Friday Offcuts – 18 October 2019

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This week’s issue is full to overflowing with technology related stories. Virtual reality in Australia features in the latest WoodChat podcast series put out by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA). Results of research where field operators are able to accurately assess their forest estate in an immersive, VR environment has already been demonstrated at recent ForestTECH events. Details relating to operational implementation using VR for forest inventories is also being covered as part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2019 series running in both countries in just four weeks’ time.

In addition to assessing tree stem characteristics, the recently launched VR tours set up for teachers and school children are also being profiled as part of the latest WoodChat series. It’s part of the innovative ForestVR™ toolkit that’s been developed and rolled out by ForestLearning, another FWPA programme. The aim is to provide meaningful educational experiences, aligned to the Australian Curriculum, that can truly engage students. And to assist in attracting local students into the industry, this week OneFortyOne has launched a new partnership with local secondary schools building in a range of classroom and field-based experiences aimed at providing year 8 to 12 students a pathway to a future career in forestry and wood products.

Other technology covered this week includes: the Radiata Pine Breeding Company who for the first time in 20 years, is opening its doors to a new species (a Radiata pine - Pinus attenuata hybrid), the development of a new artificial intelligence-based system using low-cost RGB imagery from UAVs to identify radiata pine seedlings, the setting up of a new airspace trial to support the safe testing and development of advanced unmanned aircraft in New Zealand and over in North America, the largest cross-laminated timber and glulam plant in North America has just been opened in Washington.

As well as technology advancements, we’re also covering operational improvements. The Lean Hub, continuous improvement specialists have been doing some great work with businesses on the East Coast of New Zealand, bringing in a series of management principles made famous by the Toyota Motor Company. It’s helped turn around an East Coast logging business.

Robert Stubbs who runs harvesting crews across the region and Trev Hall from The Lean Hub, both outlined their journey of improvement and results to harvesting contractors at HarvestTECH 2019 in Rotorua in June. The message has also just been relayed and discussed more recently with sawmilling companies across New Zealand and Australia as part of the just completed, WoodTECH 2019 series. You can check out the case study covered this week. And, that’s it for this week. Enjoy the issue.

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VR launches forestry into the future

Fascinating new projects are seeking to bring the seemingly opposing worlds of Virtual Reality (VR) and forestry together, as outlined in the latest episode of the Forest and Wood Products Australia’s (FWPA) WoodChat podcast series.

Listeners will hear about an initiative demonstrating how field operators can accurately perform assessments in an immersive, VR environment, with benefits ranging from improved safety, to ease of access and reduced labour costs. As part of an FWPA-supported research project, a team at the University of Tasmania has used data acquired by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to investigate the potential of VR to replace current forest inventory fieldwork approaches.

Lead researcher Dr Winyu Chinthammit, of the University of Tasmania’s College of Sciences and Engineering, said the project was prompted by the fact forests are becoming more difficult to evaluate manually, due to increasing safety concerns and access problems. “We were looking to work with people who didn’t have any experience of VR, but who would traditionally go into forests to assess trees, in order to test how people who already have skills in forestry might perform inside a VR environment,” Dr Chinthammit said.

“This project provided evidence that a field crew can indeed operate inside a VR environment and perform some of the same basic tasks they would normally complete as part of their everyday operations on the ground.” Details relating to operational implementation and trials using VR for forest inventory are also being covered as part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2019 series that runs in both Australia and New Zealand in four weeks. Full details on the programme can be viewed here.

In addition, the WoodChat hosts learn about a series of recently launched VR tours for teachers and school children, which could completely change the way young people learn about Australian forests. Teachers from across the country were given the opportunity to experience and learn about innovative VR teaching resources developed by ForestLearning, a program of FWPA.

The ForestVR™ toolkit for schools will educate students on the renewable cycle of forestry and wood in an immersive and engaging way, while overcoming the problems around the inaccessibility and safety of visiting physical forests and manufacturing plants. Beth Welden, ForestLearning Program Manager, said these virtual tours have been designed specifically for school students, to tell the renewable “seed-to-shelter” pine story and the “forest-to-fine-flooring” Spotted Gum story in a fully immersive way.

“This is a novel way of engaging students, allowing them to visit places they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to access as a school field trip. We hope to provide meaningful educational experiences, aligned to the Australian Curriculum, that truly engage students on sustainable and renewable forest and wood products,” Welden said.

“We are wanting today’s young people to grow up with an appreciation of the sustainable and renewable nature of our forests. As the decision makers, voters and consumers of the future, it is important that today’s school children have an affiliation with wood and are fully aware of the benefits,” Welden said.

