Friday Offcuts – 22 June 2018

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The Australian leg of the two-yearly technology series, WoodFlow 2018 finished in Melbourne yesterday. A record turnout of forest managers, harvesting and wood flow planners, transport operators and haulage contractors from throughout the region have been involved in workshops, a two-day conference and trade exhibitions over the last three days. We turn to New Zealand next week with over 200 already registered for the event. Details from the wood transport and logistics series will follow in future issues.

In keeping with the theme of transport innovation, a New Zealand & Australian based Intelligent Transportation Systems company announced this week that they’ve just signed a US$20 million deal to set up a manufacturing plant for autonomous vehicles along with an Artificial Intelligence Transport Research Centre in China and a new PwC report has quantified the potential value of drones to the UK economy. They’re predicting that by 2030 there could be upwards of 76,000 drones operating across the country adding some £42 billion to the UK economy. And much closer to home, truck and trailer units across Australia are now going to be made that much safer with new rules bringing in stability control technology with autonomous emergency braking for all new trucks currently being reviewed.

In this week’s issue we’ve also covered a story out of BC where like the industry in this region, employers and forest industry stakeholders have increasingly been finding it difficult to find well-trained, competent people to meet their staffing needs. From a recent survey, they’re predicting that approximately 12,500 job openings are expected in the BC forestry industry by 2025. A large number of the shortages have arisen through retirements of an aging workforce. Sound familiar?

Retirement-related turnover is expected to reach 60 per cent in forestry and logging occupations in B.C. over the next decade. Already, equipment including trucks are now sitting idle as contractors struggle to find skilled workers to keep operating. The Truck Loggers Association has been pushing for a logging contractor training tax credit to ease the financial burden of on-the-job training and to attract younger trainees into the sector. The concept is covered in this week’s issue. Locally, a forestry contractor in the lower South Island of New Zealand, because of the dire need to attract workers and trainees into crews took it upon himself to do something. He set up his own open day, bringing in harvesting equipment from the forest to showcase the industry to local students and their families in the small South Island town of Balclutha.

To finish on, we’ve included a final call for Expressions of Interest for those keen on picking up the opportunity to present at this year’s ForestTECH series ( Since 2007, it’s been run annually for Australasia’s forest resource managers, planners, inventory foresters and GIS and mapping specialists. We’ve had a great response to the first call a couple of weeks ago, both locally and internationally. So, if you’d still like to express your interest – as a researcher, forestry company or tech provider – please get in touch with us over the next week or so. We plan on closing the EOI to present at this end of year series next Friday. Enjoy this week’s read.

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AU$70 million forest package in NSW Budget

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Timber NSW have welcomed the AU$71.8 million funding commitment earmarked in Tuesday’s NSW Budget for forest industry initiatives, including investment in new forest plantations.

The 2018-19 NSW Government State Budget contains a $71.8 million forest industry funding package over 4 years (Page 5-10, BP3), including:

- AU$24 million investment in plantations through Forestry Corporation NSW to increase supply;

- AU$34 million for a concessional loan scheme to drive mill innovation;

- AU$9.2 million for world-class forest mapping and monitoring; and

- AU$4.6 million to support training and accreditation for forestry contractors.

Source: AFPA

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Benefits of softwood plantations in NSW

New research has detailed the millions of dollars and thousands of jobs generated by softwood plantations in the NSW South West Slopes and Central Tablelands. The softwood plantation industry in the South West Slopes contributed AU$1.05 billion in direct sales in 2015-16, rising to AU$2.13 billion after including flow-on effects. It directly employed almost 2000 people, roughly two thirds in processing wood and paper, and one third in growing and harvest.

In the Central Tablelands, direct sales accounted for AU$265 million, rising to AU$700 million after flow-on effects and directly employed over 850 people. These were among the key findings of a new industry snapshot funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia and the NSW State Government and conducted by the University of Canberra in conjunction with consultancy EconSearch, a division of BDO.

