Friday Offcuts 19 August 2022
Equitable? Not according to wood processors and manufacturers. As a consequence of the lack of a level playing field, there’s still major concerns around the lack of investment in new domestic wood processing and manufacturing. Still, sixty per cent of the country’s logs are being exported. Marty Verry suggests that if this inequity can be resolved the domestic wood processing industry could then be potentially transformed. More investment, more processing on-shore, increased international competitiveness and domestically, more competition and lower timber prices.
In Australia, the new campaign The Ultimate Renewable™ was launched on 14 June. Like its predecessor, it's aimed at reinforcing the Australian public’s awareness of wood’s sustainable characteristics as well as generate consumer and industry engagement with the brand. New television advertisements are being aired nationally across eight different networks. The advertisements have been supported by promotional social media activity, magazines, podcasts, and billboards in both metro and regional locations. The results so far, outstanding. A huge increase of 1,911 per cent on website page views have been recorded. On social media, 1.9 million were reached on Facebook and 251,358 on Instagram. Further information on the FWPA campaign can be found in the story below.
Every week, readers continue to send in stories, articles, results from recent research or trials. Thanks, and for our part, we try and integrate as much of this as we can into the weekly newsletter. This week, we’ve built in an excellent resource titled Production Plant Mechanical Maintenance, compiled and sent in by one of our regular readers, Graeme Moore. It provides a valuable source of information from the writer’s experience having worked in mechanical plant maintenance in the motor industry, pulp and paper, panel board and sawmilling industries for over 50 years. We’ve attached the report to a story in this week’s issue for our wood producers.
Finally, after covering recent trials of spot the mechanical robot working in Japanese forests, this week we feature another couple of robot stories for you. A prototype custom-designed robot has been used in the construction of Western Australia’s largest mass- engineered timber building. It was designed and built to help with the repetitive task of fixing 300 to 400 mm long screws on the construction site. In another story, a deal has just been signed to provide at least 1,000 humanoid robots for use in agricultural "grow boxes".
Numerous technologies, including these new robots, are being bundled together to automate farming or horticultural operations. Futuristic maybe - but not really that far away. Recent research shows that the humanoid robotics market is likely to reach US$17.3 billion by 2027. Just to reinforce the speed at which this new technology is developing, a Chinese company last week also unveiled its first full-sized humanoid robot, beating Tesla's humanoid prototype. Like it or not, they’re going to be part of our businesses and our future daily lives. And on that note, that’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Call to start treating wood processors fairlyMarty Verry is the chief executive of Red Stag group, which operates New Zealand’s largest sawmill and holds investments in forestry, cross laminated timber, glulam and property development.
OPINION: The Commerce Commission wants to encourage more competition in the market for structural timber through large-scale investment in new processing.
That, though, requires the Government to start treating wood processors fairly and equitably with foresters when it comes to carbon. International carbon accounting rules allow countries to calculate carbon from forests/wood in two parts.
The first part is the tree growing stage. The second part is the long-term carbon storage stage after the tree is converted into wood products. This stage is known as “harvested wood products” accounting.
The harvested wood products component makes up around one-third of the total forest based carbon accounting credits New Zealand claims in its Kyoto and Paris Accord reporting. The tree-growing stage is the other two-thirds.
The two are treated completely differently by the Government.
Fairness and equity
Since the introduction of the ETS in 2008, tree growing has earned NZUs for foresters to then sell. Forest establishment has been transformed as a result.
New Zealand was experiencing deforestation prior to the ETS but after its introduction, planting rates began doubling every year. MPI research predicted afforestation rates to increase tenfold as the carbon price reached NZ$50, and that is what has happened.
The Government has fuelled this further with various afforestation grant schemes, including a large portion of the NZ$3 billion Provincial Growth Fund that subsidised thee 1 Billion Trees programme.
Now, contrast the treatment of foresters with that of wood processors, who generate the harvested wood products’ carbon value. Not a dollar of value has ever been distributed to wood processors.
