The forest growing and wood processing industry aims to double its export earnings to $12 billion a year by 2022. This will be achieved by expanding high-value wood processing, developing innovative products and new markets, and by focussing on providing customer solutions.
This newsletter highlights the milestones achieved and the challenges faced by the industry as it strives to achieve this goal.
Welcome to Forestwood e-letter #1
Welcome to the first edition of Forestwood e-letter. It’s intended to keep everyone in the industry ‘in the loop’ and committed to the Woodco Strategic Action Plan.
The plan aims to shape a strong and profitable forest and wood products sector … a promise that will be achieved only by working together to address our many challenges and opportunities.
As this e-letter demonstrates, after less than 12 months we're already getting runs on the board. If you want to find out what the plan involves, check out the link on our home page.
We hope you find this e-letter interesting. If so, please forward it to a friend or a colleague. The more people we have informed about and committed to our shared vision the better.
Chair, Wood Council of New Zealand
Woodscape on track
The Woodscape initiative is on track. The $375,000 study aims to find ways to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. It is modelled on a major 2009 study carried out in Canada that is now transforming the Canadian forest products industry.
Confidential financial and technical data provided by wood processors has been incorporated into the Woodscape model and reported back to individual members for feedback. More data from plymill, sawmill, LVL and particle board manufacturers is now needed urgently.
A market analysis of wood processing technologies is now complete and being reviewed by Scion. Scenarios for developing wood processing growth opportunities at a regional level have been the focus of workshops in the last fortnight.
NZ Wood website to be rebuilt
NZ Wood will have a new website by April 2013. It will be easier to navigate and focussed on the business objectives of NZ Wood: boosting the uptake of wood and wood products in the domestic construction sector.
NZ Wood chief executive Jane Arnott says an audit earlier this year showed that key aspects of the current site such as case studies and supplier lists were not functioning well. "The former has too much offshore information and the latter are seriously out of date."
Advertising rates in the supplier section of the revamped site will be adjusted so that funding members of NZ Wood get preferential treatment. Advertising and publicity will be used to direct traffic to the site.
NZ Wood is a Wood Council initiative.
Pinenz is now truly in business
The seven manufacturers in the Pinenz consortium have won funding from AGMARDT to further develop their quality mark and to build demand for their products across the Tasman.
Members of the group, which market finger-jointed mouldings and laminated engineered pine into Australia, are facing increasing competition from Chilean and Asian imports. By marketing together, using a common quality mark, they believe they can entrench their position in the Australian market and expand earnings from $130 million (fob) today, to $300 million in five years’ time.
The programme involves promotional activities including: production of promotional collateral, trade magazine advertising, email newsletters to a builders’ database, participating in builders’ nights and trade shows, developing interactive span tables, developing product sample kits, further research into builders’ needs, product development and investigating in-market representation.
Alliances of competitors sharing a common quality mark is a model that is sometimes called ‘co-opetition’. A successful wood industry example is the Bodyguard consortium, an alliance of three manufacturers selling exterior wall claddings into the United States market.
Pinenz spokesperson Lawrie Halkett says such alliances have the potential to make greater market impact than individual companies going it alone. Pan-industry marketing collaboration is supported by the Wood Council strategic action plan.
More about Pinenz >>
Timber standard under review
NZ Standard 3603 is being reviewed in a project 50/50 funded by the industry and government. The aim is to develop a new framing timber quality standard that will ensure that every piece of timber sold by merchant is fit for purpose.
Safer, more productive hill harvesting
There is a big potential to increase productivity and improve safety in our forests. This is clearly demonstrated in a programme led by Future Forests Research (FFR) involving researchers from Scion and the University of Canterbury. The project is funded by the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) and industry.
FFR chief executive Russell Dale says harvesting on steep slopes using conventional technology is expensive. “It’s also physically demanding and hazardous for those doing the felling and breaking out. Almost all the industry’s serious injuries and fatalities occur in this area,” he says.
Working with Trinder Engineers and Kelly Logging, FFR has developed a prototype steep slope harvester with an innovative winch control system and stability blade.
This machine is capable of felling and bunching on slopes steeper than 35 degrees. With a felling rate of up to 800 tonnes a day, the prototype can increase productivity by some 40% while greatly reducing the risks faced by workers.
Trinder Engineers have recently sold their first commercial model, a ClimbMAX Steep Slope Harvester, to a North Island contractor. The use of such machines is now covered in the new Approved Code of Practice.
In the same PGP project, grapple extraction has been refined with the development of remote control video cameras and improved grapple restraints.
A light weight grapple carriage is now being evaluated and further developed. Also a grapple restraint has been developed that gives 4.5% better productivity and a two-month payback on an investment of $1500.
With these developments, Dale says the programme’s vision of “No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw” is close to being achieved. “Ultimately we see no reason why these machines can’t be remote controlled from a safe location,” he says.
The research is continuing with the goal of reducing steep slope harvesting costs by 25% and helping the industry achieve its goal of zero serious harm injuries. This project will feature in the summer edition of the Forestry Bulletin.
See the ClimbMAX in action on YouTube >>
NZ Wood wants Cantabrians to know what it’s possible to do with wood. Although the ruins of masonry and ferro-cement buildings are fresh in everyone’s minds, that doesn’t mean those doing the rebuild are necessarily thinking of timber.
Cost is a key driver for much of the rebuild, so the new NZ Wood campaign Put a Little Heart in it will include messages for residential home owners about choosing affordable quality.
"We will be making it loud and clear that when it comes to lightweight structures, timber is the only building material that has remained standing for 150-plus years," says chief executive Jane Arnott.