The industry is an important contributor to the economy in several regional communities and contributes to diversification of the economy in many regions. The Local Government Area with the highest dependence on the softwood plantation industry for employment included Oberon in the Central Tablelands, where 18% of the total workforce is directly employed in the forest industry with other workers from nearby areas also commuting in.

ABS Census data shows a decline in total employment in the forest industry between 2006 and 2016, reflecting both increasing productivity in some parts of the industry and overall decline in size of other parts. However, investment in the expansion of processing in the South West slopes meant that the decline in employment in that area between 2011 and 2016 was 4.3 per cent, compared to a 12.0% decline in the Central Tablelands during the same period.

NSW full-time forest industry workers were less likely than full-time workers employed in other industries in the two regions to earn low levels of income (6% of forest industry workers compared to 12% in the whole workforce), and more likely to earn high income compared to other workers (50% compared to 43%).

While forestry workers were relatively well paid, they also worked long hours, with 27 per cent reporting that they worked more than 49 hours a week in 2016. Only 15 per cent of forestry workers were women, with little change in this figure between 2006 and 2016.

Forestry businesses in the area reported challenges in recruiting some types of workers, particularly high-level managers (an issue for 94% of businesses), transport workers (67%), finance/book keeping staff (62%) and skilled machinery operators (60%).

Lead researcher Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer said that businesses reported that challenges in recent years also rising input costs, poor telecommunications and falling prices for goods and services. “Most businesses (61%) felt demand would remain the same, and of the remaining businesses (26%) felt that demand would grow and (13%) that demand would reduce over the next 12 months.

“It is important to remember that the majority of forestry jobs are generated by the processing sector, as is the majority of the industry’s flow-on economic impact. This highlights the importance of local processing of wood and fibre for generation of jobs.”

To read the report Socio-economic impacts of the softwood plantation industry South West Slopes and Central Tablelands regions, NSW in full, visit the FWPA website.

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Expressions of Interest – ForestTECH 2018

Thanks to all those who've already responded to the first call for Expressions of Interst to present at this year's ForestTECH 2018 series that we posted a couple of weeks ago.

As you know, ForestTECH is this region’s premier technology series run for Australasia’s forest resource managers, planners, inventory foresters and GIS and mapping specialists. Since 2007, it’s the one event every year that focuses on this particular part of the forestry industry.

Forest owners, forestry mangers, key researchers and technology providers are also now picking up the opportunity of building in their own client meetings, workshops and discussion groups around the event.

Last year we had over 270 delegates attended the ForestTECH series. All major forestry companies in Australia and New Zealand were represented along with representatives from major Indonesian and South African companies.

The focus for ForestTECH 2017 was “unlocking the true value of data”. New systems for better measuring, managing and analysing this information were reviewed. Emphasis was also put on research findings from in-forest trials and a three-year, AU$1.8 million collaborative research project on remote sensing jointly funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA), forestry companies, universities and government.

What’s planned for 2018?

Key themes for this year’s event will include;

- Storage, processing and management of "big data"
- The practical application of automation, robotics and sensors by forest managers
- Integrating virtual and augmented reality into forestry operations
- Results and lessons from reconciling remote sensing data into the field
- New innovations in mobile forest apps and collection tools
- Mobile communications advances in more remote locations
- Results from remote sensing research and in-forest trials
- Workflow solutions for data collected from airborne and UAV systems
- New mapping and GIS applications
- Changing skill sets required by today’s forest resource managers

Already a number of leading offshore companies (researchers and tech suppliers from Canada, the USA and Europe) have put up their hand to be involved in ForestTECH 2018. At this stage, we're calling for any final expressions of interest to present at this year’s November series. It’s planned to run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 14-15 November and then again in Melbourne, Australia on 20-21 November.

Further details can be found on the event website. Information on exhibition opportunities will be sent out in the next month or so. If interested in presenting this year, please contact the Programme Manager, BEFORE Friday 29 June.

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Developers recognise wood building advantages

When it comes to timing, Sir Bob Jones certainly has the knack. With his widely publicised move to have a major commercial building in Wellington designed using wood for earthquake resistance, he has again affirmed his shrewdness for timing of commercial decisions. It is now catching on around New Zealand.

