World-leading international wood industry exhibition Ligna is on course for a bigger event when the doors open to the 2017 show in Hannover on May 22.

The show (which runs until May 26), is the undisputed leading global exhibition for technology serving the timber, wood based panel and forestry industries, with over 93,000 visitors expected this year.

The show's leading position also compares favourably with other major exhibitions operating in different industries, according to co-organiser Deutsche Messe. “None of the other major trade shows are as big in their sectors as Ligna is in its sector,” it said.

The organisers are clearly feeling extraconfident across many fronts this year.

With exhibitor numbers and visitor pre-registrations both at high levels, and the market for woodworking technology experiencing growth, it's easy to understand why.

Wolfgang Pöschl, chairman of the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, was in bullish mood at the Ligna preview meeting attended by trade journalists from across the globe (including WBPI). “For the first time in many years the display area at Ligna is growing,” he said.

“This is an important indicator and shows that Ligna is the leading global trade show for the industry.” Dr Andreas Gruchow, board member of Deutsche Messe, predicted over 122,000m2 of net display space, with 1,500 exhibitors from 45 nations displaying their technology in 10 halls, plus an extensive open air site. The full range of sectors covers tools and machinery for custom and mass production, surface technology innovations, wood based panel production solutions, sawmill technology, wood energy technology, machine components, automation and forestry.


Mr Gruchow also revealed that Ligna would look “completely different” this year. The revamped layout includes a new 'Tools and Machinery for Custom and Mass Production' display in halls 11 to 15 and hall 27. The layout will recognise that lines have been blurred between traditional smaller companies and large manufacturers, as many of the smaller companies now possess automated machines with customisation possibilities.

The display encompasses machinery for processing solid wood, plant and machinery for industrial-scale furniture production, and machines and hand-tools for crafting custom products from both solid wood and panel products. It will present a comprehensive range of solutions for companies of all sizes at one convenient location and in a way that is “supremely quick and easy for visitors to navigate”, according to the organisers. “The new layout of themes reflects the fact that, in modern woodworking, the type of technology used is more about what’s needed to get the job done than about the size or scale of the user’s operation. So, large and small companies will be positioned closer to each other than in the past, with side-by-side location of related areas,” said Mr Gruchow. Deutsche Messe’s director of Ligna,

Christian Pfeiffer, said visitors shouldn’t have to walk so far, and the themed clusters will be more compact and more logically laid out. “The key benefit for customers is that they'll be able to find what they are looking for more quickly,” he said.

Under the new layout, Surface Treatment Technology now stars as a fully-fledged category for the first time, with a dedicated display housed in Hall 17. A large number of major international players will be new Ligna exhibitors in this sector, while several regular surface treatment exhibitors have opted for larger displays.

This area is close to – and thematically related to – the hub for Wood Based Panel Production in Hall 26, which is fully booked. Here the giants of panel production technology – Siempelkamp and Dieffenbacher – will be exhibiting.

Also located in Hall 26 is Energy from Wood, right next to Sawmill Technology in Hall 25. Nearby will be Hall 16, housing a completely new display category entitled Machine Components and Automation Technology, covering electric automation, power transmission and control, data exchange and automation software.

This area reflects the rapidly rising importance of integrated manufacturing and automation, where technologies promise greater efficiency, improved accuracy and shorter production cycles. It will be the hub of Industry 4.0 where machines are increasingly being networked and robots are used.

The central over-arching focus of Ligna 2017 is on intelligent concepts for integrated manufacturing across multiple links in the wood processing chain.

“This year, the exhibitors are presenting a wide array of innovations for intelligent, networked manufacturing systems, not to mention new ideas and strategies for the many value-creation networks at play in the wood processing and woodworking industries,” said Mr Gruchow.


Hall 26 will also play host to the second edition of the Wood Industry Summit, an international platform for forestry and energy technology. The Summit made a very successful debut in 2015, with international customers achieving an investment volume of some €30m.

As an international meeting place for the primary industry cluster, the Wood Industry Summit features innovative solutions for harvesting and processing and for integrating the various stages of processing.

The Summit is divided into three areas: an exhibition, a forum and a matchmaking hub. Every day it will highlight a topic of current international interest in the industry, with experts from Germany, Austria, Canada, Russia, Sweden and Spain giving presentations and fielding questions from the audience.

The main themes include Forestry 4.0: Vision or Future; Development and Infrastructure to Ensure Sustainable Forestry; and Fleet Management to Optimise the Logistics Chain from the Forest to the Factory.

“Exhibitors at the Summit can expect to meet delegations of from business, science and politics, with top-level matchmaking services available,” said Deutsche Messe. “Both exhibitors and trade visitors can take advantage of the forum, which brings together international participants to generate new business leads in fast-growing markets for their international projects.”

Forum participation is free of charge for visitors and delegations and advance registration is not required.


Of course, Germany is a powerhouse in terms of the global woodworking machinery sector, accounting for a 29% share of worldwide production, followed by Italy (17%), China (17%) and the US (6%).

The provisional value of the industry’s production in 2016 was a record €3.2bn, a 14% growth on the previous year,” according to Mr Pöschl. This figure surpasses the high seen prior to the 2007 financial crisis.

The prediction for 2017 is that Germany’s production value will grow by a further 5-6% to about €3.4bn.

The value of its exports for the first three quarters of 2016 increased to €1.45bn, up 2.4% year-on-year.

A shift in sales from eastern to western Europe was noted, with the weakness in the Russian market a factor. By contrast, North America performed well, with the total value growing by 11%. Oceania and Asian exports were up 42% and 18%, respectively. Thailand recorded the biggest individual increase with a 318% growth to €53m for the first three quarters of 2016, followed by Austria (+40% to €77m).

The UK was Germany’s 8th largest export market with a value of €68m (+8%).

“I do not see any geo-political issues in the short-term and this is a good prerequisite for Ligna,” said Mr Pöschl.

He said western Europe was investing heavily and southern Europe had been bolstered by tax incentives and cheap loans. Russia’s primary processing market has good opportunities but secondary processing remains weak.

Mr Pöschl said upside potential remains in the NAFTA region, while South America is in consolidation phase and expected to return to growth in 2018. The ASEAN region remains strong, while India is “building up steam” and Iran is looking hopeful.

He described the particleboard market as “on the up” in China.

All in all, the signs are good for business at Ligna.