Friday Offcuts 3 July 2015
We cover in this week’s issue a myriad of new and innovative technology for forestry and wood products companies. Stora Enso have been developing intelligent packaging solutions that will build in RFID into smart packages so that they can be easily tracked and traced through the supply chain.
In the development of autonomous vehicle technology (we touched on this last week and reported on how the first license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the US had just been granted), a number of Finnish companies are now working on a European project that’s aimed at developing a number of autonomous driving features to trucks. The project’s expected to end next February and the first versions of the new systems are expected to be ready for installation into vehicles within two years.
Much closer to home we’ve got a story on a New Zealand PHD student who’s designed a prototype machine which automates the lifting and grading of forestry seedlings out in the nursery. This builds on an earlier project where a “dibbler” was developed to drill holes for planting pine cuttings in nursery beds. This innovation is already being used by tree stock company ArborGen and is reported to have improved tree stock productivity by around 30%.
Innovation is also the focus for a couple of recent research projects in New Zealand. The Government continues to dish out grants and subsidies for R&D. Rarely though are the benefits quantified. Several of the new innovations outlined last week at HarvestTECH 2015 developed by harvesting contractors and local engineering companies for example had received recent assistance from Government grants. This new research found that an R&D grant almost doubles the probability that a firm is going to introduce a major innovation. The findings are also in line with other international studies that found a link between public R&D subsidies on the patenting activity and the introduction of new products. The full reports are contained in the story below.
Finally, HarvestTECH 2015. There were many of you in Rotorua last week for the FIEA steep slope harvesting event. Check out the slide show below for images taken over the two days. For Australasian sawmillers, most of you will have received the programme flyers for this regions September sawing, scanning and mill optimization event ( www.woodtech.events) this week. Check out the programme or take a look at the website for full details. Remember, a special “2 for 1” registration deal has been set up for a limited time to encourage multiple registrations from mill sites. Best round up a team and look at the offer today. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Local Government supports wood in the built environmentAt the 2015 National Assembly of Local Government in June, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) passed a resolution that supported the use and promotion of timber products by Local Government across Australia, using a policy similar to the Wood Encouragement Policy developed by Latrobe City Council. This action both recognises the value of the timber industry to the Australian economy and the contribution that using more responsibly sourced wood and wood products can make to reduce our carbon footprint.
Internationally, Japan, France, the UK, Finland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada are among countries that have adopted various forms of policies designed to encourage the use of responsibly sourced wood and wood products. In December 2014, Latrobe City Council became Australia’s first local government body to formally promote the use of timber when it adopted its Wood Encouragement Policy.
According to Latrobe City Council Councillor, Sandy Kam, the policy encourages the use of wood as the preferred material for construction purposes in both the construction and fit out of council buildings and infrastructure.
“Its focus is to ensure that wood is considered at the initial stages of a project, when the brief is being developed,” said Cr Kam, “we realise that wood may not always be suitable for every application, however the policy is intended to encourage the use of wood where appropriate or maximise its inclusion in a mix of materials.”
The Latrobe City Council Wood Encouragement Policy was first endorsed by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), which laid the foundation for the ALGA resolution. “We are very pleased and proud that our policy has been effectively endorsed by our national association,” said Cr Kam, “we look forward to it being adopted as policy by other local governments across Australia.”
Ensuring the environmental credentials of the policy were sound was vital to Latrobe City Council who gained assistance from Planet Ark’s Make it Wood program. “We’ve done extensive research on the role of responsibly sourced wood in the built environment,” said Chris Philpot, Planet Ark’s Make it Wood Program Manager, “wood is not only the only renewable large scale building material, but it also has low embodied energy and stores carbon too. It’s the smarter choice for anyone looking to design and build sustainably.”
Chris went on to explain that the increasing adoption of innovative new engineered wood products and building systems also gave designers and builders more scope than ever before. “It’s an exciting time, we’re seeing new styles of buildings, multi-storey timber construction planned for up to 30 storeys in Paris – if we can keep encouraging the use of wood here, who knows how far we can go?”
Project to make planting process easier for forestryBen McGuinness' PhD project, a seedling lifting and grading machine, looks set to make planting processes easier for the forestry industry. A NZ University of Waikato graduate student has devised a system that looks set to enhance forestry planting processes.