Just as Jones has chosen a mainly wooden structure for his office tower rebuild in the central business district of Wellington, developers up and down the country are moving quickly to capitalise on the benefits of engineered wood structures. As the engineers and architects leading the wood renaissance know, there are two key reasons why wood is soaring in popularity.

First and foremost, the engineering of wood for structures has grown rapidly as technology has made it more economical to manufacture large beams and panels for commercial buildings. More and more developers are recognising the advantages of cross-laminated timber (CLT) – the new wonder product for both flooring structures as well as walls, both with excellent earthquake resistant properties.

The second major breakthrough has come with more commercial acceptance of the need for sustainable materials to be used in office towers. Leading edge research in nearby Australia has confirmed that people working in wood buildings are happier and more productive than those in traditional concrete or steel structures.

“People tell the researchers they just feel better and more energised when working in spaces enclosed in real wood,” says John Stulen, engineer and conference director for the third annual Changing Perceptions engineered wood conference.

With this rapidly growing industry-leading conference running for the third time, Stulen and his team at Innovatek say they are delighted to have a technical conference programme that’s now 100% devoted to engineered wood projects in New Zealand.

“Over the past two years, we were fortunate to hear from leading engineers and project managers from Australia and Canada. Each time our audiences have asked for more New Zealand commercial projects, so we’re delighted to showcase exactly that this year,” says Stulen. “We were overwhelmed with the response to our call for speakers this year – all local projects.”

The conference has grown since 2016 and now attracts a wide audience of architects, engineers, developers, quantity surveyors and specifiers, as well as building officials and leading specialist trades focused on commercial buildings, like electricians, plumbers, heating/ventilating/air conditioning specialists and leading practitioners.

The Changing Perceptions Conference is full one-day programme on 28 August 2018 at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. The event begins with an evening reception on 27 August.

To register go to the event website

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Drone test for replanting forests

The massive task of restoring land denuded by fires, drought or human activity might eventually be helped by swarms of drones that can plant almost 400,000 tree seeds a day. “There’s an absolutely huge, huge area across Canada in need of … reforestation activities,” Lauren Fletcher, chief executive of England’s BioCarbon Engineering, said after a recent demonstration of his company’s drone equipment.

“What we could do is make tree planters right now 150 times more effective … Think of it as a smarter, higher-tech shovel.” The device his team showed off at the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre’s technical development centre south of Ellerslie Road flies about three metres above the ground.

The machine uses pressurized air to fire capsules loaded with seeds and nutrients into the soil twice a second. Fletcher, whose company has planted about 250 hectares of disturbed land in England, Australia and Myanmar since taking the operation commercial last year, said the goal is to have one team operate a swarm of 10 drones at a location.

“If you got to 300 teams, that would get you to 10 billion trees a year, and that’s what we have to be thinking about if we’re talking about restoring global ecosystems.”

Dirk Brinkman, chief executive of Vancouver’s Brinkman and Associates Reforestation, said about 450 million trees a year are planted in Canada, most because it’s required after logging. But governments can’t always afford to deal with millions of hectares damaged by fire or other sources, so drones might be a cheaper, more effective solution, he said.

David Price, a Canadian Forest Service research scientist who arranged the display, said the main human seeding methods are by hand and by air. But good tree planters only place about 2,000 or 3,000 seedlings a day, while dumping clouds of seeds from an airplane is imprecise and few of them germinate, he said.

“With drones and the potential to map these areas at a high resolution, we see the ability to map the perfect (planting) spots.” As well, drones track each seed’s exact location, allowing a later trip to put out a small dose of herbicide around survivors so they can fend off weed competition, Price said.

BioCarbon staff will be at a five-hectare clear-cut site 40 km south of Slave Lake this week doing what Price thinks is the first drone seeding in Canada, and possibly North America. They’ll drop 2,500 pods per hectare, each containing two white spruce and one jack pine seed in hopes something will sprout. It will take a few years to assess the results, but if the process works well, it could provide new options for forestry companies and government, he said.