Despite many wood processors investing heavily in the expectation that eventually they will be treated consistently and earn NZUs, the Government has to-date pocketed all the accounting value of harvested wood products. Effectively, they have been nationalised.
Wood – The Ultimate Renewable™ reaches far and wideEarlier this year, FWPA unveiled the latest consumer marketing initiative for The Ultimate Renewable™. The campaign marked a new brand ambassador, Adam Dovile.
The aim of the campaign, which launched on Sunday 19 June and ran for two months, was to reinforce public awareness of wood’s sustainable characteristics as well as generate consumer and industry engagement with The Ultimate Renewable™ brand. Newly released results show how far The Ultimate Renewable™ message has spread.
The campaign was launched during the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) meeting and dinner on 14 June and was extremely well-received by industry members in attendance. A highlight of the campaign was new television advertisements that appeared nationally across eight networks, including Ten, Nine, Seven, WIN, Prime, Southern Cross Austereo, SBS and Foxtel plus out of home billboards and signage.
Dovile was front and centre in the TV campaign. A highly skilled builder and carpenter with a genuine love of timber, he passionately discussed the advantages of forest and wood products. These advertisements were supported by promotional social media activity, magazines, podcasts, and billboards in both metro and regional locations.
The campaign has driven strong engagement. The Ultimate Renewable™ website received 48,437 page views throughout the campaign, which represents a huge increase of 1,911 per cent. On social media, 1.9 million were reached on Facebook and 251,358 on Instagram.
Andrew Leighton, CEO of FWPA, said the decision to resume consumer advertising for The Ultimate Renewable™ was largely a result of increased interest in sustainability amongst the community.
“The Ultimate Renewable™ is the perfect vehicle to help companies and individuals adopt sustainable practices by using wood, and it is encouraging to see through the results of this campaign that its messages are truly resonating with consumers and inspiring them to take action,” added Leighton.
Following the campaign, FWPA is planning to conduct a post-campaign customer survey, to measure success and engagement, and gain a thorough and current understanding of community perception around wood and forestry.
Source: ForWood, FWPA
FEA Update: China softwood log inventoriesFEA industry sources in China report that softwood log inventories at the country’s main ocean ports totalled 4.96 million m3 on July 30th, 2022, a decline of 3% (-14,600 m3) from early July, as follows:
• Radiata pine log inventory volumes from New Zealand and South America amounted to 3.62 million m3, a slight increase of 1% from a month earlier and comprising nearly 73% of overall log inventories (versus 70% in early July).
• North American Douglas-fir and hemlock log volumes totalled 553,000 m3, a sharp decline of 21% from the previous month and accounting for nearly 11% of overall log inventories (versus 14% in early July).
• European spruce logs totalled 486,000 m3, down 10% from a month earlier and comprising nearly 10% of log inventories.
• Softwood log inventories from other countries (including Japanese Sugi, European red pine logs, etc) amounted to 310,000 m3 (+11%).
Inaugural awards celebrate region’s forestry industryNew Zealand’s largest forestry region celebrated its workers this week with the inaugural Central North Island Wood Council Awards. MC Pio Terei kept the 450 strong crowd at the Energy Centre Rotorua formal dinner bubbling along as the heroes of the region were toasted for their professionalism, dedication and effort.
It’s the last region in the country to establish awards but sports a real point of difference with quite different categories, including forest engineering, best native forest enterprise and best farm forester. The Generation Programme, which creates a pathway and training for those keen to get into the industry, was also celebrated.
Fast Harvesting showed their class, winning four categories – the South Waikato Investment Fund Trust-sponsored Silvicultural Excellence Award, the Taumata Plantations Ltd sponsored outstanding health and safety management award, the Timberlands sponsored Female in Forestry, and the Competenz Trainee of the Year Award.
