Friday Offcuts 27 January 2017
However, amidst the uncertainty hanging over the industry, there was some good news. New markets outside the US for B.C. softwood lumber are being found. The very real challenges being faced by the logging industry with it’s aging workforce (the average age of a tree faller is now 57 and crews currently have a 50 per cent retirement rate) was also recognised with an announcement at the convention of job training tax credits for on-the-ground training for logging contractors. The Province has just launched a sustainability review into how logging contractors can be assisted. Some 20,000 people are employed by logging contractors in BC. Further details can be found in the links below.
In training and much closer to home, this week we have a story on nominations being sought from forestry and wood products companies and contractors that have stood out from throughout the lower South Island for this year’s Southern Wood Council forestry awards. It's running on 12 May in Dunedin. For Forest Industry Engineering Association members, a host of new tech resources from technology events run last year have also just been uploaded onto the FIEA website for use and we’ve included in this week’s issue a recent blog posting from Modern Engineering out of Canada on mill maintenance which our sawmilling readers will find interesting.
On safety, and in keeping with the upcoming Forest Industry Safety Summit series running in New Zealand and Australia in early March, we’ve included some results of research into forestry work accidents over a ten-year period that were published last year. As there is very little knowledge available regarding Australian forestry work safety and accident rates, the project gathered data on forest workers’ safety and it analysed the frequency, type and root causes of work accidents over the period from 2004 to 2014. The full paper can be downloaded from the story. Also, included this week are details on a new research project in Australia that’s just been set up to look at truck driver fatigue and safety. The Australian Government has committed more than AU$800,000 to the project.
Finally, we trust Australia Day celebrations that took place across towns and cities, big and small, across the country went well yesterday. I think many of you take the opportunity for a long weekend. Temperatures across the nation were close to 30 degrees so BBQ’s, beaches and bathing will have top of the agenda. To finish on, for all you petrol heads out there you might like to check out the footage in the last story of this week’s issue. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Second Queensland Council adopts wood policyTimber Queensland this week has applauded the adoption by the Gympie Regional Council of a Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP), which will help drive the greater use of timber in local building and construction.
Timber Queensland’s CEO Mick Stephens said the Council’s WEP would require timber to be considered as its preferred construction material in all new-build and refurbishment projects when it is equally fit-for-purpose. The Council has adopted this policy at its first meeting in 2017.
Timber Queensland have been working in conjunction with Planet Ark Environmental Foundation to promote greater awareness of using timber for sustainable building outcomes. “We are delighted that within the space of two weeks, the Fraser Coast and now Gympie are the first two pioneering Councils in Queensland to pursue a wood encouragement policy” said Mr. Stephens.
“We hope the State Government will similarly follow suit into the future, given the significant potential of this innovative new policy to realise State-wide regional development, jobs and environmental benefits from the greater use of timber.”
Tech resources posted for FIEA membersMembers of the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA), as part of their membership benefits get access to a cross section of technology related resources and presentations from programmes run throughout the year. They’re regularly being posted onto the members only section of the FIEA website. Currently over 200 resources are on the site for use by local forestry and wood products companies.
An additional 32 presentations from the tech programmes last year have just been uploaded covering some of the key technologies around mobile communications, wood treatment and modification, wood flow logistics, forest inventory and data collection.
For FIEA members, if you have mislaid your access code and you wish to look through the additional resources, please make contact with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Australian Sustainable Hardwoods mill battling supplyIn last week’s issue, we covered this evolving story – as covered by the media in Australia. From the mill this week we received perhaps another angle or background on the issue – deliberations – and stance on the negotiations from the mill’s perspective from a statement that they released on 19 January.
The staff of the Heyfield Mill were last Thursday informed that as a result of the failure of the Victorian Government to offer a volume of timber that would enable the mill to continue to operate, the mill will be closing. Significant lay-offs will begin from September this year.
ASH CEO, Vince Hurley said to the staff, “We have been forced into this position by the government. The only thing that will change this trajectory is if there is a new supply agreement offered by the government that is respectful of our business needs”.