Photo: Greg Southam / Postmedia, Source:

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Forest industries pledge to provide 18 megatonnes of GHG

Australia’s forest industries are pledging that with the right policy settings, they will provide a massive 18 megatonnes of greenhouse gas mitigation every year from 2030, Chair of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Mr Greg McCormack said this week.

“Forest industries have built a project around six key possible sequestration options, which combined, can deliver 18 megatonnes of reduction of CO2 equivalents, in increasing quantity, but reaching a crucial 18 megatonnes in 2030,” Mr McCormack said.

“The six sequestration options are: 400,000 hectares of new plantations, ensuring existing plantations are replanted, use of more wood in construction, use of more bioenergy by industry, use of more biofuels for transport and the use of more sustainably sourced biomass in power stations.

“2030 is the target year by which time Australia has said it will have lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent. To give some idea of the size of the commitment by forest industries today, in 2030, our 18 megatonnes will make up some 20 per cent of the national effort which is needed under current government targets.

On Wednesday, AFPA launched 18 by 2030: Forest Industries help tackle Australia’s climate change challenge, the new document which guides the way forward towards our goal. More information and details are available at:

Source: Australian Forest Products Association

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New braking technology a life saver

The Australian Government’s decision to mandate stability control technology for a range of new trucks and trailers will save 126 lives and prevent 1,101 serious injuries in the coming years, the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, said.

The Government has released the new Australian Design Rules (ADRs). The new requirement will apply to selected categories of new model heavy trucks from 1 November 2020, and all new trucks in those categories from 1 November 2022. The requirement will apply to all new model heavy trailers weighing more than 10 tonnes from 1 July 2019 and all new heavy trailers weighing more than 10 tonnes from 1 November 2019.

Crouch said that stability control technology was a life saver. “Stability control is a vehicle safety system that monitors the stability and sideways acceleration of a heavy vehicle and kicks in to brake the vehicle if it detects a rollover starting,” said Crouch.

“The ATA lobbied hard to extend the original proposal that the Infrastructure Department released for consultation. As a result of lobbying from the ATA and other stakeholders, the final design rules extend the mandate to include short wheel base rigid trucks weighing more than 12 tonnes”.

Crouch said the next step in advancing truck safety technology needed to be Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) for all new trucks. “Autonomous emergency braking applies a truck’s brakes in emergency situations. Monash University research shows that rolling it out across the truck fleet would reduce fatal crashes by up to 25 per cent and serious injury crashes by up to 17 per cent,” he said.

New road train converter dollies will be exempt from the stability control requirement, because of issues with the technology in the rough conditions encountered by road trains in rural and remote areas. Non-standard low loaders will also be exempt.


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Tiny RoboFly could sniff out forest fires

This is one flying insect you don’t want to swat. It doesn’t bite, sting, or spread disease and someday it could be a life- and climate-saver. In time, it could survey crops, detect wildfires, poke around in disaster rubble searching for survivors and sniff out gas leaks, especially global warming-fuelling methane, a powerful greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Introducing...RoboFly! It’s the first robotic flying insect that lifts off without being tethered to a power source on the ground, weighs just a bit more than a toothpick, and takes off using tiny beating wings?—?not propellers, as drones do?—?driven by a laser beam. A minuscule onboard circuit turns the laser energy into electricity, which causes its wings to flap.

Right now, RoboFly can only take off and land?—?but cutting the cord is just the beginning. “Before now, the concept of wireless insect-sized flying robots was science fiction,” says Sawyer Fuller, assistant professor in the University of Washington’s department of mechanical engineering and one of its creators. “Our new wireless RoboFly shows they’re much closer to real life.”

The researchers presented their findings at the recent International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Brisbane. Ultimately, the scientists believe their invention will have the ability to hover, perch on things, and fly around by steering the laser, or possibly by adding tiny batteries or culling energy from radio frequency signals. The goal is to direct it into performing specific tasks, such as surveying crop growth and detecting gas leaks. They even think it might be possible to equip them with smoke detectors so they can find forest fires more rapidly than larger robots. More >>.

