Friday Offcuts 18 December 2020
This week, to end the year on, we've got a bumper issue for you. In keeping with the technology focus for this newsletter and the technology related events that we run, we’ve included three tech related stories we think might strike a chord. Remsoft, a forestry planning and optimization software leader, being represented in this part of the world from July of this year by a Kiwi, Corinne Watson, have announced a partnership they’ve set up with an Australian-NZ and a North American company to develop a new system enabling automatic data integration from a myriad of operations across a company’s forest supply chain.
Trimble Forestry has just announced that they’ve now linked up their widely used Log Information Management System (LIMS) with the Connected Forest™ Xchange (CFX). This is going to enable key operational data, such as electronic log dockets, fibre source GPS coordinates, and detailed supply chain records to be shared in near real-time with supply chain partners; logging contractors, log cartage companies and log scaling sites. We’ve also built in a case study of Tasmania’s largest private forestry management company, Forico, and look at the path that they’ve taken to improve digital transformation across their business and their remote work sites.
As we head to break for Christmas though, our thoughts are with the industry and our readers in Australia. Unfortunately, the forestry industry in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland is still under the pump with China's decision to block log exports. Right now, the situation’s still looking pretty bleak. The Chinese ramped up the pressure even more this week with Australian coal exports (an AU$14 billion trade) to China now also being blocked after months of import restrictions. The CFMEU has warned that 250 jobs have already been affected with the forestry industry fearing that up to 1000 jobs in the Green Triangle region could be lost by February/March next year if the current trade ban isn’t resolved quickly. One can only hope as we move towards the end of 2020 that in the next few weeks that the issue can be resolved.
And finally, and since it’s Christmas, as an added bonus we’ve included a few extra clips at the end of the newsletter to cheer you up as we break for the year. Enjoy.
This week we have for you:
NZ student excels in forest engineeringJacob Allum, who completed his degree in Forest Engineering this year, has just been co-awarded the Civil Contractors New Zealand Prize in Pavement Engineering for 2020. “The University of Canterbury has a strong Civil Engineering programme that attracts very academically talented students, so it is great to see one of our forest engineers at the top of their class”, notes Director of Studies, Prof. Rien Visser.
This has capped of a very good year Jacob. He was awarded the NZIF Jon Dey Memorial scholarship at the start of the year to support his final year research project and did that proud by then taking out the Forest Engineering Dissertation prize. His work was on woodlot infrastructure and has helped set a benchmark for requirements.
Based on his grades over the last two years he was also awarded the top prize for overall graduating forest engineer. “I’ve seen how hard he has worked this last year, but it has also been his passion and enthusiasm for forestry that fully justifies this recognition”, say Visser. Jacob has started his career with the China Forestry Group and is based in Wellington.
2nd year forest engineering students Milan Clarke, Frazer French, Pat Goeysinsup and 3rd year students Cameron Jones, Simon Smith, Luke Wilson all achieved a better than A- average for the year. “Grades are not everything, but this puts them into the top 10% of the engineering students at Canterbury so it is a nice recognition of their effort and achievement to date.
“I think it reflects very positively on forestry as a whole in that we not only attract good students into the programme, but they also have the motivation to do really well based on the engagement with industry”, says Visser.
Note: Forest Engineering has a new website ( forestengineering.org where you can download the forest engineering student project reports, as well as see this year’s project presentations.
Source: University of Canterbury
New timber storage fund announced for VictoriaThe Victorian Government has announced an AU$2.5 million Bushfire Recovery Timber Storage Grant to support the storage of 125,000 green tonnes of salvage timber. Eligible businesses can apply for grants of up to AU$500,000 to support the costs associated with storing timber above their usual volumes from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021.
Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said “It’s critical that we make the most of our timber resources – these grants will help businesses be more resourceful while burnt timber is still viable by covering the extra costs associated with its storage.” For further information on the announcement click here
Source: The News Mill, VAFI
Integrating forest operations planning into the cloudRemsoft, a forestry planning and optimization software leader, is partnering with Safe Software FME Certified data integration specialists Locus and Consortech to automate data integration in the Remsoft Operations Cloud.
