Friday Offcuts 2 July 2021
And for local architects, engineers, specifiers, building project managers, designers, quantity surveyors, BIM specialists, engineers and wood producers, New Zealand’s annual mass timber building event, WoodWorks 2021, is scheduled to run in Rotorua on 21-22 September. The conference and exhibitions, the sixth time that it’s been run, will bring together leaders in engineered wood design and construction. The event showcases the practical experiences of a range of building professionals and focuses on completed innovative New Zealand and Australian timber projects. Details on the event, programme information and registrations can all now be made on the event website.
In New Zealand this week came the sad news about the passing of two of our colleagues, both well-known in the forestry and timber industries. Grant Duffy, WorkSafe NZ’s Forestry Lead, well known and respected as a safety champion out there in the forest, tragically passed away following a fall. And Jason Guiver, working over many years with so many of New Zealand’s major wood suppliers and at the forefront of promoting the use of engineered wood and timber buildings, unfortunately also passed away last week. Both are going to be sorely missed and our sympathies go out to their families, their work colleagues and to their friends.
Finally, we’ve included a story out of the US that delves into the underlying reasons why the lumber industry so mis-read Covid. As we know, home buying and renovation set lumber prices soaring. Prices more recently though have fallen lumber futures dropped more than 40% in June alone) but are still nearly double their pre-pandemic rates — in what could potentially be the new pricing level for the near term. The same issues have applied to this part of the world. We’ve had the same supply and demand imbalances. The question being asked locally, like the US, is just how far will lumber prices fall (note, June’s drop in the US was the worst month on record dating back to 1978) and how long will the demand in construction, home building and renovations continue. On this note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Optimistic outlook for tree seedlings supplier"Strong momentum and supportive tail winds" have created an optimistic outlook for the New Zealand operation of a global genetics seedling company. United States-headquartered ArborGen is the largest supplier of tree seedlings in the world, selling 400million a year worldwide.
Its New Zealand operation comprises six nurseries, two seed orchards, a Ministry for Primary Industries-accredited Level 3 post-entry quarantine facility and tissue laboratory. The quarantine facility was used for importing seeds and plants to meet biosecurity requirements. It also has about 3000 radiata pine varietals across 90 trial sites.
In 2014, the company bought a nursery in Edendale which was started by the now defunct New Zealand Forest Service. It grows and sells about six million seedlings and cuttings annually to forest estate owners in Otago and Southland. The NZX-listed company also has operations in Brazil and Australia.
In its recent full-year results, the company posted a $US3.2million profit ($NZ4.5million) for the 12 months ended March 31, up from a $US2.7million loss the previous year.
After three years of constrained supply and an increase of its genetically enhanced seedlings (known as MCP seed) available, seedling production was offering a substantial margin growth, chief executive Andrew Baum said. The company was expecting a further rise in availability of its MCP seed in the coming year, Mr Baum said.
ArborGen believed it had a 40% market share in New Zealand, supplying mainly corporate forestry companies. Its New Zealand and Australia general manager Greg Mann said New Zealand’s forestry sector was in an "up-cycle" at present. That was being driven by factors including the replanting of forests that were established in the last planting boom in the late 1980s and a drive regarding new plantings.
"Government policies like OneBillion Trees, land-use change, planting out low-productivity sloping sheep and beef land, Government responses around climate change and improvements to water and soil quality are all helping. There are a lot things that are driving demand at the moment," Mr Mann said.
He believed the challenge for the New Zealand business over the next decade would be meeting supply and demand challenges. "The total New Zealand market for seedlings over the last 10 years has varied around 45[million] and 145million units in any given year." Mr Mann believed the New Zealand market was currently performing at the upper end of that scale and would be for the "next few years".
C3 opens new checkpoint at Port NelsonC3 Limited, part of LINX Cargo Care Group, has officially opened its new checkpoint facility at Port Nelson in New Zealand’s South Island. The new facility is a complete upgrade of the site’s original facility that had been used for more than 25 years and was no longer fit for purpose.
The new facility spans more than 1,000 square metres and features three covered checkpoint lanes with new AS/NZS 1657 compliant scaling ramps for fall from height protection, a workshop, checkpoint office, staff facilities and a main office.
The new facility is equipped with C3’s COM3TS technology which enables the efficient processing of more than one million JASm3 (Japanese Agricultural Standard) of logs the facility currently handles, with the capability to scale up its capacity in line with any rise in demand in the future.