Taking out the First Security sponsored Hero of the Year was Leesa Haimona (Timberlands), with Lorraine Uatuku (Fast Harvesting) the runner-up. Those who know Leesa says her community involvement and promotion of the industry is exemplary. Her passion and knowledge of tikanga, her openness to be approached about anything health and safety related, and understanding of systems and rules, is second-to-none.
She has taken Timberlands health and safety standards to a whole new level. Mereana Tobenhouse from Fast Harvesting was honoured as the Female in Forestry Award winner. She started in logging as an apprentice in 2001, working in skid crosscutting and quality control. Since those early days, she has progressed into operating skidders, haulers and mechanised processing machines, with a keen focus on health and safety.
She runs a tight ship for Fast Harvesting as their health and safety coordinator, general operational support, and fill-in processor operator and crew foreman. She represented the company on the Safetree Technical Advisory Group and is on the Central North Island Health and Safety Forum Committee.
Running alongside her busy career are her four children and sport. She’s a former New Zealand softball representative, has competed in the World Masters Games, and until recently coached junior level local teams. She’s described as one who is never afraid to roll up her sleeves, and as a shining light to other women in the forestry industry.
Te Waa Logging took out the Wildlands-sponsored Best Native Forestry Enterprise Award. This is a company known to walk its talk. Led by Waa Owens, its focus is all about the community and ensuring the natural and cultural values of any whenua being restored, are understood, protected and respected. Their meticulous work ensures only targeted species are controlled with no damage to existing native flora and fauna.
The wilding controlling team is proactive in its cultural obligations, respecting the whenua, engaging with hapū, iwi and landowners.
The Central North Island Wood Council has been going for less than two years but is already making great headway.
Training excellence, Generation Programme Graduate of the Year (sponsored by South Waikato District Council): Rawiri Te Hiko (Brown Logging Ltd). Excellence awards: Connor Wallace and Olive Williams.
Trainee of the Year (sponsored by Competenz): Jayme Walker (Fast Harvesting).
Skilled professionals; Silvicultural Excellence (sponsored South Waikato Investment Fund Trust) : Glenn Fountaine (Fast Harvesting) .
Forest Protection and Services Excellence (sponsored by Scion): Evan Rarere (Timberlands).
Harvesting Excellence (sponsored by Manulife Investment Management): Rob Davy (G White Logging Ltd).
Distribution Excellence (sponsored by RFH): Jody Reti (Trimble Forestry).
Log Processing Excellence (sponsored by AB Equipment/Tigercat): Desmond Williams (Progressive Harvesting). Runner-up: David Hatcher (Fast Harvesting).
Log Truck Driver Excellence (sponsored by Patchell): Raymond Bradshaw (Aztec FTD) . Runner-up: Josh Fisher (Green Transport Ltd).
Forest Engineering Excellence (sponsored by Ontario Teachers/Manulife): Campbell and RJ (J Swap Ltd).
Wood Processing Excellence (sponsored by Oji Paper Company): Heath McMurtrie (Donnelly Sawmillers).
Outstanding Environmental Management (sponsored by Tiaki Plantations Company/Manulife): Crew 14 (Loggabull).
Outstanding Health and Safety Management (sponsored by Taumata Plantations Ltd/Manulife): Fast and Evans Logging – Crew 26 (Fast Harvesting).
Outstanding Regional Service Award (sponsored by PF Olsen): Ritz (Retina) Ellis (Ellis Forestry Training and Assessing Ltd).
Female in Forestry Award (sponsored by Timberlands): Mereana Tobenhouse (Fast Harvesting). Runner-up: Sarah-Jane Luoni (Manulife Forest Management New Zealand).
Best Farm Forester Award (sponsored by Rotorua NZ): Vivian Barr (Te Tiringa Farms).
Best Native Forest Enterprise Award (sponsored by Wildlands): Waa Owens (Te Waa Logging).
Hero of the Year Award (sponsored by First Security): Leesa Haimona (Timberlands) . Runner-up: Lorraine Uatuku (Fast Harvesting).
