Friday Offcuts – 29 September 2017

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This week saw the completion of a very successful Wood Technology week in Rotorua, New Zealand. The second leg of FIEA’s WoodTECH 2017 series ran earlier in the week for local sawmilling companies. Over 200 attended in New Zealand, over 400 for the Australasian series. The focus has been on new technologies and innovations from around the world designed to improve local mill’s production speeds from their saw-lines along with lumber yields. Sawmilling trouble-shooters have also been outlining a raft of inexpensive operating practices that can be employed to get more out of the existing equipment and mill set-up.

Architects, engineers, building owners, property developers and suppliers of engineered wood products from about the country then took up the opportunity yesterday to attend a national building conference. It was the second of its type run in New Zealand. It’s focus, like WoodTECH was on wood, not so much on the production but in showcasing recent advances, practices and early lessons from those using timber in mid-rise construction. Large numbers of engineers and technical consultants in Australia are already working with wood, particularly in multi-residential mid-rise construction. The message is clear. This building practice like that across the Tasman, is going to be adopted much more rapidly in New Zealand. In fact, based on the array of innovative case studies dicussed yesterday, it’s already well underway. Updates from this week’s industry events will follow in future issues.

Other news this week, particularly around new technology includes New Zealand being announced as one of the top digital economies in the world and we've got an update on industrial 3D printing. Apparently it isn’t quite there yet to replace traditional machining processes (WoodTECH delegates got some rare insights into construction 3D printing technologies and just where they’re going over the last couple of weeks). Out of left field we also have a couple of “blue sky projects” – wood’s being looked at for electronics (it can be made into an electrical conductor) and researchers have developed a new packaging that uses cellulose which protects food. Unlike plastic though, it’s actually edible.

Finally, to finish on, remember, early-bird discounted registrations finish today for this region’s annual technology update for forest resource managers, inventory foresters and GIS specialists for the November ForestTECH 2017 series. And, we have another video of early forestry footage sent in by a reader this week. It covers the evolution of logging on the West Coast of Canada from the very early years through to the more modern highly mechanized forestry operations, including both heli-logging and underwater log extraction Enjoy this week’s read.

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NZ structural log prices climb to 23-year high

New Zealand structural log prices edged up to the highest level in more than two decades as mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the local construction market.

The price for structural S1 logs lifted to $128 a tonne this month, from $127 a tonne last month, and is sitting 11 percent above last year's level and 21 percent higher than the five-year average, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. The S1 structural log price is at its highest level since April 1994.

Demand for New Zealand logs is strong in China, New Zealand's largest log market, with in-market prices for unpruned logs at their highest level since mid-2014 and pruned log prices just shy of their last peak in mid-2016, AgriHQ said.

China has clamped down on harvesting of its own forests and reduced tariffs on imported logs. It imported 2,894,326 tonnes of logs in July, the highest level since April 2014, with New Zealand recording the largest lift, making up 37 percent of imports in the month, ahead of the 35 share it typically holds, AgriHQ said.

"As far as the market is concerned, any potential downward movement in values will have to be driven by wharf-gate values," said AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick. "Mills are ruing the on-going strength of the export market, forcing them to meet these values or find themselves short on supply."

Some mills have paid premiums above the main contract market to secure supplies from the spot market, Brick said, noting that the current price for structural S1 logs is about $3 a tonne more than the wharf gate price A-grade logs.

Still, Brick said further upward movement in prices is less likely as domestic pruned log supply moved into balance over recent weeks and export interest remains short of the level experienced in early 2016.

He noted residential construction activity is slowing in Canterbury as the bulk of the earthquake rebuild reaches completion, while talk of stagnating house prices has slowed building from property investors. "Whether this is a temporary state brought about by winter or an indication of a longer-term trend will become more obvious over the next month or two," Brick said. "Other areas have displayed a little more resilience, though it does appear that construction has come back from its peak through Auckland and the central North Island."

