Friday Offcuts – 27 September 2019

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This week, after a series of well attended FIEA events profiling new technologies to local sawmillers, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller say’s that the country needs to better embrace technology, not treat it as a threat. His comments follow the release of the Productivity Commission's latest report, which says New Zealand needs more technology. Muller says the rapid growth in artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation is already starting to have an impact on Kiwi jobs. He highlights traditional port jobs being replaced by robotic machines with New Zealand tech firms like Robotics Plus, that we featured in last week’s issue, developing robotic solutions for jobs like log measurement scaling operations and fruit picking.

As part of the move to improve the uptake and use of new technology is the absolute requirement to entice young people into our industry – to highlight the array of new technologies now being employed and the variety of opportunities now open to them. This requires targeted communications with Generation Z. It’s not through traditional communication channels that most of us have grown up with. Bill boards, print media and television advertising these days apparently just don’t cut it.

With this in mind it’s great to see that one of Australia’s largest producers of sawn timber products opening their operations through a series of on-line tours. They’re enabling the wider community, with the emphasis on young millennials through the use of digital media, into modern wood processing operations that are stacked with an array of new technology. Australia’s Department of Agriculture likewise has just launched a new suite of communication products to raise the awareness of the Australian forestry industry and forests. Links to the resources are supplied in this week’s issue.

Both of these initiatives complement Forest and Wood Products Australia’s ‘The Ultimate Renewable™’ campaign and the outstanding efforts of the country’s ForestLearning programme where a number of exciting virtual reality classroom tools have been produced to go along with the other many educational resources on forestry and wood products that they’ve developed for teachers and students. Check out this link. For a younger student (and even for us oldies out there), you just have to be impressed. It’s just one of the many tools now being used now to promote the industry. Congratulations to the Australian forest products industry. The Kiwis now just need to look at coordinating their own efforts in this space.

And finally, still in the technology space, we’ve included an article commenting on the impacts of the trade war between US and China. This time though, it’s from a tech rather than from a trade perspective. It looks more closely at US claims that their manufacturing and product technologies are being imitated. It’s suggesting that Trump’s campaign to contain China’s rise is in fact having the opposite effect. It’s actually spurring China’s burgeoning tech sector to accelerate their own design and invention. By bringing design expertise and innovation to the place where the devices are being manufactured means that Chinese companies are able to develop products much faster and more cheaply. Chinese tech start-ups are booming with the country’s corporations now ranking among the world’s most prolific patent applicants. As suggested by the author, trade is one issue and with time, it will be resolved. The trend though of China moving to high-end manufacturing, research and design is unstoppable. And on this note, enjoy this week’s read.

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NZFS celebrates 100-year anniversary

On Tuesday the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the NZ State Forest Service was marked, with a special evening of celebration at Parliament.

The event, hosted by Minister Jones, was attended by around 120 guests, including the Rt. Hon Winston Peters, Members of Parliament, both in Government and opposition, former Ministers of Forestry, forestry sector Chief Executives, and key members from the forestry industry including past Ministry of Forestry Director Generals.

New Zealand’s forestry heritage was well represented by a number of former New Zealand State Forest employees and/or their descendants who flew in from around New Zealand. “To have in one room such a wealth of forestry knowledge and so many people who had significantly contributed to the key milestones that define our forestry heritage, was incredibly special,” said Te Uru Rākau – Forestry New Zealand DDG Julie Collins.

Paul Mahoney, a forestry historian who recently spoke at the HarvestTECH 2019 event in Rotorua, spoke about forestry’s past with three case studies including George & Irene Murray, kauri logging contractors in the Coromandel Ranges back in 1919 when the Forest Service started.

Jim Spiers aged 96 who also spoke at the June harvesting event to launch his new book "When Forestry was Fun. The Evolution of a Forest Engineer" was honoured as the oldest Forest Service attendee on the night. His career “from Dolly to Director” covered logging with Dolly the horse at Tapanui in 1941, to managing Kaingaroa Forest from 1966 through to being the inaugural Director of the Logging Industry Research Association until 1984.

The evening also included the presentation of three forestry awards - specifically developed for the 100-year celebrations – a Forestry Science Award; the Kaitiakitanga Aotearoa Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The winner of the Forestry Science Award was Bruce Manley, who received the award for his dedication to, and leadership within, forestry research, and his innovative work on carbon forestry.