This episode is part of the second series of the WoodChat podcast, following topics including initiatives to engage the future leaders of the industry, how Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking is being used to improve the on-site processes associated with prefabricated timber, and how 3D printing can turn timber waste into high performance construction materials.

WoodChat represents FWPA’s commitment to engaging new ways of communicating industry news and innovations. Each episode includes in-depth conversations with experts on recent discoveries, innovations and initiatives. You can listen to WoodChat on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Source: FWPA

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Early EOI to present – WoodTECH 2020

The very successful WoodTECH 2019 series has just been completed. With the focus on green-mill or sawmilling operations, around 350 delegates from local mills and technology providers from around the globe, were involved in the technology series that wound up in Melbourne, Australia on 18 September. Details from the event can be found on

From discussions with mills and tech providers at this latest series, discussions are already underway to start planning for the 2020 WoodTECH series. Like 2018, the focus next year is again on new technologies, new processing systems and case studies to showcase “smart operating practices” in dry-mill, wood treatment and timber manufacturing operations.

What’s being considered for 2020?

At this stage, based on requests and suggestions from industry at previous events, coverage may include;

- Industry 4.0 and application to manufacturing
- Opportunities with VR and AR in a wood manufacturing environment
- Robotics and automation
- Advances in wood scanning and board optimisation
- Wood treatment and wood modification technologies
- Use of machine production data to drive the business
- Mill maintenance planning
- Sensors, bar coding and timber tracking
- Wood plastic composite advancements
- Technology and process improvements in;
- Finger-jointing, ripping and cross cutting
- Timber gluing and laminating
- Timber machining
- Kiln drying
- Surface finishing
- Material handling operations
- Wrapping & strapping
- Heat plant options and energy savings initiatives
- H&S, training and skills development
- Waste management and disposal
- Q.C. systems
- Timber standards changes

Early details on the 2020 mid-year event being run in both New Zealand and Australia can be found on the event website, Interest following the recent sawmilling series in the event is already keen.

If interested in presenting (as a wood producer or tech supplier) as part of the WoodTECH 2020 series in August 2020, please contact BEFORE Friday 8 November 2019. Remember, if possible, case studies or more generic presentations on the technology and how implemented into wood manufacturing operations to improve the company’s operational and financial performance are preferable to product updates.

Note: Information on opportunities for exhibiting will be advertised and sent out in the next couple of months. Early expressions of interest can be made directly with

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2019 Australian Timber Design Awards winners

A spectacular exercise in cross laminated timber (CLT) and stone for the home of James Fitzpatrick of fitzpatrick+partners in Sydney’s Castlecrag, was the overall winner of the prestigious Australian Timber Design Awards (ATDA), held in Melbourne last night.

James Fitzpatrick, the architect and owner, describes The Seed House as “Utilising the latest technologies in engineered timber construction, this healthy home imbues a sense of warmth and comfort. Every bracket and screw is used to inform the overall aesthetic of the home, with materials selected so to develop a patina of use and character with time”.

Constructed primarily from structural cross-laminated timber panels, glulam columns and finished with lining boards, The Seed House wraps the occupants in timber. Adding to this, the joinery and furniture are all made from timbers sourced from the bottom of the hydro lakes of Tasmania.

Species used include celery top pine, huon pine, radiata pine and blackwood. Together they form a backdrop to the owner’s collection of Wegner and Aalto furniture pieces, Danish ceramics and modern art.

The apparent simplicity of the stacked pod design belies the complex geometries, large spans, and cantilevers that required hundreds of hours of computer analysis to create the optimum structural and aesthetic solution which defines the interior forms and finishes. This process led to the development of new detailing and fixing systems to address the unique Australian environmental and construction industry requirements.

The Seed House is a worthy winner in an impressively strong field in the 2019 Awards. The breadth and depth of the entries in the 20th year of the Awards reflects the increasing popularity of wood and wood products in the built environment. A trend that is expected to increase as more mid-rise residential and other commercial projects realise the significant financial, operational and environmental benefits of using timber construction systems.

“I would like to congratulate all the entrants and winners on their excellent work,” said Eileen Newbury, WoodSolutions Program Manager and National Marketing and Communications Manager for Forest and Wood Products Australia, the industry services company that resources WoodSolutions, the Platinum sponsor of the event.

Now in their 20th year, the Awards promote and encourage outstanding timber design. See the full list of winners online at

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NZ researchers recognised at FGR Awards

Researchers in fields as diverse as nitrogen movement in forest soils, to the designer of a grapple on a helicopter to collect forest slash from vulnerable slopes, have been recognised at the Forest Growers Research Awards at Te Papa in Wellington on Tuesday this week.