Photo: Mereana Tobenhouse from Fast Harvesting was honoured as the Female in Forestry Award winner
Mechanical Maintenance - a new resourceIn today’s competitive and demanding environment, excellent plant maintenance practices are at the forefront of requirements to achieve the necessary Production Plant Uptime to produce Quality Products at the required Quantity and Budget Cost. There are a vast number of components needed to achieve the desired end result.
Desirable and Necessary Components of Good Plant Maintenance
The Maintenance Team, Working Relationships, Training, Company Policy / Budget
The Maintenance Team is usually led by a Maintenance Manager and made up of Engineers, Supervisors and or Leading Hands, together with Tradespersons having the necessary knowledge, experience and skills to carry out the servicing and repairs required in any production plant. These personnel must be able to follow instructions and use their initiative.
To take ownership of the area of plant for which they may be made responsible is certainly a requirement, as it is for them to establish a good working relationship with the Production Staff. These attributes are to be investigated during the initial employment interview which may include an examination paper covering the skills and knowledge required for the servicing and maintenance of the applicable plant and equipment. Their ability to write clear and concise reports is desirable. Trade qualifications are desirable but experience and skill combined with a “can do” attitude is required.
Training, both “in house” and attendance at external seminars and trade shows for all of the maintenance staff is a necessary requirement to keep abreast of modern engineering and maintenance techniques. The employing and training of Apprentices is also an essential part of the maintenance operation to maintain the necessary staffing levels within the industry.
The creation of a good team spirit including production staff, all with a desire to achieve maximum plant up-time while achieving maintenance requirements in an efficient manner must be achieved. Regular meetings with all staff to keep them informed of company matters and an opportunity to discuss and resolve any maintenance, production or employment issues is necessary.
Good quality Plant, with a Company policy recognising the need for excellence in maintenance, and a programme of capital up-grades and replacement of production plant must be in place. There is a need for a policy to upgrade or replace any item, process or procedure which is found to be a “weak link” in the maintenance or production operation.
All production machinery and associated items have an “end of economic life” which must be recognised and can often be gauged by the increase in plant item breakdown or maintenance cost of that plant item. Companies must budget for plant item replacements, extensive rebuilds and upgrades. This needs a realistic Maintenance Budget which can be used to monitor and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the Maintenance Department and all Production Plant items.
The full resource (11 pages) recently compiled by one of our readers, Graeme Moore following 50 years of working in mechanical maintenance, Production Plant Mechanical Maintenance is attached here for your use.
Source: Graeme Moore
Timberlands’ big, hairy, audacious goalIn May 2017, New Zealand’s Timberlands Ltd Board of Directors and senior managers toured through Puruki Experimental Forest in the Central North Island with a team of Scion scientists. As they stood on the top of a hill in Puruki they could see their own Kaingaroa Forest estate, just 20 kilometres to the east and they knew that they needed to think big. Really big.
Scion’s Puruki Experimental Forest is one of the most productive radiata pine plantations in New Zealand. What the Timberlands directors saw with their own eyes at Puruki were pine growth rates twice what they were achieving in Kaingaroa Forest. This showed the Timberlands Board what was possible and helped drive the goal to double productivity in Kaingaroa Forest over the next 30 years.
That means catapulting average growth rates from 25 cubic metres per hectare per year to 50 cubic metres annually, by 2050. Fifty cubic metres by 2050 became known as ‘50 by 50’. By Timberlands’ own admission – this is a big, hairy, audacious goal.
For Dr John Moore, research and development manager at Timberlands, 50 by 50 is the focus of several research themes. “We’re conscious that our research – and indeed everything we do at Timberlands – can have environmental and social outcomes on a large scale,” says Moore. “With big, hairy, audacious goals comes big, serious responsibility.”
Scion principal researcher, Dr Peter Clinton, says the Resilient Forests research programme is delivering the underpinning knowledge that will help companies such as Timberlands achieve their goals around productivity and sustainability.