The Kaitiakitanga Aotearoa Award was presented to Guy Salmon for his commitment to the protection of forests, forest ecosystems and the connection of forests to people. The Lifetime Achievement in Forestry Award was presented to Peter Berg in recognition of the true champion of forestry that he is within New Zealand and the Commonwealth. To capture the essence of the past 100 years, a forestry timeline was created for display at the celebrations and as a special souvenir takeaway for guests.

“We also re-enacted a photo originally taken in 1921 when the State Forest Service leadership team were in Wellington for their inaugural conference, with our present leadership team. The photo was taken on the Parliamentary library steps where the original pic was taken,” said Julie. The two photos were on display at the event.

Photo: Paul Mahoney, Forestry Historian, Jim Spiers (ex LIRA), Rt. Hon Winston Peters

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New forestry promotional videos launched

Australia’s Department of Agriculture has just developed a suite of communication products to promote the role of forestry and to raise awareness of the Australian forestry industry and forests as a sustainably managed resource. These products are freely available for use by others in the industry and government.

The videos aim to engage our audiences and to provide information about the forestry industry that reflects the breadth and value of the industry and the true story of forestry in Australia. The links to the short videos are;

Flagship video, showcasing Australia’s forestry industry:

Australian Forestry – planning for tomorrow, today

Four mini-videos that give a short but focused look at four themes:

Australian forestry: benefitting our communities

Technology and innovation lead the way in forestry

Replanting and regrowing for the future

Wood – the ultimate renewable

For more information visit

Source: Department of Agriculture

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Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub launches growth plan

The Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH) on Monday launched a AU$1 billion sustainable growth plan in which an extra 200 million trees will be planted by 2030, sequestering 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. The plan means the GTFIH will contribute 20% of the national growth target outlined in the Federal Government’s Forests for Future initiative.

The new ‘Green Triangle Forestry Industries Hub Action Agenda’ outlines how the industry will increase its economic output by more than 65% to meet projected local and global demand for wood and fibre products, making it a $2.5 billion industry for the region.

It will also support the Green Triangle with a focus on developing skills for the future ensuring a sustainable local wood fibre supply for construction of homes, furniture and household products, and contribute to South Australia’s and Victoria’s s economy and exports.

The plan was launched in Mount Gambier, in the heart of the Green Triangle region, by the nine companies which comprise the GTFIH before nearly 100 local, state and federal stakeholders. GTFIH Chair Linda Sewell said the plan demonstrated the long-term social, environmental and economic commitment of each of the Hub members to the industry and the Green Triangle.

“The Action Agenda is the Hub’s 10-year plan for growing future opportunities for the region, which will contribute to the longer-term prosperity of Green Triangle communities,” Ms Sewell said. “Our industry supports more than 7000 people in the Green Triangle Region by providing a sustainably-produced timber source, fulfilling the needs of people for a whole range of products essential to our daily lives. As stewards of our industry, we want to build on the successes of the past decade and create a significant fibre bowl. The industry has gone from strength to strength, continuing to support local communities and providing stable, long-term employment.”

Ian McDonnell, Deputy Chair of the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub said the Hub will work collaboratively with governments, communities and landholders on implementing the Action Agenda and members will invest up to AU$300 million in local processing and manufacturing equipment upgrades to boost efficiency. “The GTFIH is planning for growth. Without action, we will not be able to meet future demand for timber products and there will be an overall reduction in Australia’s national plantation estate, which will negatively impact the industry and communities that rely on it,” he said.

“This supply constraint has been identified in the Federal Government’s plan, which is calling for one billion trees to be planted across Australia to meet demand and support jobs. We’re excited that our 200 million tree goal is a significant 20 percent of the national target.”

The GTFIH Action Agenda encompasses four core areas of activity which include a commitment to local processing, training and skill development for local people, genuine community engagement and a focus on sustainable initiatives to support future generations. The Action Agenda is an industry-led vision for growth over the next 10 years. Ms Sewell said the Hub is committed to consulting with stakeholders including the local community, government and other interested parties, to ensure that their needs and interests are addressed through the work of the GTFIH.