The Heyfield mill is not only Australia’s largest hardwood mill, but it is also Australia’s largest timber product manufacturer. The business competes against overseas imported products. For our business to be viable we need to have a consistent volume through-put that enables us to provide customers with the current quality and range of ASH products at market competitive prices.
Vince Hurley responded to a question from the staff that he was very mindful of the effect the mill closure will have on the township of Heyfield and the surrounding areas. “Our annual wages bill alone is over AU$14m not even looking at all the local services we use. The offer of 80,000 cubic metres is too far short off the minimum 130,000 cubic metres we need to operate a viable business”.
At the meeting of ASH Director Clinton Tilley and the Acting CEO of VicForests late last week, it was clear that VicForests were not authorised to offer any more than 80,000 cubic metres of log in 2017-18 and less than that in the following two years. The spokesperson for ASH owners, James Lantry, said that “The owners of the mill have sought, unsuccessfully, a meeting with the current minister for almost two years and again recently as late last week”.
“The owners of the mill are very sad that the government has forced the mill into the position of closure. It is also unfortunate that on ABC radio this morning Minister Pulford blamed a legal dispute for the reason she would not meet with the owners. The fact is the Minister shouldn’t be talking about the proceedings given there was a non-disclosure agreement signed. With that said, settlement was offered by VicForests during a break under their testimony”.
“In respect to the real reason for not meeting with us, during that same period she has also refused to meet with another significant mill operators about their supply needs”. Mr Lantry said “It was clear from the interview on the radio this morning that the Minister really has no understanding of this industry or our business. Considering we have also invited her to the mill at least 7 times over the last two years, it also appears she has no interest.”
The Minister’s reference to the 2009 fires is important to correct as the 2009 fires did not have any significant effect on the commercial timber logging areas. Importantly ASH was offered a 155,000 cubic metres per annum contract by VicForests from 2014 through to 2034. This contract took into account available log supply levels based on mapping and stock information. This contract was signed by both ASH and VF however it was not endorsed by the Treasurer and that contract did not proceed.
The biggest issue is that 300 sightings of the lead beater possum have occurred, which has locked up areas of the forests. The forced lock up of forest areas was supposed to have been reviewed after 200 sightings of the possum, but this review has not occurred under the watch of the Andrews government.
“VicForests says there aren’t enough logs. If you keep locking up commercial coupes because of possum sightings and don’t unlock others in their stead, is it any surprise that you will eventually run out of timber?” Mr Lantry said. “What is also surprising is that there are alternative ways over the coming few years to meet both the industry needs and have a smaller footprint on the older regrowth areas, but these are not even under consideration by the Minister or VicForests.”
The owners of the mill had to tell 250 staff that job losses start in September. There are an estimated 7,000 downstream jobs impacted by ASH’s closure. These jobs are in mostly small companies in Melbourne that use ASH’s products, together with all the suppliers of services and those in the timber industry itself.
“What was clear from the staff at the meeting is that they won’t be taking this decision laying down and I suspect we will see more and more people join this fight over coming days.” said Mr. Lantry.
Another nail in the sawmill coffinThis is one of the recent blogs written for sawmill managers and operators by Udo Jahn from Modern Engineering, Canada. We’ll look to add these, if appropriate, for our sawmilling readers in this part of the world and plan to set up a platform for more regular communication with wood processing companies following this year’s WoodTECH 2017 event planned for September in both New Zealand and Australia.
Everyone has good days and bad days. Today was a bad day for me. No, I’m not ill, but I received some very bad news from a friend. He’s not ill either, but he told me there’s soon going to be a lot of upset people in local sawmill communities. There are rumours going around that a few mills may be closing. I don’t know where they’re located, but I know it will be unpleasant. The question we must always ask ourselves when faced with a failing business is “Why?”
I can speculate all I want about the reasons behind a mill’s closure, but it comes down to one thing: economics. Yes, this term has been flying around for decades and has been used to justify a wide range of decisions, from closing a business to releasing employees. I use the term ‘releasing employees’ after going through firing, terminating, send packing and some other words. I figured ‘releasing’ would have the least amount of emotional response, though delicate language cannot disguise the life-changing turmoil this causes for many families. But, the cause at the centre of all of this is still economics.
