Friday Offcuts 2 February 2018
First the welcome news. Australia’s largest plantation hardwood mill and manufacturing facility has this week been announced for Tasmania’s north-west. The AU$190 million investment is a sawmill along with a CLT operation. It’s going to be located in Burnie, expected to employ 200 workers and process more than 300,000 cubic metres of plantation hardwood logs each year. Construction is expected to start later in 2018 and be completed in 2019-20.
For the Kiwis, WPMA and Scion have led a team that’s been successful in incorporating NZ timber into the revised version of the Chinese Code of Design for Timber Structures. This updated code is due to be published on 1 August this year and it means, for the first time, engineers in China will be able to design buildings using the NZ timber grades and sizes.
Australian prefab timber powerhouse Strongbuild have outlined a raft of ambitious projects currently in the pipeline for the timber and prefab industry, among them one of the biggest commercial timber buildings in the world by volume. They’re projecting a year of continued growth in 2018 as developers and builders begin to grasp the ease and benefits of building with timber, wood panels and pre-fab construction systems.
In sawmilling, two of the larger saw manufacturers have joined forces in North America and out of the same region we carry an article covering the top 10 health and safety risks in sawmills. The results would be very similar to this region. Canadian sawmill experts have now ranked the issue of substance abuse by sawmill workers firmly at the top of their safety agenda.
For your tech-fix for the week we look at a natural extension of UAV’s which are increasingly being used operationally here and overseas to help manage and fight wildfires. Two American companies, one manufacturing small manned planes and the other, designing and manufacturing commercial drones have put their heads together. Work has started on designing the world’s first autonomous air tanker that’s going to be capable of delivering some 800 gallons of water or fire retardant, autonomously.
Finally, Woodflow 2018. Information on this year’s major harvest planning and wood transport event for New Zealand and Australia have just been uploaded onto the event website, www.woodflow.events this week. You can check out the full details and the programmes now. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
New plantation hardwood processing operation announcedThe Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) welcome the AU$190 million investment in what will be Australia’s largest plantation hardwood mill and timber product manufacturing facility, in Tasmania’s north-west, CEO of FIAT, Terry Edwards and CEO of AFPA, Ross Hampton, said on Tuesday.
“The Hermal Group’s decision to build the Tasmanian Amalgamated Renewable Timbers (Start) Mill and Cross-Laminated Timber Panel (CLPT) facility in Burnie is terrific. It will mean a major boost for our sustainable forest industries, not just in the north-west, but for the whole of Tasmania,” Mr Edwards said.
“We commend the Tasmanian Government for its commitment to provide AU$13 million in grant and training support funding for the project. We understand it to have been critical in the final investment decision being made and I encourage political consensus on the funding in the interests of investment and jobs for Tasmania,” Mr Hampton said.
Once complete, the facility will employ around 200 ongoing staff and will process more than 300,000 cubic metres of sustainable plantation hardwood logs each year. Initially they’ll be used in the creation of building products, including cross laminated timber panels. The investment will also lead to the creation of a significant number of indirect jobs in the north-west and in Tasmania generally, which is a significant development in an area that has struggled for investment and employment creation projects.
“This investment is good news for FORICO which will supply the bulk of the timber for the mill, but it also presents opportunities for smaller private holdings of sustainable native timber plantations in Tasmania,” Mr Hampton said.
“It is a welcome development that the project will provide for value-adding to the plantation resource within Tasmania, rather than exporting that resource to create wealth and jobs in other countries,” Mr Edwards said.
“We look forward to working with the Hermal Group and the Tasmanian Government to ensure this investment materialises and the benefits are far reaching for forest industries and more broadly, the whole of Tasmania,” Mr Edwards concluded.
For further coverage on the announcement, click here.
Radiata pine added to Chinese Design Code
The grades included are SG6, SG8, SG10, SG12 and SG15. Sizes included are 45x75, 45x90, 45x140, 45x190, 45x240 and 45x290. To be able to use the design properties stated, the timber must be graded and verified according to NZ rules, i.e. verification must be done to NZS 3622, with third party auditing.
