Friday Offcuts 25 August 2023
In wood processing and manufacturing, this week marks the 100th anniversary of the granting of the patent for Cross-Laminated Timber. It’s not a modern technology as many of us probably assume, and it wasn’t invented Europe, but instead, in Tacoma, WA in the USA. The manufacturing facilities and equipment though for CLT production have advanced significantly as demonstrated with Timberlink celebrating a very important milestone last week as part of commissioning their new CLT and GLT manufacturing facility at Tarpeena. The first glue laminated timber beam rolled off the presses. Full production for Australia’s only combined Radiata pine CLT and GLT facility is still scheduled for October of this year.
In skills and training this week we’ve got a call out from the NZ Tech Alliance following the release of a new report recommending a collective systemic change to address current and future digital skills gaps, Safetree has provided links to some great videos produced by Rayonier Matariki Forests covering key tips for staying safe when repairing and maintaining forestry machinery and in Australia, Skills Insight and ForestWorks are currently reviewing three tree felling training units and they're looking for input from forestry operators.
Finally, in the forest technology space this week Nordic Forestry Automation has just signed up a new partner, Södra Ädla, to develop an AI-based system that continuously supports the machine operator in making forest management decisions, principally, in mechanised thinning operations. The system measures, positions and classifies all trees around the machine automatically and in real time. It also gives the position of the machine and cutting head with centimetre accuracy. And data on each individual tree is continuously collected and delivered to both the machine operator and the forest owner. And that’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Nationwide end to native logging soughtNationwide, the Australian native timber industry's survival is under threat. Victoria has banned native logging on Crown land from next year.
A similar ban in Western Australia, the first Australian state to stop native logging, will apply from January 2024. And a court action to halt logging is currently underway in Tasmania and New South Wales.
The Greens, environment groups, and sections of the federal Labor Party all want a nationwide end to native logging. A motion to end logging across Australia was defeated at the Labor Party's national conference in Brisbane last week, after strong lobbying from senior Labor figures. But the pressure is still on at the state level.
Source: ABC News
Australia’s National Forestry Day celebratedThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) encouraged everyone to recognise how critical Australia’s forest products sector is to regional communities, for fighting climate change, supporting the national economy and creating the essential and sustainable products Australians love and use every day on National Forestry Day.
National Forestry Day is an initiative of the Australian Forest Products Association and state-based advocacy groups. AFPA Acting Chief Executive Officer Natasa Sikman said on Tuesday 22 August, “Today, on National Forestry Day, I encourage everyone to stop and think about how important Australia’s forest products sector is in everyday life. Think about all of the products you love to use, which are based in forestry, renewable and displace high emission-based products and harmful plastics. The timber house-frame inside the walls of your home, the cardboard boxes your latest delivery arrived in, the hardwood dining table in your living area and of course the toilet paper in your bathroom! Without Australia’s sustainable and renewable forest products sector, we wouldn’t have these locally made products.
“Aside from our amazing products, Australia’s forest products sector supports approximately 180,000 direct and indirect jobs. Our people are highly experienced professionals who understand the science behind growing productive and healthy forest ecosystems with multi-value benefits. This includes expert fire management services and working with local Regional Fire Services. Our sector contributes AU$24 billion to the national economy annually. Many of our sector’s operations are naturally located in regional Australia, underpinning hundreds of communities, many for generations on end.
“With demand for timber and wood fibre expected to quadruple by 2050, the Australian forest products sector plays a significant role leading the world in sustainable forest management. Our careful environmental management practices are an example to other nations looking to maximise the potential of their forest sectors, through active replanting and prudent regulations.
“Our sector is incredibly important as a nature-based solution to meeting the global ambition to act on climate change through the Paris Agreement and to the economy wide transition to a low carbon bioeconomy. As production trees grow, they absorb carbon, which then continues to be stored in timber and wood fibre products and the built environment, long after the trees are sustainably harvested. We are a big part of the answer to Australia reaching its net zero goals.
“Today, wherever you are, please think about the important role of timber and wood in your lives. Think about the products, the regional communities and the contribution the forest products sector makes to the economy, society and climate. Happy National Forestry Day 2023!” Natasa Sikman concluded.