Source: Scoop

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Australia’s P&P industry a world leader

An independent report assessing Australia’s pulp and paper industry confirms it is a world leader in sustainability and innovation, setting the agenda with ambitious investments in renewable energy and cutting-edge technology to underpin local manufacturing and many regional jobs.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO Ross Hampton said: "This report reinforces the many socio-economic benefits the pulp and paper industry delivers to the community. Australia's pulp and paper mills support almost 70,000 full-time jobs - mostly in rural and regional areas - and generate AU$940 million in exports."

The Report also found Australia's percentage of paper and paperboard recovery and recycling has increased dramatically over the last decade, putting it ahead of Europe and the USA. At 73.7 per cent, Australia's implied paper and paperboard recycling rate compares favourably to Europe, at 71.5 per cent, and the USA, at 66.8 per cent. The sector is also supplied by a local forest industry that ranks highly for independently certified, sustainable practices.

The 2016 National Pulp and Paper Sustainability Report, prepared by independent pulp and paper industry consultant IndustryEdge, and published by AFPA, looked at key sustainability indicators including regional employment and economic development, wood fibre sustainability, energy efficiency, trade, water use, innovative new products, and recycling.

Source: AFPA

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Japan's Daiken acquiring NZ building materials maker

Building materials maker Daiken Corp. will acquire Dongwha New Zealand at the end of December, the company announced last week, in an effort to expand its sales of medium-density fibreboard. The size of the deal has not been announced, but it is thought to be around 10 billion yen ($89.7 million).

Both companies produce medium-density fibreboard, a material often used in housing construction. Daiken already has production centres in New Zealand and Malaysia and is hoping to expand operations through Dongwha's sales networks in Oceania and North America.

Through its local subsidiary, Daiken will acquire all of Dongwha's shares from the Hong Kong-based parent company and other minority stockholders. Dongwha's sales were 91.59 million New Zealand dollars ($67 million) for the fiscal year ended December.

Plywood is the more commonly used material in Japan, but Daiken is trying to promote MDF, which is highly durable. "This is just a first step toward expanding MDF operations," said Masanori Okuda, president of Daiken. "We will continue to actively invest if there are good deals going forward."


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A blast from the past

Another video clip that you might find interesting sent in by a reader with some earlier footage of early logging. This video documentary traces the evolution of logging on the West Coast of Canada from the early days using animal power, to the era of the "steam donkey" and railway logging, leading up to modern highly mechanized forestry operations, including heli-logging and underwater logging.

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Agreement signed for CHH sawmill

OneFortyOne Plantations (OFO) announced it has signed a Sale Agreement with Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) for the purchase of the Jubilee Highway sawmill in Mount Gambier, and the Woodchip operations at Portland. OFO had previously announced its intention to acquire these operations from CHH on 29 August 2017.

While the acquisition remains subject to approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the signing marks the next stage of the sale process. OFO Chief Executive Officer, Linda Sewell commented, “The acquisition will provide further security for our sector and the workforce as there will be no job losses from the change in ownership.

We’re proud of the role that we have in our vibrant regional industry and are committed to retaining a diverse and enduring customer base and to meeting our obligations to the State for an average age of clearfall of 32 years or greater,” Ms Sewell said.

Since assuming custodianship of the forests five years ago, OFO has expanded supply to all major local mills and increased supply to domestic customers by more than 45%. OFO has no plans to expand the mill going forward. Source: OFO

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CSIRO invests in sophisticated satellites

CSIRO has secured access to one of the world's most sophisticated high-performance satellites, giving Australian scientists direct control over which data the satellite collects over our region and placing the national science agency at the forefront of Australia's civilian space science sector.

Due for launch later this year, the NovaSAR satellite will provide CSIRO and the wider Australian research community with access to an advanced form of radar technology known as S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar, or S-band SAR, which provides high resolution images of Earth from space.

Developed by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), and with a payload supplied by Airbus UK, this S-band SAR technology is a significant advancement on current civilian satellite capability. It enables images to be taken day and night, and through cloud cover, which is especially useful in tropical zones and cloud-affected areas.

CSIRO and SSTL have agreed to a 10 per cent share of 'tasking and acquisition' time on the NovaSAR satellite. Under the terms of the agreement, worth AU$10.45 million over seven years, CSIRO has the right to direct the satellite's activity over Australia, download and process data, and make these data available to the wider research community.