This means that for the first time, engineers in China will be able to design buildings using the NZ grades and sizes. WPMA cooperated with SCION in getting these NZ radiata pine grades included in the revision; and received extensive assistance from Ministry for Primary Industries and Indufor Ltd.
Work is now being done to develop the handbook for GB 50005, coordinated by WPMA and SCION; meetings are attended by Dr Minghao Li from University of Canterbury and Bill Lu of Indufor. Assistance is again being provided by MPI and also by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Woodflow 2018 attracting international expertise
The objective, with 30% – 40% of delivered log costs being contributed by transport, is to provide an independent platform to showcase the very latest technologies for moving wood from the forest through to the log yard, processing plant, port or market.
The event also enables new initiatives and operating practices being employed by leading companies to improve planning, logistics & operations within the wood supply chain.
“In 2017, the wood harvesting event, HarvestTECH, was sold out” says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp. “We had over 450 logging contractors, forestry managers and key suppliers who attended the event. It was the largest gathering of its type yet seen in New Zealand. Two years ago, at the last Woodflow event, we had over 250 harvesting contractors, wood transport operators and planners who attended the series on both sides of the Tasman”.
“The June 2018 event is going to be building on the success, momentum and feedback provided by industry from these last two events” says Brent Apthorp. “Mark the dates, 20-21 June, Melbourne, Australia and 26-27 June, Rotorua, New Zealand into your diaries”. At this stage key industry and tech suppliers from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, Sweden and Estonia have already been confirmed, exhibition booths are being snapped up (if wishing to secure an exhibition space, best contact email@example.com as spaces for the last event, HarvestTECH 2017, sold out months before the event ran) and relevant industry associations linked into the event. This week an additional workshop on transport planning has been added to both countries for event delegates. Discussions are also underway for at least one more workshop to add value to those coming through to either venue in mid-June.
“One of the key themes being discussed this year are new innovations around log scaling, measurement and tracking” says Mr. Apthorp. “Both vision and scanning technologies for volumetric measurement of logs and woodchips have been evaluated, we’ll hear from the company installing the first 3D laser measurement system in Australasia to measure the solid volume of logs on truck, we’ll hear on progress being made on an Australian code of practice for volumetric measurement of logs through scanning and a European company will be profiling their system that they've developed for measuring and reporting stacked log volumes using a smartphone App”.
Event information and early programme details for both countries have this week been uploaded to the event website. More information can be found on www.woodflow.events
Autonomous air tankers for firefighting?
The Best of Planes and Drones
Thrush Aircraft manufactures small manned planes; Drone America designs and manufactures commercial drones. “The new tanker is expected to blend Thrush’s large airframe and airborne delivery system expertise with Drone America’s “Ariel” amphibious platform – resulting in an aircraft capable of delivering some 800 gallons of water or fire retardant, autonomously,” says a press release.
“The aircraft will also have the ability to conduct long-duration tactical surveillance flights over a fire to give firefighters, operations managers, and public safety coordinators on the ground real-time understanding of conditions and fire behaviour.”
“As the almost incomprehensible devastation of the 2017 fire season has shown, there is virtually no limit to the level of destruction to property and natural environments wildfires can cause,” said Mike Richards, president and CEO of Drone America. “We founded our company on the belief that highly-reliable, well-integrated autonomous systems can significantly improve public and environmental safety. Our collaboration with Thrush represents a major step forward in achieving that goal, and we’re excited to be joining forces in the fight against one of our country’s most challenging foes: wildland fires.”
The “Dark Window”
Autonomous tankers have a unique advantage over manned aircraft – they can fly at night. “Currently, only manned air tankers are used in airborne firefighting operations, and they are restricted from fighting fires during night hours,” says the announcement. “However, it is during this “dark window” that autonomous tankers can take special advantage of the cooler night temperatures and reduced fire activity to support tactical ground operations, without risking the lives of pilots.”