More detail on the Action Agenda and the GTFIH is available at

Photo: Fed Member, Tony Pasin; Chair of GT Forest Industries Hub, Linda Sewell; Deputy Chair of GT Forest Industries Hub, Ian McDonnell

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Hyne open up operations to wider community

Hyne love to share their passion for timber, but their Australian mills at Tumbarumba NSW and Tuan near Maryborough QLD are just a little out of the way. That’s why they’ve created a new digital mill tour.

The website says “turn your headphones up to “chainsaw” and sit back while our expert team take you through the amazing timber production process. Step inside the kiln, spin around the log yard, and scroll down the production line with video interviews, 360° aerials and hundreds of photos so crisp you can almost smell the pine oil. Enjoy!”

Take the tour.


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Terrestrial LiDAR and hyperspectral imagery solutions

Every year, over 250 resource managers, remote sensing, GIS and mapping specialists, inventory foresters and technology providers from throughout Australasia (and more recently SE Asia) meet up at the annual ForestTECH technology series. Since 2007, it’s the one event every year that’s run in both Australia and New Zealand focussing on this particular part of the forestry industry.

Registrations are flowing in for this year’s technology series and it again is going to be a full house in both countries. Filling up rapidly are the practical half and one-day workshops that this year have been set up to run alongside the two-day conference and exhibitions. Four in total will be running for ForestTECH 2019 delegates, three in New Zealand and one in Australia. For two of them, numbers have been capped and for both, registrations are close to closing.

This week we feature more details on two of the planned workshops.

1. Introduction to Mobile Terrestrial Lidar Solutions for Forestry

This workshop runs the day after the two-day ForestTECH 2019 conference on the morning of Thursday 21 November. The Scion Geomatics team will be showing some of the latest technology that is coming onto the market allowing foresters to collect high spatial accuracy, 3D data of their own forests using portable, handheld devices.

Robin Hartley and David Pont will be working alongside GreenValley International, a US company that specialises in advanced but easy to use aerial, terrestrial, and mobile laser scanning technologies. The workshop will introduce this technology, carry out a demonstration of data capture in a stand of trees on the Scion campus, and then run through the data processing, showing an alternative to traditional measurement techniques.

This technology has all kinds of applications, from basic inventory to stockpile assessments. Workshop participants will be spending the morning learning about an emerging technology and get a feel for how this could be integrated into their own operation. This workshop is being limited to no more than 30 places and seats are being filled on a first in -first served basis.

2. Hyperspectral & Thermal Imagery (acquired by manned and unmanned aircraft and satellite systems) for forestry operations

This half-day workshop runs the day before the two-day ForestTECH 2019 conference in Melbourne, on Tuesday 12 November. The hardware and software associated with hyperspectral imaging is now catching up with operational expectations. This workshop will provide an introduction and examples of how hyperspectral and thermal imagery can contribute to precision forestry.

Workshop presentations will include:

- Pushing hyperspectral hardware and software from research towards operational deployment in the Australian forestry sector, Dr Christine Stone, NSW DPI,
- Hyperspectral imaging for forest health monitoring, Prof Pablo Zarco-Tejada, University of Melbourne,
- Hyperspectral imaging from drones - available platforms & sensors, Associate Prof Arko Lucieer, University of Tasmania,
- Hyperspectral imaging – requirements for calibration, correction and processing of the imagery, Dr Lola Suarez, University of Melbourne,
- The need for hyperspectral imaging for nutrient assessments, Dr Mike Watt, Scion, NZ and
- Current & future hyperspectral satellites, Prof Simon Jones, University of Melbourne.

A planned group discussion has also been planned to confirm the industries R&D priorities with respect to the application of hyperspectral imaging.

Details and registrations to the event and workshops can be made on the event website.

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200 logging trucks roll into downtown Vancouver

As many as 200 logging trucks came rumbling through downtown Vancouver Wednesday, bringing the plight of B.C.’s embattled forestry sector to provincial leaders. Government MLAs and the province’s mayors are gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre for the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention.

Convoy co-organizer Frank Etchart, who owns Nadina Logging Ltd., told Global News action to address mill closures and curtailments in the province is needed immediately.

“We want to bring awareness to the public and to our current sitting government that we are pressed for time, we don’t have time anymore,” he said. “It’s happening. So, we are asking for help and the only one who can help us right now is the government.”