At 205,000 hectares, Kaingaroa Forest is the largest planted forest in New Zealand. It covers just over 0.7 percent of New Zealand’s land area. Ninety percent of that land is in productive forest, with radiata pine comprising 95 percent of trees. The company is involved in harvesting and marketing over four million tonnes of logs each year.
A century before Timberlands came up with its big, hairy, audacious goal, the New Zealand Government had equally ambitious plans of its own. It would create a forestry industry.
Photo: Scion soil scientist Loretta Garrett discusses soil structure at a skid site in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest with Timberlands land resources manager Dan Phillips
Carbon farming economics stack up on sheep and beef landThis last week I spent two days in Rotorua at the New Zealand carbon-forestry conference, Carbon Forestry 2022, where I was also one of the speakers. Both I and others presented perspectives on the path ahead for this new industry. There were close to 300 attendees plus an international online audience.
Although there was diversity of perspective as to how the industry might develop, I sensed no doubt that we all saw ourselves as being involved in something big that, one way or another, is transformational for New Zealand.
Most of the attendees were either forestry people already in the business, or alternatively service-industry people who either are already or in future want to be part of this new industry. There were also some Government and Climate Change Commission people there to help explain the current regulatory framework.
However, there were not many farmers at the conference, apart from those who were already in the business of carbon farming, and doing rather well, I might add. For me, the value of a conference like this is not only to hear the formal presentations, but to talk informally to a diverse range of industry people. That is how I can learn from those on the ground whether there is some key factor that I might have missed.
There was nothing there that made me change my views in any significant way, but there was information that helped further enrich what I have been learning in recent times about this fascinating industry.
One of the foundation points of my own address was that, if simple economics from a land-owner perspective is the criterion, then the answer is also very simple. On the sheep and beef lands of New Zealand there is nothing that can touch the economics of carbon framing.
Keith Woodford was Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University for 15 years through to 2015. He is now Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd.
Source: Keith Woodford
Horticulture sector eyes new wood fibre technologyWood fibre technology could be a game changer for New Zealand's horticulture industry and help reduce carbon emissions
Locally grown fruit, vegetables and plants are all generally grown in compost or potting mix containing peat. Peat, a highly sought-after ingredient, boosts production, retains nutrients and holds water but it is imported.
Mining of it has been banned recently in the UK and Ireland because of the high levels of carbon emitted in the process. Matamata company, Daltons, a supplier growing media has just imported the first wood fibre-processing machine, which will use wood chips from Pinus radiata trees to reduce its reliance on peat.
Dr Brian Jackson from the University of North Carolina, has been researching alternatives to peat for nearly 20 years. He tells Nine to Noon peat has, in a global context, been the backbone of growing media and consumer market industry for almost a century, but businesses and individuals were now looking for new alternatives. Wood fibre was one and an exciting prospect.
“Wood fibre is a newer technology that has been shown to provide a renewable material and that’s certainly true here in New Zealand with the forest resources that you have and there’s a lot of opportunities here to use these wood fibres to create new growing media mixes and blends, both for the consumer market and for the professional grower to actually aid in their production, while also lessening the reliance on the imported peat.”
The process of adding the wood fibre into peat-based mixes is ongoing. The fibres won't replace the peat, but simply reduce the content in growing mixes. “What we’ve learned from these engineered wood fibres is that actually new growing media materials can be made because the function and the inherent properties of the wood are quite different." Jackson says.
"Wood fibre is very different than peat, so it’s impossible to ‘replace’ it. But I think the marriage of wood fibre and other materials leads to a lot of new product development that growers are really excited about.”
The peat will be reduced by 20 to 40 percent in growing mixes, depending on the product range. The fibres are being produced from Pinus radiata waste products, bark and wood chip, Jackson says.
“The primary aim at this point is to use existing raw materials from the timber lumber industry so that no trees are being directly harvested for this… Right now. there are forests being harvested specifically for this purpose, but there are a lot of other wood resources that are available to actually create and engineer these fibre products.