Drones are already becoming widely adopted in firefighting: used to identify hotspots, plan strategy, monitor wind and other factors, and get a birds’ eye view of the terrain. Payne Hughes, president and CEO of Thrush Aircraft, said: “Thrush prides itself in continuously bringing the highest levels of innovation and value to our industry – and joining in the fight to better control wildfires from the air is in perfect alignment with our recent introduction of the 510G Switchback and its advanced manned-aircraft firefighting capabilities.”
“Collaborating with Drone America now gives us the ability to enhance airborne firefighting even more, by applying our design, manufacturing and flight test capabilities to a whole new generation of autonomous aircraft that can do things manned aircraft simply can’t do safely, or as efficiently. We couldn’t be more pleased to be getting this new relationship underway,” he concluded.
Dr Drielsma recognised in Australia Day honours
Dr Drielsma was the general manager of Forestry Tasmania from 1997 to 2005 and the executive general manager from 2005 to 2011. He is the chair of the Tasmanian Forest Practices Advisory Council and from 2005 to 2012 was the director of the CRC Forestry Limited, the Cooperative Research Centre.
“The thing I like the most about [the award] is that it gives some recognition to the work of foresters and the forestry profession and I hope that foresters generally will feel some recognition reflected out of this,” he said. His proudest achievement was developing the Australian Forestry Standard which manages the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme.
Funeral details for Shane McMahonShane McMahon passed away in Australia on 1 February. His funeral service will be held at the Trafalgar Bowls Club, 7 Miles Road, Trafalgar, Victoria, Australia at 3:30pm on Monday, 5 February.
For the past 6 years Shane had worked as the cable logging & H&S manager for Daryl Hutton at ANC Forestry in Victoria. He was well-known throughout the forest industry as many people came in contact with him when he worked in environmental management at LIRO back in 1990’s. He did ground breaking research developing tools for measuring site and soil disturbance.
In Putaruru, NZ, he did work beyond the forest industry as a consultant in his own right. Never one to blow his own trumpet, he was universally well-known and highly regarded for his work ethic, brilliant insight and clarity of thought in tackling industry challenges, especially technical ones.
When Shane moved into cable harvest planning he earned a reputation as a leader in this field as well. For many years he led the technical reviews for the industry-wide yarder tower inspector scheme. He authored many best practice guides, technical studies and research reports that were regarded as industry standard reference documents for years.
He was also a keen sportsman, cyclist and outdoorsman. On behalf of everyone in the Australian and New Zealand forest industries our condolences go out to his wife, Raewyn and their two sons.
Substance abuse tops H&S risks in sawmills
Last June 2017, a volunteer group of subject matter experts met face-to-face for a sawmill workplace risk assessment at Workplace Safety North (WSN) headquarters in North Bay, Ontario. The group of 15 representatives from management, labour, government, and not-for-profit organizations, was facilitated by Sujoy Dey, Ph.D., Corporate Risk Officer at the Ministry of Labour (MOL).
In advance of the workshop, each industry expert submitted their top health and safety concerns, and during the one-day workshop, all 80 identified risks were reviewed and discussed by the group.
When it came time for the final vote on the top risks, only actual workers and managers in the sawmill industry were allowed to vote. In order to ensure an open and fair voting process, handheld electronic devices recorded votes anonymously. Both labour and management agreed: the top danger sawmill workers face is substance abuse.
“As they identified specific conditions and situations that could result in injury or illness, we asked the group, ‘What keeps you up at night?’” says Dr. Dey, “And both workers and managers agreed: the number one risk in sawmills is substance abuse.” Dey notes the category includes not just alcohol and recreational drugs, but also prescription drugs, such as pain medication.