Australia's Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Arthur Sinodinos, said the agreement was a timely investment in Australia's space capability. "Australia is one of the largest users of Earth Observation from Space data world-wide, with satellite data underpinning more than 100 state and federal resource mapping and environmental monitoring programs across Australia," Minister Sinodinos said.

"This agreement will allow CSIRO, via its national facility management capability, to strengthen Australia's delivery of excellence in science and innovation. It will help CSIRO lead our nation's development in the technical and analytical capability of modelling, monitoring and analysing our natural resource management and approaches to infrastructure.

Dr Dave Williams, Executive Director of Digital, National Facilities and Collections at CSIRO, said "because we'll be able to direct the satellite's activity, it provides significant opportunities to support a wide range of existing research, further develop Australia's earth observation data analytics expertise, and create new opportunities in the field of remote sensing."

Source: CSIRO

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Forestry firm's new branch opens in South Canterbury

Timaru's port looks set to benefit from an Australasian forestry management business branching out to a new operation in South Canterbury, New Zealand. PF Olsen has opened their new regional office in Timaru. At the opening, chief executive Peter Clark said the firm, one of the largest in its sector in Australasia, producing timber from 330,000 hectares across New Zealand and Australia, was setting the new regional office as a "local extension" of its international operations.

"We have well established offices in Christchurch and Dunedin, but there is a lot of country and a lot of forestry blocks in between ... we need feet on the ground. We need to be close to forests and their owners." PF Olsen South Canterbury manager Henry Morris told the gathered audience that the firm was headquartered in Rotorua, from where it ran a series of "regional headquarters, which in turn oversee district branches".

"This new Timaru office is one of these satellite offices working under the Canterbury branch in the Northern South Island region." Morris reiterated the firm's commitment to using PrimePort as a gateway for exporting timber. "We sell our logs into the best markets ... we have teamed up with Pacific Forest Products to export our logs.

PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt said logging exports were the port's main bulk export item, second to dairy products. Last year 400,000 tonnes of logging exports left the port and the addition of PF Olsen using the port to export would see PrimePort have four logging exporters, he said.


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NZ’s digital economy among the world’s best

New Zealand has been announced as one of the top digital economies in the world in the 2017 Digital Evolution Index by the Fletcher School at Tufts University in partnership with Mastercard.

The second Digital Evolution Index (DEI) research, tracks the progress countries have made since 2014 in developing their digital economies and integrating connectivity. New Zealand was identified as one of the digital elite economies, alongside the UK, Singapore, UAE, Hong Kong and Japan.

New Zealand’s strong digital economy was attributed to a positive combination of infrastructure, incubating start-ups, a cultural commitment to innovation, and government support.

The research maps the development of 60 countries, demonstrating their competitiveness and market potential for further digital economic growth. The index measures four key drivers Supply (or internet access and infrastructure), Consumer demand for digital technologies, Institutional environment (government policies/laws and resources) and Innovation (investments into R&D and digital start-ups), through 170 unique indicators.

The link to the full report and methodology can be found here.

Source: Scoop

Record US$2B spent battling forest fires

The US Forest Service has spent more than US$2 billion battling forest fires around the country — a record as wildfires blacken the American West in one of the nation’s worst fire seasons. Wildfires have ravaged the West this summer with 64 large fires burning across 10 states as of Thursday, including 21 fires in Montana and 18 in Oregon.

In all, 48,607 wildfires have burned nearly 33,586 square kilometers. The fires have stretched firefighting resources, destroyed more than 500 homes and triggered health alerts as choking smoke drifted into major Western cities.

The Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the nation’s primary firefighting agency. The spending figure announced last week marks the first-time wildfire spending by the Forest Service has topped US$2 billion. The previous record was US $1.7 billion in 2015.

The figures do not include spending by Interior Department agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, nor do they include spending by state and local governments. The Interior Department says it has spent at least US$391 million with several weeks left in the fire season. The previous record for combined federal firefighting costs was US$2.1 billion in 2015.

