Wood industry The market of machinery and devices for wood processing and treatment

| Editor: Theresa Knell

Furniture and wooden product manufacturing is one of the sectors of the Polish industry undergoing dynamic growth, with the total 2018 sales at the level of PLN 95 billion and a very high export potential estimated to amount to EUR 11 billion. However, the Polish companies operating in this industry begin to feel employee shortages. Therefore, machinery park modernization with a big emphasis on the automation of production is necessary.

In Poland, there is a wide range of machinery for wood processing and treatment manufactured in Poland and offered by foreign suppliers
In Poland, there is a wide range of machinery for wood processing and treatment manufactured in Poland and offered by foreign suppliers
(Source: Adobe Stock )

The investment expenditure which, in 2018, amounted to approx. PLN 5 billion (out of which 40 % was attributed to furniture manufacturers) may signify that a large group of entrepreneurs decided to modernise their production base and implement IT systems enabling advanced business management.

According to the data from the European Committee of Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers, in 2017, the value of the industry’s EU market amounted to EUR 7.53 billion, out of which as much as 42 % was attributed to Germany and 30 % to Italy. Poland, along with many other EU countries, is regarded as one of the smaller suppliers, with their shares between 5 % (Austria) to below 2 % (amongst other countries, Poland).

Situation on the Polish market

Even though there are over 30 thousand Polish companies manufacturing furniture, semi-products and other wooden products, the order wallet for the machinery and equipment used for that purpose is mainly dependent on the investment decisions made by a small group of entrepreneurs with the highest production potential. In this context, it is important to acknowledge that the great majority of furniture manufactured in Poland (85 % of the value) as well as almost half of the manufacturing of other products made of wood, cork, straw and wicker is destined to very demanding foreign markets. Anyway, the Polish domestic market is not much easier in this regard – Polish people do not change their interior design very frequently as a consequence of which they do not buy much furniture.

Limited automation

The machinery park, which is at the disposal of the companies operating in the wood processing and treatment sector, leaves a lot to be desired. On the scale of the whole Polish industry, only a few percent of entrepreneurs have carried out complex automation of their production cycle. The others have either not taken steps in this regard or have at most decided to purchase one or two specialized machines, frequently not paying much attention to the IT systems reinforcing production management. The issue is that in case of certain technological operations applied to furniture production, human labour shall remain irreplaceable for a long time and the possibilities for robot utilization are limited.

Of particular importance is the fact that in the industries related to wood processing and treatment, innovative production methods such as nesting technology (which constitutes cutting furniture elements and final processing on a single machine) are gradually becoming more common. The application of nesting significantly shortens and facilitates the furniture production process, especially when manufacturing of their individual elements requires many complicated curvilinear cuts and a large number of various types of holes. Multi-function equipment enables precise utilization of the raw material, reduces the amount of waste generated during the process and reduces the consumption of energy.

Machinery on offer

In Poland, there is a wide range of machinery for wood processing and treatment manufactured in Poland and offered by foreign suppliers. Even though machinery suppliers are mainly concerned with fulfilling the demand from larger manufactures seeking advanced processing centres which may be integrated into automated and digitalized production lines, they must also remember about the demand from small carpentry shops and sawmills where manual labour still plays an important role. The market also considers the capabilities of such companies which, due to their small budgets or a small scale of production, prefer second-hand machines to brand new ones. Such purchases may be carried out using various mechanisms of financial engineering, with factory financing and machinery leasing growing in popularity being the leading ones.

Strategic industry

In the government’s ‘Strategy for Responsible Development’, the wood processing and treatment sector was identified as one of the most important industrial specializations. The related flagship programme ‘Polish Furniture’ assumes the creation of a system reinforcing the competitive position of Polish furniture brands aiming at Poland ranking 1st in Europe in terms of furniture export value by 2020 and becoming the leading European furniture manufacturer by 2030. To make this a reality, companies carrying out wood processing and treatment must have access to the most modern technology and technological innovations for Industry 4.0. Of course, much of it depends on the future demand in these sectors, especially on the European markets.

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