I must digress for a minute and tell you a story.
We had a piece of equipment in my machine shop serviced about eight months ago. The machine had been working perfectly fine for several years, but just like the parts of your car, they require regular service and maintenance. The service technician noticed some sparking on one of the components… after he was poking around in it.
Okay, this is where the story turns unpleasant.
The machine was immediately taken out of service for safety reasons. A necessary evil, but it’s not like I had a spare of this giant thing sitting around, ready and waiting to jump into the production line. My objective was to get this critical machine up and running again as quickly as possible.
Well, it did. But it took eight months! More>>
Source: Modern Engineering
Australian forestry work accidents analysedThere is little knowledge available regarding Australian forestry work safety and accident rates. Machine operators and forestry workers are vital parts of the forestry sector and their health and well-being can greatly impact on their work quality and efficiency. To increase our knowledge of forest workers’ safety a recent project aimed to analyse the frequency, type and root causes of work accidents which occurred within different forestry activities of five industry partners of Australian Forest Operations Research Alliance over the period from 2004 to 2014.
A questionnaire was designed and distributed to the partners to collect the safety incident reports. Total number of work accidents was 470 for a period of 11 years (a rate of 43 accidents per year). Considering the estimated yearly production rates of the industry partners that participated in this project, the accident severity rate was 14.40 accidents per million m3 of harvested wood.
The majority of accidents occurred in harvesting operations (37%) and forest management (30.2%). Based on the results 8.1% of the accidents occurred during firefighting and 24.3% of work accidents occurred in other forestry activities. Main root causes of accidents for different types of activities were personal errors such as lack of personal protective equipment, operator error, poor body position and poor techniques applied.
Work safety training could be delivered to forestry personnel to minimise accidents caused by personal errors. Back and shoulder (as upper parts of the body) received most injuries. To avoid/reduce muscular damage (such as strain and sprain) the workers should be provided with proper ergonomic training. A recent article that outlines the results of the research can be found on the attached PDF.
Forest Safety is the subject of an industry event planned for New Zealand and Australia in early March. The last Forest Industry Safety Summit was held in 2015, attracted over 500 forestry representatives. Already close to 400 have registered for this year’s series. It runs in Rotorua, New Zealand on 1-2 March and again in Melbourne, on 7-8 March. Discounted registrations to both venues finish next week. Full programme details can be found on the event website, www.forestsafety.events.
Truck driver fatigue research to improve safetyNew research into the effects of the truck driver fatigue rules will improve safety, the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Noelene Watson, said. A new research project will monitor a sample of drivers during their real-life work shifts, and then in a laboratory during simulated shifts.
The project is a joint initiative between the Co-operative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, the National Transport Commission, road agencies, police and industry. The ATA is a member of the project steering committee.
“The Heavy Vehicle National Law fatigue rules are complex, with detailed provisions about how to count work and rest time and overlapping 24 hour counting periods. Complying with the rules is stressful for drivers and operators, because of the risk of making a mistake,” Mrs Watson said.
“And despite the complexity of the rules, there is only limited evidence available about their impact on driver fatigue and safety. Some state enforcement agencies have called for changes to the rules, particularly in relation to what are called nose-to-tail schedules. The ATA pointed out in 2014 that there was not enough evidence about the practice for governments to make an informed decision. The research will address this issue”.
“The ATA also considers that the research needs to cover the quantity and quality of sleep that drivers get during major rest breaks, including the benefits of allowing split rest so drivers can move their trucks to a quieter spot after buying food or having a shower. In addition, there needs to be more research into short rest breaks and electronic work diary tolerances, as well as fatigue issues relating to regional and remote operation.”
Mrs Watson called on the TWU to rethink its opposition to the research. “The TWU has announced that it opposes this research, basically because it does not involve re establishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal,” she said.
“But fatigue experts agree that more research is needed into the effect of the fatigue rules. The research will improve safety – and help make sure the rules are no more complicated than is absolutely necessary. The Australian Government has committed more than $800,000 to the project.
