Friday Offcuts – 8 September 2017

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We know automation is changing the shape of the jobs market at the moment. American jobs and manufacturing were front and centre of last year’s US elections. It appears though the jobs are there. In fact, American manufacturers added nearly a million jobs in the past seven years and forecasts are showing that US factories are going to need to fill another 2 million jobs over the next decade.

As we know though, it’s a different skill set being required now. Last year for example in the US, a software developer was the second-most-common job advertised by manufacturing companies. Skills gaps in the US, like they are here, are going to cause most businesses – and economies – major headaches in upcoming years. Check out the article this week that again looks more closely at the move to advanced automation and the changed skill sets now being sought.

In this region, the issue of selling forestry as an attractive career option to younger people and attracting motivated young workers to meet the current and growing shortfall in harvesting (and other forestry and wood products roles) is picking up momentum. The penny’s dropped. Efforts are uncoordinated. They’re under resourced. National industry association’s in conjunction with regional groupings and forestry companies really do need to step up to the mark to make it happen. With this in mind, it’s pleasing to see this week that a training institute in the central North Island has added to the training simulator with their own excavator (a New Zealand tertiary first) to enable students to get live machine time as part of their qualification.

This week we’ve highlighted two technology events running for the industry in the next couple of weeks. For WoodTECH 2017, exhibitor areas in both countries SOLD OUT months ago and already, 350 registrations have been received with the first leg of the series running in Australia in just over two weeks’ time. In New Zealand, as part of a planned wood technology week running later this month, building owners, developers, architects, engineers, specifiers and engineered wood producers and suppliers from around the country have made plans to meet in Rotorua. The Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction conference is being run on 28 September in Rotorua.

Finally, we’ve got a couple of blasts from the past this week for you. One is some early footage dating back to the 1940’s featuring the cutting, felling, transportation down river, sawing and finishing of redwood lumber from Northern California. The second, and many Kiwi readers can relate to this, first one, then another political party are planning to breathe life into the old NZ Forest Service which was disbanded some 30 years ago (just where did those years go!). Check out the plans in this week’s story. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Australian Forestry Better Business Program launched

A new national program, that will recognise professional businesses in Australia operating to high standards in the forest industry, was launched on Tuesday at an event in Launceston, Tasmania.

Speaking at the launch event, Diana Lloyd, General Manager of ForestWorks, said the Forestry Better Business offers an efficient tool that enables businesses to identify and maintain industry best practice and provides recognition that they are operating to the high standards required.

“Forestry contracting businesses can use the online program to store and share information with forest managers and to demonstrate they meet current standards. The standards are based on existing industry standards, and link to relevant Acts and Regulations. The standards are described and documented under the four key areas - Safety, Environment, Economics and People.”

The Forestry Better Business Program was developed and trialed in Tasmania in 2015-2016, out of a project funded by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments. ForestWorks worked closely with the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) and an industry-led project steering committee to ensure the program met industry’s needs.

Stacey Gardiner, General Manager of AFCA said the program aims to simplify the information flow between forestry contracting businesses and forestry managers. “AFCA encourages all forestry businesses to take advantage of the six-month free trial period. The Forestry Better Business Program offers organisations a tool for business accreditation by offering one agreed set of standards, located in one central place, for ease of access,” said Stacey.

Tony Stonjek, Director of AKS Forest Solutions identified the potential capacity of the program to create efficiencies for his business, where he shares information with several forest managers and contracting businesses. “Improving the efficiency of communicating between businesses is good for all parties and reduces duplication,” said Tony.

A free trial period is available for the first six months. To register or access the program, forestry contracting businesses and forest managers can visit or contact ForestWorks on 03 9321 3500.

Photo: Sarah Courtney, MP, Eva James, ForestWorks, Diana Lloyd, ForestWorks, Stacey Gardiner, AFCA

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Global sawmilling expertise travelling down-under

It’s certainly going to be a full house – in both countries. The major sawmilling event, WoodTECH 2017 starts in Australia in just under two weeks. New Zealand follows, the week after on 26-27 September with the event forming part of a larger Wood Technology week in Rotorua.

Exhibition space has been sold out for months – and at both venues. It’s going to be one of the largest gatherings of exhibitors and expertise that local sawmills will have seen in either country.