This year’s fires have renewed discussions about thinning overgrown forests to reduce the risk. Forest fuels are at “powder keg levels,” said Paul Hessburg Sr., a Forest Service research landscape ecologist. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday directed land managers and park superintendents in his department to be more aggressive in cutting down small trees and underbrush.


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Drone scanning of timber stacks

At WoodTECH 2017 in Rotorua this week, TimberSmart joined Saito to showcase a new drone scanning technology that can be used in the mill or timber yard to collect packet data. The drone has the ability to travel up to the top stack and using the attached camera, photograph and collect information from labels or tags. This technology eliminates ladders or scissor lifts and allows staff to accurately stock take simply and safely. "This is phase one of an exciting new development" said John Lawrence, Trans-Tasman Business Manager - Sales, Saito. You can check out the technology in the video below.

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Graphene made out of wood

When you think about electrical superconductors, the first material that comes to mind probably isn’t wood. That could soon change, however, thanks to the pioneering work of scientists at Rice University, who have successfully made wood into an electrical conductor by transforming its surface into all-around wonder material graphene.

To do this, a team led by Rice chemist James Tour used an industrial laser to blacken a thin film pattern onto a block of pine. The specific pattern is something called laser-induced graphene (LIG), a method for creating flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene without the need for hot furnaces and controlled environments.

It was discovered at Rice in 2014, but was initially applied only to sheets of inexpensive plastic called polyimide. This marks the first time the technique has been applied to wood. Pine works as a substitute for polyimide because of a similar mechanical structure, courtesy of an organic polymer called lignin.

The LIG process (or, in this case, pine laser-induced graphene, aka P-LIG) is carried out in an inert argon or hydrogen atmosphere. The lack of oxygen means the heat from the laser does not burn the pine, but instead transforms its surface into wrinkled flakes of graphene foam bound onto the wood’s surface. Following experimentation, 70 percent power was discovered to be the optimal amount of laser power to produce the highest-quality graphene possible.

Compared with polyimide, the advantage of turning wood into graphene is that wood is an abundant and renewable resource. Given the astonishing number of potential applications for graphene– from highlighting structural defects in buildings to creating new types of speakers to, yes, detecting cancer — this could prove to be a significant breakthrough.

For now, however, it seems the main application the Rice researchers are interested in relates to electronics. Specifically, they are hoping to harness the conductive properties of the pine laser-induced graphene to create supercapacitors for energy storage. With the massive amount of electronic waste that is produced every year, the idea of biodegradable, eco-friendly wooden electronics carries obvious benefits. A paper describing Rice University’s research was recently published in the academic journal Advanced Materials.

Photo: Source:

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NZ forest managers display transparency in global first

In an effort for transparency, FSC certified forest managers have created a high-resolution map showing the location and borders of the forests they harvest. This is timely in a context of a broader discussion to develop spatial data, at FSC but also in the forestry sector in general.

The map is publicly available and downloadable on the FSC NZ website here. The map has come a long way. It was created according to a request from different environmental organisations, community associations, individuals and companies.

As per the FSC principles and criteria, any stakeholder must be able to contact Forest Management companies to share any supported concerns if they think companies are not managing the land in a responsible way.

Forest managers came together to discuss the matter and agreed to provide relevant data on a voluntary base in order to create the map. Although not all companies have shared their data, we hope they will be encouraged to follow the same path. This “NZ Made” initiative is also a first around the globe!

The FSC Standard Development Group (the team adapting the FSC 10 global principles and criteria to make them locally relevant) have already gained a fairly renown reputation among other countries for the quality of open discussions and the uniqueness of having a Maori Chamber apart from the required economic, social and environmental Chambers.

FSC says this development is very encouraging for stakeholders’ engagement and it hopes other countries will see this map as a positive example of what can be achieved.

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Edible food wrap using cellulose

A group of researchers at Oregon State University have created an ingenious new way to protect and preserve expireable foods like meat, cheese, and cut fruit and vegetables. The team of scientists, which includes OSU Professor of Food Science Yanyun Zhao, who has also worked as a value-added food products specialist with the OSU extension service, developed a delicate film that works like plastic wrap to keep moist foods fresh. However, this wrap has many benefits that typical plastic wrap does not, such as being edible.