C3 Limited and Pedersen Group COO, Gavin Hudson, said the design of the new facility had to not only meet strict planning guidelines and standards – particularly around earthquake resistance – but also look to the future in terms of handling increasing capacities while providing employees with a safer work environment.
“We have around 70 people working at this site, all of whom play a crucial role in keeping our customers’ export logs moving. This new checkpoint and its great facilities will go a long way in helping C3 to continue to safely deliver an uninterrupted and efficient service for our customers,” said Hudson.
Photo L-R: Hugh Morrison – CEO, Port Nelson; Matt Parker - Site Manager, Scott Construction; Gavin Hudson - COO – C3 Limited and Pedersen Group; Brandon Kay – Operations Manager– CGW Consulting Engineers
Clever use of timber in modular designThe NearHome project, supported by £250,000 in Scottish Government funding, has formed a team of construction, sustainability, office design, and technology experts to develop a blueprint for a self-build, modular approach to office fit out using a kit that can be replicated and adapted to different types and sizes of buildings. With housing shortages being such an issue on this part of the world, maybe a similar modular approach could be adapted locally?
Forestry industry loses safety championI am deeply saddened to advise that our Forestry Lead Grant Duffy passed away last week following a fall. Many of you will have worked with Grant, and like me, you will remember Grant’s strong commitment to improving health and safety outcomes for the sector.
Grant was a passionate advocate for the right of everyone working in forestry (and in every workplace) to go home healthy and safe at the end of every day. He was so proud, as I am, of what he’s achieved as Forestry Lead at WorkSafe and alongside sector organisations in changing attitudes and behaviour from the forest floor to the boardroom.
Grant had a wonderful ability to build valuable, productive relationships and to focus on making work better, healthier and safer. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues in WorkSafe and across the forestry sector.
Grant’s memorial service will be held at Goldie Estate, Waiheke Island at 2pm on Monday 5 July.
Phil Parkes, CEO, WorkSafe
Source: WorkSafe NZ
Outsight launches real time LiDAR solutionIn a recent launch, Outsight said that they are bringing the power of real-time LiDAR technology to the forestry industry. In an associated media release, they were offering;
• An automated 3D solution that produces a 360° forest mapping in real time, and collects data on individual trees which operators can digitally tag
• Portable: the LiDAR box integrating Outsight’s software can be carried in a backpack and connected to a tablet for real-time surveys
• 3 to 5 times faster than usual data collecting methods while being accurate and exhaustive
• Offers GPS geolocation, allowing operators to overlap maps, if necessary
Outsight, a leader in 3D Spatial Intelligence, has announced the launch of the first real-time LiDAR solution for the forestry industry. Drawing on its established LiDAR expertise in other industries, Outsight has developed a mapping solution capable of generating a comprehensive 3D map of a forest in real-time. Taking no longer than the time needed for the human or machine operator to traverse the plot, Outsight’s solution automatically determines the exact position and characteristics of trees. On-site operators can digitally tag each tree with supplemental information, including species or the presence of insects, that can be used for further analysis.
This solution further builds upon Outsight’s expertise in the environmental and forestry sectors. In July 2020, Outsight was selected from a large pool of candidates to be a recipient of the European Innovation Council’s inaugural Green Deal funding. A part of the European Union’s Green Deal Strategy, Outsight was chosen for its LiDAR-based environmental and forestry management and conservation solutions.
Outsight’s solution is already being used by forestry researchers around the world. Esteemed forestry professor, Philippe Nolet, has been using Outsight’s LiDAR processing technology to assist in his forest monitoring research at Université du Québec en Outaouais in Gatineau, Canada.
“With Outsight, we’re able to complete our surveys of the forest three times faster”, says Philippe Nolet. “Then, when we’re back in the office, we have a detailed inventory of the plot with all our notes automatically tagged to each tree, saving us a huge amount of time.”
The solution has also been adopted by Outsight’s Hong Kong-based partner, Insight Robotics, a leader in the Forestry Risk Management sector. Using Outsight’s ground-based LiDAR tool to supplement its market-leading aerial survey solution, Insight Robotics can provide its clients with even more accurate survey data, allowing customers to better manage their forests and plantations.
“Outsight’s LiDAR solution allows our team to quickly and accurately map a section of the forest and use the 3D map to complement our aerial survey results”, says William Tao. After the proven success of its forestry-focused LiDAR solution on three continents, Outsight is continuing to work on new features for this market.
Container chaos : the impact on primary producersKey points
• Exporting and importing goods is extremely challenging at present due to freight delays and elevated freight costs.