Source: Australian Trucking Association
"Steam Canoe" uses new laminated wood technologyIt gets cold on the beach during winter, so now Toronto is doing its version of the Winnipeg Warming Hut competition with its own Winter Stations Design Competition. One of last year’s winners was The Steam Canoe, a design from OCAD University in Toronto. The team, led by Environmental Design Assistant Professor Mark Tholen, won an Ontario Wood Works! award recently.
"Composed of wood panels, OCADU’s design resembles that of an upside-down canoe, creating an interior dome for the public to take shelter. Evacuated solar tubes placed at the rear of the structure are designed to turn snow to steam, creating a halo of fog emerging from within this ‘steam canoe’."
However, these are not ordinary wood panels, but a new technology, a new way of laminating wood. It is built up with a metal fastening system called Grip Metal, which has tiny extruded hooks that dig into the wood, turning it into what they call Press Laminated Timber panels.
The process of sandwiching two layers of 3mm Oak and one layer of 19mm Spruce was made possible by the mechanical fastening of two Grip Metal™ layers, a type of metal Velcro™ developed by Nucap Technologies: a thin continuous steel sheet with grip hooks on both faces of the sheet is pressed into the veneer and core lumber in this press rolling method.
It apparently was developed for the automotive industry, but can in fact fasten any materials that are softer than the base metal used, which if course, wood is. It has some real advantages over the more traditional glue laminated panels, in that it is reversible.
The panels are assembled without the use of any glue and even though they have a stronger bond than traditional chemical adhesive methods, the components can be separated at the end of its lifetime into its pure material origins of wood and metal, making this a perfect innovation in material, process, application, product and sustainability.
It was also comparatively easy to curve the panels, simply by bending them as it went through the rollers, which eliminated the need for a structural frame. According to NUCAP, the Grip Metal manufacturer, “The laminate construction delivered a form of material that is stronger than normal wooden laminates, eliminated glues and adhesives, and is completely recyclable.”
The Steam Canoe showcases GRIP Metal’s core capabilities, providing a bonding layer to wood laminates and structures that translates the core capabilities of metal substrates to its laminate partners; bond strength, shear and torsion resistance without sacrificing the needs for lighter weight and flexibility of form that today’s designs require.
2017 NZ Timber Design Awards finalists announced!NZ Wood has announced the eagerly-awaited Stage One Finalists for the Resene Timber Design Awards 2017. “We’re delighted to have had strong support again this year,” said Debbie Fergie, NZ Wood’s Promotion Manager. “Our stand out this year has been multiple entries by architects and designers.”
She explained that competition had been extremely tight, with many entries missing out by only one point. “Thank you to everyone who entered the awards,” she said. “We hope you will be encouraged to enter again in the future.”
Stage Two of the judging process will take place on February 8, when category winners and the supreme winner will be decided. All winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland on 9 March 2017.
For some truly eye-watering images of wood being used in building and design, check out the finalists selected in each of this year’s categories by clicking here.
Nominations open for SWC training awardsIn May of last year, the Southern Wood Council (SWC) in conjunction with New Zealand’s Industry Training Organisation, Competenz, built on the regions forestry industry awards programme that in 2015 had proved to be such a success with local forestry and wood processing companies and contractors. The event and the response from industry throughout the lower South Island of New Zealand was again outstanding. Close to 400 people attended. The evening saw forestry companies, contractors and transport operators from throughout the lower South Island attending. It’s was again the largest industry gathering seen in 2016 for the region.
For the forestry industry in Otago and Southland, the Awards Programme provides a unique opportunity for those involved in training, in growing, processing and transporting wood and for those who support the industry through the provision of products and services.
It’s a once in a year opportunity to come together to celebrate success. It’s the industry’s chance to recognise those who had achieved formal training qualifications over the year, to celebrate through a series of nine major industry awards, the top performers from across the lower South Island and to profile the real contribution that forestry and those working within the industry are making to the economic and social well-being of this region.
