply them with criteria and incorporate them into our day to day. We must have a clear vision and a plan of action.

IOT: (Internet of Things) The company can provide connectivity to the control panels, boilers and elements installed in plant, in order to gather as much information as possible, and that, remotely or locally, together with the analysis software, which allows them to interact, improve efficiency, plan better, and ultimately provide flexibility in the processes of our customers.

Big Data: The servers and services allow workers to process large amounts of data. The company can be specialized in integrations with ERP's and ultimately in data storage both in the cloud as well as locally and its subsequent exploitation.

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Dieffenbacher's first greenfield project on African soil provides an outstanding example of the extremely versatile applications of the CPS+: The Algerian family-owned company Panneauxd‘Algériehas commissioned Dieffenbacher SWPM to deliver a complete system for producing MDF panels at its site in El Tarf in the far northeast of the country.

The plant concept is designed specifically for smaller capacities. Here, the CPS+ proves that it can also be the ideal entry-level system for newcomers to the wood-based panel market and an economic alternative for easily replacing older single- or multi-opening presses in existing small-capacity plants.

Panneauxd‘Algérie is just such a newcomer. Although the parent company BIGSTAR has been active in the wood-based panel trade for many years, it has never produced its own materials. That is now set to change. “There is a rising demand for MDF boards in Algeria, and imports from other countries are becoming increasingly costly. We have been considering producing our own materials for a long time for this reason, and Dieffenbacher SWPM has given us the perfect concept to do so," explained Guelai Mohamed Chiheb, BIGSTAR CEO. BIGSTAR President Guelai Belkacimar added: "We've remained in contact since we first started thinking about having our own production line four years ago. We feel as if we've always received excellent advice. We've twice been able to visit the Dieffenbacher headquarters in Eppingen and get a first-hand experience of the outstanding work done there. We have great confidence in Dieffenbacher and Dieffenbacher SWPM, and we’re very pleased to have a working relationship with this long-standing family business."

The 6 ft wide, 14.5 m long CPS+ for BIGSTAR will be supplied from Eppingen. Dieffenbacher SWPM is responsible for the remainder of the scope of supply and for project management. The complete order includes the entire material preparation process, the refiner, the dryer, the forming station and the forming line. The complete raw board handling, including the diagonal saw, the star cooler and billet stacking right through to the short-cycle laminating line, is also part of the delivery scope.

The plant is designed to offer a production capacity of 250 m³ per day. Assembly will begin in the second quarter of 2018. The first board will be produced in Decemberof the same year.

 

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Another issue touched on in the FEP report is the challenge for real wood flooring from laminates and nonwood substitutes. The sheer scale of this challenge was made clear from data published in May 2017 for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Federation for European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF).

Laminate flooring composed of HDF with a high resolution printed image and embossed to provide texture has been substituting for hardwood flooring now for well over a decade.

However, the surface finishes continue to improve and have become so convincing that, as the FEP comments; “it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to differentiate parquet from competitive flooring alternatives with a wood look surface.”

In contrast to the generally static market for real wood flooring, EPLF members reported a 5.5% increase in sales in 2017. Sales by European laminate manufacturers, at 477 million sq.m last year, now dwarf those of the real wood flooring sector.

While EPLF members sales in Western Europe increased by only 0.5% in 2016, to 223 million m2, they increased 14% to 126 million m2 in Eastern Europe, with strong growth in Poland (+11%), Russia (+17%), Ukraine (+20%) and Romania (+27%),reports from ITTO.

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Yokohama, Japan: According to ITTO, the latest financial report of Accsys Technologies plc suggests that acetylated wood, often cited as a competitor to tropical wood in high exposure applications, is making slow headway in the European market. The Dutch-based modified wood producer recorded an 18 percent sales volume increase in the year ended March 31, 2017, but also a loss before tax of €4.4m (2016: €0.5m loss).

The 18 percent sales growth of Accoya acetylated wood saw volumes increased to 39,790 m3 in the year, with a 31 percent rise in the second half of the period. Sales by Medite of Tricoya panels have increased by 32 percent to 5,806 m3 last year.

Given the level of ambition for the accoya and tricoya products, these volumes are still quite restricted. Accsys claims that the potential market for Accoya and Tricoya exceeds 2.6 million m3 annually – a very large figure which implies the company has ambitions to capture a large share of the existing European market for timber in external applications and to expand into other regions.

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Yokohama, Japan: According to ITTO, after making gains last year, EU imports of tropical veneer have continued to rise in 2017, hitting 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) in the first quarter, a 15 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. As in 2016, most gains were in imports from Gabon, which increased 28 percent to 21,700 MT in the first quarter of 2017.

