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In conversation with LIGNA's Stephanie Wagner

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Photo: Deutsche Messe
Stephanie Wagner, Head of LIGNA Trade Fair & Product Management.

What’s new at LIGNA 2023 - Could you talk about the three focus topics of LIGNA?
As a part of the industry and its community we are in constant communication with all the market players and well before our actual LIGNA event discuss relevant topics moving them and the industry as a whole. We are looking at long-term developments as well as at trends. Some of them are directed and of interest for a smaller group, some relevant for a broad audience as for instance our “Woodworking Transformation” theme. The topic of digitization is shaping the development of the industry – regardless of company size – and is crucial for production to be as resource-efficient as it is flexible. Production, HR, data management, logistics – are all aspects affected by digitization and they need to be dealt with in order for companies to stay competitive long term.  Our exhibitors will showcase how far the networking of machines, tools, components and materials has already progressed. What may still be abstract for some will become tangible and backed with concrete and specific solutions.  
Looking at our slogan “Making more out of Wood”, we simply cannot disregard the most important renewable material. In an economy based on renewable resources, wood constitutes the foundation. “Green Material Processing”, the wood-based bio-economy, is therefore considered an innovative technology driver. Looking at the ever-increasing importance of sustainability, expanding the resource-efficient use of wood is part of the European Green Deal and an important pillar of a circular bio economy. As such, LIGNA will showcase the latest developments in the wood-based bio-economy as well as technological innovations for the responsible use of natural resources.
And as I mentioned before: Given the sustainability aspects of wood as a natural resource, wood is also steadily gaining importance as a recyclable building material in the construction industry. The share of total construction volume made up of timber buildings and timber-mixed structures continues to grow both nationally and internationally and as such is very relevant for the LIGNA audience.
LIGNA 23 also addresses the focus topic of “Prefab Building Processes” because the increased importance of timber construction results in new requirements for technology and equipment presented at LIGNA. We just learned during our LIGNA.Preview event that the key to an efficient production is a necessary technology boost – in prefabrication as well as on the construction site. Our LIGNA exhibitors present suitable solutions and approaches that will determine the future of timber construction.

What makes LIGNA such an important show for the industry?
That’s probably a question better asked of our exhibitors who are putting their trust in LIGNA as the platform of choice and our visitors, who are investing time, money and effort to attend LIGNA and have chosen it as the event that best enables them to stay on top of the industry. However, we obviously believe that there is no other show that gives you a better chance to see and experience the kind of comprehensive industry overview LIGNA can offer. What makes LIGNA truly unique and special is the combination of wide representation from the primary and secondary sector, as well as the fact that you have access to exhibitors from across the globe showcasing the entire value chain and a huge selection of machinery live in action.
At LIGNA, machines are running, products are shown live, and exhibitors are demonstrating their latest and greatest right here on the show floor. Moreover, I think nowhere else could you have access to a more diverse selection of companies representing the entire industry all in one place.
LIGNA is not “just” a trade fair to connect exhibitor and visitor, it connects the staff of global players from different subsidiaries, it connects suppliers, agents, distributors, it connects countries, forms new partnerships, it serves as an innovation show, a training center, and sometimes we even get the feeling of a kind of “family gathering.” It is the entire community coming together, strengthening old bonds and forming new ones, and it is a gauge for innovations and business.

What are your expectations as far as exhibitors and visitors are concerned?
Without a doubt, the pandemic has brought many uncertainties and many changes and these will continue to affect things. There have also been questions about the importance of fairs during this time. Also, despite the pandemic, business continued strong for the majority of the audience represented at LIGNA, and in many cases still is. So why attend a trade fair?
I think the industry realizes that, despite some dramatic leaps in digital developments resulting from the pandemic, nothing compares to a face-to-face, in-person meeting. For such complex, high-tech and cost-intensive products and innovations, you simply can’t replace in-person discussions digitally. For that you need strong connections, levels of trust and individual approaches – and that’s what LIGNA offers.
At the time of this conversation we have commitments for 110,000 square meters of exhibition space and more than 1,200 exhibitors, so we will definitely celebrate the return of a strong live event for the woodworking and wood processing industry.
There is a lot of enthusiasm from all around the world to once again gather in Hannover for this important event.
And despite challenges from the global political situation and the lingering effects of the pandemic, we are confident that the status of LIGNA has not changed. All the global players will return and renew long-standing relationships and make new ones. And some travel and visa challenges notwithstanding, we expect to see the community back in Hannover in May in great force and with great enthusiasm.

