Friday Offcuts – 10 May 2024

growing info milling transportation forest products

Click to Subscribe - It's FREE!

Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts.

We open today with a new FWPA report introducing biased position testing as a cost-effective and efficient method for the verification of structural softwood timber properties. Led by Professor Jon Shanks, the method offers significant cost savings by targeting samples with known defects, reducing testing costs without compromising confidence in results. In addition, the Australian Government is seeking a service provider to deliver the new Forestry Workforce Training Program.

In NZ, while export log prices have continued to drop due to demand, currency and shipping costs, better than expected growth in the Chinese economy may provide a glimmer of hope with Chinese port inventories also beginning to stabilise. A Scion research group is exploring ways to improve the performance and training of loader operators and are seeking operators to help develop and test the new video-based systems. 

In other news, the Hyne Group is expanding again, Indonesia has revoked the licence for one of the world's largest carbon-offset projects, impacting global offsets, BurnBot showcases a new remote-controlled firefighting tool and Voodin Blade Technology pioneers wooden wind turbine blades for sustainable energy. 

Finally, we are only a couple of weeks away from Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 being held in Rotorua, New Zealand. This is the first major event on the forestry calendar and already, well over 200 delegates from forestry and log transport companies from across the region will be making the trip into Rotorua.

Read these and more in another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy.

Subscribe a friend | Unsubscribe | Advertise Here

Our Partners & Sponsors

Friday Offcuts is made possible through the generous support of the following companies.
We are grateful for this support.

This week we have for you:

Recent Comments

FWPA Report: Transforming softwood timber verification

Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) is pleased to share new research introducing biased position testing as a cost- effective and efficient method for the verification of structural softwood timber properties. 

This innovative approach can unlock significant cost savings and improved efficiency whilst maintaining rigorous verification of structural softwood timber strength and stiffness properties (download the full report here). 

When it comes to quality control and product performance, random selection is traditionally used for sampling structural timber. However, biased selection can also be used. Random selection is like drawing names from a hat. Every item has an equal chance to be tested, giving a statistically clear picture of overall quality. Biased selection, however, is based on picking samples (i.e. with known defects) which give specific insights, but not about the whole group. 

Biased ratios are essentially formulas that help translate results from that second biased sample into the results expected, as if the whole sample set was randomly tested. So, biased selection testing allows for a reduction in testing costs by utilising a smaller sample size while achieving the same level of confidence in the verification results. This cost-saving measure is particularly advantageous for sawn timber products such as MGP12, MGP10, and F5. 

This project was led by Professor Jon Shanks, Director of TimberED Services and Associate Professor in Timber Engineering at University of Tasmania and was conducted in collaboration with University of South Australia. 

“By focusing on the grade-determining features of the timber, biased position testing provides direct feedback on the grading process with fewer boards tested,” said Jon Shanks. 

To ensure compatibility with existing design values and standards, this project developed a process to establish appropriate Biased Ratios for quality control testing.

“This research demonstrates what can be achieved by collaboration between industry stakeholders, in this case showing that biased position testing does work and can ensure continued product compliance. By embracing this new sampling method, the timber industry can maintain high levels of quality control, whilst reducing costs and improving overall productivity.” said Gavin Matthew, CEO at Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA). 

“This innovative approach offers cost savings, improved efficiency, and accurate estimation of properties. It is a significant step towards enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of the industry.” said Chris Lafferty, RD&E Manager at FWPA. 

Learn more and download the research report here.

Source: FWPA

Comment on story    

May 2024 - NZ market update

Opinion Piece: Marcus Musson, Director, Forest360

May’s a funny month, you’re hanging onto the autumn weather and good times that were had over summer, knowing fully well that winter is around the corner, and it’s going to get cold and ugly. This is usually the case for our industry as log prices generally start heading south in late autumn and rain is not our friend. However, winter came early in terms of southward heading log prices, with a significant drop in April that extended into May with mainly flat pricing at the NZ$106/JAS level for A grade. Thankfully the weather has played ball with reasonably dry conditions to date, but this is cold comfort if your logging gear is parked in the paddock.

There were some hopes that May would see a price increase of substance but, with both the foreign exchange rate and the shipping costs having Julie Anne Genter levels of volatility during April and early May, our hopes have been dashed. There is some good news simmering away in the background as Chinese on port inventories stabilise and demand increases into the 72km3 per day range. Supply from NZ has dropped significantly following the poor April prices and a quickly slowing CNI salvage volume. This will likely not have an impact on the CFR price (sales price in China) in the short term until inventory gets to an uncomfortably low position.

