Friday Offcuts 10 March 2017
This week we’ve had a flurry of news on wood processing out of Australia. A stay of execution on the future of Victoria's Australian Sustainable Hardwoods operation has been agreed (seven days) to by the company to enable the Government to consider how it might assist the mill to continue operating. Sumitomo Forestry Australia announced that its selling its Victorian wood processing operation, Alpine MDF Industries in Wangaratta to a Thailand-based wood manufacturer, Metro Particle Co. for AU$37m. The other good news out of Western Australia is that Plantation Energy has just secured AU$7 million of funding from multinational energy company ENGIE to recommission the wood pellet processing plant in Albany. Its been laying idle for the past five years and is expected to start producing wood pellets again following a six-month trial which starts in July.
In last week’s issue of Offcuts we included an update on the ongoing battle between a Canadian forestry company, Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products and Greenpeace. Greenpeace in a concerted campaign has publicly trashed Resolute’s reputation and intimidated its customers into cancelling their paper-supply contracts. The forestry company has said "enough is enough". Its seeking $228 million in damages. Greenpeace has labelled the company “forest destroyers”, they’ve been raising money off this particular campaign and they’ve even bragged about the damage ($100 million, in Canadian dollars) that they’re claiming to have inflicted on the business.
Responding to the lawsuits Greenpeace are now arguing that they couldn’t be held accountable for their claims against Resolute. Why? Wait for it. Because they were based on “heated rhetoric” that shouldn’t really be taken “literally.” Greenpeace are arguing that their claims were based on “rhetorical hyperbole” - that they weren’t based on scientific evidence, but rather on opinion. This case is important as it’s likely to reverberate beyond North America. It could well impact on how defamation and free speech rules are interpreted and how activist groups can be treated during prosecution. We’ll keep you posted as this case as it proceeds. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Technology highlighted in NZ Timber Design awardsFrom extensive use of LVL and CLT in homes to multi-storey commercial buildings, this year’s entries for the NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards showed modern applications of wood are providing cost effective solutions for asset owners, says Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association (WPMA) Promotions Manager Debbie Fergie. Winners were announced at a gala function in Auckland last night, Thursday 9 March.
Entrants competed within nine categories covering residential and commercial architectural excellence, innovation and a new section for student innovation. Not surprisingly, Christchurch entries dominated this year. Timber’s lighter weight on fragile, liquefaction-prone soils with comparable structural performance, its ability to flex in an earthquake and its superior fire resistance make it an ideal structural material beyond its natural aesthetic.
The Resene Supreme Award went to Cathedral Grammar Junior School in Christchurch (photo), submitted by Ruamoko Solutions with Andrew Barrie Lab, Tezuka Architects, Ohno Japan and Contract Construction.
“Cathedral Grammar stands out as an example of what can be achieved with effective collaboration and innovation in timber design, fabrication and construction,” said judges. “The expression of the structural timber frames at a human scale is inviting, and promotes a tactile response from young occupants.” This entry also won Timberlab Solutions Ltd’s Commercial Architectural Excellence section and was highly commended in the XLam NZ/Nelson Pine Industries’ Engineering Innovation one.
Innovative uses of engineered timber featured strongly throughout the competition, and the NZ Timber Design Society-sponsored Engineering Innovation category provided many examples. Bealey Avenue Lodge in Christchurch was the eventual winner.
Submitted by RM Designs, judges pointed out this was the first large scale commercial application of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in New Zealand. It was considered ground breaking in terms of its application of solid timber and structural engineering while complying with the NZ Building Code and local construction practices.
For a full list of winners and highly commended entries, see attached.
Keynote speaker at the awards was Daryl Patterson, Head of Operational Excellence, Property at Lendlease, Sydney. He spoke about the benefits of using CLT in tall timber buildings and is also presenting on mass timber construction at events in Christchurch and Auckland next week.
Key focus areas for major logging event in JuneAs anyone attending last week’s Safety Summit in Rotorua and Melbourne earlier this week will have heard, the country’s two-yearly logging event HarvestTECH 2017 is running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 20-21 June 2017.