The annual awards ceremony is to acknowledge the science and technology contribution made to the forest industry in an increasingly demanding economic and environmental marketplace.

The award winners were;

Communication and Sector Engagement

Dr Amanda Matson, Scion. Amanda’s skill set includes a great ability to communicate the research she’s doing on what’s going on under the ground in a pine forest, particularly the movement of soil nutrients.

Innovation for Sector Value

Dr Graham Coker, Scion. Graham’s study is using foliar fertiliser applications to see what works to enhance tree growth and when it’s best to apply those nutrients.

Science of International Quality

The Phenotyping Team from Scion and the University of Canterbury School of Forestry. This large team has been pulling together diverse science areas – such as genetics, remote sensing, computer modelling – to make huge world leading gains in finding, identifying, analysing and using the genetics of individual super-trees trees in Timberlands and Lake Taupo forests.

Research Participation and Implementation

Hamish McPherson of PF Olsen. Hamish has been recognised for his development work on a helicopter slash grapple which is used to remove forest slash which has fallen near to waterways. This engineering is a significant development in reducing the risks of slash in rivers causing downstream damage.

Collaboration in a Science Team

Loretta Garratt, Scion. Lorretta is the scientist everyone wants on their team according to her colleagues. Her work has varied from productivity trails to measuring nitrogen transfer in forest soils.

Young Scientist

Dr Stuart Fraser, Scion. Stuart is recent recruit to working in New Zealand to combat forest tree diseases, such as the threat of myrtle rust and dothistroma needle blight.

Photo: Scion’s Toby Stovold and David Pont looking for super-trees in Kaingaroa Forest (phenotyping team)

Source & Photo: Forest Growers Research

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Orora selling fibre business to Nippon

Australian packaging maker Orora Ltd has announced that it’s selling its local fibre materials business to Japan’s Nippon Paper Industries for AU$1.72 billion, simplifying its operations and sending its shares up 20%. The sale would be the third-largest Australian acquisition by a Japanese company this year, according to Refinitiv data. The business to be sold includes the B9 Paper Mill, fibre converting, specialty packaging, cartons, bags, functional coatings and Orora WRS packaging distribution.

"The Australasian Fibre Business has been an important part of Orora since listing on the ASX in 2013. The Offer from Nippon Paper is an exciting opportunity for the Fibre team to join one of the world's largest forest, paper and packaging companies, with a strong track record of investment to support growth, including in people and technology" Chairman Chris Roberts said.

For further coverage of the sale click here.

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RPBC opens door to Radiata hybrid

For the first time in 20 years the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (RPBC) is opening its doors to a new species. RPBC Chairman, Dr Ross Dickson said RPBC would coordinate a Hybrid breeding program looking to cross Radiata pine with Pinus attenuata to produce a fertile Hybrid, producing similar timber and wood products to Radiata pine, from trees that flourish on harsher sites.

“The Hybrid can be looked at as a genetic continuum of the existing Radiata pine genetic resource and the Hybrid genes will extend the site range of radiata pine, as well as providing improved options for managing the impacts of climate change,” said Dr Dickson. “Wood is the ultimate renewable resource and finding opportunities to maximise its growing potential is critical to the future of the industry.”

“The programme will develop the potential for effective commercial forestry on higher elevation and exposed sites particularly in the South Island, as well as sites with similar attributes elsewhere in New Zealand and Australia.” The modest, but well defined and well structured, breeding and research programme proposed in the Hybrid space was brought to the RPBC by the sector.

The current investment in the Hybrid comprises a small breeding programme with like-minded enthusiasts, a deployment programme of approximately 1,000ha/annum across a group of forest growers in the lower South Island, most of which are RPBC shareholders (Matariki Forests, Ngai Tahu, Wenita Forest Products, and Ernslaw One), and a small research programme, which Scion manage as part of their interest in a range of other conifers.

“Industry sees the potential in the Hybrid space and so we are going to bring these disparate elements together to run a modest, but well defined and well structured, breeding and research programme to drive this initiative forwards.”

The programme will trade heavily on the experience and historical learnings derived from the much larger radiata pine breeding programme, managed by RPBC. Pinus radiata is one of three closely-related ‘closed-cone’ pines native to California and parts of Mexico.

Source: Radiata Pine Breeding Company

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C3 to leave Gisborne

The log marshalling and stevedoring company C3 will shut down its Gisborne operations in just over two weeks, affecting the jobs of their 105 staff at Eastland Port and at the Optilog site at Matawhero. The company’s general manager forestry services Steve Harris said that they met with the staff on Tuesday to outline the final situation. “Sadly, we will cease operations in Gisborne on October 25.