Photo: Mark Stone, University of Washington


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Addressing the forest industry labour shortfall

This story will resonate with many in the industry in this region. For the past decade, employers and forest industry stakeholders have increasingly been challenged to find well-trained, competent people to meet their staffing needs.

Current and pending shortages were officially compiled in 2013 for the B.C. Coast in the Truck Loggers Association-led BC Forest Sector Labour Market & Training Needs Analysis. In summary, the analysis projected 4,700 job openings would appear by 2022 (95 per cent of which were due to pending retirements), or about a quarter of the current coastal forest industry workforce listed in the British Columbia Coastal Forestry Human Resource Strategy. Approximately 12,500 job openings are expected in the B.C. industry by 2025 across the province.

Retirement-related turnover is the key factor supporting projected job vacancies over the next decade and is expected to reach 60 per cent in forestry and logging occupations in B.C. This issue is compounded by the fact that fewer young people are joining the forest industry as a career with just five per cent of workers 24 years of age or younger choosing forestry as a career, the labour market report found. The logging sector is particularly vulnerable to this trend given its physical nature and the remote and often seasonal or contract-based aspects of the work.

The most common pathway for worker training in the logging sector is through on-the-job work experience and workplace knowledge, which is passed down from more experienced, senior workers who tend to be the most productive on the crew. Unfortunately, taking top workers away from production to pass on valuable knowledge to the next generation reduces production and profitability. At a time when contractors are struggling to remain sustainable, this creates a disincentive to make training the next cohort of workers a priority. As a consequence, equipment including trucks are now sitting idle as contractors are left with no choice but to reduce their operations if they can’t find a skilled worker.

Given that logging involves heavy machinery unique to forestry, a dangerous natural environment in a competitive business with razor thin or non-existent margins, the solution to the training problem can’t be just sending new entrants to a school. Logging is all about learning on the job, not in a classroom.

In response to this dilemma, in 2016 the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) proposed a logging contractor training tax credit to ease the financial burden of on-the-job training for contractors. This approach would help ensure the next generation of workers acquires the necessary knowledge to be productive and safe, before the know-how is lost to retirement.

The previous provincial government engaged with the TLA to begin work on this idea. Together they established a framework for the training tax credit and had begun discussions with the Ministry of Finance to determine funding mechanisms. There is overwhelming wide support from the TLA’s 500-member companies for this type of training support. Anticipated benefits of this approach include incentivizing employers to free up resources for targeted skills training and encouraging increased hiring of younger trainees into the sector.

This approach to ensuring proper on-the-ground, industry specific training for new recruits is not new to this province and given the significant economic impact that the forest industry has on the province and especially in B.C.’s rural and First Nations communities, it should be a no-brainer.

The current government recognizes the need to recruit and train for the forest industry. In the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark’s mandate letter, she is specifically tasked with “Developing more degree and certificate programs to increase the number of skilled workers in B.C.’s forestry sector, focusing on growing innovation and the manufactured wood products sector.” While positive, funding for existing programs are lacking and more degree and certificate programs are not a substitute for on the ground training.

The TLA is asking the new government to review the work done thus far on this creative idea to resolve a major challenge for our industry and could become a template for similar programs across Canada. Logging contractors are the economic backbone of rural communities across the province. Talk to your mayor. Talk to your local MLA. Help them understand the need for support to ensure B.C.’s forest industry has the manpower to address growing markets while at the same time supporting rural communities.

Source: David Elstone, Executive Director of the Truck Loggers Association,

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Have your say – Forestry regulations in the ETS

New Zealand’s Minister of Forestry, Shane Jones, alongside Minister for Climate Change James Shaw, has released a consultation paper proposing 12 improvements to forestry regulations in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). On behalf of the Minister of Forestry and the Minister for Climate Change, MPI are consulting on a set of 12 improvements to forestry regulations in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS).