For the many from industry in both Australia and New Zealand who attended the Forest Industry Safety Summit series over the last couple of weeks, special discounted registration rates were offered to delegates. These are scheduled to close next week on Wednesday 15 March.
“We’re anticipating again that this year’s event will again be one of the largest gatherings of logging contractors, forestry managers, forest owners, suppliers and harvest planners in New Zealand this year” says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp.
In addition to advances being made since 2015 in steep slope logging, this year we’ll be covering new technologies and operating practices in small wood lot harvesting (particularly around some of the unique challenges being faced harvesting the increasing number of woodlots on steep and more remote sites), harvest planning, advances in the mechanisation and automation of harvesting operations and some of the key issues around attracting people and new skills into the industry.
Some truly innovative harvesting operations are also going to be profiled. From Tasmania, delegates will hear about an Australian company that’s strapped a harvesting head onto an excavator and is working from a moored barge. They’re currently harvesting up to 26 metres under water and extracting high value specialty hardwood timbers from Tasmania’s waterways. From New Zealand’s West Coast, a company involved in large scale helicopter extraction of storm damaged timber since April 2014 will be outlining some of the issues around felling, extraction, logistics and safety with heli-lifting operations.
“The practical use of data collected from harvesting operations, improving data exchange and communications in more remote locations, eliminating log sorts and landing sizes and international developments in new harvesting equipment have also being built into HarvestTECH 2017”, says Brent Apthorp.
Full details of the two-day conference can be found by going onto the event website, www.harvesttech.events. Copies of the just completed brochures are being direct mailed to many of youthis week.
Note: Two full-day field tours to local logging contractors profiling some of the new innovations on the ground are being run either side of the Rotorua event. A minimal charge is being levied but numbers will need to be restricted at both. Already these tours are filling. Registrations to both will need to be taken on a first in-first served basis. Registrations can be made on the event website, www.harvesttech.events.
Alpine MDF operation soldSumitomo Forestry has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Sumitomo Forestry Australia Pty plans to sell entire 100 percent stake in its Australia-based unit, Alpine MDF Industries Pty Ltd.to a Thailand-based firm Metro Particle Co. Ltd. The purchase price is at AU$37 million and the company says the transaction is effective in late March.
Alpine MDF Industries is a manufacturer and supplier of MDF with the plant located in the North East of Victoria in Wangaratta. The plant produces in excess of 150,000m³ of MDF per year and is considered a premium product in the market.
Alpine MDF Industries Pty Ltd was commissioned in 1996 and was originally called Dominance Industries Pty Ltd. In December 2002, the business was purchased by Sumitomo Forestry Company Ltd of Tokyo, Japan. During the past few years the plant has been manufacturing and distributing MDF in Australia. Metro of the Metro-Ply Group is a major manufacturer of wood panels, furniture and furniture parts based in Thailand.
Health checks for forestry workers rolled outAround 40 contractors working with New Zealand’s fourth largest forest owner Ernslaw One, were the first to benefit from Turanga Health’s mobile forestry health checks on Tuesday 21 February. The onsite workplace wellness programmes for forestry staff is making it easier for them to seek medical help while also taking better care of themselves, says Turanga Health coordinator Dallas Poi.
“The health checks are tailored to meet the needs of men and women working in an industry where it’s not always easy to slip away to see a nurse in the middle of the day.”
Ernslaw One Gisborne regional manager Iain McInnes said the health checks carried out at the Mangatu forest headquarters were well received by those who passed through. “We were really keen to have Turanga Health offer the service to our contracting staff. People are the most valuable asset in any company and so investing in the health of our workforce makes good business sense as well as being the right thing to do.”
Mr McInnes says a healthy and happy workforce is just as important as investing in maintaining buildings and equipment. “We’re working with some talented people and we want to make sure they are well. The onsite health check was a unique opportunity for our staff and we’re thrilled it’s going to be available to others working in the forestry industry.”
