and talking to other machines is at
Another development is the
the heart of Industry 4.0 . The fully
automated and integrated produc-
tion process – from customer order
and scheduling, through machin-
ing and into delivery – works with
little to no operator interface. We
are still in the first stages of this
revolutionary development, which
was introduced to woodworking
just a few years ago.
next generation of edgebanders,
which eliminate glue pots and pro-
vide a practically invisible glue line.
In its early formats, this was very
expensive and out of reach to the
average production shop. This is
no longer the case, with a number
of affordable, smaller machines
providing these advantages.
Other recent innovations include
the ability of panel saws to make
bevel cuts on composite panels.
And what about new materials?
Here again we see opportunities.
Designers are clamoring for cost-effective, sustainable, replacements
for traditional heavy materials and
it’s obvious there are lightweight alternatives entering the marketplace.
Overall, the trend in technology is to bring solutions to every
size shop, with suppliers continuing
to create cost-effective materials,
hardware, software and equipment.
Looking back toward the future
can be helpful when we embrace
our past, but let’s also celebrate the
many opportunities before us.
My hope is that within the next
few years, many of the mainstays
will be eclipsed by the introduction
of new materials, hardware and
processes that aren’t on our radar
today. Will you be ready? ❮
Source: Longtime industry veteran Stephan
Waltman is the former vice president of Communications for Stiles Machinery. Recently retired,
he is a volunteer at the Grand Rapids Veterans
Home woodworking program and is active
with the Wounded Warriors Project. He can be
reached at swaltman0026@ gmail.com.