Truckers began departing from various northern B.C. communities early Wednesday morning, and gathered in Merritt before pushing on to the Lower Mainland. By 4 p.m., the convoy that some estimated to be 14 kilometres long began rolling down Hastings Street into the downtown core, blasting their horns along the way.

The convoy was met by hundreds of onlookers, some of them cheering and applauding the truckers. Others held signs voicing support for the forestry industry, reading “forestry feeds my family.” Organizers said they understand the rally will disrupt traffic, but it will highlight an issue that is near and dear to small-town British Columbians who are losing jobs in the forestry industry.

The province says there have been four permanent mill closures in the B.C. interior, affecting between 500 and 700 workers, along with 13 indefinite closures affecting another 1,000 workers. With curtailments included, the province estimates as many as 3,000 workers could be impacted.

More >>


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Female forester toasted 2019 champ

A woman considered the backbone of her company, a camp mum to her crew and a team member who will step into any position was tonight crowned the Northland Forestry Skilled Professional of the Year.

Michelle Harrison, who owns Wise on Wood with husband Nigel, was awarded the top trophy by New Zealand’s Regional Economic Development and Forestry Minister Shane Jones and also won the inaugural PF Olsen Woman in Forestry crown at the fourth annual NFA Northland Forestry Awards before an industry-stacked audience of nearly 500 people.

Those who have worked alongside Michelle had nothing but high praise for this very driven mother of two saying she was always willing to share her knowledge with others and a very talented and capable woman. She was considered a great role model for the industry.

Eighteen years ago, Michelle had married into as well-established logging family, working in the business before she and Nigel started their own ground-based harvesting crew in late 2015. They started small with just two in crew with Michelle initially the log maker and skiddie. The company has grown now, with a crew of seven and Michelle processing more than 350 tonnes a day driving the processor. This year the company notched a record month of in excess of 10,000 tonnes. Michelle also does the office work and the health and safety side of Wise Wood while being a mum, wife, chair of the Okaihau College board of trustees and being with school and sport activities.

She is passionate about the environment and always looking for ways the company can improve its impact on the environment and to protect wildlife within their harvest areas. This year she was instrumental in the relocation of the protected Kauri snails she discovered while helping to prepare an area for harvest. She has also worked with kiwi during and post-harvest, taking on the responsibility of monitoring the birds during harvest. Michelle is hoping to get her kiwi handling licence this year, to be followed by her own kiwi tracking dog.

Wise on Wood has an excellent reputation for its health and safety practices, environmental awareness, producing good returns for forest owners, and all the while keeping harvest managers and staff happy.

Wise on Wood also claimed the Competenz Trainee of the Year with Kiesten-Breeze Repia receiving the certificate and Mark Lavakeiaho walked away with the Forest Industry Contractors Association Emerging Talent of the Year Certificate. Skipps Logging claimed the Blackburne Group Chartered Accountants Contractor of the Year Trophy and the Gough Individual Breaker Out Excellence Award, which went to Caleb Skipps. Rosewarne Cable Loggers picked up two awards, with the company taking out the UDC Training Company/Contractor of the Year crown and Dave Paton winning the AB Equipment Individual Harvesting Excellence Award.


Competenz Trainee of the Year: Kiesten-Breeze Repia (Wise on Wood). UDC Training Company/Contractor of the Year: Rosewarne Cable Loggers. Greenheart Group Forestry Excellence Award (individual): Nick Tombleson (Tombleson Logging Ltd). HPL Roading Excellence Award (individual): Lex Harkness (Trees Out Ltd). AB Equipment Harvesting Excellence Award (individual): Dave Paton (Rosewarne Cable Loggers). Fortuna Distribution Excellence Award: Selwyn Powell (C3). Pacific Motor Group Wood Processing Excellence Award (individual): Ian King (Northpine). Gough Breaker Out Excellence Award (individual): Caleb Skipps (Skipps Logging). Hancock Forest Management Faller Excellence Award (individual): Jason Kay (Northland Forest Managers). Forest Industry Contractors Association Emerging Talent of the Year: Mark Lavakeiaho (Wise on Wood). Woman in Forestry Excellence: Michelle Harrison (Wise on Wood).


Northern Forest Products Ltd Forestry Family of the Year: Lloyd Logging. Blackburne Group Chartered Accountants Contractor of the Year Trophy: Skipps Logging. Summit Forests Outstanding Health and Safety Management Trophy: Wilson Earthmoving. Wise on Wood Outstanding Environmental Management Trophy: Phillips Logging. Northland Forestry Health and Safety Group Northland Forestry Skilled Professional of the Year: Michelle Harrison (Wise on Wood).