Turanga Health had its state-of-the-art mobile clinic in the Whatatutu hills all Tuesday afternoon. It was staffed by four nurses, a smoking cessation coach, and a kaiawhina (community health worker). Forestry crew Waratah operators, fallers, breaking out staff, machinery operators, and digger and truck drivers, all came through the health check clinic. The comprehensive health check was about more than just eating habits and exercise, says Ms Poi.
Eastland Wood Council chief executive Prue Younger said the health checks are the result of a joint partnership between the wood council and Turanga Health which “aims to build a culture of health in the forestry industry.” Ngati Porou Hauora nurses and support staff will help provide the mobile service when it’s taken to Ernslaw One contractors at Tokomaru Bay in March.
Photo: Ernslaw One Staff fill out the paperwork ahead of their health checks with Turanga Health.
OneFortyOne celebrates #BeBoldForChange campaignAs International Women’s Day was celebrated on Wednesday this week, OneFortyOne Plantations marked the day by celebrating the achievements of its female staff.
This year’s International Women’s Day #BeBoldForChange campaign resonated with the Green Triangle region forestry company. It has enabled the company to reflect and celebrate how its female staff have been instrumental in redefining the status quo in forest firefighting in the region over the past decade.
Although female forest firefighters have been the norm for over 20 years, it has not always been the case for office based women who wanted to work on the fire ground too. OneFortyOne’s Contracts Manager, Cara Pearson, is one of the company’s senior managers in the regional office. She is well used to combining a strategic corporate role with the demands of forest firefighting during the fire season.
When she joined the forest industry over a decade ago, there were many who doubted the contribution that office based women would be able to make on the fire front line. “Some people really didn’t think that office staff would be able to cope with the physical requirements of forest firefighting”, remembers Mrs Pearson.
She believes those attitudes began to change when corporate female fire fighters battled alongside their field based colleagues during the 2006 Bluff fire. Corporate staff worked throughout the night in the forest, after starting their working day in the office.
For OneFortyOne, female involvement on the front line of firefighting is well and truly the norm, and is an integral part of its world class firefighting team. During the fire season, all staff participate in firefighting, either in frontline firefighting roles, or support roles in logistics and communication.
OneFortyOne is proud to be able to celebrate the many achievements its female staff have made for the company recently, and for the wider industry during their careers.
Reconciling ground plots and harvest reconciliations with LiDARAs part of the ForestTECH 2016 event in New Zealand, Sean McBride from JNL Wairarapa Forests detailed trials that had recently been undertaken on 2,000 ha of even age class forests in the company’s Tainui forest. Typically, pre-harvest inventories of 800 to 1,000 plots would be used. The inventory is usually over a short time frame and is required for woodflow planning.
The genesis for flying Juken forests with LiDAR came from an earlier ForestTECH event that ran in Rotorua with the reduction in inventory costs, a reduction in the number of ground plots required and the significant improvement in the quality of LiDAR data now being collected over the last five years were some of the key points for the business case by the company. The forest was flown and LiDAR used to collect stand information. usually over a short time frame and is required for woodflow planning.
Results from both ground plots and harvest reconciliations from the trial showed LiDAR was able to predict close to 100% of the actual yield for total recoverable volume and provided better predictions than traditional ground based inventories. Yield prediction by log grade likewise was very accurate. LiDAR enabled the company to improve mapping of the forest accounting for gaps within the estate and cost savings of $40-50,000 were able to be achieved using LiDAR over traditional ground based inventories. usually over a short time frame and is required for woodflow planning.
Some of the key results from the trial can be viewed on the TECH News site of the new revamped foresttech.events that’s been set up for local forest resource managers, remote sensing specialists, GIS, mapping and inventory foresters. If not already registered to receive updates, you can do so on line. It's free.
Summit delivers important reminder on forest safetyHundreds of forestry professionals came together this week to talk about safety in forestry at the Forest Industry Safety Summit in Melbourne. VicForests was a principal sponsor of this biennial event which focussed on the way people, culture, technologies and systems can help improve the safety of workers within the forestry industry.
