Surge in technologies for timber prefabrication
March 5, 2018
Business is rapidly growing in Australia for Germany’s Hundegger, the innovative timber engineering equipment manufacturer that turns 40 this year and will be on display at ‘Timber Offsite Construction’ in June.
“The outlook is bright with a surge in uptake of our new technologies on offer, including the emerging new world of robotics. “For us, that’s at the forefront of our cutting technology, utilising robotics within a more traditional machine” said Hundegger Australasia Managing Director, Charlie Hutchings.
“We utilise our robotic unit to process very complex six-axis connections that were otherwise not possible in earlier machines,” said Mr Hutchings, adding: “Strongbuild in Sydney is amongst the customers we have using one of our robot-based machines to process CLT amongst other products such as Glulam.”
“Looking at robotics in a broader sense, it is certainly an area we soon expect to see more uptake in for both materials-handling and even assembly applications,” he said.
“Customers are looking to do things smarter and faster, and keen to pick up efficiencies in their business processes.”
Mr Hutchings said Hundegger Australasia’s core clientele to date had been timber frame and truss. “But we are now seeing the uptake of larger and more complex machines into Glulam and engineered wood markets, as well as a rapid expansion into CLT processing, which is very much our field of expertise,” he said.
“CLT is on a growth path and we will certainly see more movement in the next few years. To have XLam manufacturing CLT locally is an excellent sign and should give others confidence to follow suit. Worldwide it is estimated CLT output will more than double capacity by 2020.”
Aside from new processing equipment, a big shift for Hundegger now is the move into being a solution-based business. “We are no longer just supplying cutting equipment, we are now providing full materials handling with sophisticated software control for entire production lines,” Mr Hutchings said. “This is certainly an exciting shift for us to be making and a logical one given the space we occupy in the market.”
Mr Hutchings said Hundegger was also excited to see what innovative use of the local hardwood resource takes place, with rumours of hardwood-based CLT. “There is no reason why hardwood can’t be used with our equipment. We are certainly over-engineered for the application it currently serves, being predominantly softwood,” he said.
“Hardwood really just means it’s a matter of selecting the right tooling and adjusting the feed and spindle speeds to process the product effectively.”
An upcoming boon for customers will be Hundegger’s plan to install a demonstration machine at its Rowville headquarters in Melbourne’s east, along with an in-house training facility.
“We see the need for more formalised training in our industry and have the ability to offer that to our customers without interrupting their production - somewhere they can send their people,” Mr Hutchings said.
“We endeavour to be at the forefront of our market and want to offer our customers a unique array of benefits - and training is certainly front and centre.”