The Chinese economy grew at a faster rate than predicted in Q1 with GDP at 5.3% against a Reuters poll of analysts that expected 4.6%, however it looks like the growth was primarily front loaded with March data weakening. Property remains the red-haired stepchild with Reuters reporting new house prices falling faster in March than any time in the previous eight years. Sales plummeted 23.7% in March compared to 20.5% for the previous two months so it’s clear that any significant rebound in construction is still a pipe dream.

A recent Chinese trade delegation to NZ was wowed at our wooden commercial construction, and there was a definite interest in understanding how NZ’s construction techniques and technology could be commercialised in China. It was clear that the ageing Chinese population is reasonably cashed up and not necessarily interested in living in a 500-story concrete and steel apartment block. If we could help develop this market segment it may provide significant demand for NZ radiata by placing more wood into a smaller but differentiated construction sector. For perspective, the wood usage per capita in China is less than 0.4m3, compared to India at 1.61m3, and a global average of 0.55m3. This indicates that there is potential of an additional demand of 210 million cubic metres if China reaches the global average.

More >>

Source: Forest360

ForestTECH News banner

Comment on story    

Australian Forestry Training - seeking service provider

The Australian Government is searching for a service provider to deliver the Forestry Workforce Training Program (the Program), with an approach to market open from today.

Assistant Secretary of Agvet Chemicals and Forestry, Julie Gaglia said identifying a preferred supplier through an open tender approach would support the delivery of the Program to ensure it meets the training needs of the forest, wood products, pulp and paper and fibre sectors.

Australia’s forestry industry supplies the nation with products for building and construction, packaging and many essential household products,” Ms Gaglia said. "It requires a specialised workforce to produce these products and to understand the ever-changing needs of consumers. The industry is a significant employer in rural and regional Australia, directly employing 52,000 people."

“Due to the remote location and ageing workforce, increased participation in the workforce by First Nations Australians and women will be increasingly important. An issue often faced by the forestry industry is accessing the specific training and credentials required for the workforce.

“The selected service provider will work to support the delivery of skills and training to meet the requirements of Australia’s forest and wood products sectors and provide long-term sustainable solutions for industry and workers. They will also provide solutions to structural impediments identified in the scoping study completed late last year.”

Potential suppliers can submit a tender on AusTender now. The approach to market will close at 9:00am on 28 May 2024.

Source and image credit: Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Comment on story    

Calling all NZ loader operators - be part of this study

Driven by mechanisation, traditional career pathways in forestry crews are evolving. As part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, ‘Te Mahi Ngahere i te Ao Hurihuri – Forestry Work in the Modern Age’, the Scion Human Factors research group is exploring ways to reshape these pathways to empower operators in their learning process and bolster well-being.

Video-based feedback can help improve operator performance by offering specific, timely, and content-rich instruction. To demonstrate this, experienced loader operators used video to identify beneficial work practices in various loading processes and these practices were structured into a performance framework. The importance of operator skill in enhancing productivity, safety, and overall efficiency of skid site activities was highlighted by the framework, as was the need for efficient, controlled machine movements.

Now we are looking to test the performance framework in combination with video feedback to improve loader operator skills within the normal operations of a crew. To do that, we would like to work with a loader operator who believes they have room to improve their skills, is willing to give the system a try and give us feedback on how useful it was.

We will use a sports video analysis app to stream footage of them loading trucks to their phone. They will be given feedback on their loading from two sources:
  1. The performance framework for loading operations that can be used to target areas of improvement; and
  2. Footage of a very accomplished loading operator that can be used as a comparison within the app.
They will need:
  1. To be a full-time loader operator (tracked rather than wheeled).
  2. Access to a smartphone.
  3. A crew boss / foreman willing to capture footage of them loading at least one truck per week for four weeks.
  4. To review that video footage and respond to the feedback.
  5. A couple of hours at the start getting set up to review footage and to run through the process.
  6. An hour at the end of the process to review their experience of learning using video as a feedback tool.
If you are interested, text Trevor Best (Researcher) on (+64) 27 432 3155.

Transport & Logistics 2024 banner

Comment on story    

Future of Gippsland forests?