There are 12 proposals being consulted on, including:

- Forest owners with 100 hectares or more in the scheme only needing to update their lookup tables once every five years.
- Providing more flexibility around the collection of field data near the end of the five-yearly Mandatory Emissions Return period.
- Closing of an unanticipated loophole related to the deforestation of post-1989 forest, and its subsequent replanting and re-entry into the scheme.
- The other nine proposals correct or improve technical issues, or address areas where the regulations aren’t working as intended.

Feedback on the consultation document by 5pm on 3 July 2018 to or the address in the consultation document.

More information and the consultation document are available here.

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High-quality forestry investment welcomed

New legislation that brings forestry rights into the overseas investment regime will help promote high-quality foreign investment that puts more emphasis on genuine benefits for New Zealanders, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

“The Bill recognises the importance of forestry to New Zealanders and I’m confident it’s struck the right balance that will boost forestry investment while ensuring the regime cannot be bypassed,” Shane Jones said.

“Following the Select Committee’s review and intensive consultation with stakeholders, some key changes have been made to the Bill, including increasing investors’ flexibility in obtaining consent and removing unnecessary red tape.

“Investors can now choose from any of three different tests when seeking to acquire forestry land or rights. The Bill also ensures that investors and landowners can make minor changes to their agreements without unnecessarily having to return to the Government to obtain consent.

The Government will report to Parliament on the operation and effectiveness of these amendments two years after the new regime starts.

For further commentary and coverage on the changes click here.

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New surface treatment to boost hardwood components

A new mystery surface treatment developed by the CSIRO is set to enhance the viability and desirability of hardwood components in construction, by improving bond strength when adhesives and coatings are applied. In research funded by FWPA, the patented surface treatment significantly improves strength when bonding hardwoods together using polyurethane adhesives and increases the bonding capacity of timber and clear coatings.

FWPA Research and Development Manager Chris Lafferty, described the results as exciting. “In practice, this treatment will deliver added consistency, stability and reliability of hardwood timber products, particularly in situations where the timber is exposed to changing conditions such as seasonal variations and in species that are notoriously difficult to laminate,” he said.

Explaining some of the practical advantages to industry, Alex Edwards, Associate at engineering firm ARUP and Steering Committee member said: “With hardwood beams generally being stronger than their softwood counterparts, being able to reduce their size and increase their spanning capabilities through stronger adhesive bonding would certainly be of great benefit.

“Additionally, with the natural oil found in timber causing coatings to lift off over time, this treatment could significantly reduce the need for regular reapplication. Reducing the need to re-apply coatings would further increase the desirability of hardwood as a building material of choice.”

The CSIRO patented treatment is applied to the surface of the timber before the application of adhesives or coatings. The team’s rigorous testing, including up to 4,300 hours of exposure in an accelerated weathering laboratory, has shown adhesives form a deeper and stronger bond with the timber, resulting in improved strength, while coatings become substantially more durable, enabling them to withstand conditions such as UV exposure.

During the testing, the bond strength of Victorian Ash, Blackbutt, Spotted Gum, Blue Gum, and Tallow wood showed an improvement in bond strength of up to 100 percent following treatment. The research team declined to reveal what the treatment is made of, and it is too early to say what it would cost in a commercial setting.

The final stage in the three-phase project will include further timber bond strength trials using a range of species to establish the criteria for optimum performance of the treatment on each, and the refining and development of recommendations around the methodology and equipment necessary for successful industrial application.

More >>.

Source: R&D Works

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Drones could add £42 billion to the UK economy

Drone technology has the potential to transform our economies to be more sustainable and efficient, according to a new report from PwC. The professional services group looked at the impact that drones could have upon the UK economy, finding significant improvements across all sectors.

Adopting new technologies, such as drones, are seen as important ways to monitor and manage the increased risks posed by climate change. They could also add £42 billion to the UK economy, of which £1.1 billion is within agriculture, mining, and energy.

The report estimates that over 25,000 drones could be in operation across this sector by 2030, and 76,000 in the UK as a whole. PwC’s work shows that drones could be used in the agriculture sector to make it more productive and sustainable. Apart from use in crop spraying, drones can monitor the health of crops using thermal imaging and collect data on dry or flooded areas.

