Wood & Panel

Alexander Prokisch

 Monday, January 24, 2022

Head of Communication, Homag Group, has spoken to us on numerous issues related to the company, its strategies for 2012, latest technologies, the market and a lot more.

Tell us something about Schopfloch. How does it claim to be a unique experience for its participants?

Alexander Prokisch: Here in Schopfloch we have many possibilities to discover and appraise the company’s complete portfolio for the furniture and structural element as well as woodworking shops.

Visitors to this annual get-together for members of the woodworking industry had the chance to experience live production, appraise the standard of quality and user convenience at first hand and also glean individual advice from the experts.

The HOLZMA Treff took place simultaneously in Holzbronn. Here, the focus was on the PRACTIVE range, featuring tried and tested solutions for the woodworking shop sector.

HOMAG Group has literally expanded to all over the world. How difficult is it to address range of demands?

Alexander Prokisch: Long ago in 1962 while still in its infancy, the company caused a tremendous stir in the sector with a totally new type of edgebanding machine using a patented hot-cold technique which it presented at the Fair in Hannover. In 1967, HOMAG went on to revolutionise the furniture production sector with a combined sizing and edgebanding machine, of which over a thousand were sold. This type of innovative invention, which has been joined by an impressive array of others over the years, has been a vital pillar of HOMAG’s unique success story. A total of over 800 industrial property rights testify to this amazing achievement.

Another essential factor in the company’s headlong growth have been selective acquisitions and participations in manufacturing firms whose products provided a sensible addition to HOMAG’s own portfolio. This strategy provided the foundation for the HOMAG Group’s structure as a network of companies which together almost completely cover the process chain of its customers. This has placed the HOMAG Group in a position to now offer a unique portfolio of products, with a comprehensive, ideally coordinated range of machines and services for outstanding customer benefit.

The third vital pillar in HOMAG’s rise to the position of world market leader has been its clear strategic alignment towards opening up the global marketplace. As long ago as the seventies, it launched the expansion of an effective, closely meshed sales network in all the world’s most important sales regions. Today, the group operates 20 of its own sales and servicing companies, and works with around 60 exclusive sales partners. Of the 16 specialised producing companies, five are located outside of Germany. HOMAG’s decision to go global at such an early stage is now paying dividends. On average, around 70 to 80 per cent of the Group’s turnover is generated abroad, and its plants and machines are exported to over 100 countries.

Holding up these vital pillars of HOMAG’s success is its qualified and highly motivated workforce, without which none of these achievements would have been possible. HOMAG recognised the importance of the human element from a very early stage in its development, and as early as 1974 a system of employee capital participation was introduced which remains exemplary to this day. This move turned employees into entrepreneurs, as they participate directly in the company’s success. With a traditionally high trainee quota of usually over ten per cent, HOMAG is also securing a qualified up-and-coming pool of skilled operators and specialists to ensure the continuation of this impressive corporate history.

What makes laserTec so popular?

Alexander Prokisch: laserTec: This new method entails the banding of edges onto panels using a laser beam instead of conventional adhesive. This method results in less soiling on both the workpiece and the processing units, reduces scrap quotas and requires fewer operators – as well as increasing productivity. The edges produced are of unbeatable quality and flawless appearance. At the Innovation Symposium held at the world’s biggest trade fair Ligna 2009 in Hanover, HOMAG was awarded the Innovation Prize for this development.

Laser edging is evolving as an all-round success, as HOMAG once again provides irrefutable evidence of its technological leadership by equipping its CNC processing centres with laserTec, HOMAG is consistently transferring the quantum leap it has already achieved in edging joint quality for straight-edged components also to shaped parts.

Over recent months, several processing centres equipped with laserTec have been sold and an optimum degree of process reliability achieved. No matter whether stationary or throughfeed technology is involved, now almost any material can be simply and reliably processed with a zero joint. This innovation has allowed all kinds of workpieces to be produced with the same attractive appearance and outstanding edge quality – no matter what their shape. Whether table tops or shop fronts, work tops or kitchen cupboard doors, whether roller shutter cabinet side elements or shelves for caravans – HOMAG offers its customers cohesively perfect edges across the board.

The appearance and quality of furniture items boasting the “zero joint” is recommendation enough – but these are not their only benefits Process reliability, machine availability, the reduced complexity of cleaning work and energy consumption are all factors which have benefited significantly as a result of the laserTec method. Edgebanding using stationary technology is perfected all the time, and manual intervention to reset the gluing unit is no longer required. The work once involved in monitoring, maintaining and cleaning the glue tank and the application unit is now a thing of the past. The elimination of glue means no more time wasted waiting for glue to heat up. As a solution, the laserTec method is not only smart but also efficient. Compared to traditional methods, it reduces energy consumption by around 20per cent.

Not just the gluing technology but also the machine platform is new. With laserTec, this is the first time that HOMAG has exhibited the use of gluing technology on the BMG 500 machine series. The moving gantry design and the vibration-damping base material SORB TECH provide the ideal basis for perfect edge preparation and finish processing – an essential prerequisite for achieving optimum quality with laserTec.

Independently operating Y axes ensure high output. While the trimming spindle is operating, for instance, the gluing unit is already inserting the next edge. But the moving gantry design has another important benefit to offer because the edging magazine and gluing unit are mounted at the front on the operator side, edge changeover and monitoring can be performed with maximum efficiency and minimum strain for operating staff.

What’s your opinion on the high price of your machines, do you think cheaper versions of your technology can be a threatening alternative to yours?

Alexander Prokisch: Of course not. German engineering is synonymous with quality (like BMW, Mercedes) and our customers rely on high quality furniture. They know what benefits they have from working with our machines. HOMAG is a company of distinction and a string of awards testifies to the success story.

One example is the Patent Management Award: The IP Management Award (IP = intellectual property) is conferred by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in recognition of companies practising a sustainable and targeted approach to patent management. HOMAG succeeded in taking the prize in 2010, having impressed the panel of judges in particular with its prevailing active IP culture, the result of which is a successfully functioning integrative system of patent management – with the HOMAG Group registering an average of four new patents every month.

What are your plans for 2012?
Alexander Prokisch: On 14th of November we’ve published our new quarterly report. You can have a look at it from our website.

How do you see the current social media boom? Don’t you think the woodworking industry should be more active on it?

Alexander Prokisch: Social Media is a topic, every company should deal with at the present time. This issue will play an important role for all of us in future. For this reason we are already active in Social Media. Especially in YouTube we are represented in an impressive way – you can see there a wide range of video clips, for example our stand in LIGNA, videos from our machines and our new ecoPlus video about resource efficiency.

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