Miners and prospectors are concerned that the state government’s study into the future of Gippsland’s forests could limit mining and impact local economic growth. The government-appointed taskforce, led by former Environment Minister Lisa Neville, is investigating the forest’s future, including areas used for timber harvesting.

The Minerals Council of Australia and the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria have criticised the lack of mining industry input in the process. The taskforce is considering extending areas of forest into protected conservation zones that are mineral rich. The Minerals Council estimates there is significant potential for gold and critical minerals worth at least $3.4 billion in the area.

The state government says the end of native timber harvesting creates new opportunities to improve forest management, balancing recreation and tourism for Victorians to enjoy outdoors, while protecting the environment and supporting Traditional owner self- determination.

More >>

Source: Australian Rural & Regional News

Comment on story    

Hyne Group further expands

The Hyne Group is now pleased to announce the further expansion of this new operating division, with the acquisition of Express Pallets and Crates (Express), based at Narangba near Brisbane.

Express has been in operation for some 35 years, under the ownership and leadership of Geoff Walton. Geoff will retain ownership of the Pro- Pine sawmilling operation, which will remain an important supplier of timber to the Express business. The acquisition by Hyne only involves the assets and trading business of Express Pallets & Crates.

Express has a very broad and extensive client base, with significant long-term relationships across a range of market segments. This is very compatible with the long-term partnership approach that Hyne operates under, and together with the skills and input from Hyne’s major Scottish shareholder, James Jones & Sons Ltd, Express Pallets & Crates have a great opportunity to continue to be a major supplier of pallets and crates to the QLD market.

Hyne Group CEO, Jim Bindon said it is pleasing to be able to continue to expand the Pallet Division by acquiring excellent quality businesses with their own legacies and strong market positions. “Being part of the Hyne Group and the broader James Jones & Sons global business, only enhances Express Pallets capability and credentials as a business partner to their many clients. As was the case with the recent acquisition of Rodpak, it will be business as usual for the Express brand, staff, suppliers and customers, but with the strong backing and support of the Hyne Group."

The existing General manager, Tim Hoatson, will continue to lead the business, and together with the rest of the management team and indeed all the Express staff, we look forward to all their future contributions, and welcome them into the Hyne Group.” Mr Bindon concluded. 

Geoff Walton said the Sale of his Company to a fellow long-standing QLD family business, was a pleasing outcome after many years of growing and expanding the business: “With the national and global position that the broader Hyne Group now has, this presents really good opportunities for all my team members, customers and suppliers, and I am confident the business will continue to succeed.”

The acquisition of Express Pallets & Crates will finalise on 1 July 2024,subject to all Completion Precedents being met.

More >>

Source and image credit: Hyne Group

WoodTECH News 

Comment on story    

Indonesia halts world's largest forest carbon offsets project

One of the world's largest carbon offset projects faces an uncertain future after Indonesia revoked its licence for violating local regulations. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry's action targets a project spanning over 36,000 hectares in Central Kalimantan, Borneo. Since 2013, the project has issued more than 30 million credits, as reported by non-profit CarbonPlan.

The government accuses licence-holder PT Rimba Raya Conservation of unauthorised licence transfer, operating outside approved boundaries, and failing to make mandated payments to the state. This action has far-reaching implications for carbon exchanges, traders, and companies that rely on Rimba Raya credits for emissions offsets. It also underscores the risks inherent in complex carbon offset projects and the potential impact of shifting government regulations.

More >>

Source: The Edge Singapore

Comment on story    

Remote-controlled firefighting technology demoed

BurnBot, an innovative firefighting technology, has been successfully demonstrated in Incline Village, Nevada. These remote-controlled machines can quickly clear vegetation, reducing wildfire risk. In just 2-3 days, BurnBot cleared 75% of the vegetation on 22 acres – a task that would take a 20-person hand crew 15 days. BurnBot tackles tough terrain, creating defensible spaces, clearing vegetation, and maintaining firebreaks.

The 7,500 pound BurnBots were demonstrated at the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, hosted by the Tahoe Fund and several regional partners.

"This technology can do ten times what hand crews can do," said BurnBot CEO Anukool Lakhina. "Our goal is to make destructive wildfires a thing of the past."

The $50,000 BurnBot demonstration proved its efficiency, impressing Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry. “Twenty-two acres in 3 days is really tremendous,” said Amy Berry. “… you can’t have that level of efficiency from a hand crew.”