Previous research has highlighted the potential for drones to cut carbon emissions by delivering packages instead of heavy duty trucks. PwC’s analysis also highlights the wholesale and retail trade sector as one of the main benefciaries of unmanned vehicles. The industry is set to create £7.7 billion of new value across the next decade, the most of any sector assessed.

Elaine Whyte, at PwC, commented: “In order to realise the full potential from drones, the immediate focus must be on developing society’s confidence in the technology to help drive acceptance and increase adoption. While drones are often currently viewed as more of a toy, by combining this emerging technology with the right business understanding and human insight there is a huge opportunity to help solve some of business and society’s most important problems.”

Jonathan Gillham, economics director at PwC, added: “Drones could spark significant improvements in the UK economy. The rise in GDP and job creation from drone uptake are expected to be substantial, but productivity is likely to see the greatest gains. By automating routine tasks, improving effectiveness, safety and reducing costs, drones will free up people to focus on higher-value work.”


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Green light to Lendlease for timber office building

Development heavyweight Lendlease has received the green light for a second timber office building at Barangaroo South. The building, which will be called Daramu House meaning “tree house” in the local Aboriginal language, will consist of more than 10,000sq m of commercial floor space and around 680sq m of retail.

Daramu House is designed by Australian architect Alec Tzannes. It has recently been announced that Tzannes was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest honour – the 2018 Gold Medal.

The construction of Daramu comes after the completion of Australia’s first engineered timber office building in 2017, the International House Sydney also in Barangaroo, and marks Lendlease’s sixth engineered timber building in Australia.

It will be built from cross-laminated timber (CLT). The listed construction giant has also recently lodged a development application for an AU$292 million apartment project at Collins Wharf in Melbourne’s Docklands.

Construction of the Daramu tower, which will front Hickson Road, will include the use of sustainable timbers, as well as roof-top planting to capture rain, and solar photo-voltaic cells to supply power to the precinct.

Barangaroo South managing director Rob Deck says Lendlease is committed to achieving sustainable solutions with Barangaroo South already attaining Australia’s first 6-star Green Star Communities rating and WELL Certification.

“With engineering by Lendlease’s DesignMake business, Daramu House will offer ground level retail tenancies, six floors of office space constructed from cross laminated timber and glulam (glue laminated timber), a building material with a structural strength akin to concrete and steel,” Deck said.

Source & Photo:

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Logging machinery attracts local students

Mike Hurring Logging, the largest harvesting contractor in the Otago and Southland region, held an open day on Saturday 2nd June to promote forestry as a future career choice to local school students and their families. Mike brought back an impressive array of logging machinery from the bush to display to the 200 odd people who attended.

There were harvesting machines, skidders, diggers and new state of the art production thinning monsters that were on show. People could get up close and personal with machines that no one can usually get within 100 metres of. Some took the opportunity to sit in the cabs and dream about a future career.

Mike also had his two harvesting machine simulators in operation and many, young and old, tried their hand at felling trees, loading forwarders, and driving these large machines through the forest.

These simulators are a vital part of the training school that Mike has set up at his Balclutha site in the lower South Island, New Zealand. This harvesting training school had its first intake in November of last year. The first six apprentices, with financial support being offered by local forestry companies, have just received their first NZ Certificate in Basic Machine Operation at the annual Southern Wood Council and Competenz Training Awards evening run in Dunedin on 25 May.

The apprentices attend five one-week blocks of training over a ten-month period. They then go on to complete their apprenticeship with practical training on their own work sites. Another group is due to start in late July. Space may still be available so contact Mike at or Phil Williams at if you are interested.
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NZ Intelligent Transport Systems Co. signs US$20m deal

In line with a number of presentations this week at the WoodFlow 2018 event in Melbourne that looked at disruptive technologies that are having or are likely to play a major role in reshaping the wood supply chain, a NZ company has just signed a large deal to firm up their work in artificial intelligence for transport systems and autonomous vehicles.