Source: Northland Wood Council

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Tech needs to be embraced

New Zealand needs to open up its arms when it comes to new technology, with one industry expert saying we are not coping with enough change. NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says New Zealand needs to embrace technology and not treat it as a threat. His comments come following the release of the Productivity Commission's latest report, which says New Zealand needs more technology.

In its draft report, New Zealand, technology and productivity, the commission looks at the impact of technology on jobs. Muller says New Zealand is not coping with enough tech change and the current tech changes are too slow and too few.

"More and faster technology adoption will open up opportunities to improve New Zealanders living standards," he says. "Embracing technology implies supporting people who are less able to adjust, preparing young people for the future and setting policies and institutions that encourage the entry and uptake of new knowledge, processes, goods and services by firms," Muller explains.

Muller says there are things New Zealand can do now to support smoother transitions and to seize these opportunities. "As the productivity commission says, tech disruption won’t happen overnight, but we can't be complacent," says Muller. "Now is actually a time of opportunity - if we work on improving tech adoption, we will reduce impacts on the future of work and we will improve productivity."

Muller says the rapid growth in artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation is already starting to have an impact on Kiwi's jobs. "Traditional port jobs are being replaced by robotic machines and New Zealand tech firms like Robotics Plus are developing robotic solutions to fruit picking and forestry work," he says. "Even white-collar jobs are changing as more business process automation reduces the need for some skills, such as book-keepers."

Muller says tech and digital skills have been the fastest growing and most in-demand skills across the economy for several years now. The tech sector already employs 100,000 people with another 72,000 IT workers employed in other sectors.


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From toxic to award winning workplace

Seven years ago, Brisbane based sustainable timber specialist Kennedy’s Timbers had stagnated, were facing issues on all fronts, in a tough competitive market and at a risk of closure.

However, a commitment to creating a positive workplace environment has proven successful for Brisbane-based Kennedy’s Timbers in turning the business around and culminating in being named Queensland’s Small Employer of the Year at the Queensland Training Awards held on Saturday, 14 September.

Kennedy’s whose projects include Howard Smith Wharves has found that with a positive workplace culture, both staff and productivity can thrive, which has been the case for the timber business. Owner Mr Michael Kennedy attributes the success of the business to creating an engaging culture which he said was an important formula within the business structure.

“You can spend time on other areas of your business, like continuous improvement, lean manufacturing, but nothing works without getting your culture right,” Mr Kennedy said. “I can make money by slashing costs, being pushy and demanding, but that is a miserable way of doing business. Invest in your culture on an ongoing basis, it needs to be in your veins, you have to live it,” he added.

Investing in the company’s culture has not only retained staff numbers, it has also increased productivity levels and turnover. Twice as profitable as other similar companies within the industry, Kennedy’s Timbers now has 600% lower staff turnover, three times lower staff absenteeism, fewer lost time injury days and one of the lowest Work Cover premiums in the Queensland manufacturing sector. The average length of service of staff has substantially increased from 1 to 6.7 years. Kennedy has also been able to expand and purchase competitors in Victoria and New South Wales and also establish distributors in Western Australia and New Zealand.

While Kennedy’s has always been profitable, there had been staff-retention issues, absenteeism, product complaints and until culture was addressed nothing worked over a sustained period. “The entire staff turned over every year, staff absenteeism was through the roof, workplace accidents all too common and profitability well below industry average. We knew we had good people, but we were struggling to manage them well, get the most out of them and retain them,” Mr Kennedy said.

Dubbed the ‘Aussiest’ of timber guys, Mr Kennedy had heard of the importance of workplace culture, but wrote it off as ‘fluffy’ and intangible. However, with everything else failing, he engaged workplace culture specialist Dr Tony Watt after hearing him speak at a business event. Staff are encouraged to lead the workplace culture program, something Mr Kennedy said was a little scary and alarming to begin with.

“You lose control to a certain degree. It is confronting as you think you are a decent boss, but perception is reality,” he said. The Culture Doctor’s program identified the values and beliefs of the staff and aligned them with those of Kennedy’s company policy. With a new focus on safety; a continuous improvement to customer service; family; respected, work ready teams, Kennedy’s instilled micro-strategies to implement this new commitment to workplace culture.