Forest product companies often work within multiple systems, spreadsheets, and different data formats. The resulting data fragmentation hampers efficiency, effective decision-making, and the ability to rapidly respond to changing conditions that could affect harvest levels and product delivery.
"There are so many moving parts in the forest supply chain, and things can become very complex, very quickly” says Doug Jones, Remsoft Senior Vice President, Solutions and Innovation “Being able to see everything in one place, updated in real-time within the Remsoft Operations Cloud enables our clients to make the best planning decisions.”
Through the partnerships with Locus, an Australian and New Zealand based consultancy focused on unlocking the power of FME to solve enterprise data challenges, and Consortech, a North American leader in geospatial data integration and FME expert, forest product companies can now automatically transform and connect data from different sources via Safe Software’s FME technology to the Remsoft Operations Cloud.
“Our partnership with Remsoft will focus on eliminating existing manual data tasks and creating automated data workflows that can save clients significant time, resources, and money,” says François Laganière, Partner and VP Solutions with Consortech. “ Remsoft Operations customers will be able to access updated, validated data in a central, cloud-based repository for a unified view of their operational planning process.”
Forestry companies that want to make more effective use of their data to improve operational planning decisions have a clearer and faster path with Remsoft Operations and Safe Software’s FME data integration platform.
"Our partnership with Locus and Consortech will help our clients achieve planning transparency and visibility across their supply chain – delivering real-time access to data and a consolidated view of their operations," says Jones.
Thanks for Buying Local Timber FirstNew research data backs the positive impact of buying local first and Aussie timber workers want to say a big “thank you” for the ongoing support. What you may not know is all the industry faces and their families that live in regional Australia – people that are mums, dads, sons and daughters who have grateful smiles on their faces for their fellow Aussies who have made a point of Buying Aussie Timber First in 2020.
Residential building is a key factor in Australia’s economic recovery, so the domestic softwood processing sector’s successful advocacy to all levels of government for new house building stimulus has been a real achievement this year. The local sector has ramped up to meet the unexpected strong demand this year for structural timber used in new Australian homes and renovations projects whilst keeping its workforces across Australia safe.
September monthly sales this year were at a record level compared with the last two years and were up 8% on the same month last year highlighting the strong demand. Research that was conducted in 2020 by Pollinate also shows some interesting trends of growing awareness and support by the domestic building specifiers and designers for Aussie made timber.
Being Australian made and made for Australian conditions were important criteria in survey respondents’ selection of timber products and also compared to alternative building materials – 84% of building specifiers and designers in the survey stated that local timber made for Australian conditions was important in their decision.
Local industry leaders would like to take the opportunity leading up to Christmas to thank their supply chain for Buying Aussie Timber First in 2020. Coupled with the positive impact of the various government stimulus packages, this has given the industry confidence to be agile and increase local supply to support increased housing demand which is key to Australia’s economic recovery and future wellbeing.
Photo: L-R: Patrick Warrand (Wespine), Shane Vicary (AKD), Ian Tyson (Timberlink), Jon Kleindschmidt (Hyne), Cameron McDonald (OneFortyOne), Stephen Dadd (Boral)
Source: Buy Australia
Axing barriers to digital transformationLike many heavy industry businesses throughout the country, forest management firm, Forico, has been upping its use of digital technology in a bid to increase productivity, sustainability and safety across its remote worksites. Yet, with its large rural footprint – spanning over 175,700 hectares, tools designed to exchange or collate information haven’t always worked as planned.
Ready for connectivity change, Forico recently engaged with service provider 42-24 to connect its head office to business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet^ and create a unique solution for its remote sites.
“The forest management industry is undergoing change powered by digital transformation,” says Shevaun Mackenzie, IT Manager at Forico. “New technology like our digital docketing system […] has the potential to make operations more efficient, sustainable and safe for our staff.”
But connectivity limitations were restricting the digital opportunities Forico could consider while also impacting the critical operations already in place. One challenge was the way the company managed regular data backups.