Ben McGuinness is studying his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Originally from Gisborne, Ben says he's always enjoyed making "useful things." One of these "useful things" includes his PhD project – a system that automates the lifting and grading process of seedlings for forestry planting by using a robotic machine.
"Lifting and grading pine seedlings with a machine poses many challenges and it's not something that's been attempted before," he says. The idea for the yet-to-be-named lifter/grader came when treestock company ArborGen needed help with the lifting and grading process of their seedlings.
"The main problem in forestry nursery processes is harvesting and grading seedlings before they're planted out – which is where the lifter/grader can come in," Ben says. The first prototype of the machine uses two cameras to analyse a seedling, particularly its stem thickness and root structure, to then determine its viability for selling to the forestry industry.
ArborGen also assisted with the development of another University of Waikato agri-engineering project – the dibbler, which Ben developed with his supervisor Associate Professor Mike Duke. ArborGen uses the dibbler to drill holes for planting pine cuttings in nursery beds. By drilling consistently deep, straight holes, the dibbler has helped improve treestock productivity by about 30%.
With a solution for planting seedlings now successfully implemented, Ben hopes the lifter/grader will work alongside the dibbler to improve forestry nursery processes. The machine will likely be ready for market in a couple of years, and is being supported by Callaghan Innovation funding in partnership with ArborGen and the University of Waikato.
Source: University of Waikato
HarvestTECH 2015 - record turnout of harvesting contractorsIt was the largest gathering seen of forestry managers and contractors in New Zealand. It’s already been well publicised – and covered in the media. It ran in Rotorua last week with well over 400 attending. On show was the very latest developments from New Zealand, North and South America and Europe in steep slope harvesting technology and operating practices that are best suited to local operations.
All delegates attending last week will have been sent a link yesterday to download the presentations given at the event.
See below – a pictorial snap shot of the two-days.
BID Group acquires Miller ManufacturingThe BID Group of Companies (The privately owned BID Group family of companies includes the leading sawmilling equipment supplier, Comact that will be presenting at this year’s WoodTECH 2015 event in New Zealand and Australia in September) has announced that it has acquired Miller Manufacturing Inc., doing business as A & M Manufacturing, of Washougal, Wash., and is pleased to welcome Dennis Miller and his talented team to the BID Group.
“Adding A&M Manufacturing expands our equipment and service product lines including the new ‘Miller Planer Machine’. This new line of products will further enhance The BID Group's abilities to offer a complete solution to our highly valued customers." said Alistair Cook, CEO of the BID Group.
Tertiary provider sentenced after forestry accidentWaiariki Institute of Technology was sentenced this week and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 after a tutor was seriously injured during a forest operations course.
The tutor’s injuries were extensive – fractures to the right shoulder, the lower back, a leg and five ribs. He also had severe abdominal pain and swelling, a collapse in both lungs and bruised vertebrae. He has needed ongoing physiotherapy and further surgery is likely. He is unable to work.
The NZ tertiary education provider was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for two failures. Firstly for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee while at work, and secondly for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee while at work harmed any other person.
WorkSafe New Zealand’s investigation identified a number of health and safety breaches. “Waiariki Institute of Technology should have assessed the tutor’s competence in tree felling before he taught any classes,” says Jo Pugh, WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector of Assessments in the Central region. “They also should have provided a written process for tutors on how to source wood safely and on when tree felling could occur.”
“Waiariki Institute of Technology has reviewed its policies since the incident, sent all tutors a copy of the best practice guidelines for tree felling and had tutors attend a refresher course on tree felling. But this serious incident could have been avoided if simple safety steps had been in place in the first instance,” says Jo Pugh. More >>
Iwi partnership purchases Crown land and forestsA Ngati Tuwharetoa partnership, the Tuwharetoa Settlement Trust (TST) and five other T?wharetoa entities, have finalised the purchase of 8,500 hectares of Crown land in the central North Island, New Zealand. This includes around 4,000 hectares of timber plantations.
The sale and purchase by Hautu-Rangipo Whenua Limited (HRWL), valued at NZ$52.7 million, was marked at Rongomai marae on Tuesday by Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Ta Tumu te Heuheu, CNI Iwi representatives, and representatives of the iwi partnership.