The program assisted Mr Kennedy to identify the changes he needed to make as a manager and as a result, the culture has been transformed taking the business from strength to strength both doubling in size while improving productivity with just half the staff. It has future proofed the business against market downturns and external shocks. “You can’t see values and beliefs, but you can see the behaviours of people and the behaviours of companies. So what matters is not what you say, but how you behave,’’ said Dr Watt.

“It is my strong belief that looking after the culture of your business is as important as doing your tax and must be a foundation stone to have a successful business in today’s ultra-competitive and ever evolving market,” said Mr Kennedy. After winning the 2019 Brisbane and Queensland Training Awards for Small Employer of the Year, Kennedy’s Timbers will compete for the national Australia Training Award on 21 November.

Photo: Hon Shannon Fentiman MP Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and skills Development, Michael Kennedy, Chris Whiting MP for Bancroft

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Trade war spurs China’s technology innovators

Chinese innovators are rapidly moving from imitating Western technology to surpassing it.

In Shenzhen’s glitzy financial district, a five-year-old outfit creates a 360-degree sports camera that goes on to win awards and draw comparisons to GoPro Inc. Elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta, a niche design house is competing with the world’s best headphone makers. And in the capital Beijing, a little-known start-up becomes one of the biggest purveyors of smartwatches on the planet.

Insta360, SIVGA and Huami join drone maker DJI Technology Co. among a wave of start-ups that are dismantling the decades-old image of China as a clone factory — and adding to Washington’s concerns about its fast-ascending international rival. Within the world’s No. 2 economy, Trump’s campaign to contain China’s rise is in fact spurring its burgeoning tech sector to accelerate design and invention.

The threat they pose is one of unmatchable geography: by bringing design expertise and innovation to the place where devices are manufactured, these companies are able to develop products faster and more cheaply.

“Ninety percent of the world’s headphones are produced in China, 90% of China’s headphones are produced in Guangdong, and 90% of Guangdong’s headphones are made in Dongguan,” explains SIVGA co-founder and product chief Zhou Jian, an 18-year audio industry veteran who has done work for global brands like Sennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co., Sony and Bose.

His company is based in Dongguan because, he says, “Dongguan’s industrial chain is near perfect.” Zhou estimates there are hundreds of specialist factories in the area focusing on a particular component, such as screws, and his network of contacts among those suppliers has been invaluable. It was “support from these good friends” that got SIVGA, short for Sound Impression Via Genuine Artwork, off the ground.

Now employing more than 30 people and offering a premium brand called Sendy Audio, SIVGA sells a luxury pair of $599 headphones called Aiva. Featuring handcrafted wooden ear cups and intricately detailed metal grilles, the Aiva have shipped more than 2,000 units into a niche, high-margin market that’s usually reserved for U.S. boutique outfits like Audeze and Campfire Audio.

“As far as we know, we are the only company in Dongguan with a woodworking department,” Zhou says, while also pointing out that at SIVGA “the development time is short and many decisions can be made on the spot.” This instant design responsiveness is a signature feature of China’s new tech upstarts, and Zhou sums it up with an old Chinese proverb: “small boats change course easier than big boats.”

DJI is the pioneer that proved Chinese tech companies could aspire to be more than just manufacturing contractors or fast copiers. “DJI leads the industry with features like automatically avoiding obstacles in flight, which it implemented first,” notes Techsponential lead analyst Avi Greengart.

“Rivals in the U.S., France and Taiwan have not been able to catch up.” DJI’s lead is based on the same geographic synergies as SIVGA’s. When a U.S. rival suffers a manufacturing hitch or defect, its ability to identify and react to the problem is hampered by the distance between its designers and manufacturers. DJI doesn’t have that problem, which has helped propel it to being the top drone maker in the world.

“These are Chinese companies that want to be industry leaders and innovators. DJI and Insta360 are perfect examples of that movement,” says Anshel Sag, mobile industry analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy.

More >>


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Bamboo explored for Australian construction

A passion for sustainable construction led University of Queensland Ph.D. student Mateo Gutierrez to explore the potential of bamboo as an environmentally friendly local building material. Bamboo is fast becoming a popular choice in Australia for flooring and furniture, but Mr Gutierrez said global construction industries could be transformed if building regulations incorporated bamboo as a structural building material option.