Due to the large volume of data to be stored, the backup activity could take up to two and half days running over the weekend to complete with their original upload speeds. In response, Forico’s team would, at times, opt to transfer data backups manually via a portable hard drive that would be physically driven to a backup storage site.
Beyond data backups, the company’s operations rely heavily on technology to collaborate and manage their processes. “Our remote sites need to be able to communicate with head office using video conference and our staff need to be able to access work related files – stored on our centralised server – from each of the remote sites,” says Shevaun.
Finding the right solution. Read more
Managing moisture content in the supply chainThe timber industry is being encouraged to share their experience in managing timber’s moisture content (MC) in the supply chain. Unexpected MC changes in timber and wood products can be a cause of concern, and University of Tasmania researchers want to hear industry’s first-hand experience with these changes and the problems that they can generate.
“Timber’s MC can change significantly as it moves through the supply chain from the mill to its in-service location” said Michael Lee from the UTAS Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW), “and if these changes are not well managed, unexpected problems can occur. Both appearance and structural products are affected”.
“We are developing industry best practice guidance in this area” Michael said, “and a part of this is uncovering industry’s experience with MC change through an online survey, interviewing people and inspecting affected product.”
This work is part of an industry-lead National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) funded project. UTAS is leading the project with nine industry collaborators who operate across the hardwood and softwood sectors nationally. The project aims to pair industry expertise on regular MC issues with the results of detailed monitoring of MC changes in timber nationally over 12 months. Both sets of results will then inform best-practice advice for industry.
“Seasonal variations in temperature and humidity can regularly affect timber and wood products with impacts occurring along the supply chain.” project leader Professor Gregory Nolan said. “So, we are currently collecting MC data from sensors and timber samples in mills, distribution centres, fabricator workshops, building sites and in service, and from material in transit on trucks and trains.”
“The results of this work can really reduce problems for industry and improve customer satisfaction in the supply of timber and wood products throughout Australia,” Michael Lee said.
UTAS is currently inviting industry participation in an online survey of timber and wood products workers. All timber milling, fabrication, joiners, builders are retailers are encouraged to share their experiences with timber’s MC. Follow this link for the project information sheet – directions to the online survey are enclosed.
Wanaka woman awarded forestry scholarshipMaude Rogers is one of eight recipients to be awarded a 2021 Nga Karahipi Uru Rakau forestry scholarship
Maude Rogers decided earlier this year that she wanted a career in forestry science. The Wanaka teenager could see it taking her all over the world or working as a sector researcher for the Ministry for Primary Industries. She was delighted when she was named as one of eight recipients to be awarded a 2021 Nga Karahipi Uru Rakau forestry scholarship.
The scholarship provides NZ$8000 a year for four years, and was designed to encourage more women and Maori to enter New Zealand’s forestry and wood processing sectors. Recipients were selected for their forestry interests, commitment to a career in the sector, community involvement and leadership skills.
The programme was in its third year and Maude (17) is one of 22 Maori and women to receive scholarships to study forestry science or engineering at the University of Canterbury. Maude (17), who has just completed her year 13 study at Mount Aspiring College, said the scholarship would relieve some of the financial pressures that came with tertiary study.
With an interest in science, economics and mathematics, she intended studying for a forestry science degree at the University of Canterbury, although she had also been considering biochemistry for its practical laboratory components.
"The degree encompasses all of my favourite subjects, including enterprise, economics and chemistry, so it was the perfect fit for me. I find science-related topics quite satisfying and I like to learn about why things happen and I also wanted to work outside while learning," she said.
She was looking forward to gaining hands-on experience in the industry. The scholarships included summer internships, during which she would be pruning, planting and harvesting trees. She had also talked to others who had studied forestry and said they enjoyed it. "People have said it is a good course and there is a good chance of a job at the end of it."