With Australia’s forests facing a challenging future, Forestry Australia, the professional association for forest scientists, managers and growers, has used National Forestry Day to highlight the need for our forests to continue to be professionally managed.
Sources: AFPA, Forestry Australia
First GLT beam from Timberlink’s new plantTimberlink was pleased to welcome the South Australian Parliamentary Select Committee to its Tarpeena manufacturing facility last week for the South Australian Forest Products Association’s Seed to Structure tour. In attendance were Hon. Nicola Centofanti MLC, Hon. Tung Ngo MLC, Hon. Frank Pangallo MLC, Hon. Ben Hood MLC, in addition to various industry members from across the South Australian forestry sector.
The purpose of the tour was to increase awareness around the many stages of softwood timber manufacturing in South Australia; right from planting seeds in the nursery through to processing and manufacturing finished plantation pine timber products.
Ian Tyson, CEO of Timberlink, was delighted to host the committee at Timberlink’s Tarpeena manufacturing facility and to share with them an exciting milestone in the construction of Timberlink’s Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) manufacturing facility: the very first glue laminated timber beam produced on its newly commissioned GLT line.
“This is a very meaningful day for Timberlink,” said Ian Tyson. “From our first sod turn in February 2022 to producing our first GLT beam in August 2023, we are well on our way to full production which is scheduled for October this year. It was fantastic to share this milestone moment with the committee.”
Timberlink’s NeXTimber facility will be Australia’s only combined radiata pine CLT and GLT facility
ForestTECH places for young graduates & studentsAnother opportunity (free stuff) is being offered with a free conference registration – up to five of them in fact - for this year’s ForestTECH 2023 event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 14-15 November 2023.
The Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) has again teamed up with the WIDE Trust, a charitable Trust formed in 2018 that supports the development and education in New Zealand’s forestry and wood industry sectors.
What’s being offered? To help out younger employees, recent graduates and new entrants into the industry, this arrangement enables up to five young employees, recent graduates or students in New Zealand to attend the major annual forest technology series, ForestTECH 2023 with all major conference expenses being paid.
ForestTECH 2023 will appeal to those involved in; tree crop management, automated silviculture, including mechanised planting, thinning and pruning, forest establishment, remote sensing, forest data capture and forest inventory management. Details for the November conference can be found on the event website, www.foresttech.events/ft23.
Conditions: Applicants for the complimentary places have to be actively employed within the forestry, wood products or resource management industries or in a recognised training scheme, apprenticeship or course. The places are available only to those that haven’t yet registered to attend the conference. And, to ensure the package is targeting the right person, the applicants should also be 35 years or younger.
What do I do if interested? Places will be filled on a first in-first served basis, provided the eligibility criteria have been met. So, if keen on picking up one of these complimentary available spaces this year to the NZ leg of the ForestTECH 2023 series, please make contact with firstname.lastname@example.org.
SnapSTAT - Free trade opportunity for wood?With our log export trade heavily dependent on a flagging trading partner, China, and an industry transformation plan going into action, one question is whether other markets may take more of our wood exports, in any form.
So perhaps its timely that on 9 July 2023 New Zealand and the European Union signed a free trade agreement in Brussels. Today’s chart shows our current trade in wood with the EU is tiny, so either plenty of potential (for the optimists among us) or no chance, if you’re not.
Further information, click here.
Market governance decisions for NZ’s ETS announcedThe NZ Government this week released a cabinet paper on market governance decisions for the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS). The Government has agreed to a staged approach to the development of a market governance framework for the NZ ETS, following consultation in late 2022.
The Government has agreed to two proposals:
1. Enabling the Financial Markets Authority, through ‘Fair Dealing’ provisions in the Financial Markets Conduct Act (2013), to respond to risks relating to advice, trading and misconduct in the marketplace for NZUs.
2. Allowing the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to collect information about trades made by participants. This includes the price, the transactor’s primary reason for holding an account, and whether trades are happening between non-related accounts.
The above proposals will likely come into force in 2025.
Officials have also been directed to begin a Request for Proposal process to procure a clearing house and optional exchange, along with the associated infrastructure, for the secondary market. No decisions on whether to procure an exchange and/or clearing facility have been made. A report back on the RFP is expected in March 2024. A further report back on a comprehensive market governance package is expected in June 2024.