"Bamboo is an excellent building material because it is highly renewable and it has remarkable mechanical properties, it's light-weight, flexible and strong," Mr Gutierrez said. "It's fast-growing as it is actually a grass, which increases the turnaround of harvests from timber's 30 years to three years for bamboo poles—there are many benefits."

After joining the University's fire safety engineering research group UQ Fire in 2016, Mr Gutierrez, a structural engineer by trade, began looking at the performance of bamboo structures when exposed to fire.

Global company MOSO International has provided the UQ Fire team with industry support, contributing engineered bamboo beams for laboratory-based fire testing. "During testing, we found that when burning, bamboo creates a char layer that protects the inner layers that are not directly exposed to fire, which means it's relatively hard-wearing in a fire" he said.

"Like timber, bamboo suffers a reduction in structural integrity at high temperatures, but our goal is to understand how that reduction occurs and how we can predict the failure of load-bearing elements in a building. We aim to develop design frameworks that can predict how bamboo buildings will fare in fires, and these could be used to inform revisions of the Australian building regulations, and perhaps see bamboo in Australian urban environments."

Mr Gutierrez said bamboo still had some limitations as a structural material that needed to be worked through, like weak production chains, a lack of harvesting and engineering technology in the developing countries where it is mostly produced, as well as the misconception that bamboo isn't as strong or long-lasting as other materials.

But despite this, the material has already been used around the world to create amazing architectural marvels like Ibuku's Sharma Springs residence in Bali and in the beautiful designs of acclaimed architect Simon Velez, in Mr Gutierrez's home country of Colombia. In the face of climate catastrophe, Mr Gutierrez said bamboo offers the construction industry a sustainable solution with a far lower carbon footprint than other options.

"With research advancing in the area of bamboo fire safety, bamboo buildings in Brisbane are closer than we might think."


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One Billion Trees doing nicely says Minister

The One Billion Trees Fund has just hit two significant milestones that will create more than 7,500 hectares of new forest cover, New Zealand’s Forestry Minister Shane Jones says. Speaking at a celebratory dinner at Parliament to mark 100 years of the New Zealand Forestry Service this week, Minister Jones said the One Billion Trees Fund was helping put forestry back on the map.

The Fund offers direct grants to landowners for planting and regeneration projects, as well as partnership funding to co-fund projects that aim to reduce the barriers to tree planting.

“We launched the Fund late last year and I’m pleased with the progress we’re making,” Shane Jones said. “We’ve now approved more than 170 funding grants worth more than NZ$15 million. I’m particularly delighted that eight of these approvals are for Māori Freehold Land, where the $1.7 million allocated will see planting cover almost 1,000 hectares”.

“We know that growing the right trees, in the right place, for the right purpose will help build resilient ecosystems and help us deliver our climate change objectives.” The grants approved to date reflect an exciting range of initiatives, the length and breadth of the country.

“A key component of the grants is to provide funding for farmers to integrate trees onto their land to improve productivity, for example retiring unproductive land through trees, and help diversify their income,” Shane Jones said.

The grant scheme is in addition to the Crown Forestry joint ventures, which are also contributing to the One Billion Trees goal. “There are currently 33 forestry joint ventures covering 19,446 hectares with 17.5 million trees to be planted. Almost 13 million seedlings have been planted since the scheme started in 2018,” Shane Jones said.

Get the details of Crown Forestry joint ventures here and further information about the grants and partnerships can be found here.

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... marriages

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time. (Her previous 3 husbands had passed away.)

The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband's occupation. "He's a funeral director," she answered.

"Interesting," the newsman thought.

He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living. She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.

After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her early 20's, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40's, and a preacher when in her 60's, and now in her 80's, a funeral director.

The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

Wait for it.....

She smiled and explained, "I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."

Ok, one more. Marvin found the following ransom note slipped under his front door. "Bring $50,000 to the 17th hole of your country club tomorrow at 10:00 AM if you ever want to see your wife alive again."

But it was well after 1:00 PM by the time he arrived at the designated meeting spot. A masked man stepped from behind a bush and demanded, "You're three hours late. What took you so long?"

"Give me a break!" said Marvin, pointing to his scorecard. "I'm a 27 handicap."

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
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