Dalton's already has 20 percent fibre in some of its mixes. The wood is a by-product of the timber industry, with a waste portion of harvested wood chipped. The company has used pre-existing relationships with Timberlands to source the product. “The quality of what we have in New Zealand is pretty unique," Bromwich says.
Three new grants for WA timber industry announcedForestry Minister Dave Kelly this week announced three new grant programs to support economic development and job creation in South-West Australian communities, ahead of the end of native forest logging in 2024.
The Industry and Community Development Programs are the third and final pillar of the Native Forestry Transition plan, funded by an additional AU$30 million announced in the 2022-23 State Budget. The third pillar in the AU$80 million Native Forestry Transition plan will help build strong, diverse regional economies and support the creation of local jobs.
The AU$15 million Small Business Development and Diversification program will provide grants of up to AU$400,000 to small businesses that have been impacted by the end of native forest logging to diversify or expand their business into new business streams. This funding is designed to assist secondary businesses that have a reliance on the native timber industry but do not have a direct contract with the Forest Products Commission.
New industry expansion and innovation in the region will be supported through a AU$10 million New Industry Development and Attraction program. The industry-led program will provide grants of up to AU$2 million, with matched funding, to accelerate new and existing business development, attract new industries and strengthen regional economies with diverse employment opportunities.
Funding of up to AU$100,000 will also be made available through the AU$5 million Community Development Small Grants program for projects that aim to stimulate regional economies and enhance the liveability of communities.
Applications for the Industry and Community Development Programs will commence opening from September 2022. The programs were developed in consultation with the Native Forestry Transition Group, local government authorities, the Forest Industries Federation of Western Australia, the Australian Workers' Union, and Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
NOTE: Since the release of the media statement by Forestry Minister Dave Kelly earlier in the week, the Forest Industries Federation of WA (FIFWA) has rejected comments made that the third funding package of the Native Forestry Transition plan had been developed in consultation with FIFWA. FIFWA Chief Executive Officer Adele Farina said the media release by Minister Kelly, announcing the third funding package came as a rude shock and was unacceptable. Ms Farina said as the package was yet to be finalised, its public announcement was premature and showed no regard for due process.
“FIFWA categorically refutes the Minister’s claim that the package has been prepared in consultation with the community representatives on the Native Forestry Transition Group,” Ms Farina said. “The package announced by Minister Kelly has been developed by the government and an outline of the package was presented to members of the Community and Industry Development Sub-group of the Native Forestry Transition Group for the first time on Monday afternoon. It has not yet been presented to the Native Forestry Transition Group.”
“At the meeting on Monday afternoon, members of the sub-group expressed serious concerns with the proposed package which fails to deliver the government’s promised ‘Just Transition’, leaving many impacted by the government’s decision to cease native forestry by 2024 without any funding assistance to make the transition forced on them by the government,” Ms Farina said.
“With questions raised by members at the meeting left unanswered, it will be difficult enough to provide meaningful feedback. However, the Minister’s action announcing the package within 24 hours of having agreed to give members two weeks to provide feedback and less than a few hours after members received the actual document outlining the package, shows any feedback provided by members will, yet again, fall on deaf ears”.
Crypto-the world’s largest buyer of carbon offsetsCarbon offsets derived from "avoided deforestation" accounted for almost half of all offsets purchased in 2021
Cryptocurrency platforms, airlines, carmakers, and oil companies were the biggest buyers of carbon offset credits in 2021, according to a new Bloomberg analysis of data from Verra, the largest offset brokerage. At the top of the list by far was Toucan Protocol, a crypto trading platform that snapped up carbon offsets worth 17 million tons of carbon dioxide.
Carbon offsets ostensibly allow their purchaser to claim a reduction in their carbon footprint, since the money goes toward supporting a project—most often renewable energy systems or forest conservation—that keep new greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere.
