Although the exhibitors this year, as usual, included many of the major players in the global panel industry, it is still seen as principally a woodworking and furniture show and this is reflected in the relatively small size of the booths taken by most of the panel industry’s machinery suppliers. It seems only logical to start our review with the North American-based exhibitors. Clarke’s International Inc focused on its PyroGuard Spark Detection and Extinguishment Systems and PyroComm Software, which was on display. "In addition to the basic function of detecting and extinguishing sparks, the PyroGuard Console and optional PyroComm software provide for a detailed analysis of the total system operation. It is very easy to use and understand and is an essential tool for troubleshooting and maintenance," said Andy Clarke. Other products generating interest were Clarke’s HiSpeed Abort Gates, ER and CFV Machined Rotary Feeders and the Pneu-Aire Primary and Secondary Filters.
Dryer manufacturer Sweed Panel Systems of Oregon reported a "really good show", with 200 leads by Thursday, the second day. The company also makes all the veneer handling equipment around the dryer. The Sweed scrap recycling system for wood and all types of strapping also saw a lot of interest, said sales manager Cory Graper. West Salem Machinery Co, Oregon was concentrating on its low-speed, high-torque grinders with a six ton per hour capacity, mainly for the furniture industry. It also offers machines up to 100tph for hog fuel, chippers for particleboard plants, and wood pellet production, with sales worldwide. Veneer Systems Inc of Buffalo, NY offers all veneer processing equipment such as splicers, guillotines, saws and presses, as well as glues and tapes: "everything except the wood," said John Van Brussel.
Ole Sorensen of Flamex, North Carolina, manufacturer of spark detection and extinguishing systems, said his company had seen a lot of activity in recent years in the kitchen cabinet industry, flooring plants and the panel industry – particularly OSB plants – linked to the active US housing market. GTS Energy Inc’s Eric Dessecker reported that its Chinese office has been actively selling complete energy generation systems for panel plants into Thailand as well as China, supporting the company’s strong growth in markets outside North America. Western Pneumatics of Oregon supplies dust extraction systems to the panel industry and manager Bruce Livesay said the upcoming MACT emissions regulations should benefit them at least in terms of ducting, as well as possible exhaust treatment systems.
Acrowood Corporation, Washington state, supplies chippers and its Diamond Roll and other screens to the pulp and paper and panel industries and also offers a green strand screening system for OSB mills. Stephen Wagenknight of Kings Mountain International, North Carolina, said it has its new ‘Surface Center’ fully operational and offering stainless steel press plates in all varieties of finish from mirror to mechanically or chemically etched textures for the panel and laminate industries. Coe Newnes/McGehee Inc, better known in this industry under its former names of Coe Machinery and Washington Iron Works, continues to offer a range of machinery and spare parts to the panel industry, mainly in North America.
Up from Brazil was Omeco, which specialises in veneer processing machinery including roller dryers, presses, clippers, composers and lathes. The show was quiet for this company, because IWF does not attract the big plywood producers. As the TAPPI Decorative & Industrial Laminates symposium took place immediately prior to the IWF, there was no shortage of visitors from that sector at the show and Vits of Germany, manufacturer of decor paper impregnation lines, was on hand to meet those ‘bonus’ visitors. Daniel James of Vits also reported a number of contacts with prospects from South America at the show. He said Vits has a number of existing and potential projects in North America, mainly triggered by the increase in laminate flooring demand. "There is a growing market for European investments here as well as North American companies carrying out vertical integration. We have 100% of the North American market," claimed Mr James. Sesa Press Plates was emphasising its ability to offer plates for embossed-in-register (EIR) as well as normal laminate pressing.
Chief executive Marco Santori said that Brian Jones has represented this Italian company in North America since February this year and, from his base in Maine, covers the US, Canada and Mexico. In South America, the company also has a new agent, Dimape, based in Brazil and covering all of South America. Mr Santori said Sesa has completed updating its Italian factory to full digital technology. The company’s EIR products are selling strongly in the laminate flooring market in North America and Mr Santori believes the transition to furniture is close. Another Italian company exhibiting at the show, although in the very different field of wood preparation, was Pal srl of Italy. Sales manager Fabio Chiara reported a strong order book, with particular success for the company’s Quadradyn screening system in the OSB industry and screening and sifting plants in the particleboard sector in North America.
"We are also focusing on recycling in this market with our first line installed at Greentech, Louisiana and a new contract in early August for another major player," said Mr Chiara. Sister company Imal, which now owns a majority of Pal, also exhibited and Mike McNeeley of Imal North America Inc said it had supplied a number of gluing systems for OSB recently but that he saw business also coming from particleboard now. "Our new OSB blending system will revolutionise the industry – it moves away from the inefficiency of the drum blenders with a smaller blender with increased mixing capability," he said. Imal also concentrated on its new bin discharge system for OSB and particleboard, claimed to minimise the creation of fines. Another Italian company, saw maker Giben, showed its new Icon 2 angular saw for the first time, and a new Super Thin Loading Device (STLD) for panels. Italian sander manufacturer Imeas showcased its wide belt sanders for the panel industry.