More >>

Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune
Image credit: BurnBot

HarvestTECH News banner

Comment on story    

Wooden wind power takes flight

German company Voodin Blade Technology unveils the world's first prototype wooden wind turbine blades, revolutionising renewable energy technology. These innovative blades, made from sustainable laminated veneer lumber (LVL), signal a much-needed shift away from traditional fibreglass and carbon fibre blades that are notoriously difficult to recycle.

"Most old turbine blades end up buried or burned," says Voodin Blade Technology CEO Tom Siekmann. "That's 50 million tonnes of waste by 2050 if we don't act. Our wooden blades make green energy truly green."

Not only are Voodin's blades more sustainable, but their LVL construction also allows for improved automation and flexibility during manufacturing. It's a win-win for cleaner energy and a healthier planet.

More >>

Source: Energy Source & Distribution
Image credit: Voodin Blade Technology

Comment on story    

Major investment in wood pellet plants in California

Drax, a major global manufacturer of wood pellets for bioenergy, has partnered with a California nonprofit in a controversial plan to build two industrial-scale wood pellet plants in the state. These mills would produce and export a combined 1 million tons of pellets annually, primarily to Asian markets. This marks a significant expansion of the biomass industry beyond its current concentration in the U.S. Southeast, raising concerns with forest advocates.

Golden State Natural Resources (GSNR), a state-funded nonprofit promoting rural economic development, has spearheaded the wood pellet plant project for several years. Their plans gained momentum in February when U.K.-based Drax, which operates 17 pellet-making plants in the U.S. Southeast and British Columbia, signed an agreement to join the California project.

Greg Norton, GSNR's president and CEO, has publicly stated the nonprofit's goal is to improve forest health in rural California and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, a problem plaguing the state for decades. After careful consideration, Norton determined that wood pellet production was the best way to utilise "low-value" trees and forest residue, while creating economic opportunities fueled by high demand in Japan and South Korea. These nations imported 6 million metric tons of pellets in 2021 and are expected to import significantly more to help achieve their Paris climate agreement goals of phasing out coal.

“Our purpose is to enhance forest health, leading to forest resiliency with a long-term sustainable project primarily through science-based best practice forest thinning and treatments,” Norton was quoted as saying.

This is, however, growing opposition to the planned wood pellet mills. Environmental groups, Native American and local communities have submitted their comments to authorities to block the development.

More >>

Source: Mongabay

Note: There are also significant investments in forest residues happening in New Zealand. FIEA has just announced the full programme for Residues2Revenues 2024, which is expanding on the scope from previous years. This event will run on 30-31 July 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Residues2Revenues 2024

Comment on story    

Lidar technology for scalable forest inventory

Evaluating the trade-offs between the various platforms.

When considering Lidar technology for forest inventory, it is essential to evaluate the trade-offs of each platform. This article provides some pointers.

There is a critical need for rapid, rigorous, reproducible and scalable forest inventory tools to support data-driven policies and management practices in response to challenges including deforestation and climate change. Lidar technology offers an alternative for automated forest inventory at various scales, but each platform has trade-offs in terms of cost, efficiency, coverage, resolution or more. So what is the solution?

Forests are a globally dominant ecosystem, covering nearly 40% of the Earth’s land area. They provide critical services such as fibre, timber, fuel, carbon dioxide removal, water supply filtering, flood erosion control, recreation and biodiversity sustenance. However, they are constantly challenged by various stressors. As the human population continues to grow, deforestation activities are on the rise to meet the need for material, agricultural land and urban developments.

Such stressors are exacerbated by intensified climate change. These challenges are calling for immediate attention, which was raised by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in its Global Forest Goals Report, 2021. In this report, six goals are set to ensure global forest sustainability. It was emphasised that meeting these goals requires data-driven policies and management practices, powered by accurate/comprehensive inventory.

Examples of essential forest data for proper management include tree count, species, health, height, stem diameter, straightness, taper effect, branch number and branching order/angle. This information is essential for forecasting wood production, timber value, and carbon sequestration rates. Traditionally, inventory of such traits has been conducted manually, which is expensive and time-consuming.

Just as an example, the United States Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) programme spends close to US$100 million annually to inventory 18,000 acres, which corresponds to only 0.002% of the total US forest area. Other than the USA and EU, forest inventory programmes are almost non-existent around the globe. Therefore, there is a critical need for rapid, rigorous, reproducible and scalable inventory tools.