Nathan Trushell, Acting CEO VicForests, said that the summit is a great way to remind industry of the importance of keeping their employees safe at work. “Safety is the most important part of our jobs within the forestry industry,” Mr Trushell said. “I can’t stress enough the responsibility we all hold to ensure each and every one of our workers can come to a safe work environment every day and make it home to their family each night”.
“It is our overarching goal to achieve zero harm in everything we do. We made great strides towards this goal last year by reaching a period of 12 consecutive months without any staff lost time injuries as well as a 50 percent reduction in contractor lost time injuries”.
“However, forestry is a dangerous job and our operations and activities must always be carried out with safety in mind. Safety needs to be at the core of everything we do to minimise the risk and ensure we have a safe workforce”.
“VicForests’ sponsorship of this event is one part of our commitment to a culture of safety. A positive safety culture moves beyond training, regularly reviewing practices and considering new and improved ways to go about doing our jobs. Most importantly, it is the role of all of us to show leadership within our organisations to ensure we drive a culture of safety for the sake of our staff, our families and our businesses”. The 2017 Forest Industry Safety Summit also ran in Rotorua last week with around 400 industry leaders meeting.
Details on access to the many presentations and resources that have been offered as part of the FIEA Technology series will be sent out to delegates from both countries very shortly.
Decision on Heyfield mill closure postponedThe board of Victoria's Heyfield timber mill, which is at risk of closure because of supply issues, has agreed to a government request to delay a decision on its future. The Victorian Government asked the board of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) to postpone its decision by a week, so the Government could continue to negotiate a deal to keep the mill open and its 250 workers employed.
The mill is dependent on a viable timber supply from the state-owned VicForests, but has no supply locked in beyond June. The company rejected VicForests' last offer of a short-term contract at half the current volume, which it described as unsustainable. Despite the tight timeline, ASH director Clinton Tilley remained optimistic about the chance of striking a deal with the Government.
Source: ABC News
Monoculture plantations raised following Chilean firesAfter the fires killed 11 and devastated vast swaths of land in January many are asking if subsidised timber plantations are to blame. The smoke has almost cleared, the blazes that raged over half a million hectares of forests, bush and grassland mostly extinguished, but the air is still thick with recriminations against Chile’s eucalyptus and pine plantation owners who are accused of putting profits before safety.
Following the worst fires in the country’s history, activists are asking whether the unregulated expansion of the forestry industry under the dictator Augusto Pinochet will lead to more problems in a future that is likely to be hotter and drier as a result of climate change.
Eleven people were killed and close to 1,600 dwellings were lost to the fires which erupted in January, along with hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest and farmland. Fire chiefs said that multiple factors caused the blazes, but environmentalists say the toll was higher than it should have been because plantations had expanded to the edge of communities and companies had failed to insert firebreaks.
“We’ve been warning the forestry sector for the last eight years about the growing threats; and these plantations are never subjected to environmental risk assessments – they’re completely unregulated,” said Sara Larraín, former presidential candidate and director of the environmental NGO Chile Sustentable. More >>
Source: the guardian.com
Albany wood pellet plant to re-openAn Australian wood pellet processing plant in care and maintenance for the past five years is set to be recommissioned reports ABC News due to a low Australian dollar and increased international demand. Plantation Energy secured AU$7 million of funding from multinational energy company ENGIE to recommission the plant in Albany, on the south coast of Western Australia.
The three-year venture to secure funding was aided by advisory company Argonaut, which had been working with Plantation Energy owner, Renewable Heat and Power Limited (RHP). The plant will have the capability to produce 250,000 metric tonnes of wood pellets a year, making it the largest plant of its type in Australia. It will go into full production following a six-month trial period expected to begin in July.