Exhibitors involved in the WoodTECH 2017 series include;

WoodEye, Sweden, ScanMeg, Canada, Linck , Germany, DO2, Canada, Gilbert, Canada, Prinz, Austria, VAB Solutions, Canada, Carbotech International, Canada, LMI Technologies, Canada, Nicholson Manufacturing, Canada

Metriguard, USA, Holtec, NZ, Keymatic Technologies, Australia, Braford Industries, Australia, Z-TEC, Canada, Andritz Iggesund Tools, NZ, Supply Services, NZ, Thode Knife & Saw, Acora Reneco, Australia, Finlease, Australia, Saito, NZ, Kleentek, Australia, Spraying Systems, NZ, USNR/Soderhamn Eriksson, USA/Canada, Autolog, Canada

HewSaw, Finland, MiCROTEC, Italy, JoeScan, USA, Tui Technology, NZ, Optimil Machinery, Canada, Checkmate Precision Cutting Tools, NZ, SalesTech, Australia, AKE, Germany, Otterson Associates, Australia, GreCon, Germany, ILS, NZ, Lucidyne Technologies, USA, Lakeland Steel, NZ, SiCam Systems, Canada

The BID Group, Canada, Toi Ohomai, NZ, Fire Protection Technologies, Australia, BraveGen, NZ, SEW Eurodrive, NZ, Baxley Logpro, USA, Lewis Controls, USA, EWD, Germany, SPRINGER, Austria,Finsan Inc, USA, Precision Manufacturing, Canada, PMP Solutions, Canada, Stinger Cap Systems, Australia.

Already, around 350 delegates have signed up to attend this latest tech series. “Many mills have also picked up the opportunity this year of sending through teams - management, production, maintenance staff and sawdoctor’s from their sites” says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp.

As well as the very latest wood scanning, sawing, and mill optimisation technologies from around the globe being outlined, a comprehensive series of practical troubleshooting workshops have been set up to run throughout the two days and networking opportunities have been set up for mills from around the region as part of this latest series.

Late registrations can still be made to either event on the event website,

Photo: Keymatic Technologies will be setting up a clear walled pavilion in New Zealand which will house a fully operational PGMR Circular Saw Guide Dresser.

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New satellite system for Australian and NZ GPS users

“Scion initial tests of new GPS augmentation system for Australia and New Zealand shows marked improvement in position accuracy”.

Scion has recently completed early tests of a new satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) for GPS users in Australia and New Zealand. The test signal is part of a broader project to provide enhanced positional information across the Australasian region. Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand are collaborating to provide three different technologies to enhance the accuracy of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) for users in the region.

Dr Grant Pearse and Ben Morrow at Scion Research have recently completed a test of the initial service. The test was carried out using an affordable commercial grade receiver modified to accept and apply corrections received from the first SBAS test signal. Results showed a clear improvement through use of SBAS (Figure 1 - attached PDF) with a significant reduction in the scatter of positions as well as the circular error probable (the radius of a circle centred on the true position expected to contain 50% of fixes).

The SBAS signal provides information to receivers to allow them to compensate for positional errors caused by factors such as ionospheric interference. The corrections are derived from a network of ground stations in both countries and are currently being broadcast over the Australasian region by an Inmarsat I-4 series satellite (Figure 2 - attached PDF).

Dr Pearse remarked that the first signal (L1) is likely to be the most useful to foresters because it uses the same technology as existing systems such as WAAS in the US and EGNOS in Europe. This means that many commercial grade receivers are already capable of using the L1 corrections to achieve sub-meter precision in many circumstances.

“At the moment, the signal is in test mode, but if the system moves out the test phase many receivers such as smart phones and handheld GPS devices will be able to benefit from SBAS immediately”.

The SBAS project is not stopping there and will test two new technologies that promise even better accuracy. A new SBAS signal will provide simultaneous corrections for both GPS and Europe’s civilian ‘Galileo’ GNSS system that is currently being commissioned. The ‘dual-frequency multi-constellation’ (DFMC) system is likely to improve the availability and accuracy of the SBAS corrections. The third technology being tested allows a single receiver to obtain decimetre or better accuracy using ‘precise point positioning’ (PPP).

This technology is particularly interesting for forestry applications where it could provide very accurate fixes using much cheaper equipment or potentially replace the need for real-time kinematic corrections required for high-accuracy operations such as UAV- LiDAR surveys. The PPP system works by using dual-frequency receivers to directly estimate the effect of factors such as ionospheric or tropospheric interference. These corrections are combined with extremely accurate information on satellite orbits and clock offsets to allow PPP receivers to determine their position to within a few centimetres.

Read more.