In theory, carbon offsets should be a way for high-carbon companies that cannot affordably cut emissions directly to finance carbon cuts elsewhere, effectively drawing down net emissions. But in practice, many offsets are based on dubious assumptions and calculations that provide a veneer of climate progress without actually reducing emissions.
Toucan’s goal was not to offset its own corporate emissions but to turn the offsets into digital tokens that its customers could trade on its platform, creating another tradeable commodity with an ostensibly green core. In fact, Bloomberg found, most corporate offset purchases were made with customers in mind, in order to offer specific products—from seats on a flight to shipments of natural gas—that could be upsold as “carbon neutral.” (Data on offset trading is limited to what buyers and sellers voluntarily disclose, so the Bloomberg analysis covers only about half of the total global market).
Crypto’s time at the top of this list is probably over, at least for now. In May, Verra said it would ban the “tokenization” of offsets, because doing so created what one Verra executive called a “mind frying” level of abstraction and distance between an intangible financial instrument and the physical emissions it is meant to represent. Still, both Toucan and Verra are continuing to tinker with ways to more credibly link carbon offsets to cryptocurrency technology.
Queensland Growth Scholarship recipients announcedTimber Queensland is pleased to announce the recipients of its Growth Scholarship Awards Program for 2022-23.
Timber Queensland’s Strategic Relations Manager Clarissa Brandt said the inaugural program invited early and mid-career professionals and skilled workers to submit details of a proposed learning project that would enhance their career and benefit local industry.
“To have a timber engineer, an operations and production worker, a forester and a forest scientist receive awards met one of the goals that Timber Queensland and Michael Kennedy, CEO of Scholarship Foundation Partner Kennedy’s Timber, put in place for the Awards,” said Clarissa Brandt.
“We strongly encouraged people working in forestry and wood processing and manufacturing operations to apply and advance their careers, just as we encouraged those in forest science and technical development to make an application,” she said.
The recipients of the 2022 – 2023 Awards are:
$10,000 Kennedy’s Timber Award
Learning Project “Vibroacoustic Study Tour”
$5,000 AKD Award Chandan Kumar
Learning Project “Understanding silvicultural and environmental factors affecting density and stiffness of Queensland’s Southern Pine Plantations”
$5,000 HQPlantations Award
Learning Project “Refocusing the future of Queensland’s forests”
$2,500 DTM Timber Award
Learning Project “Certificate IV in Human Resources”
Clarissa Brandt said designing and facilitating the Growth Scholarship program has been a rewarding experience. “We are very pleased with the success of our inaugural year with the scholarship program. It would not have been possible without our Foundation partner Kennedy’s Timber, Diamond partners AKD and HQPlantations and our Ruby partner DTM Timber. We would like to thank all our partners for their gracious support of the annual program,” she said.
“We would also like to thank all of the applicants for the awards and encourage them to continue their desire for ongoing learning and development, as well as the industry stakeholders who assisted with the selection process. Importantly, these awards are intended to provide a broad range of learning experiences and we will be emphasising this flexibility to future applicants.
More information about Timber Queensland’s Growth Scholarship Program is available here.
Source: Timber Queensland
Largest deal for humanoid farming robots signedRobotics innovator Beyond Imagination, Inc. has entered into an agreement with SELF Labs, Inc. to provide at least 1,000 humanoid robots for use in agricultural "grow boxes"'. This is believed to be the largest deal of its kind.
SELF and Beyond are announcing a partnership to develop automated off-the-grid grow boxes. Each box will be equipped with solar panels, windmills, atmospheric water generators, 5G, and an advanced version of Beyond Imagination's Beomni robot with its Omni-Purpose AI Brain.
By aligning the visions of Milan Cheeks of SELF and Dr. Harry Kloor of Beyond, this futuristic take on farming will be made possible through a uniquely powerful combination of Omni-Purpose AI, humanoid robotics, blockchain, and game technology.
