Prefabrication equipment for the manufacture of timber wall frames and panels was one of the main topics of discussion at the 2014 Frame Australia conference and exhibition in Melbourne. Frame Australia opened on Monday May 19 at the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

The 2014 Frame Australia conference and exhibition had the largest gathering of international equipment suppliers servicing the timber frame prefabrication industry in 16 years of the event.

With builders globally moving away from all labour intensive activities for increased efficiency in construction and improved financial returns, there is greater interest in production equipment designed with higher productivity and automation to reduce the amount of labour required in the prefabrication plant.

This provides more value-adding by the prefabrication plant in manufacturing panelised and cassette systems that are sent to site as a complete assembly ready for craning into place.

Of particular interest to timber suppliers and prefabrication plants at Frame Australia 2014 were the latest technologies in manufacturing equipment for prefabrication of timber wall frames and panels, which have been developed to meet increasing demand for off-site components to reduce labour on-site.

Many of the equipment suppliers also offer levels of automation to existing plants that significantly improve output levels and reduce production costs.

Major Sponsor Homag Australia (Aust) provides world leading Weinmann (Germany) modern, high-performance machines, production lines and systems for the construction of prefabricated timber buildings, with solutions for utilising computer-controlled, automated machinery with a range of CAD/CAM-interfacing controls.

Another Major Sponsor Hundegger Australasia (Aust/Germany) offers state-of-the-art solutions in processing all types of frame and truss components, including cutting saws, panel processing and CNC machines, with the technology and a solution to suit all customer requirements.

Equipment suppliers also included Airco/Senco Fasteners (Aust), Australian Framing Automation (Aust), Bliss & Reels (Aust), J J Smith & Co Woodworking Machinery (UK), LAP Laser (Germany), Mohringer (Germany), and Randek (Sweden).

Hansbert Ott, Managing Director of Weinmann in Germany was the international keynote speaker in a session on ‘Truss & frame manufacturing plants’, where he delivered a presentation on developments in manufacturing technologies and equipment for timber processing and prefabrication of roof truss and wall frames, with examples of typical plant installations utilising the technologies and productivity improvements achieved.

Another well-known international speaker was Walter Fahrenschon, Chief Executive Officer, Hundegger GmbH, Germany, with a presentation titled ‘Future options for plants to manufacture open or closed panels for housing and multi-res developments’.