• It is not clear when the congestion in the global shipping industry will ease , but the situation is likely to continue well into 2022.
• Skyrocketing shipping costs mean a lower pro portion of value is being returned to New Zealand primary producers. Disrupti on Exporting and importing goods has become increasingly challenging and expensive due to congestion in the global shipping industry.
Over the past couple of decades supply chains have become increasingly reliant on having goods delivered just - in - time , effectively reducing the cost of holding inventory. But for this to work , global freight networks need to be operating in a reliable and efficient manner , which is not the case today.
Global shipping networks were disrupted by the arrival of COVID - 19 , which resulted in ports and freight distribution systems being compromised due to the health risks to workers. This initially resulted in many of China’s port operation s being significantly hampered early in 2020, with trouble then spreading to ports (and boats) elsewhere as COVID - 19 made its way around the world. Many global ports were shut down temporarily or operated at below capacity for a period of time , which directly impacted the loading and unloading of ships. But as ports have started operating at full capacity again , there’s been a huge backlog to clear, as well as strong demand that they ’ve not been able to catch up.
This has left businesses facing massive shipping delays at ports throughout the world. Disruptions have continued to plague the glob al shipping industry. In late May the port of Ya n tian in Shenzhen province , southern China , was closed for several days due to a COVID - 19 outbreak , and then operated below capacity for nearly a month.
Yantian is the world’s third busiest port, behind Shanghai and Singapore, and while its operating capacity was compromised it’s estimated that nearly 300 ships, carrying approximately 3 million 20 foot container equivalents (TEU’s) , simply sailed on to other ports. This in turn put additional pressure on nearby ports. While the Yan tian port is now back operating at full capacity , it is estimated it will take another 80 days to clear the backlog of approximately 700,000 TEUs waiting to be unloaded.
This level of disruption is similar to that caused by the Ever Given block ing the Suez Canal for six days in late March. And this kind of thing just keeps happening , generating further increases in the cost of shipping goods around the world.
To check out the full ANZ Research Report, click here
Electronic logging devices to combat driver fatigueA new era in highway safety regulation begins in Canada as electronic logging devices that track a driver's hours behind the wheel become mandatory in semi-trucks traveling between provinces. The electronic logging devices (ELDs) replace the use of paper log books and effective June 12 are a requirement under a federal regulation aimed at preventing fatigue in commercial drivers.
The regulation covers commercial trucks and buses that cross provincial and territorial boundaries. Industry advocates welcome the change. "It's going to force [non-compliant trucking companies] to get into the game and be compliant and be safe or face the consequences," Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski said.
The requirement for certified ELDs will target what he estimates is about 15 to 25 per cent of the trucking industry that routinely cuts corners on regulatory issues — in "an underbelly of our industry, a small but growing underbelly," said Laskowski. Under federal hours of service rules, drivers are not allowed to drive more than 13 hours in a day, and they must have at least 10 hours off-duty time each day, of which at least eight hours must be consecutive.
When the ELD regulation was being developed, Transport Canada noted provincial and territorial governments recorded an annual average of 9,400 hours of service violations by drivers between 2010 and 2015.
About one quarter of those were for exceeding the maximum hours for drivers. Another 11 per cent were convictions for operating two daily logs at the same time, or for falsifying the information in a daily log. Nearly half of the hours of service, convictions — about 48 per cent — were for failing to maintain, or failing to produce, a daily log.
"For the industry itself, it's going to be a great day," Laskowski said of the new regulation.
New protections for forest workers welcomedForest & Wood Communities Australia has welcomed the strengthening of laws to curb unlawful media stunts by professional activist organisations. The Coalition Government says the new regulations will empower the Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) to investigate charities engaging in or promoting serious unlawful acts of trespass, vandalism, theft or assault and threatening behaviour.
“Forest communities are sick and tired of being targeted by corporate activism’s unlawful conduct and we hope this announcement will lead to real action,” said FWCA Chairman Steve Dobbyns. “Legitmate forestry operations are routinely subjected to action by activist groups who abuse the right to protest and their charity status for financial and political gain.
“They raise their profiles to attract donations by wilfully and illegally invading workplaces, abusing forest workers, and making false claims about the impacts of forestry in Australia. “We just hope there is more to this announcement than Government posturing, as there are existing regulations governing charities which, from what we have seen, are not being enforced.”
Mr Dobbyns said FWCA fully supports the right to protest and encourages freedom of speech, but is concerned that current intimidation of forestry workers by militant protesters has gone way beyond environmental concern.