“We are working closely with our customers and the port logistics company who will take over both our log marshalling operations at the port and the Optilog plant at Matawhero. Our main concern is for the wellbeing and redeployment of our employees, which we are currently working through,” Mr Harris said.

C3 provides log marshalling and stevedoring services at the Eastland Port and at the Optilog plant where it marshalls logs to and from the Aratu Forest-run Optimiser plant. Mr Harris said C3 made the decision to withdraw the provision of port services in the region for a number of reasons, with the final impact being the loss of a major customer contract.

“The forestry volume that remained meant the ongoing viability of the Gisborne operations was extremely challenged, which ultimately led to our decision to exit. We want the most efficient and sustainable supply chain for customers and the forestry industry, and believe that a single provider of port services at Gisborne is better placed to improve that solution”.

“We remain committed to the forestry industry, which C3 is extremely proud to be associated with.”

Source: gisborneherald

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Making it ‘Lean’ pays dividends

Implementing a series of management principles made famous by the Toyota Motor Company has helped turn a NZ East Coast business into a “lean logging machine”. Since Stubbs Contractors overhauled its traditional business model for a new approach based around “Lean” manufacturing principles, owner Robert Stubbs said the company was now winning accolades, attention and new business.

Robert Stubbs and Trev Hall from The Lean Hub both talked about their journey of improvement and results to harvesting contractors drawn from across the region at the HarvestTECH 2019 event that ran in Rotorua in June of this year. The message has also just been relayed and discussed with sawmilling companies in New Zealand and Australia as part of the just completed, WoodTECH 2019 series.

Designed to give the “shop floor” more stake in businesses, “Lean” manufacturing principles have been used by Toyota since 1990 and, through consulting firm The Lean Hub in Gisborne, Mr Stubbs said he started implementing the principles to help improve the middle management and crew leadership in his East Coast logging business.

“The more my leaders knew about what they were doing and the responsibility of running a crew, the less micromanagement they would need,” he said.

Trev Hall from The Lean Hub says: “Businesses don’t have time to reinvent the wheel when it comes to gaining efficiencies, so with our depth of experience across a wide range of sectors it makes improvement of a business a lot cheaper and a lot faster by having us quickly zone into what needs to improve.”

Through the government’s Callaghan Innovation for Better by Lean funding, training on the Lean way of doing business is provided in Gisborne by The Lean Hub. Initial sessions had Stubbs Contractors’ whole team working on team-building exercises, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses within each crew and giving them an understanding of teamwork.

Mr Stubbs says The Lean Hub then became part of their business, working side by side with crew leaders, supervisors and himself on planning and organisation, understanding their roles as leaders, how to measure production, and how to measure, understand, and prevent wasted time, money and product.

“With The Lean Hub’s help we have now created an environment where staff are happy to be,” Mr Stubbs said. “Staff turnover has reduced, and until very recently the company hadn’t needed to advertise for staff for a period of six months. People are constantly walking in the door looking for jobs. So, we must be doing something right.”

Since starting his Lean journey Mr Stubbs has employed two extra mechanics to look after his plant and machinery, so breakdowns can be fixed immediately. That reduced downtime, improved uptime and enabled each crew to consistently hit production targets.

Stubbs Contractors has also employed office administration staff and a full-time health and safety manager, moved from a home-based office to a more suitable office and workshop facility in Gisborne, and started a new roading construction and earthmoving crew. Last year, Stubbs Contractors took out the special award for Business Excellence and placed in four categories of the Westpac Gisborne Business Excellence Awards, and won Outstanding Health and Safety Management at the 2018 Forestry Awards.

“The Lean Hub’s ‘Lean Logging’ process engaged the crews, and lifted safety, professionalism and productivity beyond our expectations. Any keen logger should engage these guys if you want ‘next level’ logging or you really want your business to exceed your expectations.”

Source: Gisborne Herald

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Deep learning algorithm can identify seedlings

Scion has pioneered a new artificial intelligence (AI) based system that uses low-cost RGB imagery from UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to identify radiata pine seedlings. The algorithm they have created could soon replace manual surveys, which are laborious, sometimes dangerous and only suited to small areas.

Surveys are traditionally carried out after planting to ensure the right number of trees have been planted and survive to reach the target for each site. Scion’s advanced AI-system can detect seedlings with extremely high accuracy, detecting between 94-98 per cent of seedlings in a range of test sites and landscapes.