Hautu-Rangipo Whenua Limited includes a TST subsidiary, two large forestry Trusts, three Tuwharetoa farming entities, and a collective entity representing eight hapu. The purchase is part of the Deferred Settlement Process, which was agreed with the Crown in the 2008 Central North Island (CNI) Treaty Settlement. The land purchase encompasses the Tongariro/Rangipo Corrections Facility and will see HRWL leaseback around 770 hectares to the Corrections Department for its ongoing operations.
HRWL has also settled a transaction with Sydney-based forestry investment manager New Forests for a forestry right on the land. The management right will be acquired by Taupo Estate Limited, a New Zealand-based company managed by New Forests. The forestry right has a term of 30 years.
“The leaseback arrangements and the forestry right sale to New Forests, will see us receive revenues from the land immediately upon completion of the purchase. This is a great outcome for Ngati Tuwharetoa also includes a significant commitment to change farm land to forestry in order to protect the water quality in Lake Taupo by reducing Nitrate leaching. This work will be undertaken together with the Lake Taupo Protection Trust. For further comment click here .
Private investors sought for southern woodchip exportThe Tasmanian State Government is calling for expressions of interest from private operators interested in processing or exporting woodchips in Tasmania's south. Wood residue has had to be transported to the state's north for export since the closure of the Triabunna woodchip mill four years ago.
Advertisements have been placed in newspapers and the Government said it hoped to select a successful tender by the end of the year. Since the closure of the Triabunna woodchip mill, taxpayers have been funding road subsidies to truck residues to Bell Bay in the north. .
The Tasmanian Government is not ruling out sinking public money into a new woodchip port in the south, as it seeks private interest in the venture. But Tasmania's Resources Minister Paul Harriss said he hoped there would be interest from private investors. Mr Harriss said he hoped a proposal could be locked-in within the next six months. .
Source: ABC News
R&D subsidies make firms nearly twice as innovativeThe NZ Government spends millions per year on direct subsidies for research and development (R&D) in New Zealand businesses. New research by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research - a not-for-profit, non-partisan research institute – found that receiving an R&D grant almost doubles the probability that a firm introduces a major innovation, defined as a product or service that is new to the world.
Government support for R&D ranged from NZ$33 million to NZ$90 million per year during 2009–2013 in various forms, including training, advice and funding. There were two main types of R&D funding: project grants and capability building grants.
Adam Jaffe and Trinh Le from Motu studied the levels of innovation among firms who received subsidies as compared to those who were not funded using data from New Zealand’s Longitudinal Business Database. Jaffe and Le used seven measures of innovation outputs. Firms that received R&D grant in the previous three years were more innovative than other similarly characterised firms by every measure.
“R&D grant receipt is estimated to increase the probability of applying for a patent by 55 to 65 percent,” said Dr Adam Jaffe, lead author of the research. “Project grants have much larger effects on innovation outcomes than capability building grants, which is to be expected, given the nature of each type of grant. Project grants raise the probability of product innovation and increase the share of sales due to new products. It seems that capability building grants can only boost innovative activity when they are subsequently accompanied by a project grant,” said Dr Jaffe.
This is indirect evidence that government assistance with limited funding is not effective in boosting innovative activity. “Although there’s no way to know for sure if the differences between firms who are awarded funding and those who aren’t has created a selection bias in our research, our findings are broadly in line with recent international evidence from Japan, Canada and Italy that found positive impacts of public R&D subsidy on patenting activity and the introduction of new products,” said Dr Jaffe.
The working paper The impact of R&D subsidy on innovation: A study of New Zealand Firms by Motu researchers Adam Jaffe and Trinh Le, was produced under the Longitudinal Business Database Partnership, along with Measuring the innovative activity of New Zealand firms, by Simon Wakeman (NZPC) and Trinh Le (Motu).
The Wakeman and Le paper shows that R&D expenditure and activity is increasing across Kiwi firms, but rates of innovation are dropping. This apparent weakening of the link between R&D and innovation in the private sector overall only reinforces the importance of understanding the impact of government R&D programmes, as studied by Jaffe and Le.
Autonomous vehicles for the truck driver of the futureWe covered in last week’s issue of Friday Offcuts how the first license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States had been handed to Daimler Trucks North America.
