Friday Offcuts 12 September 2014
In this week’s issue we’ve covered a couple of stories relating to the Wood Innovations 2014 technology focus, timber treatment and wood modification. Demand for wood plastic composites - WPC's - increasingly being used in this part of the world for traditional wood product applications such as decking, mouldings, fencing, landscaping and outdoor products - from a new study is expected to rise 9.8% annually through to 2018 in the US. Alternative decking boards to traditional timber decks now make up 50% of some areas in the American decking market. Demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic decking in 2013 is reported to be a very healthy US$1.4 billion, accounting for 19% of the total decking market.
As will be discussed over the next two weeks, many new entrants to the Australasian market are already pushing a wide range of 2nd, 3rd and now 4th generation WPC sections (significant improvements are been seen in the formulations used, the appearance and mechanical properties) as well as plastic lumber manufactured in USA or Asia. In another article out this week in Architecture & Design, Eamon Hurley from Composite Materials Australia states "Australia has been tracking at about a five year lag time behind what the USA has done since we started to import composite decking but we have been growing by about 20% each year consistently". This is already having an impact on traditional treated timber sales.
TimTechChem International has also just announced their exclusive arrangements for the distribution in this region of a new wood modification process (DMDHEU) developed in Germany. Local trials are now underway. A number of benefits to the treated wood are detailed in the story below. End use applications are expected to be in high end wooden windows, doors and related joinery, quality decking, vineyard posts for organic wineries where conventionally treated wooden posts are not permitted and for both indoor and outdoor furniture.
Finally, this week the Australian Plantation Statistics 2014 update was released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). The report provides an up-to-date look at Australia’s softwood and hardwood plantations. In summary, the report found Australia’s total plantation estate remained relatively unchanged in 2012-13 compared with 2011-12. However, establishment of new plantations was the lowest recorded since the mid-1990s. Between 2000/01 and 2012/13, the new plantation establishment rate has declined in all states and territories except for the Northern Territory which in turn, is impacting on future supplies and current investment. For readers, a link to the full 20 page report has been included in this week’s first story. Enjoy.
This week we have for you:
Australian Plantation Statistics 2014 update releasedThe Australian Plantation Statistics 2014 update was released this week by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and provides an up-to-date look at Australia’s softwood and hardwood plantations. The report found Australia’s total plantation estate remained stable in 2012–13, with a total of 2 012 500 hectares reported by plantation managers compared with 2 012 600 hectares in 2011–12.
About 2200 hectares of new plantation areas were reported to be established in 2012–13. This is the smallest area of new plantations established since the mid-1990s. The increase was offset by removal of existing plantation areas of around 2300 hectares that growers either deemed commercially unviable or did not replant at the end of their lease agreement. Removals of some plantation areas from active production are expected to continue over the next five years as some lease agreements reach completion and commercially unviable plantations are not replanted.
Between 2000–01 and 2012–13 the new plantation establishment rate declined in all states and territories except the Northern Territory. A copy of the full report can be found by clicking here
Former Gunns sawmill to be restored for timber processingAndrew Nikolic, MP for Bass, announced this week approval of a AU$3 million funding package under the Australian Government’s Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Plan for a major project in Scottsdale. Under the funding agreement, Dorset Renewable Industries Pty Ltd will undertake to restore timber processing capabilities in Scottsdale. A formal agreement with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is currently being negotiated.
“This AU$3 million funding package will see the purchase of the former Gunns sawmill at Ling Siding at Scottsdale and its restoration for timber processing,” Mr Nikolic said. “I congratulate David Hamilton and his fellow board members at Dorset Renewable Industries for their work on this project”.
“The purpose of our project is to purchase most of the site from a local businessman and restore it for industrial use. This will include refurbishing the buildings and restoring power, water, and sewage systems” Mr Hamilton said.
Mr Hamilton said the project would also deliver a public weighbridge on site which will become an important piece of industrial infrastructure for the region. The closest public weighbridge is at Bell Bay, more than 70 km away, so this will be a significant boost to the local economy. “The timber preservative treatment plant will be leased to a skilled operator who will provide an open access regime for local businesses,” Mr Hamilton said.
Demand for wood-plastic composites forecast to growWood plastic composites, the changing manufacturing technologies now being employed, market trends and opportunities in New Zealand and Australia will form part of this regions Wood Innovations 2014event that gets underway next week in Rotorua, New Zealand and again, for Australian wood treatment and manufacturing companies the week after, on 23-24 September.