With advances in sensor and algorithmic technologies, remote/near- proximal/proximal sensing – including imaging and Lidar systems onboard space/aerial vehicles, stationary terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) and terrestrial mobile Lidar – has recently been explored as an alternative for automated forest inventory at various scales. These sensors/platforms have trade-offs in terms of cost, field survey efficiency, spatial coverage, spatial resolution and level of detail of the acquired information.

More >>

Source: gim-international

Friday Offcuts Advertise Here

Comment on story    

Entries open - NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2024

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) and Premier Partner, NZI, are delighted to announce the launch of this year’s NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards (the Awards).

“This year’s Awards will reflect the increasing diversity in the enterprises that women own and operate in rural and regional Aotearoa New Zealand,” says National President Gill Naylor. “Following a review, we have revised some of our Award categories to embrace specific sectors that have seen phenomenal growth in recent years.”

“In particular, our judges have noted a significant increase in businesses which provide unique experiences, accommodation and hospitality in amazing rural locations,” says Mrs Naylor.

“Another key trend is the growth of businesses producing and selling incredible products from rural locations. Our NZI Supreme Award winner in 2023, Sophie Hurley of Honest Wolf in Hunterville, is testament to the fact that living rurally need no longer be an impediment to creating and building a hugely successful business.”

“RWNZ is delighted that our Premier Partner, NZI, which shares RWNZ’s goals to strengthen, support and connect people and communities, will be joining us on the Awards journey again this year,” says Mrs Naylor.

NZI’s Executive Manager Agencies and Schemes, Christina Chellew, says: “We are delighted to support the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards as Premier Partner and to recognise and promote innovative rural women in business. Eevery year, judges are impressed by the quality of the entrants, and we have no doubt this year will be even better.

It was a pleasure to meet so many incredible women doing amazing things at the Awards last year. The evening also showcases the vital role rural women play in fostering resilient and prosperous communities, and we are proud to continue to be a part of it,” says Ms Chellew.

Entries close on Friday, 26 July at 5pm. For more information and details on how to enter visit: NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2024 — Rural Women New Zealand

“These Awards provide a fantastic opportunity for women who own and operate rural enterprises to showcase their creativity and innovation. We are looking forward to recognising and celebrating this year’s entrants,” says Mrs Naylor.

Source: Scoop Media / Rural Women New Zealand

Comment on story    

New timber design course at Tasmania Uni

Facilitated by Australian government grant funding, the University of Tasmania in collaboration with WoodSolutions has launched a pilot micro-credential course on Timber Design for Residential Construction.

The micro-credential is structured to make upskilling and stacking credentialed education accessible to busy professionals and students. The course incorporates materials and knowledge from leading industry experts to enable students to learn through real-world case studies and models.

Ideal for engineers, architects, building designers, and other professionals involved in construction planning and coordination, the micro-credential is delivered online with flexible options for self-paced learning and opportunities for networking with industry professionals.

This collaboration between the University of Tasmania, WoodSolutions, and other industry experts provides access to all the latest knowledge and practices for a cutting-edge curriculum. It also provides up-to-date information on industry standards for students to complete the course with practical knowledge that can be applied on the job.

More >>

Source: Architecture & Design

Comment on story    


Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on… Forest 1, Cybertruck 0

A couple of months ago, car enthusiasts were buzzing over Tesla Cybertrucks venturing into National Forest Lands in California. However, after witnessing a series of hilarious Cybertruck mishaps, forest managers are considering offering Tesla a sponsorship deal for a new reality show: 'Cybertruck vs the forest - what not to do.'

"We adore the enthusiasm for exploring our public lands," said Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken, barely suppressing a grin. "But let's just say there's a slight learning curve when it comes to navigating a futuristic truck designed for Mars through, well, actual forests."

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Web page:

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

Brand Partners

Our Partners & Sponsors

Friday Offcuts is made possible through the generous support of the following companies.
We are grateful for this support.

We welcome comments and contributions on Friday Offcuts. For details on advertising for positions within the forest products industry or for products and services, either within the weekly newsletter or on this web page, please contact us.

Subscribe! It's Free!
Advertise Here
Copyright 2004-2024 © Innovatek Ltd. All rights reserved