Top 10 health and safety risks in sawmills
1. Substance Abuse: Under the influence of drugs and alcohol in the workplace
2. Training: Employees taking shortcuts
3. Not properly locking out or guarding equipment
4. Age: Inexperience of new, young workers who don’t see the dangers
5. Psychosocial: Lack of focus, distraction of worker while performing duties
6. Slips, trips, and falls
7. Occupational disease: Loss of hearing, ringing in the ears
8. Psychosocial: Stress, including job and family pressures
9. Working from heights: Absence of engineered anchor points
10. Caught in or crushed by mobile equipment
For information and a link to the full story, click here. Source: www.woodbusiness.ca
Course started on sustainable building design
World-renowned timber designer Professor Richard Harris and leading fire expert Professor Jose Torero led the Centre’s first professional development course, including live demonstrations in UQ’s state-of-the-art Fire and Structures Labs.
Course Coordinator Dr Rob Foster said the course was aimed at provide Australian building designers with the skills needed to design better, more sustainable buildings using timber.
“While it’s widely recognised that engineered timber is key to the future of construction, designing with timber does require some additional skills – and that’s where we come in,” said Dr Foster.
“UQ offers a course in the design of timber structures as part of our undergraduate civil engineering programme but that’s not the case at most universities, so many current professionals are missing this vital skill-set.”
Geoff Stringer, Product Development Manager for Hyne Timber, participated in the two-day course said it was not only a good refresher for the basics of timber design, but also outlined many of the latest trends in timber design and explained their evolution and motivations.
Industry-based PhD student, Rebecca Cherry, who is working on cross-laminated timber, was excited to be able to network with other colleagues that were so passionate about timber and its use across Australia and around the world.
The Centre for Future Timber Structures is a partnership between UQ's School of Civil Engineering, the Queensland State Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Arup, Hyne Timber and Lendlease.
Photo: Hyne Timber’s Robert Mansell, Geoff Stringer, Rebecca Cherry, UQ’s Juan Hidalgo Medina and Xlam’s Jeremy Church – Fire Testing at UQ
Source: Hyne Timber
Forestry safety fears feed skill shortageOne of New Zealand's biggest industries is facing a boom, but skilled workers are thin on the ground. Forestry experts in Marlborough say the industry has been branded with an undeserved reputation for poor safety practices; putting potential employees off signing up.
Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology tutor and former forestry worker Jason Gillespie says technological advances and better safety procedures have helped make the sector safer than ever before. And he says the industry is in desperate need of skilled workers as it faces a boom in business.
"Most people have no idea what's involved and health and safety is very different to what it used to be; it's the most important part of what we do. If everyone follows the procedures that are in place then there wouldn't be any problem. These days, no-one is allowed in the forest without a radio, everyone has one ... each site does extensive training in escape routes. All our students are taught about safety," says the Blenheim-based teacher.
Josh Howard, 21, is a course graduate who is working on site high in the hills above the Waikakaho Valley near Tuamarina, in Marlborough, for Gale Contracting. While he may be new to the industry, he is already making a name for himself and was recently awarded for "Best Performance" for his outstanding skills and contribution to his team.
He says while he was initially "a bit worried" about safety before he started, he quickly realised there was no need to be. "The course really helped as we talked through everything and we do work experience too. It's a great job and as long as you follow the rules and stay aware of potential hazards there shouldn't be anything to worry about," he says.
Tutor Wade Johnson says the industry has "come along in leaps and bounds" since he first started more than 20 years ago. He says people are more aware of potential safety issues. "The emphasis now is all on identifying hazards and procedures that must be followed. Forestry gets a raw deal because we always seem to get blamed.
Source: The Marlborough Express
Growth in timber and prefab expected to surprise
Adam Strong, group managing director of Australian prefab timber powerhouse Strongbuild, is expecting a year of continued growth in 2018, with little if any negativity from the market slowdown already apparent towards the end of last year. The company has a “good pipeline of work”, and industry-wide he doesn’t see the sector slowing down anytime soon.
“What we do is choose the right project to add value to. A lot of people are coming to us. “We’ve got a strong line of clients. They’re quality clients, like [retirement operator] Aveo, Mulpha, Frasers, Stockland and [Anglican church retirement operator] ARV.”