The rebuild campaign will include all the tools in the marketing mix – building on work done by NZ Wood in Christchurch in the last year.
A Wood Works Week will run in early March with an agenda that includes something for everyone. It will open with a residential day, followed by presentations aimed at procurement/asset/facility managers and property owners, as well as more technical forums for engineers and architects. Wood Works Week is supported in principle by EQC and Ministry for Primary Industries.
NZ Wood is a Wood Council initiative.
STICking up all over
Industry, government and university investment in the Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC) is bearing fruit. Buildings using Expan engineered timber technology developed by STIC are popping up all over the country.
The NMIT building in Nelson was the widely publicised first. That’s been followed by Expan’s own head office in Christchurch, Carterton’s recreation centre, the new College of Creative Arts building at Massey’s Wellington campus and several others.
Four more buildings using Expan technology are under construction – the Merritt, Trimble and St Elmo's Court buildings in Christchurch and the Diamond Laundry in Napier – with five more known to be on the drawing boards around the country.
Expan’s vision is “The construction of large numbers of innovative and sustainable commercial and industrial multi-storey and long-span timber buildings in Australia and New Zealand”. It’s well on the way to realising that goal.
Epan technologies include pre-stressed timber framing, Quick-Connect timber portals, post-tensioned moment frames and shear walls, pre-stressed timber beams and timber-concrete composite floors. A moment frame is a box-shaped frame that lets a building flex as necessary without cracking or structural failure.
The technologies are available to specifiers and designers once they have become registered users or licensees, with 260 already signed up in Australia and New Zealand.
STIC describes itself as a collective. Its stakeholders include the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), BRANZ, Auckland and Canterbury Universities, Nelson Pine Industries, Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts, Wesbeam (Australia), the NZ Pine Manufacturers Association and Forest and Wood Products Australia Wood Solutions.
STIC's initiatives are helping the forestwood industry achieve its Strategic Action Plan objective of transforming the use of wood in building systems, through the greater use of engineered timber and other innovative technologies.
Less mud in the public eye
Forestry has long been seen by regulators as a cure-all for erosion-prone hill country, but until recently little thought was given to the eventual need to harvest the trees.
If that’s not done with great care, silt, logs and debris can end up downstream following heavy rain, causing grief all round.
Forest owners have put a lot of energy into developing practices for roading and other earthworks that will withstand all except the biggest weather bombs. This knowledge is reflected in the Forest Road Engineering Manual launched in November by associate primary industries minister Nathan Guy.
But what about those slopes where there are no earthworks, but are ticking time bombs waiting to slide at the first opportunity? Recent FFR and Scion research using LiDAR remote sensing technology has found ways to accurately predict the likelihood of a slip occurring.
Researchers are now developing guidelines to inform forest decision making. These will hopefully enable forest managers to adopt harvest systems that reduce erosion risk and locate infrastructure and slash away from high-risk areas. They will also aid afforestation decisions – with plantations for harvest likely being ruled out on some highly erosion-prone land.
The aim is to reduce the loss of productive topsoil and forest infrastructure through erosion as well as to reduce the risk of downstream damage to infrastructure and property during floods. Flood damage has a strong influence on the perceptions of hill country forestry among regulators and the public at large.
Reducing the risk of damage is therefore a key to reducing regulatory barriers to the growth and development of the industry – an important objective in the Wood Council's strategic action plan.
For more on the Forest Road Engineering Manual >>
Precision cutting every time
Builders want wood to be supplied to specification, with no waste and no defects. But because wood is a biological product, quality varies within logs and between logs, from forest to forest, from region to region.
The challenge for mills is to find ways to meet their customers’ needs in the most efficient way possible. Time, energy and resources turning out finished product that doesn’t come up to spec is like firing money into the kiln.
The Solid Wood Initiative (SWI) is well on the way to resolving some of these issues. Its cant optimisation technology is now available to the New Zealand mills that have helped fund its development. It is already installed and has been operating for a year in the mill of an Australian funding partner.
The acoustic technology for identifying internal log quality is well established, enabling structural logs to go to structural mills and appearance logs to go to appearance mills. But there is still huge variability within logs. If this variability is ignored and each log is processed as if it was pretty much identical, wastage rates can go through the roof.
“The low stiffness centre zone in radiata varies in size and location. Some logs are structural from bark to bark, with no low stiffness wood at all. In more than 40% of logs the low stiffness zone is offset by more than 10 mm,” says SWI chief executive Keith Mackie.
The SWI cant optimisation technology is based on an acoustic ‘donger’ to assess overall cant stiffness and pencil x-rays at the end of each cant to detect the location and size of the low stiffness zone. Data from both systems go into a ‘wigglebox’ that optimises the sawing pattern for structural lumber.
The log donger was developed by Fibre-gen, the x-ray system by GNS Science and SWI put the whole system together.
Mackie says the technology has produced a $14 per cube average increase in value for the specific log mix used in a major trial, making installation ‘pretty cost-effective’ in those regions where log variability is high.
SWI is funded 1:1 by Australian and New Zealand partners and the New Zealand government. The technologies it develops are restricted to only those partner companies. Mackie says non-partner mills would also benefit from having access but, because funding is voluntary, SWI IP needs to be protected.
Other projects SWI is working on include a no-warp guarantee for solid lumber, controlling resin bleed and show-through, reducing mill energy use (open to non-SWI member mills) and improving the performance of radiata outdoor products like decking and cladding. Progress will be reported on future editions of Forestwood e-letter.