In a new market study, Freedonia forecast that US demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber is forecast to rise 9.8% annually through 2018. Demand is expected to reach US$5.5 billion in 2018. In 2013, the market was worth US$3.45 billion according to Freedonia. The main end uses of wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber are traditional wood product applications: decking, mouldings and trim, fencing, landscaping and outdoor products. Decking is the largest market for wood-plastic composite and to a lesser degree for plastic lumber.
Demand for wood- plastic composite and plastic decking was US$1.4 billion in 2013, accounting for 19% of the total decking market. Demand is expected to grow 12% annually to reach US$2.47 billion in 2018. The second - largest market for wood-plastic and plastic is mouldings and trim, worth US$1.0 billion in 2013. Annual growth is forecast at 8.7%, with demand estimated at US$1.5 billion by 2018.
Demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic in fencing and outdoor products is expected to grow at a slightly lower rate of under 8% annually. Other miscellaneous applications will account for US$415 million in 2018, up from US$285 million in 2013.
Wood-plastic composite decking that copy the appearance of expensive wood species such as ipe and redwood are increasingly available and popular. Wood-plastic composite producers have also improved manufacturing technologies in recent years to improve resistance to fading and decay.
As wood-plastic products improve and consumers prefer low maintenance products, wood-plastics will continue to compete with wood in decking and other outdoor products. Late registrations to Wood Innovations2014 can still be made by visiting the event website www.woodinnovations2014.com
University of Canterbury to help with forestry safetyThe University of Canterbury is to launch a new research project to make sure New Zealand’s new forestry roads are safe and are established with minimal environmental impact. The New Zealand forestry industry is building more than 1400km of new roads a year and the research, to be conducted by Dr Kris Brown, will help improve design standards.
“The importance of infrastructure is widely recognised by forestry stakeholders, but the New Zealand Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel has heard that the quality and adequacy of forestry roads, bridges and skid sites are variable and often not up to the mark. I hope our research at the university’s School of Forestry will help raise standards for design, construction and maintenance of forestry roads”.
“The likelihood of accidents can increase when infrastructure is not specifically designed for heavy forestry machinery and logging trucks. Infrastructure not wide or strong enough to withstand repeated heavy loads has been cited by the coroner as a contributing factor in accidents,” Dr Brown says.
He will investigate these important issues through his research and outreach to industry. His work has been helped by $100,000 grant, over five years, to the university from the New Zealand Forest Owners Association.
Associate Professor Rien Visser says building a new road to access forest areas for harvesting can easily cost more than $100,000 per kilometre. These are costs that have to be recovered from the value of the trees harvested.
“The industry spends about $200 million a year on roads. As such our industry is seeking to build ‘fit-for-purpose roads’, a concept that attempts to minimise costs while not compromising safety and environmental performance”.
“Research done to date at the University of Canterbury has indicated that the forest industry can readily improve its road construction practice by correctly testing, and subsequently compacting the substrate on which the road will be built”.
“Most forestry companies’ use aggregates from in-forest quarries, and these aggregates do not typically meet a strength standard on which the national design curves are based. While new design standards for the lower quality material being used have been developed, we still need to test their validity”.
WPMA – It's official...The merger of New Zealand’s Wood Processors' Association and Pine Manufacturers Association' into the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) was celebrated at the official launch on Thursday evening 4 September in Wellington and was kindly hosted by Deloitte (Photo: WPMA Team from left; Jeff Parker, Technical Manager, Jeanette Sutherland, Executive Assistant, Jon Tanner, CEO, Brian Stanley, Chair, Debbie Fergie, Promotions Manager & Tom Boon, Deputy Chair).
The idea for this link-up was seeded a few years back but it's really been the effort of both boards led by Chairs Brian Stanley and Tom Boon over the last 18 months that has provided an association that powerfully links up the whole value chain for wood-based products: sawmillers, panel makers, pulp and paper makers, packaging providers, construction component fabricators, biochemical and bioenergy producers and the vital support industries that make up one of New Zealand's biggest manufacturing and exports sectors.
It was an impressive gathering with representatives from all parts of New Zealand's manufacturing and primary industries and also from government departments that are the industry regulators, trade facilitators, science and technology investors and skills providers. As Brian Stanley, WPMA Chair, remarked "we are here tonight to speak to the whole of NZ Inc. and not just ourselves - a real change in the way we operate".
The main point of Brian's presentation was to highlight that we are the only major industry that is based on a totally renewable natural resource that can create new jobs and attract new investment to the regions whilst protecting the environment. He introduced the idea that the wood industry is "Renewing New Zealand" and challenged other sectors to make the same comprehensive claims. All this is depicted in the NZ Wood Industry Story that was unveiled on the night.