In fact, the construction slowdown, which his forecasts say could be about 20% by volume, might well be of benefit to the sector, releasing trade skills and taking off some of the pressure from the recent boom. Besides, timber and prefab is a niche sector and it’s only just starting to properly take off.
Developers and builders are starting to grasp the ease and benefit of these solutions, Mr Strong says, none more so than the education sector in NSW where former planning minister and now minister for education Rob Stokes late last year announced a AU$4 billion program to replace demountable classrooms with prefab timber structures.
Breakthroughs in the sector include stair and lift shaft now built in cross laminated timber, or CLT, and closed panel walls, or panellisation, meaning pretty much the entire wall including fitted windows and doors can be pre-made at the factory and sent out as a flat-pack.
“We’re making all those in our factory and they’re going to site as closed panel walls,” Mr Strong says. “I feel this solution is the sweet spot for apartments up to six floors. So medium rise, affordable apartments projects. It’s much more competitive.”
Savings can be up to 5%, he says, pointing out that can be big dollars on a project of, say, AU$45 million. Plus, there is the potential to shave up to four months off construction time. And if the logic of speedier onsite construction, less waste and the potential for cost savings isn’t enough, then three particularly ambitious projects slated for Sydney this year will likely tip over remaining sceptics.
One of these will be a commercial timber building that could well be the world’s biggest by volume. Another will be a 13-storey hotel atop a four-storey existing building and another a project by one of the universities. According to Mr Strong, “if a building is designed to take another six floors of concrete structure on top, it will probably take 10 in timber”.
Industry wide, growth will continue this year, he says, but it will be more moderate. “I don’t think there are too many rocky builders. Everyone is expecting a little bit of a downturn but education and commercial are starting to pick up particularly in NSW and Sydney, and the economy is very strong.
“It might come off 20% in terms of construction volumes – that’s what we’re looking at – but it could be a good thing for the markets: we’ll get some trades back.” Spotlight the timber building industry and Mr Strong says it’s a different story. “The market will be surprised at the number of timber projects and even prefabricated ones that will hit the market in the next 12 to 18 months, and realise this is here to stay.”
In line with growing pre-fab and off-site construction opportunities, Prefab NZ are running an event to profile the growing trend of off-site construction in New Zealand, CoLab 7-9 March. For more information visit www.prefabnz.com/events/CoLab2018.
Source: The Fifth Estate
NZ export log prices hit new record highNew Zealand export log prices advanced to a new record, driven by continued strong demand from China, lower shipping rates and a favourable currency. They’ve marched higher than previous record prices that were reported on just two weeks ago.
The price for A-Grade export logs lifted to $131 a tonne from $129/t last month, marking the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008, according to the agricultural market specialist's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. The average export price for pruned logs jumped to $176/t from $170/t last month and marking the highest level since July 2016, AgriHQ said.
New Zealand is experiencing strong demand for logs from China, which has clamped down on the harvesting of its own forests and reduced tariffs on imported logs to meet demand in its local market. AgriHQ said Chinese demand for logs remains high, with a record total of 2,903,943 tonnes imported in November, up 20 percent on October levels and 10 percent above the same period a year earlier.
"Strong demand has had China continue to import significant quantities of logs," AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. "China continues to be NZ's major destination for log exports, making up 83 percent of NZ's total log exports in November."
Brick noted exports to China in the year to November 2017 were up 16 percent compared with the entire 2016 calendar year. Export data for the December month is due to be released today. In other markets, exports to Japan were also strong, up 30 percent from year earlier levels, while exports to India were down 13 percent, he said.
Ahead of AgriHQ's log price survey, the market was bolstered by higher in-market prices, a fall in shipping rates, and the New Zealand dollar holding below 70 US cents, he said.
In the New Zealand domestic market, pricing was generally flat compared with the previous month for all log grades with the national average for structural logs at $129/t, pruned logs at $182/t and roundwood at $97/t.
Still, Brick said the recent flatness is not an indicator of the longer-term trend, with all reports suggesting first quarter contracts have lifted by as much as $5-$7/t for higher value unpruned logs, especially through the central North Island.