EU veneer imports also increased from several smaller supplying countries including Congo (+18 percent to 2,900 MT), DRC (+187 percent to 1,400 MT) and Equatorial Guinea (+45 percent to 1,400 MT). However, imports declined from Côted'Ivoire (-19 percent to 6,600 MT), Cameroon (-1 percent to 3,000 MT), and Ghana (-12 percent to 1,500 MT).

EU imports of veneer from Gabon consist mainly of rotary okoumé veneer destined for plywood manufacturers in France. The EU market for decorative tropical hardwood veneers is benefitting to some extent from the slow recovery in EU furniture and joinery manufacturing activity.

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Biesse has a strong presence at the 2017 edition of the Ligna trade show in Hanover from May 22-26 with a stand covering more than 5000 square meters.     

It has attracted numerous visitors, customer delegations and journalists from all over the world at the event to let them participate in a virtual tour of the manufacturing facility and experience Biesse’s outstanding technological innovation. During the 5-day exhibition, the company has generated 45 million euros worth of incoming orders and the figures hit a record high.

“The layout of our stand was entirely based on the 4.0 concept" started Federico Broccoli, Division Director Wood/Sales & Branch Division Director. The concept of industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and it's also the new industry frontier, based on advanced digital technologies and machines which speak to companies. Biesse devotes itself to transforming customers' working place into digital and real-time factories which can enable every customer benefit from the digital manufacturing opportunities. As Luca Amadei, the regional sales manager systems from Biesse mentioned:“We decided to make the best technology going with the concept of industry 4.0, and we are also trying to make the automatic factory affordable and simple, not luxury. We believe Biesse is the company for everybody, and every customer can get the solution from us.”

At the presence of the show, there are more than 40 fully-functioning technologies have been displayed for all sizes of companies that engaged in wood and other materials field. More than 300 experts at the Biesse stand who aims to help customers generate value from machines, get solutions to obtain high quality and customized products and discover the methods to develop a product which is both liked and appreciated through combining technology with humanistic wisdom.

This event has strengthened customers’ trust placed in the professionalism and reliability that the Biesse brand represents.  A great number of visitors from all sizes of manufacturing companies acquired the technologies contents on changing the ways to design and produce objects by using easier solutions which helps them improve productivity at lower costs effectively. 

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The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) 22nd Southeast Asia and Greater China Convention was successfully held at The Westin Qingdao Hotel from June 22-23 in China. Over 400 delegates and more than 40 AHEC hardwood exporting members companies attended the convention, including several world renowned designers. This year’s theme, “Toward a Sustainable Low Carbon Future: New Technologies and Applications for American Hardwoods”, was aimed at promoting American hardwood for Asia’s architectural, design and manufacturing industries.

Invited speakers included Mr. William G. Verzani, Deputy Director of Guangzhou Agricultural Trade Office, Mr. Dave Bramlage, Chairman, American Hardwood Export Council, Mr. John Chan, Regional Director, American Hardwood Export Council Southeast Asia & Greater China, Ms. Lorna Christie, Executive Director of National Hardwood Lumber Association, Mr. Sun Jie, Chairman of Shandong Furniture Association & President of Yantai Jisi Group, Mr. Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector, National Hardwood Lumber Association, Mr. Aaron Leri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Corporation Ltd, and Mr. Silas Chiow, Director of SOM China. The speakers shared insights on the latest business opportunities, global trends and signs of sustainable growth for American hardwood. 

In 2016, exports of American hardwood to Greater China and Southeast Asia totaled US$1.6B and US$290M respectively. Compared to the first quarter of 2016, exports has increased by 25.7 percent to US$571 million among Southeast Asia & Greater China in the first quarter of 2017. This number represents 60 percent of all American hardwood exported globally. Increased market demand benefited from China’s desire for hardwood furniture and the global appreciation of Chinese and Southeast Asian manufacturing.

Michael Snow, Executive Director of the American Hardwood Export Council, introduced the current situation of global exports for American hardwood. Based on data from 2014 to 2016, the US ranked first as largest exporting country of temperate forest hardwood with the amount of exports double that of the second ranking country, Thailand. In recent years, the five most important exporting destinations for AHEC have been Greater China, the European Union (EU), Canada, Vietnam and Mexico.

With the Chinese government’s commitment to environmental management and a push for low carbon lifestyles, the future is bright for American hardwood in the Chinese market. According to the American Hardwood Environmental Profile System published by AHEC, American hardwood is superior for its carbon storage. This year, Mr. Snow emphasized how to scientifically manage and broadly apply American hardwood in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. For 17 years, Michael Snow has been a leader and partner of AHEC, while witnessing the dramatic growth of American hardwood imports between China and the US.  