As part of the European DESERVE project, VTT, Iveco Finland and TTS-Kehitys Oy are also developing a new software platform which will bring autonomous driving features to trucks. The truck of the future will sense nearby obstacles and possible safety risks, and inform the driver. The vehicle will also monitor driving behaviour and draw the driver's attention to possible hazardous situations.
The DESERVE (DEvelopment platform for Safe and Efficient dRiVE) project coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd involves the development of new types of software platforms, to which the 'senses' required by vehicles, such as cameras, radar and laser scanners, are connected. The platform enables software components and sensors to be connected to the vehicle's systems without compromising their reliability.
TTS is implementing and testing the safety equipment development platform. Also a driver monitoring functionality based on eye tracking is utilised. This was developed by VTT in a high-end truck simulator. TTS is in charge of ensuring that the test results correspond to what would happen on real roads and can be applied in practice.
Iveco Finland provided a truck, with a very highly developed camera system, for the project. This is being complemented with a 360° camera system, three 3D cameras, nine short-range radars and three in-vehicle cameras. With these, the driver can obtain real-time information on obstacles and possible safety risks around the car. On the other hand, the in-vehicle cameras monitor the driver's attentiveness and driving behaviour.
The first versions of the systems should be ready for installation in vehicles within two years. The DESERVE project has been funded via the EU ECSEL programme, and by TEKES in Finland. Major players in the automotive industry such as Fiat, Daimler, Continental, Volvo, Bosch, INRIA, ICOOR, dSpace, INFINEON, etc are involved. The project, which began in 2012, will end in February 2016.
Price rises for structural softwood timber productsThe latest edition of the quarterly Timber Market Survey (TMS) report for Australia has been released. The March quarter 2015 TMS has revealed price increases across major structural softwood timber products MGP10 and MGP12 ranging between 3.0 and 3.9 percent. Record quarterly price increases were recorded for engineered wood products ranging between 3.9 and 4.7 percent. Prices for all other softwood structural, outdoor and panel products also increased over the March 2015 quarter.
The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panel and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products. The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by seven major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; ForestrySA; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; and Green Triangle Forest Products.
Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available at: ww.indufor.fi.
Stora Enso developing intelligent packaging solutionsStora Enso and NXP Semiconductors have entered into joint development of intelligent packaging solutions. The development will focus on integrating RFID (Radio frequency identification) into packages for consumer engagement and supply chain purposes. The collaboration will also focus on brand protection and the development of tamper evidence applications.
By using NXP RFID technology such as near field communication (NFC) and ultra-high frequency (UHF), Stora Enso will in the future have smart packages that can be easily tracked and traced through the entire supply chain providing full end-to-end transparency. The integrated technology will also be able to detect if the intelligent package has been tampered with en-route to the consumer and, once in the hands of the consumer, could provide additional information and interaction through an NFC-enabled smart phone.
“The co-operation with NXP offers substantial business opportunities for Stora Enso. We have already worked on several concept cases with customers and partners within intelligent packaging. The co-operation with NXP will enable us to bring this development closer to market and provide faster scalability in intelligent paper and board solutions,” says Karl-Henrik Sundström, CEO, Stora Enso.
UN calls for ban on Tasmanian loggingThe UN has called for a blanket ban on logging and mining in Tasmania’s world heritage area and demanded the Tasmanian government rethink its new management plan for the vast wilderness. The 21 countries on Unesco’s world heritage committee have ratified a draft decision that the government must “ensure that commercial logging and mining are not permitted within the entire property” and that a proposed new strategy for the wilderness area is reviewed so that ecological values are fully protected.
The Guardian reports that the Tasmanian government wants to open up nearly 200,000 hectares for logging of some kind – an area that represents 12% of the state’s world heritage area. The new management plan also proposes escalating the building of tourism infrastructure.
Tasmania’s world heritage area covers around 1.5m hectares, which is about 20% of the state’s land mass. In its decision handed down in Germany on Wednesday, the world heritage committee said the new management plan needed “recognition of wilderness character of the property as one of its key values and as being fundamental for its management” rather than the proposed “remote recreation zone”.
