International woodworking and panel production technology suppliers descended on China once more to promote their products and services to the Chinese market at the Woodworking Machinery Fair (WMF) at Shanghai in early September.

WMF, which is co-located with CIFF (China International Furniture Fair), took place in the National Exhibition and Convention Centre (Shanghai Hongqiao) on September 5-8.

WMF organisers include the China Foreign Trade Guangzhou Exhibition Co Ltd, China National Forestry Machinery Association, together with the Qingdao Woodworking Machinery Association and Foshan Shunde Lunjiao Woodworking Machinery Association.

WMF is the only woodworking machinery fair in China supported by EUMABOIS (European Federation of Woodworking machinery Manufacturers) and was inaugurated back in 1986.

The co-operation between CIFF and WMF is designed to tie up both upstream and downstream of the furniture manufacturing chain, launching a new era of qualityoriented and intelligent manufacturing.

Attendance figures available relate to the wider CIFF event and show 93,474 trade visitors, 84,611 of whom came from China and 8,863 from abroad, representing an increase of 10.44% compared to the 2019 edition, already a record-setting year.

For CIFF there were 1,500 exhibitors arranged across 340,000 square metres, while for WMF over 300 exhibitors were spread over 50,000 square metres. Estimated WMF attendance is thought to be in excess of 30,000 as WBPI went to press.

CIFF reported 46 live broadcasts on Chinese social channels followed by some 2.6 million online viewers.

Key sector areas covered by WMF included machine components and automation technology, surface treatment technology, wood-based panel production, wood primary processing, sawmill technology, energy from wood, raw materials & accessories for wood production, plus digital printing technology.

Panels sector exhibitors included Dieffenbacher, Homag, Siempelkamp, Ipco, Andritz, Berndorf Band, GreCon, Esterer, Globus, IMAL, PAL, Sunds Fibertech, SWPM, Steinemann, Yalian, Rembe and Kleiberit.

Dieffenbacher presented itself at the annual WMF and was happy about the continued high interest of the Chinese wood-based panel industry in the advanced solutions of the German machine and plant manufacturer and its Chinese subsidiary Shanghai Wood-based Panel Machinery (SWPM).

Dieffenbacher used the first day of the trade fair to celebrate its 150th anniversary with 300 guests.

In his speech, Dieffenbacher CFO Volker Kitzelmann thanked not only the Chinese partners and customers, but also the many employees in China for their tireless contribution to the company’s great success in China.

Other speakers were Liu Shouhua, general manager of Dieffenbacher Beijing and SWPM General Manager David Ye. The subsequent gala dinner and concert made the celebration an all-round successful event, according to the company.

Ipco presented its press belt solutions available in two steel grades – 1100C and 1650SM. The former is suitable for single opening presses and is available in thicknesses of 1.2 and 1.4mm, while the latter double belt press version can be produced in thicknesses from 2.0 to 3.5mm, and in widths of up to 4,620mm.

As was seen at Ligna in Hannover in May, digitalization and innovation were key topics to drive business in the post-pandemic era.

CIFF Shanghai attracted a very large audience interested in the latest furniture design trends and saw international exhibitors looking to gain business in the Chinese market.

With the theme ‘Leading New Modes of Consumption, Serving New Patterns’, the Fair was divided into eight themed areas and hosted several side events including CIFF Trend Life Aesthetics Exhibition, CIFF Commercial Office Space Exhibition, and CIFF Urban Outdoor Exhibition, thus bringing together the entire furniture industry under one roof over four days.

“Between real and virtual, online and offline, the impact of this 52nd edition of CIFF was truly impressive, especially on the domestic market,” said a statement from the organisers.

“In times like these, when all certainties seem unmoored and almost nothing seems to go as it should, the Chinese domestic market – segmented between the wealth emerging among consumers with truly impressive economic capacity and a growing, increasingly demanding middle class – is proving to be a safe harbour for many companies.”

Some 40 professional forums were held this year, bringing together hundreds of industry experts.

A standout among the events on offer was the 2023 Global Home Furnishing Development Forum – China Home Furnishing Business Design Trend Conference.

The participants included twenty special guests, all main players on the Chinese design scene, who shared reflections on urban renewal, sustainable design, and technological change over three days of activity, touching on lifestyle and cultural integration issues.

This is another reason why CIFF Shanghai has been a popular platform for penetrating the Chinese market: its capability of narrating the market through its trends, complexities (cultural and otherwise) and players.