Plantation Energy's wood pellet plant was decommissioned in 2012 due to a lack of market demand, a high Australian dollar and issues with supply, making it difficult for the company to stay profitable. Argonaut and RHP director Peter Balsarini said he was confident the business would be successful this time. There is only one other major wood pellet supplier in Australia — Brisbane-based Altus Renewables, which can produce up to 125,000 metric tonnes of densified fuel pellets annually. Other companies are also exploring potential in Tasmania. Mr Balsarini believed there was potential for the wood pellet industry to develop even further in Australia.
Mr Balsarini said the recommissioning of the Albany plant was expected to bring in 30 new jobs once it was in full production. With no space in its port to stockpile available product, Plantation Energy will be loading straight to ships, something Mr Balsarini said would be logistically challenging but he believed was possible.
Source: ABC News
Forestry barge site plans progressMarlborough is embarking on a project which could see a million tonnes of logs shipped through part of the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island, NZ, with the council giving a NZ$730,000 barge site plan the go-ahead. The plan will allow harvested timber to be shipped from Kenepuru Sound to Havelock and Picton, so heavy trucks do not have to use a winding rural road.
The chairman of Kenepuru and Central Sounds Residents' Association said the council put plans for a barge site "on the backburner" last year, and the sooner it went ahead the better for both the community and foresters. Council resource management advisor Jon Cunliffe said if all went to plan he expected the site to be finished in September 2018.
Foresters in the area still have to sign a memorandum stating they will use the barge, not the road, before the investment is made. While the site will be in northern Kenepuru Sound the exact location has not been finalised, and further talks are being held with foresters, the community, and other stakeholders, Cunliffe said.
Between 2015 and 2041 it was estimated more than 2.3 million tonnes of logs would be shipped from the Marlborough Sounds in total, and a similar amount of logs would be shifted during the second harvest cycle, between 2042 and 2068. Nearly half a million tonnes would leave Kenepuru Sound during each harvest cycle.
Two different types of vessel would likely use the site, one taking logs to Picton, which involved sailing in the open sea, and the other taking logs through the Sounds to Havelock, Cunliffe said. The council had no involvement when it came to the barges themselves. "All we are producing is a docking facility for them to tie up and load up," Cunliffe said. More >>.
Australian’s not keen on accepting unfair trade agreementAustralia’s Federal Trade Minister Steven Ciobo on Monday admitted that Indonesian trade negotiators are targeting increased imports of timber products from Indonesia in the fast-progressing Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Mr Ross Hampton said, “Australia already imports from Indonesia about AU$500 million worth of timber and paper products, against our exports to Indonesia of some AU$48 million in 2015.”
“Australia’s forest industries operate to the world’s highest environmental standards and it beggars belief that we would seek to further increase timber and paper products coming into this country from arguably less sustainable operations. It is alarming that even as this deal is being discussed the Government is considering weakening protections against illegally logged timber imports.”
“A poor outcome for forest industries in this deal would come on top of the recent China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) where Australian paper and tissue product tariffs were lowered to zero whilst leaving China tariffs between 5% and 7.5%.”
“Australian producers face significant international competition, and there are many examples of importers engaging in dumping activities, as well as selling products with varying levels of quality, and with dubious standards and environmental compliance. The price of these imported products may not reflect the ‘true’ cost of inputs for competing products around the globe,” Mr Hampton said.
New operating model for the digital worldCompanies know where they want to go. They want to be more agile, quicker to react, and more effective. They want to deliver great customer experiences, take advantage of new technologies to cut costs, improve quality and transparency, and build value. The problem is that while most companies are trying to get better, the results tend to fall short: one-off initiatives in separate units that don’t have a big enterprise-wide impact; adoption of the improvement method of the day, which almost invariably yields disappointing results; and programs that provide temporary gains but aren’t sustainable.
We have found that for companies to build value and provide compelling customer experiences at lower cost, they need to commit to a next-generation operating model. This operating model is a new way of running the organization that combines digital technologies and operations capabilities in an integrated, well-sequenced way to achieve step-change improvements in revenue, customer experience, and cost.