Originally from England, Maude has been in Wanaka since she was 5. She was involved with Mount Aspiring College’s Students in Communities programme, and Team Green, which planted trees on school grounds. She also took part in the GirlBoss Edge: Primary Industries programme, which was an online career accelerator for young women. It introduced her to mentors in the industry.Source: ODT
Graduate wants to make NZ forestry workplaces saferSIT graduate Aaron Quinlan had a tough year. Quinlan, from Kaikohe, had never been further south of New Plymouth before making the trip to Invercargill to take part in graduation ceremonies last Friday. He completed a diploma in workplace health and safety management.
Working in forestry it was the numerous accidents he had witnessed, including his own, that motivated him to study. Quinlan was injured when “breaking out”, and the cable carrying wood up the hill snapped.
WorkSafe advised him to study while he recovered and started his diploma through SIT2LRN. He had friends who died working in forestry, and he wants to give back to the bush. He hopes to get a job as a health and safety auditor in forestry.
In total 515 students graduated on Friday. Diploma, degree and postgraduate graduation ceremonies were held for students in both Invercargill and Queenstown. SIT acting chief executive Maree Howden said it was especially thrilled to be holding the graduation ceremonies considering the disruptions to study this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Source & Photo: Stuff
New forest management review announcedThe Victorian Government has announced a new review of Victoria’s public forest management following the 2019-20 bushfire season. The Major Event Review is a provision of the Regional Forest Agreements agreed between Victoria and the Commonwealth. It will assess the significant impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires and what remedial action needs to be.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said “This review will ensure the impacts of last summer’s bushfires are properly assessed so we can make informed decisions about how our forests should be managed now and into the future.” Read the announcement here.
Source: The News Mill, VAFI
Water bombing not a primary bushfire responseThe organisation representing some 1,000 professional and scientific forest land managers in Australia has welcomed the announcement of the K’gari (Fraser Island) Bushfire Review, hoping it will be a catalyst for a greater focus on bushfire prevention activities over the excess use of water bombing aircraft.
Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) President Bob Gordon urged the reviewers to weigh-up the effectiveness and cost of relying on water-bombing aircraft as a reactive measure against the need for conventional wildfire responses and enhanced year-round prevention activities.
“Worryingly, this Fraser Island Fire illustrates a dramatic trend to a greater reliance on water bombing as the primary bushfire response,” Mr Gordon said. “While waterbombers will always be important in fighting fires, more and bigger aircraft are not the answer. There’s an old saying: “Aircraft are for show, but if you want to put out a bushfire, dozers are the go.”
“To be effective, aircraft need trained forest firefighters on the ground to create containment lines and put out fires. Additional response funding should be directed towards early and better fire detection and on the ground response, including creating more access routes via roads and tracks, particularly in remote areas”.
Mr Gordon also called for the focus to shift from water-bombers and response to year-round land management and investment in bushfire activities and research to increase the landscape’s resilience against fire events. “While urgent and adequate response is vital and necessary, there is much more to be gained by implementing a greater focus on year-round land management and investment in bushfire mitigation activities and research,” Mr Gordon said.
“The IFA/AFG wishes to offer the IGEM Inquiry its expertise and experience through the provision of a range of experts to assist with the review. “It is hoped that this Inquiry will give careful consideration to the need for adequate preparedness including hazard reduction burning and the value of cultural burning practices.”
“Bushfire hazard reduction measures including prescribed burning play an important part in year-round fire management. Prescribed burning should not be seen as only hazard reduction, but maintenance of ecological processes, vegetation, community health, habitat protection, and cultural burning practices”.
“Year-round land management reduces wildfire intensity when they do occur, which is a good way to help biodiversity and avoid the widespread devastation we witnessed during the Fraser Island fires. To achieve this balance requires well-trained and locally knowledgeable land managers such as forest scientists and professional forest managers who possess the right education, tools, and know-how and interact with the land all year round.
“Indigenous Australians have held this knowledge for 60,000 years, and it’s important the value of cultural burning practices is upheld and valued in modern day Australia. “Broader mitigation measures should also include a properly maintained fire-line network and increased community education.”