The 2017 SWC Forestry Awards Programme run in conjunction with Competenz will run this year at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin on the evening of Friday 12 May. The 2017 awards programme for the evening is being designed with industry right now. Details on each of the main awards and nomination forms for this year’s awards are being distributed as part of five major SafeStart meetings being run by the forestry industry at the beginning of the year. Early indications are that interest from across the industry to nominate individuals and companies for the 2017 awards programme is already very keen.
For those in the South, mark the dates into your diary. Nominations close on Friday 31 March 2017. Start to give some thought as to who you can nominate in your or someone else’s company or crew. Who’s made a difference? Who’s really stood out this year? Who deserves to be recognised for their efforts?
Click here to download the 2017 Award Details and Nomination Form.
Further details can be found on the SWC website .
ANZ to sell UDC Finance to HNA GroupANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd announced earlier this month it has agreed to sell its asset finance business, UDC Finance, for NZ$660 million to HNA Group, a Fortune Global 500 company focused on tourism, logistics and financial services.
ANZ New Zealand CEO David Hisco said the sale followed a strategic review and was in line with ANZ’s strategy to simplify its business and focus on its core banking activities. “UDC Finance is a great business which is performing well,” said Mr Hisco. “We’re extremely proud of what our teams have achieved over the years providing specialist asset-based finance to New Zealand businesses for plant, vehicles and equipment.”
Mr Hisco said the purchase of UDC Finance by one of the world’s largest asset finance and leasing companies was a significant vote of confidence in the New Zealand economy. “HNA is well placed to invest in specialist asset finance products and systems which will help UDC expand further in the future,” said Mr Hisco.
Since its founding in 1993, HNA Group has evolved from a regional airline based on Hainan Island into a global company with over US$90 billion of assets, US$30 billion in annual revenues and nearly 200,000 employees across North America, Europe and Asia. The financial arm of HNA operates a diverse set of businesses in equipment leasing, insurance, and credit services, including China’s largest non-bank leasing company, one of the world's largest aviation finance businesses, one of the world’s largest container leasing businesses, and Europe’s largest trailer leasing business.
The UDC sale is subject to closing steps and conditions including engaging with investors on the replacement of the Secured Investment program and regulatory approvals. Completion is expected late in the second half of the 2017 calendar year.
Chile fires cause 'forestry disaster'Vast woodland fires in the centre and south of Chile have caused "the biggest forestry disaster in our history," President Michelle Bachelet said on Monday, cancelling a trip abroad to supervise the emergency. A total of 130 square kilometres have been charred, mainly in sparsely populated rural areas, according to the National Emergency Office.
Although most of 150 fires that broke out this summer season were under control or extinguished, 48 are still raging. Earlier in the week reports were that three firefighters had died and another three were wounded battling the flames. Soldiers and dozens of aircraft have been brought in to help.
Earlier this week, satellite images from the US space agency Nasa showed a brown plume stretching about 300km along the Pacific seaboard, originating from clusters of fires around Pichilemu and Constitutión.
Bachelet scrapped a trip to the Dominican Republic for a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in order to oversee the official response. Mexico and Argentina responded to an international call for assistance from Santiago by lending fire fighters.
In the central regions of O'Higgins and El Maule, the fires were considered the worst in the past 50 years, and a "state of catastrophe" has been declared for them. Fires are common in Chile's parched woods during summer. Most are caused by human activity. But this year was considered worse because of a drought that has built up over the past eight years, attributed to climate change. A 10-day run of high temperatures also contributed.
Job training tax credits for logging contractorsB.C. Premier Clark announced the development of job training tax credits for on-the-ground training specifically for BC’s timber harvesting contractors late last week at the Truck Logger Association’s 74th Annual Convention and Trade Show.
“The average age of a tree faller is 57,” Clark told the audience. “You’ve got a 50 per cent retirement rate that you’re looking down the barrel at over the next five years.” With that in mind, Clark outlined her plan: Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, will work with the Minister of Finance and the TLA to put in place job training tax credits for on-the-ground training aimed at timber harvesting contractors in British Columbia.
“This idea for job training tax credits shows Premier Clark’s recognizes the unique challenges timber harvesting contractors face in training new employees and I thank her for that,” said David Elstone, TLA Executive Director. “You can’t send someone to school for logging. So much of the work has to be learned on the ground from people who’ve worked in the industry a long time. It’s really an apprentice-type situation.”