A simple way to visualize this operating model is to think of it as having two parts, each requiring companies to adopt major changes in the way they work:
- The first part involves a shift from running uncoordinated efforts within siloes to launching an integrated operational-improvement program organized around customer journeys (the set of interactions a customer has with a company when making a purchase or receiving services) as well as the internal journeys (end-to-end processes inside the company). Examples of customer journeys include a homeowner filing an insurance claim, a cable-TV subscriber signing up for a premium channel, or a shopper looking to buy a gift online. Examples of internal-process journeys include Order-to-Cash or Record-to-Report.
- The second part is a shift from using individual technologies, operations capabilities, and approaches in a piecemeal manner inside siloes to applying them to journeys in combination and in the right sequence to achieve compound impact.
To take a much more detailed look at each element of the model and the necessary shifts, click here
Anti-logging campaign based on ‘Subjective Opinion’Greenpeace admitted in legal filings its campaign to vilify a Canada-based logging company was based on “hyperbole” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that weren’t meant to be taken literally.
That’s what Greenpeace admitted to avoid being held liable for damages in their legal battle against the logging company Resolute and its subsidiaries. The green group began targeting Resolute’s operations in 2012.
Resolute CEO Richard Garneau wrote at National Review Online that Greenpeace “harassed companies we do business with, threatening them with the same sort of smear campaign that they launched against us and even instigating cyber-attacks on their websites.”
Greenpeace called Resolute “forest destroyers” who were causing a “caribou death spiral and extinction” in their campaign to get the company to bend to environmentalist demands. Greenpeace even has a webpage listing their case against Resolute, and what it wants the company to do, which includes suspending logging operations.
“And they bragged about the damage — $100 million, in Canadian dollars — that they claimed to have inflicted on our business,” Garneau wrote. So, they sued to stop Greenpeace’s campaign.
Resolute sued Greenpeace in Canadian court in 2013 for defamation and economic interference and again in U.S. court in 2016 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In total, Resolute is seeking more than $228 million in damages against Greenpeace.
Greenpeace fought back, but their defense consisted of arguing they couldn’t be held accountable for their claims against Resolute. Why? Because they were based on “heated rhetoric” that shouldn’t be taken “literally.” More >>
Further commentary on this story can be found by clicking here.
TallWood Design Institute up and runningThe National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design at Oregon State University has been renamed as the TallWood Design Institute. The institute brings together the OSU College of Forestry; OSU College of Engineering; and the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts. It's the nation's only research collaborative that focuses exclusively on the advancement of structural wood products, and will serve as a national research, education, teaching and outreach hub in the development of tall wood buildings.
Iain Macdonald, an international leader in high-rise wood structures who led the Centre for Advanced Wood Products at the University of British Columbia for the past 10 years, has been hired as its first acting director.
"Oregon's forest products industry and sustainable design profession are recognized for their products and progressive leadership internationally," said Thomas Maness, dean of the College of Forestry. "The TallWood Design Institute works to link these two together in order to grow and leverage the use of new wood products in sustainable building design. The addition of Iain Macdonald is one more step toward putting mass timber on the map and Oregon as the go-to place for expertise and new products."
The institute's applied research on the strength and durability of mass timber products is key to widespread adoption of this technology. Data from product testing and development enables building code officials to modify rules to allow for mass timber buildings in the United States. Mass timber has been successfully used in Europe for over two decades.
"I'm excited to lead the TallWood Design Institute and partner with two outstanding universities," said Macdonald, who played a key role in garnering support for UBC to build the world's tallest timber structure in 2016, an 18-story student dormitory called Brock Commons. "We are conducting collaborative, world-class research that will advance solutions for designers, manufacturers and engineers of advanced wood structures and encourage the widespread adoption of tall wood buildings."
The institute and its affiliated wood science, architecture and engineering faculty have already played a key role in developing market-ready mass timber products that are either being used, or will soon be used, in commercial projects.
For more information visit tallwoodinstitute.org
Buy and Sell
...and one to end the week on...the Y Chromosome
People born before 1946 are called -
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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