While the government has stressed that this activity, along with “selective” logging, will boost the state’s struggling economy, environmentalists claim it would undermine the very essence of world heritage values. Last year the Australian government, backed by the Tasmanian government, tried to remove 74,000 hectares of forest from the world heritage area. The request was rejected in under 10 minutes at a world heritage committee meeting.
Matthew Groom, Tasmania’s environment minister, would not rule out logging and mining but said that the formulation of the management plan is an ongoing process. Groom said it was “disappointing and misleading” to see green groups say the government wanted to massively expand logging and mining in the area. World heritage committee delegates will visit Tasmania before the state submits an updated report to Unesco by 1 February next year.
Source: The Guardian
New forestry sector transport code of practiceThe Western Australian transport industry is moving further from the national regulator, with adoption of a new forestry sector Code of Practice, formally signed on June 18. The code was developed between the WA Road Transport Association (WARTA) and the Forest Industries Federation WA (FIFWA), with specialist risk and compliance consultancy Latus also on board.
Latus managing director Mike Wood says the new code provides a practical guide for highlighting effective work practices within the state’s compliance and enforcement (C&E) act. This differs from the Chain of Responsibility laws in other states, by pertaining to smaller vehicles as well as trucks. Any vehicle involved with transporting goods for business is covered, including utes and vans. In forestry, it means that a four-wheel drive vehicle called in to service an in-forest machine is considered part of the legislation.
"This was an extremely important day in the short history of Western Australian C&E as this highlights the adoption of the new act and how all parties will be aligned with Main Roads WA standards," Wood says. He says Latus is also working on further codes of practice with WARTA, to be delivered for the WA general freight, agri-business, agri-bulk, and overmass and oversize transport sectors in the coming months.
Having managed both large and small transport businesses over a long career, he says the scalability of the codes will be one of their key strengths. "It is really about how it can apply to everyone from the small operators right through to the big operators," he says. "Each code is scalable so that everyone is able to sign up and be responsible."
35-story timber building proposed for ParisVancouver architect Michael Green is a world leader in designing and building tall buildings out of wood and has co-authored the definitive book on the subject, called The Case For Tall Wood Towers. It has caused a stir among architects since it was first published in 2012.
Now, in partnership with French architects DVVD Paris and developer REI France, he has proposed a 35 story carbon neutral wood skyscraper for the Reinvent Paris competition, a bold effort by local authorities to inspire innovations in urban design and sustainability that will revitalize Parisian architecture.
For the contest, Paris authorities have offered 23 sites around the city for potential redevelopment, seeking proposals that demonstrate architectural, social and environmental innovations to help revitalize the city.
“We are launching this call for innovative urban projects in order to prefigure what the Paris of tomorrow might be,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement on the competition’s website. So far, the city has approved 650 of 815 applications submitted in the first stage of the competition. The response has been global, with proposals coming from 15 countries including Brazil, Singapore and South Korea.
Green believes Paris is the perfect place to showcase the benefits of using wood to construct tall buildings. Gustave Eiffel’s 301-metre tower “blew the socks off the entire idea of how tall you could build a building,” he said in an interview. Why not let Paris do for wood construction the same thing it did for steel construction when Eiffel’s creation got built?
Green and his partners deliberately chose the largest parcel available in the design competition for their proposal, which calls for a mixed use development comprised of markets, a range of housing options, a student hotel, and urban agriculture. The development, which the proponents have named Baobab, would revitalize what is now a parking lot for a bus depot. The buildings will rise above the parking area and feature walking and bike paths similar to New York City’s High Line.
Lend Lease, Australia’s largest contractor, has built an 8 story apartment building using CLT at Victoria Harbor in Melbourne. Its designer, architect Alex de Rijke, says “the 18th century was about brick, the 19th about steel, the 20th about concrete, and the 21st century is about wood.” According to Lend Lease, building with CLT is 30% faster than traditional construction with less waste.
If Michael Green’s design proposal is accepted by Paris officials, it may prove to be a turning point for sustainable construction using cross laminated wood throughout the world (Photo: Micheal Green Associates). More >>.
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... and one to end the week on ... Beethoven's grave
A tourist was walking through a cemetery in Vienna and all of a sudden he heard music. No one was around, so he started searching for the source.
And on that note, have a great weekend - and go the HIGHLANDERS!!!!! Cheers.
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