“The men and women who work in forestry operations are constantly dismayed by the level of irrational vitriol they are subjected to on an almost a daily basis,” he said. “It is the result of corporate activist organisations using the 10’s of millions of dollars it attracts from deceiving the public into donating money and the concessions they receive under the Charities Act to fund professional marketing spin.
“It's time forest workers and communities were given the comfort of knowing regulators will stop protecting activism and start enforcing fair and reasonable regulations.”
Forest & Wood Communities Australia
Vale Jason GuiverIt is with great sadness to inform you that Jason Guiver passed away on Monday 21 June 2021 at Nelson Hospice at the age of 55. In late 2019 Jason was diagnosed with cancer, underwent cancer treatment and was able to enjoy good and precious months with family and friends.
For many years Jason was a valued staff member of Nelson Pine. Earlier in his career, he had engagements with Hunter Laminates, NZ Wood Design and others in the timber industry. Jason was absolutely passionate about engineered wood and timber buildings. He tirelessly promoted engineered wood while working with many professionals from the industry (e.g. architects, engineers, QS etc.) and over the years made a significant contribution to the increased usage of engineered wood in the building industry in NZ and Australia.
Jason was hands-on and never shy to offer his help with any problem encountered; always with the intention to work for the good of the timber construction project or any other matter. Some of the highlights of his career include the Sydney Netball Centre (in 2013 the longest LVL span building in the world), the Beatrice Tinsley building (University of Canterbury, 4 storey post tension) and the Campus Living – Student Village (Otago Polytech, 5 storey).
But ultimately, the new Nelson Airport was his signature piece of work. Jason was involved in this project all the way from the first ideas and concepts through to the fabrication of the LVL components and the construction of the airport structure. This magnificent building has achieved international acclamation for its state-of-the-art design and its standard setting engineering using high performance NelsonPine LVL incorporating world-first earthquake dissipaters.
While Jason worked hard, he also played hard. A pub and a fine craft beer were never far away. Our thoughts and prayers are with Paula and family.
Kai Kruse (CEO, Nelson Pine Industries Ltd)
AI tool for forestry sequestration attracts backingNelson Artificial Intelligence (NAI), a provider of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for thorny environmental challenges, has spun off its first business after securing a NZ$1.8 million investment in technology that gives landowners streamlined access to forest carbon credit markets.
Tauranga-based WNT Ventures has backed the spin-off, CarbonCrop, to compete globally in the large and growing market for carbon sequestration management tools. NAI was itself backed by a loan administered by the Provincial Development Unit (PDU) in August 2019. “CarbonCrop is the first of several spin-offs we’ll be talking about,” said NAI Chairman Mark Houghton Brown.
CarbonCrop helps land-owners understand the scale of their carbon forestry opportunity without any up-front cost or commitment. Machine learning and remote sensing technology enable the product to identify, monitor and make best use of forest carbon stocks and restoration options.
State Government’s timber announcement welcomedThe State Government’s announcement on Friday of AU$2 million to support the manufacturing of additional structural timber for local South Australian home builders has been applauded by the State’s peak forest products association.
South Australian Forest Products Association (SAFPA) Chief Executive Officer Nathan Paine said the announcement shows the Government is listening to industry and committed to supporting the forest products and building and construction industries in South Australia.
“SAFPA and the Master Builders Association have been working closely with the State Government on a suite of urgent measures to unlock additional structural timber supplies to support South Australian builders, today’s announcement delivers on a key tranche of these measures.
“South Australia’s post-pandemic housing construction boom, spurred by welcome incentives like HomeBuilder and exacerbated by a sharp decline in imported timber, has created serious challenges for small to medium builders in the State and today’s announcement should be positively received.
Toxic timber filling up New Zealand's landfills?A rather contentious headline. Included here is an article that recently appeared in one of New Zealand’s largest newspapers, the NZ Herald. Again, it calls into question the safety of CCA treated timber – along with the disposal or end of life options that are currently available for treated timber.
New Zealand's ongoing use of toxic agents to treat its residential and horticultural timber supplies and its inability to recycle the treated wood means some 400,000 of tonnes of noxious waste is being dumped in the nation's landfills each year, according to the Ministry for the Environment.
The root of the problem stems from the timber industry's reliance on using Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) to treat timber. Harmful to touch and classed as hazardous waste on disposal by the Environmental Protection Agency, CCA-treated timber contains several chemicals, including the carcinogenic compound arsenic that is used to protect it from dry rot, fungal and insect infestations.