For more information, including the cabinet paper click here
Repairs & maintenance of mobile forestry machineryGreat videos covering key tips on repairs and maintenance. See these short clips that cover key tips for staying safe when repairing and maintaining forestry machinery. They summarise messages contained in longer videos created to complement a guide to repairs and maintenance created by Rayonier Matariki.
See the full videos or read the maintenance guide on the Safetree website
Urgent call to equip workforce with digital skillsThe newly published Digital Skills Aotearoa (3rd edition) provides valuable insights into the country’s digital skills challenges and explores the landscape in New Zealand and globally.
“In our ever-evolving digital world, the importance of digital skills cannot be overstated. As we strive to harness the opportunities presented by the digital revolution, it is crucial we equip our workforce with the necessary skills,” says NZTech CEO Graeme Muller.
“Throughout the research phase of this report, we observed plenty of activity aimed at addressing the digital skills gap. There are numerous initiatives underway and all should be commended. However, despite these initiatives, the statistics have shown little improvement. At all levels, there has been a significant decline in learners engaging in digital technology studies, which flows onto low numbers graduating.”
“It is now abundantly clear that systemic change is required – a transformation that encompasses the collective efforts of industry, government and the education sector. The magnitude of our challenge demands a united approach where we can pool resources, share knowledge and develop innovative solutions. Collaboration with government and the education sector is also crucial for their support in shaping policies and providing vital infrastructure for effective change.”
The recommendations included in the report serve as a roadmap towards a more digitally skilled Aotearoa New Zealand. They encompass a range of strategies aimed at addressing the root causes of the digital skills gap, nurturing talent and fostering an environment for continuous lifelong learning and upskilling.
“By embracing these recommendations and embarking on a collaborative journey, we still have the potential to lead as a thriving digital nation.”
The report examines our demand and supply mismatch, where the greatest unmet demand is for senior workers with specific advanced digital skills and experience. Generally, these roles cannot be filled by graduates and early-career workers. As a result of this mismatch, many graduates find it difficult to obtain entry-level jobs.
Digital Skills Aotearoa also forecasts our future demand, identifying challenges and supply opportunities. To enable Aotearoa’s future, the report provides several recommendations. These include a collective response to our digital skills challenge, leadership from our largest employer and the need for industry to prioritise collaborative efforts to address the issue.
Source: Tech Alliance
Cross Laminated Timber turns 100 this week!It is not readily known as it is thought of as modern technology, but Cross-Laminated Timber is actually 100 years old on Monday this week. The patent that describes the technology was published on 21 August, 100 years ago.
The patent that describes the technology is repeated below;
“The strips or boards thus formed are then cut into suitable lengths and such lengths are then superimposed one above the other so as to form a plurality of layers, with the grain of the wood in one layer running at an angle to the grain of the wood in the adjacent layer.”
Also not known, and contrary to popular belief, it was invented in the USA, not Europe.
FRANK J. Wars and ROBERT L. WATTS, citizens of the United States, residing at Tacoma, in the county of Pierce and State of Washington, have invented a certain new and useful Improvement in Composite Lumber, of which the following is a specification.
So, it can be seen with the following image: CLT was described one hundred years ago this week.
View the 1923 Cross Laminated Timber patent here and further coverage on the story can be read here
Source: Timber Development Association NSW, Mass Timber Strategy, The Architects Newspaper
MAN long distance e-trucks production starts in 2024Long-distance trucks should be able to be fully charged during the drivers' 45-minute driving time break.
MAN will start production of its electric long-haul truck in 2024. There are already more than 500 order enquiries. As early as 2030, half of MAN trucks registered annually in Europe should be battery-electric. For this to succeed in Europe, construction of around 50,000 public truck charging points and a CO2 price is needed that makes e-trucks more economical than diesel.
MAN has already trained a total of 2,600 employees in high-voltage technology, but above all also in the development of electric technology, a lot of new know-how is required so that e-trucks can be used in a wide variety of practical applications in the future.