Japan has been a longstanding customer for New Zealand wood and is a major investor and innovator in the sector and so it was fitting that the Ambassador of Japan to New Zealand, Yasuaki Nogawa gave the keynote speech. He talked about the scale of the Japan / New Zealand relationship in the wood sector, the cultural affinity the Japanese have for wood, the value of wood in providing resilience to natural disasters and the plans for future large scale building in wood, not least the construction of facilities to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Japan needs no convincing that wood is good and that New Zealand is a trusted supplier.
Vice Chair Tom Boon concluded by outlining what the CEO of a member company now expects from WPMA: 1) advocate for a level playing field in international trade, 2) up to date building standards that recognise that wood is a superior construction material and 3) that wood and the wood industry must be promoted through the NZ Wood industry Story.
WPMA will now be acting on these directives and taking the NZ Wood Industry Story out to the regions. WPMA will keep you posted on an event near you over the coming months. Transcripts of their speeches can be viewed by clicking here.
Accounting for biodiversity within a LCAUp until recently incorporating measures of forest biodiversity within a life cycle assessment (LCA) have not been feasible due to a lack of a method that captures key biodiversity principles (i.e. the impacts on various taxonomic groups such as plants, mammals, birds, frogs and insects) and that can be applied globally.
Not having such a method has put the forestry industry at a disadvantage as previous LCAs involving forest products assumed the impacts on biodiversity from forestry operations negated other positive environmental outcomes (e.g. low greenhouse footprint, carbon sequestration).
To overcome this situation, a new method called BioImpact has been proposed to account for biodiversity impacts in Australian LCAs. Now researchers from NSW Department of Primary Industries, the University of Tasmania and the University of Wollongong, with funding from FWPA, have further developed and refined BioImpact using two forestry systems (native forestry and plantation softwood timber production) and two agriculture systems (cropping and rangeland grazing) in NSW.
For more information on the study and results, check out the latest issue of FWPA’s R&D Works.
Building activity updateChina real estate
China’s housing market has continued its downward move, with the China Housing Index down to just 2.5, signalling 2.5% year-on-year growth in house prices. This is the slowest annual growth in 17 months, dropping from a peak of 9.9 in December last year. The value of real estate sales in July were 6% lower than July 2013, which was a slight improvement from June, when sales were down 7.8% on a year ago.
The area of new construction in China has decreased significantly year-on-year. Figures show that new construction land is 16.4% lower than a year ago for the first half of 2014. The total area for new construction in 2014 to July was the smallest area since 2009, which was before China’s government put in large scale stimulus for the property market to offset potential export declines after the global financial crises.
Housing starts and new buildings authorised in the US both fell during the past month, but starts were up year-on-year. Since housing starts began to recover in the US over the past two years, there has been a much greater percentage of multifamily construction, which typically use less wood in their construction, over single family units. Historically, close to 25% of new buildings have been multifamily units, this fell to 16.6% during the construction boom of the mid 2000s, but now has risen to 34.8% for the first half of this year.
Hyne Timber training recognised in NSW Training AwardsHyne Timber has been officially recognised for its training in the ‘large employer of the year’ category in the NSW Government training awards. Hyne Timber attended the ceremony held on Wednesday evening in Sydney, just missing out to Wyong Shire Council.
Hyne Timber CEO, Jon Kleinschmidt said the people are the most valuable asset and as such, afford the greatest investment. “Being recognised as one of three finalists for the NSW training award in the ‘large employer of the year’ category firmly supports our company vision to engage our people on a continuous improvement journey.
“This journey sees all employees as valued trainees, including myself. For example, all employees, over 500 people, are in the process of undertaking training towards the Certificate III and IV in Competitive Systems and Practices”.
Employing over 500 people, the Hyne Timber footprint reaches from Cairns to Melbourne. Approximately 220 of those are based in NSW with the majority at the Hyne Timber mill in Tumbarumba.
Judy Kelso, Area Coordinator at the Tumbarumba Mill has proudly worked for Hyne Timber for 9 years. She said she is really pleased to see Hyne Timber recognised for its training although claims she isn’t at all surprised.
“I’ve completed many courses now in Leader Development and I’m currently undertaking training towards the Certificate 4 in Competitive Systems and Practices. I have much clearer goals at work now. We meet every day to discuss our progress against goals and we take immediate action if we are off track”.
“I certainly feel like I’m a valued employee with a great career ahead of me. Hyne Timber wouldn’t be training me if they didn’t want me back here tomorrow contributing to the company.” Judy Kelso concluded.
Hyne Timber is currently a finalist in the Queensland awards which will be announced later this month. (Photo: Hyne Timber. Members of the Tumbarumba Mill Dispatch Team: from left to right Judy Kelso (quoted), Michael Arnold, Sid Davey and Melissa Mende).