International resin supplier Dynea opted for a suite above hall A to entertain its customers in comfort, as it did in 2004. Dynea started construction of its resin plant in Sexsmith, Alberta, British Columbia, Canada in May 2005 and has also been upgrading its other plants in Canada. The Sexsmith plant will initially produce over 200,000 tonnes of phenol formaldehyde (PF) and urea formaldehyde (UF) resins in early 2007, with 50,000 tonnes (100% basis) of formaldehyde due in mid-year. President of Siempelkamp LP, Marietta Georgia, Stefan Wissing, said the principal business of IWF for his company was short-cycle pressing rather than raw board production, due to the show’s furniture focus. However, Siempelkamp’s new light weight honeycomb panel line was generating a lot of interest, especially as it relates to light weight furniture production. Mr Wissing also sees a market in North America for the company’s new wood fibre insulation board line.
Upgrades of older OSB lines in North America was also a promising market identified by Mr Wissing, utilising its Canadian workshops in Cambridge, Ontario. Another German company, Maier, reported a lot of interest in its two-stage OSB strand production system, which is soon to receive its American patents. Press plate and belt maker/engraver Hueck Engraving featured a hand-scraped wood design with deep embossing as an idea for laminate flooring and reported registered embossing as an increasingly popular area. GreCon Inc, subsidiary of GreCon of Germany exhibited, among other products, its new generation of spark detection consoles – the rapid-reaction 7000 Series – which has Factory Mutual insurance approval in North America.
Dieffenbacher sees a good opportunity for its vented press platens, particularly in North American OSB mills which wish to upgrade older multi-opening presses. These platens shorten cycle times by venting steam out of the board, reducing de-gassing times. The company has already supplied around seven continuous LVL lines to the US and Pacific Wood Tech’s second line is due to start up soon. Chief executive Wolf-Gert Dieffenbacher said he also sees a good future for OSL (oriented strand lumber) and the company has two existing orders, one for a continuous press and the other for a single-opening line. "We think this market has great potential to grow," said Mr Dieffenbacher. German short-cycle and membrane press maker Wemhöner has had considerable success in the North American market, supplying through Stiles Machinery, which handles both sales and service.
Wemhöner sold its display model Variopin Universal 200 with total automation to a US customer at the show. Hindrichs-Auffermann and its owner Sandvik shared a booth to promote their range of press plates and belts, both smooth and engraved. Manager Robbin Wood reported a good show with more leads than he had expected and a lot of interest in Hindrichs-Auffermann’s textured press plates. He said the ‘latest thing’ was hand-scraped wood finishes for laminate flooring. Metso Panelboard presented its complete lines and refiner systems for particleboard and MDF production. The company is building a doorskin plant for Jeldwen in Louisiana. Bruks Klöckner, headquartered in Sweden but with a base in Alpharetta, Georgia, has found its ‘Tubulator’ enclosed conveyor system with its elimination of conveyor dust to be very popular with the major North American panel manufacturers – its biggest market for this product.
Austrian company Scheuch was exhibiting at IWF for the first time. The company is focusing on cleaning press and dryer emissions and in 2004 opened a sales office in Montreal. In October or November this year, Scheuch will open another facility, in London, Ontario, where it will carry out engineering and work in partnership with a sheet metal fabricator. Although Austrian saw maker Schelling was expecting to talk mainly to furniture industry customers at IWF, panel makers were also firmly within its sights. It started up a new saw line at Flakeboard’s Arkansas MDF factory in January this year and has supplied several large systems to Weyerhaeuser’s panel factories over the years. Sia Abrasives Inc, subsidiary of the Switzerland-based company, has had a warehouse and conversion facility for its abrasive belts in Charlotte, North Carolina for 12 years and claims it has a large share of the North American panel market.
Electronic Wood Systems (EWS), whilst headquartered in Germany, has had a company in the US for many years: EWS Int, run by Steven Mays, who has now been joined by his son Keith. "We have had really good interest from particleboard and MDF mills for moisture content measuring systems, the Conti-Scale weighing/electronic density profiler and other quality control products. We have had visits from companies in Canada, Brazil and Chile as well as the US," said Mr Mays senior. Biele of Spain was promoting press lines for panel surfacing, together with all required handling equipment. "Our major market is laminate flooring and melamine facing, as well as engineered wood solid flooring," said managing director Jésus Telleria. As this is undoubtedly a furniture maker-oriented show, it is not surprising to find that all the major panel manufacturers had their own booths – an advantage to the machinery suppliers to have their customers exhibiting in the same fair.
Decor paper suppliers were also well represented as you would expect. The general impression of the show from the wood based panel machinery/services sector was that visitor numbers were low, but the quality of the visitors from the limited geographical area which IWF serves was good. Most exhibitors felt their attendance had been worthwhile and several took away serious enquiries to follow up.