The treated timber is used in several industries including residential construction, landscape gardening and horticulture. Its use is especially prevalent in the wine industry with an estimated 24 million CCA-treated posts being used across the nation's vineyards at any one time.
According to WorkSafe NZ, those who work with, or come into contact with treated timber, such as builders, DIY enthusiasts and vineyard workers, are advised to wear gloves when handling the wood. They are also advised to wash their hands, face and other areas of exposed skin before eating, drinking, rubbing their eyes, smoking or going to the toilet.
It also recommends the washing of exposed clothing before wearing again and to wash separately from other household clothes, bedding and towels. The New Zealand Timber Preservation Council, proprietors of the WOODmark® programme, a nationwide quality assurance programme for treated timber said that CCA-treated wood was a safe and environmentally friendly material. However, Clemens Altaner, co-director of the University of Canterbury's The Wood Technology Research Centre disagreed.
"That's [statement] an insult to any right-thinking people," he said, "CCA is the strongest heavy duty wood preservative that's still available and there aren't many disposable options for CCA-treated timber in New Zealand apart from landfill." Burning treated timber is banned across New Zealand due to high levels of arsenic in the residual smoke and ash. As a result, most of it ends up in the landfill where the chemicals can potentially leach into the soil and contaminate groundwater.
A 2019 study carried out the Nelson District Council found air quality in the Nelson South area detected high levels of arsenic in the atmosphere and concluded that, "the arsenic was strongly associated with the solid fuel burning and is considered to be from the use of copper chrome arsenate (CCA)-treated timber as fuel for domestic fires."
Otago University associate professor in occupational and environmental medicine, David McBride said the chromated copper arsenate contains several hazards, "You can't go around handling the damn stuff," he said, "and increased exposure to levels of arsenic can cause systemic cancers, including lung cancer."
For more than a decade, CCA preserved timber has been banned for residential builds in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. In 2012, the Australian Government deemed it too toxic to be used on high-contact structures such as garden furniture, picnic tables, children's play equipment and even handrails.
Despite this, New Zealand's continued use of CCA preservatives has baffled some scientists. According to Altaner at the WTRC, New Zealand used the same studies into the safety of CCA-treated timbers as other countries but came to a different conclusion.
There have been several recent proposals on how best to counteract the problem and safely dispose of treated timber. One suggestion was to incinerate stockpiles of waste wood in cement kilns but there were concerns about the volume of timber needing to be processed and the resulting high chromium content in the cement being produced.
There was also a proposal for a pyrolysis plant to be built in Blenheim, but this was curbed following submissions and protests against the plans from local residents and environmentalists alike, who feared toxic air pollution emittance from the site. Timaru District Council, working in conjunction with Waste Transformation Limited, currently operate a pyrolysis plant but it can only process 200 tons of timber waste per month.
And, with the Marlborough region alone discarding as many as 600,000 treated posts each year and as new proposals for their disposal continue to be aired and dismissed, New Zealand's stockpiles of toxic timber waste continue to grow.
Source: NZ Herald
World's tallest timber tower underwayConstruction of Ascent, a 25-story mass timber building, is underway in downtown Milwaukee, and it's beginning to overtake nearby buildings. When completed the 284-foot residential complex will be the tallest wood tower in the world, rising 4 feet higher than a mix-used structure built in Brumunddal, Norway in 2019.
The US$125 million building will feature a hybrid timber and concrete frame. It's being developed by New Land Enterprises and Wiechman Enterprises. Laminated timber panels for the project are being manufactured in Austria by Wiehag Timber and procured and managed by Swinerton Mass Timber of Portland, Ore.
New Land Enterprises managing director Tim Gorkman said the project attracted attention from investors right away - despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. “The interest in this project is proof that the aesthetic, construction and sustainability benefits of mass timber have captured the attention and imagination of a broad spectrum of people.”
The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2022. The project received a federal grant from the US Forest Service to assist with the testing needed to prove mass timber’s ability to perform as well as traditional building materials like concrete and steel to meet U.S. building codes.
Proponents say mass timber performs as well or even better than traditional materials in fire, earthquake and wind conditions.New Land says Ascent's laminated timber beams, slabs and columns will offset the equivalent of CO2 produced by 2,500 cars or enough energy to power 1,200 homes per year.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the eternal optimist
A pessimist and an eternal optimist had been friends for years. The optimist was always trying to get his buddy to see the bright side of things. When he found a dog that could walk on water, he thought, "This is perfect. There's no way that cynical mate of mine can say anything negative".
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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