New Forests launches ForicoNew Forests has announced the launch of Forico Pty Limited, an integrated timber plantation, forest management and timber export business based in Launceston, Tasmania. The announcement comes as New Forests and KordaMentha, Receivers of Gunns Ltd, have now completed the sale of the ex-Gunns Tasmanian forestry estate.
Forico has been established to manage the 175,000 hectare freehold forestry estate as well as affiliated operations. Forico’s plantation estate includes 100,000 hectares of sustainable timber plantation, primarily Eucalyptus nitens located across Tasmania, and also includes a nursery, two woodchip mills and a wood fibre technology laboratory. Forico will initially have 35 staff and will manage an integrated operation from nursery production of seedlings to plantation establishment and management and ultimately to woodchip production and sales.
Forico will be led by CEO Bryan Hayes, who brings a wealth of experience in hardwood plantation management and in the hardwood woodchip export markets. Mr Hayes commented, “Today is a day for celebration, and we believe Forico’s launch and business model will be a step change for plantation forestry in Tasmania. Forico brings a focus on privately-owned, high-quality plantation forests and is fully capitalised without debt. Our focus will be on value creation for our owners and the communities in which we operate – to support this we will seek to meet the highest environmental standards and certification.”
New Forests now manages over AU$2.5 billion in institutional capital invested across more than 500,000 hectares of forests, rural land, and conservation investments. The company’s investments comprise the largest Australian timberland investment portfolio as well as the Timberlink Australia processing business and timberland and conservation investments in Southeast Asia and the United States.
Patented wood modification process for local companiesWho would have thought that a commercial anti-wrinkle chemical which enhances wash and wear properties and help fix colour or other agents to fibres and used for years in the textile industry could one day become the newest, biggest thing in the modification of wood? Professor Holger Militz and his research team at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany did.
Professor Militz has spent years developing DMDHEU (dimethyloldihydroxyethyleneurea) as part of an effective wood modification process. When the process was ready to be commercialised in New Zealand, the University of Göttingen approached TimTech Chemicals as a potential partner. Ron Eddy, Managing Director, travelled to Göttingen to view the process first hand. “I was really impressed with the modified wood I saw and felt that we had to take up this technology”, said Eddy. “Shortly thereafter we entered into an exclusive agreement and commenced the technology transfer and local testing”.
The N-methylol compounds together with a catalyst penetrate and react in the wood cell walls. The reaction causes a crosslinking of cell wall polymers by DMDHEU. As a result, the modified wood exhibits a permanent cell wall bulking; the swelling and shrinkage is reduced. This causes an improved anti-swelling efficiency of up to 70%. Modification does not substantially influence the equilibrium moisture content of wood but significantly improves the durability against white, brown, and soft rot fungi.
The treatment also enhances the wood's surface hardness and compression strength, but does not affect its flexural properties. The adhesion of coatings on the modified wood is greater than on the untreated wood and the weathering properties of both uncoated and coated wood are improved. Details around this new process are said to include:
- The density of the wood increases by about 30% - 40% depending on the weight gain during the process.
- The durability of the wood is equivalent to H4. Field trials have been in place in Queensland for 7 years and continue to perform well against fungal decay and termites.
- The compression strength of the timber increases by 30-50%.
- Surface hardness of the wood is increased by at least 25% - 35%.
- The process bulks up the cell walls and therefore swelling and shrinking after treatment is eliminated.
- The dimensional stability is greatly enhanced.
- It is not a biocide or insecticide and is therefore environmentally friendly.
Ron Eddy says, “We see the end use applications being in high end wooden windows, doors and related joinery, quality decking, vineyard posts for organic wineries where conventionally treated wooden posts are not permitted and for both indoor and outdoor furniture. It also adds great strength and stability to plywood and other engineered wood products”.
The cost of the modified wood is expected to be comparable with tropical hardwoods. The modified radiata pine is currently being subjected to accelerated fungal decay tests and mechanical property tests at Scion in Rotorua. The TimTech HartHolz™ Wood Modification Process is expected to be fully commercialised by early 2015.
This new process will be outlined – amongst a number of other new technologies and innovations for local wood treatment and manufacturing companies as part of the Wood Innovations 2014 series which STARTS in Rotorua next week – and in Australia – the week after on 23-24 September. Full details and late registrations can be made on the event website, www.woodinnovations2014.com
Amazing award-winning Australian projectsIt may be considered an old fashioned material by some but these award-winning designers have shown that timber can be modern and amazing. The winners of the Intergrain Timber Vision awards announced on 15 August include a mixed-use project which looks more like a work of art than a building.