According to data from the China Furniture Association, companies with annual output of more than RMB20 million reported domestic sales of furniture products increased from 74.3 percent in 2011 to 78.94 percent (YoY) in 2016. 

China’s economy is still in an upward phase and should maintain a growth rate of around or slightly above 6.5 percent in 2017. The new ban on logging of temperate forests in three northeastern provinces of China this year will push up demand for American hardwood, compensating for a weaker Chinese renminbi currency, a disadvantage for imports. The growth in domestic consumption of furniture is playing an important role in strengthening China’s number one position in furniture production in the world, compensating for weaker export markets in the years to come. 

The northeast province of Shandong is currently one of the top three import provinces for furniture. Shandong is also the biggest furniture manufacturing province in China. This convention is supported by Shandong Furniture Association, Shandong Decoration Industry Association, Qingdao Timber Trade Association, Qingdao Furniture Association, Shanghai Timber, Trade Association and China Institute of Interior Designers.

Mr. John Chan, Regional Director, American Hardwood Export Council Southeast Asia & Greater China said, “Improving the design and application of American hardwood in furniture manufacturing and interior design is our mission. American red and white oak has been popular both in Southeast Asia and Greater China. Those two types of oak wood are also the most common tree species in the US, and at the same time, preferred by many designers for construction and design.”

Smart collaboration of American hardwood with furniture manufacturing and design in Asia is the continued mission for AHEC. Silas Chiow, AIA, Director of SOM China and Aaron Leri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Corporation Ltd were also present at the event to share their expertise of building world renowned buildings and award winning interior design work.

AHEC also hosted a mini trade fair, offering a platform for over 40 AHEC members to exhibit and connect with local businesses, dealers and manufacturers. 

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According to ttjonline.com, panel producer Norbord’s European operations has reported continuing strong demand in Q1, with double-digit demand growth in both the UK and Germany.

The company said OSB was continuing to gain market share from plywood.

Its European operations delivered adjusted earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of US$6m (Q1 2016: US$10m).

Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s president and CEO, said in Europe the company continued to face a post-Brexit translation headwind from the weaker Pound Sterling, and Q1 included the additional impact of higher resin prices that exceeded the panel price increases it had recorded to-date.

He said in local currency terms, OSB prices in the UK were 5 percent higher than the same quarter last year and have firmed by about 10 percent since their post-Brexit lows. On the continent, OSB prices were 3 percent lower than the same quarter last year but flat versus the prior quarter.

UK MDF and particleboard prices were up 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively versus both comparative periods.

"Our project to modernize and expand the Inverness, Scotland OSB mill to serve this rapidly growing customer demand remains on budget and on track to start up in the second half of this year,” said Mr Wijnbergen.

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The Forestry Commission is targeting the local processing of Rosewood for value addition and export purposes, reports from STARRFM online.

The Commission says this new agenda is aimed at efficient regulation of the exploitation of Rosewood in accordance with agreements with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

It would also help in reducing the illegal harvesting and export of the wood. Addressing a press conference at the Corporate Offices of the Forestry Commission, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, John Allotey said the Commission will issue licenses to some local factories that have been identified to have the capacity to process rosewood.

“The Forestry Commission will regulate the exploitation of rosewood in accordance with agreement with CITES. Henceforth the commission will be tasked to ensure domestic processing of rosewood logs for value addition prior to export to overseas market”, he stated.

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U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced over $8.3 million to substantially expand and accelerate wood products and wood energy markets. Federal funds will leverage almost $37 million in matching funds from 36 business, university, nonprofit, and tribal partners in 19 states for a total investment of over $45 million. The public-private partnerships leveraged with these grants will lead to the removal of hazardous fuels from forests while spurring the economic development of rural communities, according to Biomass Magazine.

The awarded funds will stimulate the removal of hazardous fuels from national forests and other forest lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and promote forest health.

“The Wood Innovations Grant Program helps create jobs in rural communities and keeps our forests healthy,” Tidwell said. “By investing in strong markets for forest products, we can incentivize sustainable forest management and sustain our rural communities".

This year the Forest Service received 114 proposals, highlighting the expanding interest in using wood as an innovative building material and renewable energy source. Since 2005 more than 230 grants have been awarded to small businesses, nonprofits, tribes, states, and local governments to improve forest health while creating jobs, renewable energy, and healthy communities.

Of the 38 projects funded, 26 focus upon expanding wood products markets, and 12 increase wood energy markets. Projects address a wide range of issues that include increasing capacity at mass timber manufacturing facilities, testing the resiliency of cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures against explosives, establishing biomass district energy systems, and examining the use of biochar in restoring water quality.

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