Latest edition quarterly Timber Market Survey outPrices in Australia for untreated MGP products remained relatively stable over the September quarter 2020. Price movements for MGP10 products ranged between 0.1% and 0.3%, while price movements for MGP12 products were within +/-0.1%. Treated F7 product prices showed slightly larger movements that were in a downwards direction and ranged between -0.4% and -0.2%.
Mixed results were seen in treated outdoor products, with softwood sleeper prices increasing by 1.4%, while treated decking prices remained relatively stable. Price movements for most products in the panel products range were marginal and within +/-0.1%. Price movements for other engineered wood products were mixed, with LVL prices showing moderate declines between -1.3% and -0.7%, while I-joist/I-beam product prices remained stable.
The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panels and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.
The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by nine major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; AKD Softwoods; and Sustainable Timber Tasmania.
Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report can be viewed here.
New appointments grow IFA/AFG boardThe Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) is delighted to announce the appointments of a new Vice President and board member, with Dr Michelle Freeman elected as Vice President and Jan Newport joining as Director. Returning IFA/AFG President Bob Gordon said the new appointments would grow skill, capacity and diversity of the board, helping the organisation deliver greater outcomes for its members.
“The IFA/AFG has worked tirelessly over the last few years to change our mode of operating to build our reputation, provide more benefits to members and earn a seat at the table to speak on behalf of Australian forest management and forest science,” he said. “The election of two Vice Presidents, Dr Michelle Freeman and re-appointed Vice President Dr Kevin Harding will assist us as we continue to adapt and deliver for our members and the broader forest sector.”
IFA/AFG CEO Jacquie Martin said that she was delighted to be working with Dr Freeman as Vice President and Ms Newport as Director. “Michelle and Jan are long-time supporters of the IFA/AFG and are passionate about the future of the profession and the sector,” she said.
“Their knowledge, perspective and experience will assist the IFA/AFG as we continue to pursue our very ambitious strategic plan and continue to reposition ourselves to meet the needs of our members and ensure that we are a contemporary member-based organisation.”
Dr Freeman, who joins the re-appointed Dr Kevin Harding as one of two Vice Presidents, is a forester and consultant with a passion for native forest management. Her qualifications include a double degree in Science (Ecology) and Forestry, and a PhD from the University of Melbourne completed in partnership with CSIRO Darwin looking at savanna fire and tree dynamics of northern Australia, as part of the Tiwi Carbon Study.
In addition to being an IFA/AFG Director since 2019, her board experience includes chairing the Future Foresters Initiative, sitting as an Independent Council Member on the Federal Governments’ Forest Industry Advisory Council and as a Director with FSC Australia.
Jan Newport brings to the board over 25 years’ forestry experience in Australia, New Zealand and Canada working in both the public and private sector in plantation establishment and management, forestry education, research, farm forestry and policy. Ms Newport also previously served as a Director of the AFG for four years. She has a Bachelor of Forest Science, Graduate Diploma of Business, Graduate Diploma of Education and completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors – Governance Foundations for NFP Directors.
Trimble Forestry integrates LIMS and CFXTrimble Forestry has announced that its widely used Log Information Management System (LIMS) now integrates seamlessly with the Connected Forest™ Xchange (CFX). The integration allows load ticket information from LIMS to sync to the cloud-based CFX portal, which can be accessed from any device, any place.
With CFX’s flexibility, easy-to-view dashboards, and mobile accessibility, key operational data, such as electronic tickets, fibre source GPS coordinates, and detailed supply chain records can also be shared in near real-time, at the company’s discretion, with supply chain partners, such as harvesters, haulers, and scale sites.
“The level of data sharing enabled by our LIMS/CFX integration is key to increasing efficiency within forestry supply chains,” said Kevin Toohill, General Manager of Trimble Forestry. “Visibility and shared data increases timber security and facilitates real-time, data-based decision-making, as well as easier records reconciliation and faster payments.”