The multipurpose Nishi building in Canberra won the Best Commercial Interior in the awards. It was designed by March Studio. The building has residential and commercial space plus retail and hotel zones.
The judges said March Studio had managed to create a space which encouraged inhabitants and guests to linger. It made “spectacular’’ use of timber as not just art but also architecture. Thousands of strategically placed recycled lengths of timber are artistically hung within the building.
The awards aim to recognise and celebrate the valuable role timber plays in Australian architecture and design. More than 100 entries were received for the awards this year with four major winners announced.
Intergrain Brand Manager Trade, Amanda Chalmers, said the calibre of submissions and number of entries had reached a new high. “Many of our entries pushed the boundaries with their innovative use of timber this year,’’ she said. Check out the award winners and some amazing images of timber use in buildings by clicking here
Cement industry takes a swipe at wood proponentsThe Cement Association of Canada (CAC) has taken another shot at the wood industry in Ontario, claiming that the Ontario government’s proposed building code amendments to allow the construction of mid-rise buildings made of wood will result in unsafe buildings. Taller wood buildings are not the answer to affordable housing, the CAC states in a release, and they are “simply not worth the risk.” Wood, the CAC reminds the government, is a combustible material.
Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been considering amending the building code to allow wood as a primary construction material in buildings up to six storeys tall. Wood is currently limited to buildings of four storeys. The province of British Columbia already allows taller wood construction, as do the states of Oregon and Washington, all jurisdictions with important forestry industries.
In March of this year the ministry released a document explaining the proposed building code changes. Central to the proposed changes is the concept of an “objective-based code,” defined as one in which alternative solutions can be used in a given building application so long as they achieve the same level of performance as the solution already specified in the code. If wood works just as well as concrete, it should be allowed. More >>. For further commentary on the current debate click here.
Dynes lead with near miss iPhone AppNear miss App from Dynes Transport in Tapanui, New Zealand - Apple iPhone users can now use a simple mobile application to capture near miss incidents. Designed and used by Dynes Transport Tapanui Limited, the app allows staff to record an incident by taking photos and recording a voice message without the need for long winded forms.
Near miss incidents are the hardest to capture, so making easy for staff is key to getting good reporting, which in turns can help improve safety and develop a culture of safety.
The system sends an email with all the required information including the photos, voice message, date & time, GPS location and contact information. Emails can be set to send to more than one person if required. Simple setup requires no logins or accounts.
To see the app (which is free to download) , click here
Australia's Future Fund appoints Chief Investment OfficerAustralia’s Future Fund has appointed Dr Raphael Arndt to the position of Chief Investment Officer. Dr Arndt was previously the Future Fund’s Head of Infrastructure and Timberlands. As Chief Investment Officer, Dr Arndt will have overall responsibility for leading the investment team in developing the research, due diligence and selection and monitoring processes for assets and investment managers. Dr Arndt commences his new role immediately.
Stephen Gilmore, the Future Fund’s current Head of Investment Strategy, will take on additional responsibility for managing and monitoring total portfolio risk settings while continuing to focus on portfolio design and understanding the macroeconomic and market environment. Both Dr Arndt and Mr Gilmore will report to David Neal, the Future Fund’s Managing Director.
The Future Fund is Australia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund responsible for investing the assets of the Future Fund, three Nation-building Funds and the DisabilityCare Australia Fund. Since inception investment returns have added over $40 billion to the value of the Future Fund which is now valued at more than $101 billion. The Future Fund has met or exceeded its target benchmark return over seven, five, three and one year periods to 30 June 2014.
JoeScan’s new scanning heads triple scan rateJoeScan, a leading manufacturer of 3-D laser scan heads for sawmills and other wood-products applications has just released their new innovation, the JS-25 X-Series, which offers a significantly increased maximum scan rate. The JS-25 X-Series captures up to 850 profiles per second, which more than triples the scan rate of most previous models.
The JS-25 X-Series includes six different models – standard and extended-range, wide-angle, and two- or three-laser configurations –and are backward compatible in that they can serve as drop-in replacements in systems that already use JS-20 scan heads. “The faster laser exposure results in higher accuracy, especially when scanning moving objects,” explains Fabian Hohmuth, senior software engineer at JoeScan.
For more information visit www.JoeScan.com or email email@example.com
...and one to end the week on - where are your glasses
Yesterday my daughter e-mailed me again, asking why I didn't do something useful with my time.
And on that note, have a great weekend. We're looking forward to catching up with most NZ wood treatment and manufacturing companies next week in Rotorua. Cheers.
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