MAN is involved with numerous partners in the development of the megawatt charging system (MCS) required for this through the NEFTON project. The new MAN eTruck is already technically prepared for this MCS standard, which is expected to be available from 2025. Long-distance daily ranges of up to 1,000 kilometres will thus be possible in the future. And with its variable battery configurations between 300 and 500 kWh of usable capacity, it will also easily cover other typical transport tasks of today's trucks, such as low-noise and emission-free waste disposal in the city or the more climate-friendly collection of milk from organic farmers.
MAN is also making intensive preparations for electromobility in the area of charging infrastructure and is setting up 1,700 high-performance charging points for trucks along major European trunk roads over the next five years in a joint venture with TRATON and other partners. In addition, MAN is already providing customers with comprehensive advice on switching to electromobility and is also offering the necessary charging infrastructure through partners.
At the Nuremberg plant, MAN will start producing its own batteries in 2025, with the aim of producing around 100,000 of them annually from 2030. Salzgitter will also play a key role in the transformation as a component plant for non-driven axles and crankshafts for the new Group engine developed jointly by all TRATON Group manufacturers. In addition, the site is responsible for MAN's worldwide spare parts logistics, which in future will also increasingly include electric components.
MOTAT steam tram powered by treesIt’s out with the coal and in with the biofuel for steam tram no. 100, which will operate on a renewable energy source made from trees at MOTAT Live Day on August 20. Developed by Crown Research Institute, Scion, the biofuel will undergo its largest trial to date, which will see 250 kilograms of briquettes supplied to MOTAT to keep the little tram that could, running all day.
Scion is on a mission to unlock the potential of this ‘waste’, seeing massive opportunities in the estimated four million tonnes of harvest and thinning residues that currently remain in production forests. Scion Integrated Bioenergy portfolio lead Paul Bennett says a biofuel future is essential for New Zealand to meet its global climate change commitments. “Energy use contributes to around 90 per cent of New Zealand’s carbon dioxide emissions. If Aotearoa is going to achieve its net zero target, it needs to address emissions from energy use.
“This is currently the most achievable target for New Zealand to reduce carbon emissions. “To bring biofuel to the market and successfully replace coal, the technology needs to be tested at a range of scales. This partnership with MOTAT is the ideal first step to demonstrate the effectiveness of biomass briquettes at a larger scale, with a like-minded company that wants to reduce its environmental impact,” Bennett says.
MOTAT Collection Workshops Manager Graham Anderson says the museum is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and the trial is another step in the journey toward becoming carbon neutral. “Steam tram no. 100 has a fascinating history,” says Anderson.
Built in the United States in 1891, it was shipped to Sydney where it operated on the New South Wales Government Tramway system until 1905 when electric trams replaced steam services. It was briefly used by the private Saywells Tramway at Rockdale and then brought to Whanganui, New Zealand in 1910 for construction of the Gonville and Castlecliff Tramway Board's electric tramway extensions to the Wanganui system.
This work was completed in 1912 and the tram was then placed in storage. It was briefly pressed into service hauling passengers between July and October 1920 when the electric tramway power supply failed. It was restored to operational condition by MOTAT in 1971, and today runs on MOTAT’s tramway from Great North Road to Motions Road.
Although MOTAT has a licence to burn coal and complies with all legislation, it is investigating options for more sustainable, clean, or cleaner, fuel alternatives. The collaboration with Scion is an opportunity to further this research. Scion scientists have been developing the biofuel since the early 2000s, but recently accelerated their pace of progress with significant breakthroughs in the past 12 months. Scion scientist Dr Bing Song says the success to date is a culmination of more than 20 years' work.
“The project team are experts in this field. While the machinery is not new and the concept of continuous briquetting has been around for decades, the magic is really in the method. Our deep knowledge and understanding allow us to see results not yet recorded in scientific journals.
“We have been excited to be seeing positive developments of the biofuel in the past 12 months. And with further engineering innovations in the pipeline, we’re feeling confident about the future of this project.” Thermal coal’s average bulk density is approximately 700 to 800 kilograms per cubic meter. To date, Scion has achieved a density of around 550 kilograms per cubic meter with a durability greater than 91 per cent, qualifying the briquettes as a coal replacement for medium/low process heat supply.