What will visitors notice at this year’s LIGNA?
When it comes to the hall setting, to the exhibition areas and the general site layout, visitors will notice one thing above all else, continuity. LIGNA will once again occupy 10 halls plus the large open-air site - a layout that has proven successful since 2017 - and as always it will once again offer the most comprehensive overview of all the latest technology and services available.
And in addition to our exhibiting companies - who will be taking up the topics in their booth presentations - the LIGNA.Stage for instance will offer additional solution-oriented, user-friendly information in small bites. Easy-to-access information from a main stage with the possibility to browse the extensive program upfront and to listen in focused on each individual’s specific interest, backing up and complementing what is being shown on our exhibitor’s stands. We will thus be combining the practical, hands-on, live showcases with the theoretical, knowledge-based background, live on site – streamed live – and available on demand.
Also, our well-known LIGNA Guided Tours will feature a digital add-on for those unable to visit LIGNA in person. The Guided Tours will be streamed live as well as available on demand.
And since our community is made of our exhibiting companies as well as our visitors, we have several offers this year for exhibitors and visitors alike. So, as a first, the entire community has the chance to present relevant content on the LIGNA.Stage. And both exhibitors and visitors can utilize our LIGNA.Recruiting offer, which is designed to address the shortage of skilled personnel and the search for new talents. It’s a place for dialogue that enables all participants to offer jobs, search for jobs, and present their respective companies onsite to attract and connect with each other. It’s a kind of online, web-based matchmaking designed to bring the community together.
LIGNA 2023 will be showcasing the latest in machinery, technology and industry-focused services – as well as an opportunity to get in touch with market and opinion leaders. Could you expand on that?
At the core of LIGNA is the interaction of visitors and exhibitors. The personal appointments, the meetings on site, and even the random encounters in the aisles are what make this an important event for our industry.
Getting the right people together at the right time and in the right place is they key. And that often starts with preparations such as an exhibitor and product search online. From there you can plan your visit and optimize your actual visit on site, browsing through our exhibitor’s product and company information and videos, checking out digital contacts and profiles, and making appointments in advance.
If you are looking for potential new talents or skilled staff, get in touch via our LIGNA.Recruiting – our online job channel. If you are looking for contacts and information on a specific topic, for example surface technology, you can check out and take part in the Guided Tour offers.
And if you are looking for condensed information on a specific topic, check out what’s available on the LIGNA.Stage.
Also, if you are part of a group from a company or a delegation from a country traveling to LIGNA, we have a delegation service available for you, catering to your individual needs to connect you with exhibitors.
There are many ways to get in touch, onsite and online.

What is your goal for 
this year’s show?
We want to be the place for our industry and community to meet again, to interact in person and to be able to compare and see the full range of products and solutions available to stay up-to-date and prepare for the future.
If you want your business to be successful and prepared for upcoming technological developments, then LIGNA has to be your “must-go-to” event. Because we strongly believe that only here can you see the full range of the latest innovations and services. We want to create the world’s largest community gathering along the value-added chain for the primary and secondary industry. LIGNA provides the platform, the framework, and the atmosphere for the industry to get together and celebrate the industry itself.

Can you gauge the mood among exhibitors?
It’s been four years since the last in-person LIGNA and I can tell you from our conversations with exhibitors over the last year that there is a great deal of excitement and expectations for this year’s event.
Everyone has been waiting for LIGNA to return and it’s a great feeling for us to get that kind of support from the industry after some challenging times.
And to be perfectly clear, there are still many challenges facing the industry, from high energy costs to supply chain issues, but we also see a lot of optimism out there and as I said there are great expectations looking forward to May, to LIGNA.
We all still face challenges, but there is no better way than to be prepared and put your company in the best possible position to face the future. Get fresh ideas, look at new possibilities and take those opportunities presented at LIGNA 23.
Everyone here is excited, IT’S LIGNA AGAIN.

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