The deal with SELF represents one of the largest agreements to purchase humanoid robots in the world. Cheeks says that "We are committed to purchasing at least 1,000 robots in the next five years, but if the effectiveness of our combined technology is as we project, that number could easily grow to ten thousand or more."
According to a recent report by Markets and Markets, the humanoid robotics market will reach an estimated USD 17.3 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 63.5% between 2022 and 2027. The agreement with Beyond is in alignment with this prediction.
Each grow box will be connected to a SELF Labs-powered trivia-based simulation game called Cultivate Coin, which allows users to choose a role, learn about farming and the growing process, learn how to operate a grow box business, earn rewards, and most of all take part in the growing process virtually.
The Beomni Omni-Purpose AI powered humanoid robots supplied by Beyond will work autonomously inside of the boxes to tend to the growing crops. The boxes will run on solar energy, and by using atmospheric water generator technology will not require any outside sources for power or water, making them self-sufficient.
"Working with SELF and its community will enable us to rapidly train Beomni's AI Brain to plant, care and tend, harvest, and box the crops in SELF's grow boxes" said Dr Kloor.
"I'm excited to bring this idea to life!" said SELF Labs founder Milan Cheeks. "Adding decentralization and automation to the farming industry will benefit everyone. While there is no single solution to solve world hunger, our automated off the grid grow boxes is one tool that will go a long way in meeting the UN's goal to reach zero hunger by 2030."
The first box will be crafted at Box For Grow in New Hampton, NY. Once assembled, it will begin operation for use within the United States.
And just last week, a Chinese company, Xiaomi beat Tesla in launching their first full-sized humanoid robot, the CyberOne. CyberOne, which is a bionic robot stands tall at 177cm and weighs about 52kg. Read more.
The robot helping build mass-engineered timber buildingsLarge mass-engineered timber construction projects require placing hundreds of thousands of screw fixtures. A new collaboration sees a robot do the hard work. At the Murdoch University campus in Perth, a new mass-engineered timber (MET) building is being erected. The project will be Western Australia’s largest MET building, but that is not what was attracting attention to the building site one day this past May.
The reason for the television news cameras, the careful safety precautions, the interested labourers debating whether they could work faster than the new hire, dated from a conversation Pratik Shrestha CPEng, the Aurecon structural engineer leading the project, had a few years earlier.
“We were throwing random ideas out and we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there were robots on site?’” Shrestha recalls. It was a “blue-sky idea”, he admits, but one that Aurecon wanted to see if it could turn into a reality.
“One of the things that we do at Aurecon is we have quite good relationships with other universities,” Shrestha tells create. “So, we said, well, let’s do a matchmaking exercise to bring in University of Technology Sydney [UTS] – who are world leaders in robotics – partner them with Murdoch University and ourselves, and let’s … see where this goes.”
The end result was that trial run of a custom-designed robot built to deliver screw fixings on the construction site. A robot designed by Aurecon and UTS inserts a scew on-site. The entire building at Murdoch University would require 200,000 to 300,000 of the screws, but on this day, the robot was tasked with affixing 50 to 100 of them as a demonstration it could do the job.
“Everything ran very smoothly,” Shrestha says. “We had done sufficient testing in a lab environment that when we got to site, there were no glitches.” The task is an ideal one for robots: the screws are cumbersome and numerous, and inserting them is repetitive.
“The screws that we’re installing aren’t just your Bunnings screws that you get for your house decking,” Shrestha clarifies. “These are 300 to 400 mm long screws; they’re as long as your fingertip to your elbow.” The fact that the Murdoch University project used MET made it ideal to develop a robot that could take on some of the work. Shrestha compares MET to a “giant Ikea set”.
“It’s highly prefabricated and it essentially comes in a flat-pack box; can we use robotics somewhere to be able to build it?” he says. “So then we worked with UTS to develop that idea. The robotics specialist development itself, that was all UTS, but we were highly involved in conceptualising the robot in terms of what it had to do, how it had to perform.”
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... know your airlines?
Sent in recently by one of our Australian readers.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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