Photo: Image. Launch of I-4 F2 courtesy of Inmarsat, UK

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Early adopters gaining commercial timber advantages

Now that two key players in New Zealand's commercial building industry have caught on to the advantages of timber and off-site construction, the secret is out – the early adopters are already gaining the advantages inherent in building commercially with engineered wood systems like cross-laminated timber (CLT) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL). An upcoming national building conference is bringing those market leaders to Rotorua to share their expertise.

Fletcher Building boasted recently of building a house using pre-fabricated components in a matter of hours rather than the usual months spent onsite. Well-known property investor Bob Jones is leading the way in Wellington by taking the initiative to commission Dunning Thornton Consultants to design his striking new tall office tower in wood.

Looking across to Australia, we are well behind their lead in taking timber taller in commercial building. In multi-residential mid-rise construction, Strongbuild is a leader in streamlining the building process, with offsite construction a key to their award winning buildings. International developers, Lendlease, are finding strong demand for their office towers in wood including several projects in Sydney and their most recent tall timber tower sold in Brisbane.

Large numbers of engineers and technical consultants in Australia are working regularly with wood, particularly multi-residential mid-rise, and this will grow in New Zealand with the densification of place likes Auckland. Companies that can deliver prefabricated systems for framed construction are well positioned to succeed as densification gathers momentum.

Wood as a building material is ideally suited to offsite construction and building information modeling. The engineering has been done – it is over to the market to gain information through design guides and technical support to grow the business. In Canada, tall timber buildings are ‘business-as-usual’. For the Rotorua conference, Innovatek is bringing over Karla Fraser, project manager for the Brock Commons building in Vancouver – now the tallest timber building in the world.

The upcoming national building industry conference, entitled “Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction” will be focused on “The Advantages of Timber in Mid-Rise Construction.” It's the second annual conference for Innovatek in commercial wood building and will be held in Rotorua on 28 September. The diverse programme attracts building owners, developers, architects, engineers, specifiers and key engineered wood suppliers.

Conference organiser John Stulen says, “Australian companies like Lendlease and Strongbuild have moved quickly and decisively capturing commercial advantages of wood building. They’re well ahead of their New Zealand counterparts in project completion timeframes, pricing and client satisfaction. So, Jones’ decision to go big with a wood structured tall office building sets a new benchmark for others to follow.”

The conference is set to be part of a wood technology week of events coming to the city in September, including the FIEA WoodTECH 2017 two-day conference and trade expo. Rotorua Lakes Council are event partners promoting their successful “Wood-First” policy. For more details see:

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Wood Innovation Programme provides AU$1.2M

Tasmania’s Liberal Government has outlined a vision to double the forest, fine timber and wood fibre industry value-add to AU$1.2 billion by 2036, an ambitious target backed by industry. Last year AU$1.2 million in grants were awarded to Tasmanian businesses through the Wood and Fibre Processing Innovation Programme, resulting in projects with a total value of more than AU$7 million.

Following on from the success of the Wood Fibre Innovation programme, the Government is also offering similar grants to southern sawmills who have been receiving Government subsidies to transport sawmill residues to the north for export since the closure of the Triabunna Port under the previous Labor-Green Government. A total of AU$620,000 will be made available to three sawmills to assist them to develop new uses or markets for their sawmill residues which will ultimately put an end to the need for ongoing Government assistance.

Source: Government of Tasmania

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Advanced automation creating high tech jobs

Herbie Mays is 3M proud, and it shows — in the 3M shirt he wears; in the 3M ring he earned after three decades at the company's plant in suburban Cincinnati; in the way he shows off a card from a 3M supervisor, praising Mays as "a GREAT employee."

But it's all nostalgia. Mays' last day at 3M was in March. Bent on cutting costs and refocusing its portfolio, the company decided to close the plant that made bandages, knee braces and other health care supplies and move work to its plant in Mexico.

At 62, Mays is unemployed and wants to work, though on the face of it he has plenty of opportunities: Barely 10 miles from Mays' ranch-style brick home in this blue-collar city, GE Aviation has been expanding — and hiring.

In the state-of-the-art laboratory in a World War II-era building the size of 27 football fields, workers use breakthrough technology to build jet engines that run on less fuel at higher temperatures. Bright flashes flare out as GE workers run tests with a robotic arm that can withstand 1,090 degrees Celsius.

The open jobs there are among 30,000 manufacturing positions available positions open across Ohio. But Mays, like many of Ohio's unemployed, lacks the in-demand skills.

"If you don't keep up with the times," he said, "you're out of luck." This is the paradox of American manufacturing jobs in 2017. Donald Trump won the presidency in great measure because he pledged to stop American jobs and manufacturing from going overseas, winning Rust Belt votes from Mays and other blue-collar voters.