HMI Technologies/Ohmio has announced a US$20 Million investment agreement with the Heshan Industrial City Management Committee to establish an Ohmio manufacturing plant for Autonomous Vehicles and an Artificial Intelligence Transport Research Centre in the City of Heshan, China.

The agreement was signed by Mohammed Hikmet, the founder and Chairman of HMI Technologies and its subsidiary, Ohmio Automotion Ltd, and the Deputy Director of the Heshan Industrial City Administration Committee, Wu Xiaoqing.

“This is another milestone for the success of Ohmio and another ‘vote of confidence’ in Ohmio, following the signing of the Solaseado MoU in Korea earlier in April”, Mohammed Hikmet said after signing the agreement.

“Not only will Ohmio be able to meet its mass production requirements inside and outside of China, but this investment also adds a huge boost to our existing research activities in establishing an autonomous platform solution as part of an entire ecosystem”, said Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of HMI Technologies/Ohmio.

“The agreement sets the 1st of July as a starting date. There is a lot to do ahead of us, but we are so excited to start as soon as possible”, Zabrieszach said. “While the R&D centre in New Zealand will continue to be the main one, we look forward to the Heshan centre starting as soon as possible, under the supervision of our key technology and artificial intelligence leaders in the company.”

“Whilst this is an important milestone for the company, HMI Technologies/Ohmio regard it as a first step in the process of building the company as a global autonomous vehicle manufacturer. We will continue to work with NZTE, ATEED and MFAT to secure the company base in New Zealand and Australia, and to gain a foothold in other markets such as Europe and the US”, Hikmet said.

Background Information:

HMI Technologies Ltd (HMI) – New Zealand Australian based Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) innovator HMI has been at the forefront of the ITS industry for over 15 years.

HMI has established a reputation for expertise in ITS and traffic management systems and equipment including variable message signs, speed activated signs, motorway signalling, modem/network based systems, sensors and integrated location services solutions.

Following the release of the first fleet of proof of concept vehicles in Christchurch in 2017 and trials across NZ and Australia with other partners and technologies, HMI subsequently developed their own self driving & self-learning AV technology company - Ohmio Automotion Ltd.

Ohmio Automotion Ltd based in Auckland, New Zealand is a commercial company focused on the development and deployment of Level 4+ self drive vehicles. Mohammed Hikmet is the Chairman of Ohmio Automotion and has a team which includes more than 30 developers and technical experts from around the world, nine of whom hold PhDs. Ohmio has developed what it believes to be a world-leading self-driving system. For further information visit

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... A classic Australian poem

It has something for everyone - If you know the bush, it will appeal to you, if you work in the oil industry, there is something in it for you too, if you have a sense of humour - well, it might test it a little and if you are not an Australian, then it won't help your knowledge of Australian life one here goes...

Goodbye Granddad

Poor old Granddad's passed away, cut off in his prime,

He never had a day off crook - gone before his time,

We found him in the dunny, collapsed there on the seat,

A startled look upon his face, his trousers around his feet,

The doctor said his heart was good - fit as any trout,

The Constable he had his say, 'foul play' was not ruled out.

There were theories at the inquest of snakebite without trace,

Of redbacks quietly creeping and death from outer space,

No-one had a clue at all - the judge was in some doubt,

When Dad was called to have his say as to how it came about,

'I reckon I can clear it up,' said Dad with trembling breath,

'You see it's quite a story - but it could explain his death.'

'This here exploration mob had been looking at our soil,

And they reckoned that our farm was just the place for oil,

So, they came and put a bore down and said they'd make some trials,

They drilled a hole as deep as hell, they said about three miles.

Well, they never found a trace of oil and off they went, post haste,

And I couldn't see a hole like that go to flamin' waste,

So, I moved the dunny over it - real smart move I thought,

I'd never have to dig again - I'd never be 'caught short'.

The day I moved the dunny, it looked a proper sight,

But I didn't dream poor Granddad would pass away that night,

Now I reckon what has happened - poor Granddad didn't know,

The dunny was re-located when that night he had to go.

And you'll probably be wondering how poor Granddad did his dash --

Well, he always used to hold his breath

Until he heard the splash!!

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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