"The usual combination of exceptional export pricing and solid domestic demand have been quoted as the main drivers behind these increases," Brick said. He noted there was a smaller portion of pruned logs moving into the export market, and prices for both pruned logs and pulp were expected to be mainly unchanged in the first quarter.
Dr Tom: H&S are inextricably linked
Back in the methodically planted pinus radiata mazes I was informed that Forestry was the most dangerous occupation in New Zealand and one in every 643 of us would be felled and mortally wounded. Fast-forward 38 years and I am on a NZ Forestry speaking tour of Safe Start breakfasts, banging my drum that Health IS safety. Like pepper and salt, they are inextricably linked and again we are informed that Forestry workers are 15 times more likely to be harmed than the average Kiwi at work.
Fortunately, mechanisation is drastically reducing the risk of a traumatic death as machines, haulers, computers and a device aptly named the Falcon Claw are taking our loved ones out of harm's way. It's great to be part of the Safe Start breakfasts for 2018 and I am reminded that the logging divers, the bushmen and support staff are the salt of our earth. I can't help but wonder though how many are in fact felled by salt, sugar and fat rather than a chainsaw. As we eat what we used to at age 18 our arteries are clogged like the ports that export our logs as the machines make us more sedentary.
A fortnight tour from Whangarei to Invercargill reunites me with many old faces from a previous life of tending trees. Now we are tending to the people. I have to admit I am surprised at how much salt is poured on one plate of sausages, bacon and eggs. Times are changing and one worker asked his mate if he wanted some eggs with his salt. I seriously wonder how many forestry workers are felled by type 2 diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnoea.
The stress and strain of modern living affect our judgment and the brain's pre-frontal cortex at times shuts down like computer with a virus. Risk is increased as we make poor safety calls as a result of emotions like anger and frustration. It is estimated that 80 per cent of workplace injuries are caused by people being hungry, angry and fatigued. Once again health is safety and good mental health means fewer workplace accidents. I vividly remember a chainsaw kicking back on me because I came in too hot and fast on a hang up. The saw hit my helmet and sent it spinning. I was young and inexperienced but there are fatal accidents in people with decades of experience. I suspect judgment may be impaired by conditions such as sleep apnoea.
We are on our wellbeing tour in our retro ambulance in February, March and April testing, talking and filming around New Zealand. Having spent the past three years testing farmers it's time to get back to my roots and get back into the forests I love. Sometimes in wellbeing it's hard to see the wood from trees and it's just about changing perspective.
Dr Tom Mulholland is an Emergency Department Doctor and GP with more than 25 years experience in New Zealand. He's currently a man on a mission, tackling health missions around the world.
Simonds merges with Burton SawThe merger of Simonds International and Burton Saw will create a leading producer and marketer of cutting tools and related equipment for the primary wood fibre industry. The combined company, known as Wood Fiber Holdings, Inc., will continue to operate in the United States and Canada with 12 facilities located in the major wood fiber regions of North America.
The companies say all products and customer segments currently served by Burton, Simonds and B.G.R. Saws will continue during the integration process.
Simonds International, founded in 1832, supplies cutting tools and related products to the wood, pulp, paper and tree care industries. B.G.R. Saws, which developed an innovative line of filing room equipment merged with Simonds in May 2017. Burton Saw and Supply, based in Oregon, provides products, equipment and technical solutions to saw filing and knife grinding rooms.
Startling growth in drone businessesA recent report from the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS) highlights the exponential growth in drone businesses over the past 5 years. A few of the key statistics since early 2013 include;
- ReOC holders (licensed companies) increased from 35 to 1156
- RePL holders (pilots) increased from 150 to 6300
- Registered sub-2kg excluded category operators now equals 7679!
This means that there has been a 93-fold increase in commercial operators since early 2013.
Source: Australian UAV
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... moving over to digital
A blast from the past. Drawn from the archives - as we were switching from analog to digital - way back in 2009.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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