The Xylexpo biennial exhibition, which began life as Interbimall, held its 24th edition in May this year.

According to organiser Acimall (The Italian machinery manufacturers’ association), registrations by professional visitors were 15,250, up by 7.1% compared to 2012; attendance from Italy increased by 4.6%; and from abroad by 8.5%.

Continental Europe, showed a 12.7% increase in professional visitors, while visitors from Africa increased by 16% and from the Americas by 1.8%, said Acimall. Visitors from Asia decreased by 1.5%.

In terms of total attendance – indicating the total amount of people entering the expo centre each day – the five-day result was 44,000, 42% of whom came from outside Italy, according to the association.

The return of Biesse and Cefla as exhibitors – after they attended a rival show in Rimini instead of the last two Xylexpo shows – made a big difference, as both Italian companies occupied very significant exhibition spaces.

Exhibitors supplying machinery and services to the panel industry were not numerous, but those who did exhibit expressed satisfaction with the show and the people they had met.

The Imal-Pal Group had a large stand in Hall 2, where it presented its competence as a supplier of complete lines, including a continuous press if required.

The company presented its new generation Cleaning Tower with an optical system, for which it is currently negotiating a lot of contracts, said Antonio dal Ben and Marco Zanasi. They said they were at the point of closing a contract for the biggest such cleaning system in the world, with a capacity of 60bdtph.

The company has also signed a contract with Berneck of Brazil in Curitibanos for a 2,400m3 a day plant, supplying all equipment from the logyard to forming.

For Vietnam, Imal-Pal has an order for a 150,000m3 a year line, including continuous press; and another similar line for Africa. Globus is part of the group, with a solid track record in supplying wood size reduction machinery to many of the biggest panel manufacturers.

Instalmec, Italian supplier of wood cleaning equipment, promoted its highefficiency MDF fibre cleaner and its new particleboard cleaner for dry material with a special separator to split the material into four fractions.

Another Italian supplier, EMG, promoted its automatic handling and cutting systems, including its high-speed sanding line feeding equipment.

Pagnoni Impianti is a company with a very long history and featured its in-register embossing in short-cycle pressing using cameras to read markers on the decor paper and transmit information to the lay-up station and press. This brand new innovation was installed at a customer in Italy and started production in June. The company also offers a variety of presses, including a 30m single-daylight press for MDF in Belarus.

Italian impregnation line maker Tocchio celebrated 40 years in business with a healthy order book.

Trasmec of Casalbuttano offers a range of conveying solutions, including belt, chain, screw and moving floor systems, among others, and has manufacturing facilities in Romania and in China.

Cremona is another long-established Italian company and makes complete production lines for plywood and veneer. It has recently supplied a large complete LVL preparation line up to the dryer, in China; and its first dryer to the US, which is a six-deck, 44m-long machine with fully automated operation.

Pessa, of Concordia Sagittaria, near Venice, supplies chippers and has had recent successes in Russia, Japan and Turkey.

Of course, a number of the 440 exhibitors at Xylexpo came from outside Italy.

These included Biele of northern Spain. This company offers a very wide range of equipment in the area of conveying and pressing (through subsidiary Marzola).

At the show, chief executive Jésus Telleria said the company was concentrating on lines for door manufacturing and on packaging lines for furniture.

Biele is also doing a lot of business in laying-up and pressing lines for lightweight and honeycomb board as turnkey lines.

"We can make anything – all our lines are custom built to the client’s requirements," said Mr Telleria. "North America is one market that is busy for us at present, with furniture lines, door lines, fibre cement lines. Our order books are looking very good in general."

From Germany came complete line supplier Siempelkamp, together with its Italian subsidiary CMC Texpan, which came into the full ownership of Siempelkamp last year.

"We have had seven complete [panel production] lines ordered this year already," said managing director Jürgen Philipps, who took on the role a year ago from Heinz Classen, who is now semi-retired. "These were in Brazil for particleboard, China for MDF, Bangladesh for particleboard and in Iran. The Bangladesh order came as a direct result of a visit to our stand at Ligna in May 2013.

"We also have good prospects for orders from Russia. Since the last quarter of 2013, things are very much improved in terms of orders."

Mr Philipps said that Europe in general had been very good for the company, with six orders in the last three years.

"For instance we supplied two high-speed MDF lines to Frati of Italy, an MDF line to Homanit in Poland, the Falco particleboard line, which officially opened in Hungary in early May; and, we have just received the down payment for one of the most modern and biggest lines in Europe, for Rauch, a major furniture manufacturer.

"The Rauch line will be of 400,000m3 on a ContiRoll Generation 8 press."

Mr Philipps suggested that, if panel makers in western Europe want to survive, they must invest in the latest technologies.

In other panel markets, Siempelkamp has supplied an insulation board line to Pavatex of France and an LVL line to Pollmeier of Germany, which is using beech for the first time.

Mr Classen reported that he had had meetings at Xylexpo with about 10 important customers, all talking about new lines.

Anthon of Germany presented its angular panel sawing systems, such as one delivered to Kronospan, which has five rip-and five cross-cut units.

Vits Technology of Germany was presenting its decor paper impregnation lines and offered in-register embossing "without waste". "We control the tension in the web so that its expansion and contraction is kept under tight control, producing 95% less waste," said Davide Montuschi, technical consultant with Vits. "We have also recently launched a scattering device to enable the use of different sizes of corundum [in laminate flooring surfaces] to produce a better product."

"Business is good and we have plenty of orders," said owner Werner Deuring.

Again from Germany, Holzma was presenting its cut-to-size angular panel saws for the primary panel industry, as well as sawing systems for furniture companies.

GreCon was concentrating on its spark detection and extinguishing systems as well as its measuring technology. "It was worth coming [to Xylexpo] for us," said Ralf Steiner. "It is much better than two years ago with customers from several regions."

That thought reflects the response of many exhibitors to Xylexpo 2014’s offering: more qualified contacts and more business prospects than two years ago. It is now up to the organisers to grab that life line and build up to a better event for 2016 after two lack-lustre exhibitions in 2010 and 2012.