PELICE 2024 in Review: Trends, Talks and Takeaways

Amy Fuhlman

PELICE 2024 is now over, but the conference left a lot to ponder. Here are our major takeaways from the sessions and expo.

PELICE 2024 took place last week, March 14-15, and was by all accounts a success. Over 500 people attended, a 20% increase from 2022 according to PELICE organizers. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the event. 

AI and Robotics – the Future is Now

Several speakers talked in depth about the utilization of AI and robotics on the wood panel manufacturing side. Roy O. Martin, CEO of Martco, stated that “The AI demand is here. Vendor must lead the charge, but it has to be better than what we have now.”  And Oren Yahav of Smartech summed up his thoughts in one slide:


 At least four sessions touched on AI and/or robotics echoing some common themes:

 Securing the Future of Wood Panel Business

While AI may be repositioning how people will work in our industry, several CEO-level speakers made one rule of success very clear: take care of your people, who will take care of your customers. From training staff on the “why’s”, not just the “what’s” is a game changer in keeping staff engaged. And perks like on-site health care, full benefits, and even salaried shop floor wages, will garner loyalty and job satisfaction from your employees. 

Panel Repairing is a Game Changer

Two sessions were held on the topic of panel repairing. Spencer Pringle, Key Account Manager for Raute, started the breakout session discussing how panel repairing offers these key solutions to issues mills face today:


Pringle discussed Raute’s R3, R5 and R7 Series fit-to-need panel repairing solutions and shared a video of PotlatchDeltic (St. Maries, Idaho, USA) who has successfully integrated the R7 Series panel repairing line to their mill. 

Following Raute’s session was a panel discussion presented by members of Weyerhaeuser, ConVey and Argos Solutions. Weyhaeuser also realized safety, labor and financial benefits from automating their panel repairing processes. 

Material Diversity is the New Norm

While the US still has an abundance of natural forestry resources, there are groups of people that are opposed to deforestation does not have to happen to serve the wood industry. Several alternative products were discussed through PELICE 2024, including:


Of the above noted non-wood board materials, Hexas has created their own feedstock combination of corn and bamboo in Xanofiber™. In addition to be non-wood based, Hexas claims it takes far less time to grow this species as compared to trees. 

Face-to-Face Still Reigns

In today’s age of online meetings, email and other digital forms of communication, the PELICE 2024 expo reminded us clearly that face-to-face meetings still matter. The Raute booth was never quiet, inviting in a constant flow of new ideas, old friends and long time business colleagues. The relationships we cultivate and maintain at events like PELICE 2024 are invaluable. In addition, the feedback we gain helps keep Raute as the premier provider of fit-to-need plywood solutions. 

In closing, PELICE 2024 took the best of futuristic ideas, alternative production processes and new panel material innovations to offer the industry an informative – and enjoyable – confirmation that the wood and engineered wood panel industry is still strong. So, let’s adapt a bit of what we learned in Atlanta this year and band together to mold the future of our industry. 

Panel repairing automation continues to benefit mills in myriad ways, such as improved safety, reduced labor hiring or overtime issues and decreased spending on putty chemicals. Raute has written a handbook to better illustrate the benefits, how-tos and various options.


 To download a complimentary copy of the handbook, please click the image above.