“While there are biofuel pellets on the market internationally, the geometry of these mean they sometimes cannot meet the requirements of all existing coal users/boilers. They are typically too small and will fall straight through the ash grate at the bottom of the boiler. Scion’s briquettes overcome this limitation and we will continue to experiment to determine the best shape,” Dr Song says. He adds that his door is open for individuals and organisations interested in bringing the solid biofuel to market.
AI company partners Nordic Forestry AutomationSödra Ädla is a new partner of Nordic Forestry Automation (NFA). The company develops next-generation operator support systems for forest machines based on sensor technology from autonomous vehicles and AI algorithms.
Thinning a forest involves constant decision-making about which, and how many, trees to harvest in order to best promote the various values of the forest. How the thinning operation is carried out is important for the long-term development of the forest but is usually done manually and based on the experience of each individual operator.
To make the thinning task easier, Nordic Forestry Automation (NFA) has developed an AI-based system to continuously support the operator in forest management decisions.
The company started in 2021 based on the founders’ research work on self-driving vehicles and AI algorithms. The founders met during their PhD studies through the national Swedish research initiative Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP).
“Forest thinning is a craft that requires 100% focus and takes several years to master. The total cognitive load is comparable to that of a fighter pilot. Sensor-based operator support provides better conditions for operators and forest owners to promote forest values. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue developing this technology together with our new partners,” said Lars Svensson, CEO of NFA.
By supporting the operator, the NFA system makes harvesting more cost-efficient, which improves profitability for forest owners. In addition, the technology creates new opportunities for local forest adaptations, and enables systematic and cost-efficient execution of alternative forest management methods that promote biodiversity and carbon storage.
The new investment will enable NFA to further accelerate the pace of its development. In 2022 and 2023, the system was tested in pilot projects with SCA and Sveaskog, the company will start rolling out pre-series products with Södra, Sveaskog and SCA.
“The investment and close collaboration with forest companies means that we can deploy the systems at an early stage and continue working closely with the operators. This is absolutely essential for building systems that can make a real difference out in the forest – for both operators and forest owners,” said Lars Svensson.
NFA’s operator support can be retrofitted to any type of forest harvester and supports operators in forest management decisions. The system measures, positions and classifies all trees around the machine automatically and in real time. It also gives the position of the machine and cutting head with centimetre accuracy. Data on each individual tree is continuously collected and delivered to the forest owner together with a report, enabling increased transparency, quality assurance of the harvesting and new opportunities for forest owners to apply alternative methods of management.
“We are delighted with our investment in NFA. The company’s AI-based operator support is a good example of the business models and technology that Södra Ädla wants, and intends, to invest in. The technology makes thinning easier and more precise and enables a wider range of forestry measures”.
“The technology also makes thinning easier for operators, which could eventually attract more contractors and forest machine operators to the industry. NFA’s technology generates direct value for forest estates, and we are looking forward to contributing to the company’s development,” said Erik Bengtson, Investment Manager for Södra Ädla.
Australian review of tree felling skills standardsForestry operators, arborists and emergency workers may all need to draw on skills to manually fell trees with a chainsaw when using large machinery is unviable. These skills are described in three units of competency which outline how to demonstrate competence at a basic, intermediate and advanced level.
To demonstrate competence, learners must perform manual tree felling on a specified number of trees. The number required at each level needs to be low enough that it does not present a barrier for training organisations in sourcing the trees, but high enough that learners will be safe and competent when they take their skills into the workplace.
In Australia, Skills Insight and ForestWorks are undertaking a project to review the three tree felling units in consultation with industry, considering how many trees are required to demonstrate each skill level and what other mechanisms may be needed to support safety, competence and accessible training.
If you would like to be involved in this project, please feel free to contact the project manager, Georgiana Daian at email@example.com. To receive updates about this project, subscribe to the Skills Insight newsletter.
Skills Insight is a not-for-profit, Australian government funded, industry-led organisation and one of ten Jobs and Skills Councils. We work with stakeholders who share a passion for improving skills and training across the agribusiness, fibre and furnishings industries.
Photo courtesy of Power Safety Training
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... Bruce knows his antiques
The Antiques Road Show was down-under, with a session at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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