The announcement also ties back to contractor sustainability. “These tax credits will help pass on the unwritten and essential knowledge timber harvesting contractors close to retirement have learned over their multi-decade careers,” explained Elstone. “This will not only help contractors but the industry as a whole in ensuring the supply chain continues to deliver logs efficiently.”
“Hopefully, the tax credits will allow timber harvesting contractors to invest in training of new employees before we lose all the know-how,” said Elstone. “This work will support independent timber harvesting contractors who can’t afford the added cost of training new employees but know our older workforce can’t keep going forever.”
Link to the full media package.
Trump inauguration worries B.C.’s forestry industryThe inauguration of a highly protectionist president of the United States has sparked trepidation among B.C.’s forest-dependent communities and prompted B.C. Premier Christy Clark to tout her government’s efforts to find new markets outside the United States for its softwood lumber.
Donald Trump did not wait for the keys to the Oval Office to signal a new U.S. trade agenda that threatens to tear up trade deals deemed unfavourable to homegrown industry and jobs. British Columbia, which supplies half of Canada’s softwood-lumber exports to the United States, is now bracing for what could be its toughest round of trade conflict over softwood lumber. Already, the U.S. International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into alleged harm of Canadian imports to the American softwood-lumber industry.
Speaking to the annual Truck Loggers Convention last week, Ms. Clark vowed to continue to fight for B.C.’s forest industry in the latest trade battle. “Time after time, without regard for the facts, the American government has accepted all of the allegations that have been filed by the U.S. lumber industry. You would get more fair and impartial hearings from a judge at a pro-wrestling event,” the Premier told the convention.
Ms. Clark announced that the province has made progress though in building alternative markets, with the first major shipment of B.C. lumber to India currently on its way. The concerns remain, however, about what Mr. Trump’s administration will mean for those who rely on forestry in B.C. The sector is still shrinking.
In 2001, when the B.C. Liberals took office, the province had 91,000 forestry jobs. The government launched a “revitalization plan” to tackle the decline. Today, there are about 60,000 forestry jobs and, in addition to the renewed softwood-lumber war with the United States, there is a shrinking timber supply due to the mountain pine beetle infestation.
This week, Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa signed a letter, along with mayors of seven other forest-resource communities, calling for a corporate tax break aimed at providing relief to struggling forest companies. The mayors want the province to eliminate its sales tax on industrial electricity purchases, which they say will improve competitiveness and save jobs. In an interview, Mr. Formosa said the softwood-lumber trade war isn’t just another challenge, it is part of a larger threat to keeping rural communities alive.
Source: the globeandmail
Record high global temperatures 3rd year in a rowThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists marked a disturbing new milestone in Earth’s history: 2016 has been officially declared the warmest year on record.
The previous record was set in 2015, which beat record highs in 2014. That means that for three years in a row, global temperatures have continued to soar to unprecedented highs unlike anything we’ve seen in the modern era.
Part of the record-busting temperatures in 2015 and 2016 could be attributed to an unusually warm El Niño, however, without the ongoing release of greenhouse gasses into the air, even the recent weather phenomenon couldn’t have made such a strong impact.
Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for NOAA, told the New York Times, “A single warm year is something of a curiosity. It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.”
Buy and Sell
...and one to end the week on ... going to oilfields
Sent in by a reader last week. This was back in 1920. The vehicle, a Dodge. Who needs a 4WD. They just don't make them like they used to!
As this video dramatically demonstrates, our roads have come a long way in 94 years. You'd have to wonder though if many of our 4-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs could do as well as this 1920 Dodge did.
A few short extras here for you as well.
I dialled a number and got the following recording:
"I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call.
I am making some changes in my life.
Please leave a message after the Beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."
My wife and I had words, but I didn't get to use mine.
Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.
The irony of life is that, by the time you're old enough to know your way around, you're not going anywhere.
I was always taught to respect my elders, but it keeps getting harder to find one.
That's it. And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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