Zhao has studied ways of enriching food and keeping food fresh for several years. Her first big break in food protection innovation occurred in 2004 at OSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology, when Zhao and her colleagues discovered that mixing a fiber derived from crustacean shells with a protein from egg whites could create an edible wrap that not only protects food, but increases its nutritional value. In 2009, Zhao led a team of scientists in creating an edible coating to protect fish fillets, and in 2013, she worked with other scientists to find nutrition-rich and sustainable ways to use leftover grapes that are normally discarded after making wine.

Zhao’s most recent development in food sciences was inspired by her 2004 discovery surrounding the benefits of using chitosan, a fiber extracted from crab shells, in materials used to cover food. The material that she and her colleagues— Zilong Deng and Jooyeoun Jung— created this year is made out of a combination of chitosan and a cellulose nanofiber extracted from wood pulp.

Chitosan has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that keep food from going bad; more specifically, it keeps the food from succumbing to bacteria like E. Coli, or oxidizing when exposed to air. The second ingredient in the special wrap is a cellulose nanofiber that provides the benefit of protecting foods that have wet surfaces and a high-water content, like meat and fruit, without dissolving.

In addition to increasing the shelf life of these foods, the newest wrap has the benefit of being completely safe to eat. According to OSU’s extension service regarding Zhao’s earlier experiments with chitosan protein, these edible and antimicrobial coverings are nutritious and can be enriched with vitamins.

The results from this latest study were published online in the LWT Journal of Food Science and Technology. If approved by the FDA for human consumption, the film could replace materials like plastic wrap or waxed paper that are currently used in meat packaging, which are unfortunately not biodegradable.

Source: Corvallis AdvocateNews,

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Metal 3D printing not replacing machining - yet

The ambitious claims of 3D printing technology to revolutionize the way we do almost anything has the potential, but the technology is not quite there yet, at least not in the near future. This is because we imagine a world made out of 3D printers. You’ll often read about how 3D printing is used to build homes, aircraft components, or even guns. But the uses are limited and aren’t always clearly defined.

You may see some of the highly inspiring, artistic yet functional objects promoted by metal 3D printing advocates, but you won’t find anyone talking about the efforts, cost, and build time that would have gone into developing that object.

There are investments happening, however, to enhance the reliability of industrial 3D printing in terms of operation and print quality. Even so, the technology is still not at a stage to replace the traditional machining processes. In fact, machining still has a long runway, and 3D printing can be seen as a good complement to it.

There are multiple reasons to actually not consider rapid prototyping as a replacement to machining. Read more.


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Buy and Sell

...and one to end the week on ... the perfect husband

Not sure if we've run this one or not.

Several men are in the locker room of a golf club. A cellular phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker function and begins to talk. Everyone else in the room stops to listen.

MAN: "Hello"

WOMAN: "Hi Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?"

MAN: "Yes."

WOMAN: "I'm at the shops now and found this beautiful leather coat. It's only $4,000; is it OK if I buy it?"

MAN: "Why not - go ahead if you like it that much."

WOMAN: "I also stopped by the Lexus dealership and saw the new models. I saw one I really liked."

MAN: "How much?"

WOMAN: "$160,000."

MAN: "OK, but for that price it must come with all the options."

WOMAN: "Great! Oh, and one more thing... I was just talking to Janie and found out that the house I wanted last year is back on the market. They're asking $2,550,000 for it."

MAN: "Well, then go ahead and make an offer of $2,500,000. They'll probably take it. If not, you can go the extra fifty thousand if it's what you really want."

WOMAN: "OK. I'll see you later! I love you so much!"

MAN: "Bye!"

The man hangs up.

The other men in the locker room are staring at him in astonishment, mouths wide open.

He turns and asks, "Anyone know who's phone this is?"

Ok, a few more for you. Five great confusions still unresolved

1. At a movie theatre, which arm rest is yours?

2. In the word scent, is "S" silent or "C"?

3. If people evolve from monkeys, why are monkeys still around?

4. Why is there a 'D' in fridge, but not in refrigerator?

5. Who knew what time it was when the first clock was made?

And on that note, enjoy your 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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