LIMS/CFX users can add electronic load ticketing using a mobile device with an added mobile subscription. The CFX mobile subscription allows haulers and scale site operators to use reference data, such as source, destination, and species, synced from LIMS/CFX. The synched drop-down menus help reduce errors, greatly increase timber security and accountability, and make it much easier and faster to reconcile load tickets exchanged between harvest and delivery. The higher fidelity of tracking loads from forest to delivery allows companies to better support certification requirements. Every load that leaves the woods can be reconciled to a weight scale load coming in the gate.
The Log Inventory & Management System (LIMS) provides management control over all phases of timberland, woodland, yard, and mill operations. LIMS is an industry-standard forestry system for managing supplier contracts, contractor settlements, wood or fiber procurement, wood trading or sales, yard or mill inventory, consumption, and comprehensive reporting and planning. LIMS provides users an easily configurable operational dashboard, reporting wizards, and analysis capabilities. With CFX integrated, LIMS users are able to facilitate the sharing of key operational data from throughout the supply chain in near real-time.
About Trimble’s Forestry Division
Trimble’s Forestry Division offers SaaS and enterprise software to improve the productivity and sustainability of the world’s most recognized integrated forest product companies, forest managers, conservation organizations, government departments, finished product manufacturers, and the partners that connect the global forest supply chain. Trimble’s Connected Forest™ solutions manage the full raw materials lifecycle of planning, planting, growing, harvesting, transporting, and processing. For more information, visit forestry.trimble.com.
105-storey hybrid timber prototype unveiledThanks to a patent-pending hybrid timber floor system developed by the architectural firm Dialog, it is now possible for mass timber structures to enter the supertall division of high-rise construction.
How tall? One hundred and five storeys, or 460 metres high, says Craig Applegath, founding principal at Dialog. He led a dozen designers from his firm and a team of collaborators from EllisDon, RWDI and Pond Tech to create a zero-carbon hybrid timber tower prototype.
“The most important thing is not its height, the most important thing is to demonstrate clearly that you can use mass timber in a very tall building and just as importantly that you can have a zero-carbon tall building,” Applegath explained recently.
The idea for the project came two years ago when a group of partners at Dialog were brainstorming during a company retreat. Applegath is chair of the Mass Timber Institute and the firm is a supporter of Community Forests International, which advocates for sustainable harvesting of trees.
The partners were noting that timber in cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other forms is suitable for residential construction but at greater heights it’s problematic because if used for the frame of a building, more and more has to be used to ensure structural adequacy.
As well, given that the maximum length the product can be used at is around 30 feet, it can’t be used for commercial structures that require 40-foot floor plates. “Wood is not good under compression for height. It is like a waste of wood and it is very expensive per square foot, so it becomes a vanity project,” Applegath said of taller builds.
“So, we said, this is nuts, we have to develop something that is absolutely feasible within our current time frame.” Given that floor plates, as opposed to exterior exoskeletons and interior vertical support systems, take up to 70 per cent of the material in a building, the Dialog partners were determined to find a way to use mostly timber in a new product for floor plates that could be developed to span 40 feet. The other two systems could be concrete and/or steel.
The hybrid system that was developed includes a combination of wood, concrete and steel and offers open spans and fire safety so it can be integrated into any building typology.
... and some to end 2020 on ...
Ok. End of year, so we’ve included a few this year to finish up on – and all with a Christmas theme. We ran this one a few years back. I just found it again. If you don't think it's quite right in today’s modern world, we'd suggest you just turn it off, move on and check out the next clip. Truth is, hand on heart, it's just really too good not to include. Right?
Had this one a year or two back and always great to see again at the end of the year.
And finally, one more for you in keeping with the Christmas theme. This video clip is of Christmas tree harvesting in 2008 at Noble Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Oregon. I’m not sure if he’d be doing this in 2020. The pilot, Dan Clark is flying a Northwest Helicopters Jet Ranger. Incidentally, Oregon is the biggest producer and exporter of Christmas trees in the US, selling about 7.3 million trees a year, more than twice that of No. 2 North Carolina. But, just check out the speed of collection and drop off of his loads in the fog.
And so the Christmas Season begins. Have a great break with friends and family. You’ve deserved it.
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