Wood innovations to improve international competitiveness
Globally, manufacturing is the largest investor in applied research and innovation. It’s also a key driver of productivity improvement. The spill over effect is also critical for the remainder of the economy. Each job in manufacturing generates on average between 2 and 5 additional jobs. Processing or manufacturing in the forest products sector though is increasingly coming under pressure.
Traditionally local companies have been very good at process innovation. How to squeeze as much as possible out of existing manufacturing operations is second nature to most companies. The focus has been on improving product recovery from fibre inputs in order to lower operational costs, reduce delivery time or increase flexibility.
To improve competitive advantage against competing non-wood products, the industry is looking more closely at its product innovations and business systems. Our capacity to create and capture high value and niche manufacturing is essential to the future well-being of the sector. Science, research and technology are central to this.
Wood Innovations 2012 is a new technology programme being set up with a wide cross section of Australian and New Zealand companies to address some of these concerns. “It’s a new initiative and it’s been a long time coming” says Brent Apthorp, Director of the industry grouping, the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA).
For over 13 years FIEA has been working with wood producers to design and run a wide range of technology events for the sector, both in Australia and New Zealand. “The focus has been more on step change – in profiling new tools and technologies that can be adopted by local companies to improve their processing and manufacturing operations”.
Wood Innovations 2012 has quite a different focus. “It’s designed to provide a global insight into new innovations, new wood products and new business systems that can be employed to attract future investment and to increase their international competitiveness” says Mr Apthorp.
“The very latest in new and emerging technologies in:
- solid wood
- panel products
- wood finishing systems
- wood modification technologies
- building materials and construction systems
that potentially can be picked up by local companies – will be the event’s focus. We’ve also identified leading R&D organisations undertaking ground breaking research in each of these areas – who have or are in the process of commercialising these new products”.
To date, presentations at Wood Innovations 2012 are planned from leading researchers or technology providers from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Finland, Austria, the USA and Canada. Further details will follow shortly in this newsletter. The programme runs in Melbourne, Australia on 10-11 October and again in New Zealand on 16-17 October 2012.
Programmes for both venues have now been uploaded onto the event website www.woodinnovationsevents.com.
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