It's true that many jobs have gone overseas, to lower-wage workers. But at the same time, American manufacturers have actually added nearly a million jobs in the past seven years. Labour statistics show nearly 390,000 such jobs open.

The problem? Many of these are not the same jobs that for decades sustained the working class. More and more factory jobs now demand education, technical know-how or specialized skills. And many of the workers set adrift from low-tech factories lack such qualifications.

Factories will need to fill 2 million jobs over the next decade, according to a forecast by Deloitte Consulting and the American Manufacturing Institute. Workers are needed to run, operate and troubleshoot computer-directed machinery, including robots, and to maintain complex websites.

Read more.


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Bringing back the NZFS?

No – it’s not a typo and yes, you’re reading this correctly. Another promise, first from a minor political party in the lead up to the election in a few weeks. New Zealand First believes there is insufficient planning for the future of the forestry industry and it was suggesting earlier in the week that they’d like to split forestry from MPI and re-establish the NZ Forestry Service as a practical, get things done department. Read more.

This pledge or election promise was backed up later in the week by the Labour party when they said that they’d also look to establish a “new NZ Forest Service". It would be based in Rotorua replacing functions that are currently being carried out in Wellington. It would be responsible for implementing a National Forestry Strategy, growing its own commercial forests as appropriate for the strategy, and helping other land owners who want to convert to forestry. Read more. Maybe this idea might just have legs after all.

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Forest Enterprises makes Gisborne appointment

NZ based Forest Enterprises, the Masterton-based forest investment and management company, has appointed a Gisborne-based regional manager to boost the management of its 10,000-plus hectare forest estate in the Gisborne region. Dan Fraser of Gisborne took up the new role in August.

“Dan’s professional forestry expertise supports our focus on harvesting in Gisborne,” says the company’s Managing Director, Steve Wilton. “He will complement the strategic alliance we have with Logic Forest Solutions Limited, our Gisborne forest supervisor. Dan and Logic work from the same office which is efficient for both companies and effective for our whole Gisborne operation.”

“Our forests in the Gisborne region make up half of the total forest estate we manage, so the increased and ongoing harvest up there will be significant for us,” says Wilton. “This is our first appointment outside of Masterton since the business started in 1972,” adds Wilton. “Dan’s appointment also brings our team up to 17 staff members for the first time, and we’re still growing.”

Forest Enterprises this year expects to double its 2016 harvest volume from its forests in Gisborne, says Wilton. The company began the major programme of harvesting its Gisborne forests in February 2016 with one logging crew, and has a third crew about to start. Volume from Forest Enterprises’ Wairarapa harvest operations continues to increase year on year since it started logging in earnest in 2010. It reached 330,000 tonnes in 2016.

Fraser’s experience includes extensive green fields harvest planning, road construction projects, strategic planning and contract management, which Wilton says adds value to the whole Forest Enterprises operation.

Forest Enterprises manages 59 forests on behalf of its investors and nine for private forest owners. Forest Enterprises’ Wairarapa forests make up 45% of the company’s total estate under management, with 5% in Hawkes Bay.

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New training excavator for forestry students

“Contractors saw our students learning inside our high-tech excavator simulators recently, and were impressed at the skill level that they are operating at after 9 weeks,” says Richard Stringfellow, Programme Area Lead – Forest Operations at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. “They said it would’ve taken them 6 months to get them to that level on the job.”

Now forestry students at Rotorua’s Mokoia Campus will be taking another step forward with the arrival of the institute’s own branded excavator, a project supported by PF Olsen. “It’s a must for us now. The students are getting live machine time as part of their qualification and all their exercises are practised to an industry standard.”

A New Zealand tertiary first for an institute of its kind, the initiative is designed to combat the lack of young, skilled operators in the industry, making sure students highly-honed virtual skills have a practical ‘real world’ finish. “The forestry industry is changing from manual to mechanised labour,” says Richard.

“We use the simulators to get students familiar with all the parts, functions and controls, meaning they have one less thing to worry about when they get into the actual machine. That includes health and safety requirements, prestart checks and walking around the excavator, checking everything is as it should be.”

With word of the excavator spreading, Richard says contractors are now referring students their way, so that their staff can take advantage of this region-specific training opportunity. “Everyone is trying to get in on it now. With the intake prior to the simulators arrival, we borrowed a machine to test how effective it would be. Of those 13 students, 8 are already employed within industry.”

Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

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Victorian Forest Industries annual dinner

The countdown to the Victorian Association of Forest Industries [VAFI] Annual Industry Dinner 2017, is on, with tickets for the event on sale now. Tim Johnston, CEO of VAFI, said this year the dinner, being held on Friday 17 November, will be a great celebration of the hard work that goes on every day in the forest, fibre and wood products industry.

“Last year we paid tribute to the history of the industry and the association, but this year we are focused on the future and the opportunities for growth across the board,” he said. The VAFI Annual Industry Dinner showcases the Victorian forest and wood products industry and its importance to key government and political representatives, and a range of industry stakeholders. It is a chance for industry to come together to network and enjoy a night of celebration.

The hard work of VAFI members is also recognised, through the VAFI Awards. Mr Johnston said the depth and breadth of talent within the industry is outstanding and with such tough competition, each award is well deserved.

“I would to particularly thank our Gold Sponsor, Australian Paper, for their support of the dinner, as well as event sponsors Ryan & McNulty Sawmillers, our Award sponsor, First Super and our table sponsors, the Victorian State Government, VicForests, ForestWorks, AFPA, and AE Gibson. We could not do it without each and every one of them.

“I encourage everyone to buy a ticket and come along to the VAFI Annual Industry Dinner this year. Help us to celebrate the industry whilst catching up with friends and colleagues. This industry is a great community and the VAFI team is proud to work for it,” he said. For more information on the VAFI Annual Dinner visit

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Bright future for Sustainable Forestry in NZ

A young New Zealander Alfred Duval has been launched onto the world stage. Celebrated for his outstanding achievements as an emerging leader in sustainable forestry. Duval was awarded the inaugural Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Forestry in Rotorua on Tuesday 5th September at the NZ Institute of Forestry’s annual awards ceremony.

The new prize was set up earlier this year, to reward and encourage a young New Zealand forestry professional working in the vital area of sustainable forest management. Similar initiatives have been established in Australia and Canada.

Championed by The Prince of Wales, the award marks a new dawn for the forestry industry, in New Zealand and around the globe. “This prestigious trophy puts a stake in the ground, and indicates to the next generation of leaders in our industry, the significance of sustainable environmental practices”, NZIF President James Treadwell says.

Selected from a high calibre shortlist of candidates, Duval was the clear winner, for his proven dedication to sustainable forestry. Treadwell confirms, “Duval demonstrated an outstanding aptitude for sustainable forestry management practice on the ground. He’s an emerging leader with the skills and commitment to inspire others in the industry to follow suit.”

Duval joins a select, but growing group of young leaders with a common passion for sustainable forestry, from throughout the Commonwealth. These influential young change-makers, now have an international platform to exchange ideas, promote sustainability, and share their knowledge.

Source: NZIF

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Weyerhaeuser completes US$402.5M sale

Weyerhaeuser Company has announced the completion of the sale of its timberlands and manufacturing business in Uruguay to a consortium led by BTG Pactual's Timberland Investment Group for US$402.5 million in cash. The transaction includes over 120,000 hectares of timberlands in northeastern and north central Uruguay, as well as a plywood and veneer manufacturing facility, a cogeneration facility, and a seedling nursery.

Source: Weyerhaeuser Co

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A blast from the past

If you've got a few minutes up your sleeve you might like to check out this early video footage filmed over 70 years ago. Titled, Redwood Forests - Lumber Felling & Milling 1940's it covers the early cutting, felling, transportation down river, sawing and finishing operations of the Northern California's redwood lumber industry. Enjoy.

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New wood Regional Research Institute proposed

It must be election time. The Green Party this week, as part of the New Zealand Institute of Forestry Annual Conference in Rotorua proposed they would like to create a Regional Research Institute focused on developing high-value wood-based products for export and use in New Zealand.

“A Green government will make sure government procurement processes choose wood as a building material wherever practical, and we’ll support our foresters and innovators to develop new timber-based products” said Green Party leader James Shaw.

“Rotorua is forestry country and would be a good location for a wood research institute, though we’d go through a normal contestable funding process to ensure the best business case is supported”.

“We see a wood processing and manufacturing regional research institute complementing the existing great work being done in this area by organisations like Scion; in fact, Scion would be a leading contender to run this new regional institute,” Mr Shaw said.

Regional Research Institutes are funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment through a contestable process. There is currently NZ$16 million of unallocated funding. The Greens would hold a specific contestable funding round to choose the location and partners for a new wood processing and manufacturing research institute.

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Buy and Sell

...and one to end the week on ... So, what do retired guys do?

The next time someone asks, "Now that you're retired, what do you do?"

Send them this.

And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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