The next steps are to trial the method with industry partners and explore expanding the algorithm to detect native tree species. All afforestation efforts in New Zealand stand to benefit from this work as it unlocks the potential for large-scale automatic assessments of newly planted sites for density and survival.

The team has also developed a data processing procedure that takes large volumes of UAV imagery and transforms it into a format used in deep learning models without losing spatial information. They have also amassed a substantial dataset for models to ‘learn’ how to tell tree seedlings apart from weeds and other objects across a range of conditions. The original deep learning models were intended for use with mobile phone photos and the team has now adapted them to rapidly handle large datasets using Scion’s state-of-the-art ‘GPU’ infrastructure.

Working with both Forest Growers and Te Uru Rākau, project leaders will shape proposals for the next stage where we refine the approach to integrate the model into existing workflows. Future planning will include developing a more complex model suitable for use at low-cost and with largely automatic quality assessments. We also plan to expand the model to detect other species including natives to identify seedling mortality.

All afforestation efforts in New Zealand stand to benefit from this work as it unlocks the potential for large-scale automatic assessments of newly planted forest sites for density and survival.


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Forestry training package launched for students

OneFortyOne, in partnership with The Department of Education and Child Development this week has launched a pathway program at Mount Gambier High School which will provide students from Year 8 to Year 12 from Limestone Coast Secondary schools with an articulated pathway in the Forest and Timber Industry.

The Ultimate Renewable Forest Learning Pathway Program provides the education and skills necessary for students to join the forest and timber industry with a Certificate III and SACE credit points. Linda Cotterill from OneFortyOne said “the forest and timber industry in the Green Triangle is a world class, sustainable industry that underpins thousands of jobs and environmental outcomes, it is something we are incredibly proud off.”

“Workforce planning is a priority for OneFortyOne. There are times when we do have to search outside of the region, even the country to find the level of expertise we need within the business” said Linda, “but our preference is always to find local people for local jobs. We are invested in this Forest Industry Training package because it will help familiarize our youth with our great industry and develop the skills we need locally, as we plan for our future workforce. We’re in this long-term.”

The pathway program incorporates a range of classroom and field-based experiences. Students will also undertake several competencies from the Forest Growing and Management, Harvesting and Haulage and Sawmilling and Processing training packages which have been nominated by industry to support relevancy and access to future pathways.

Emma Handford, Department for Education said “this is a true example of a Government and industry partnership. What we have launched today is an education program that provides a pathway direct to industry jobs by facilitating classroom learning and industry hosted field experiences, such as time in the forest and access to state-of-the-art timber processing technology.” “Students who complete all units within a module will graduate with a Certificate III and SACE credit points.”

Linda said “I have children at local schools and so what I find personally exciting about the Forest Learning Pathway Program is that it provides an opportunity for students to stay in the region and have fulfilling careers and a secure future for their families.”

The Forest Learning Pathway Program will be available in Limestone Coast Secondary Schools in 2020. There are 15 student’s spaces available in the 2020 program and students can register their interest via the LimestoneCoastPathways Facebook Page. School career advisor’s or VET Co-ordinator’s can email

Photo, from left to right - Emma Handford, Department for Education; Chris Edmonds, Principal Mount Gambier High School; Lynette Martin OAM, Mayor of Mount Gambier; Richard Sage, Mayor of DC Grant; Linda Cotterill, OneFortyOne; Beth Welden, Forest Learning; Tom Linnell, Tenison Woods College

Source: OneFortyOne

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Sawmill profits fall in North America

Sawmill profit margins have fallen substantially in North America over the past 12 months with BC sawmills margins in the 2Q/19 being close to their lowest levels in 15 years, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Costs for sawlogs declined in most major regions around the world in the first half of 2019. However, lumber prices have fallen faster in key markets resulting in lower profits for sawmills, particularly in British Columbia, the US South and Eastern Russia, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Lower lumber prices and only small adjustments in sawlog costs in the 2Q/19, sawmills in North America saw their profit margins decline again after a short-lived improvement in the 1Q/19. Although margins have fallen quite substantially in the US South the past year, reaching a three-year low, they are still higher than the 15-year average as tracked by the WRQ.

Small changes in log costs together with lower income from lumber and residual sales have taken the gross margins for sawmills in British Columbia down to their lowest levels since the Global Financial Crisis back in 2009. In the 2Q/19, these margins are less than half of their ten-year average.

In the Nordic countries, sawmill profit margins (in US dollar terms) have increased over the past two years as a result of lumber and residual prices growing more than sawlog costs. From the 2Q/17 to the 2Q/19, gross margins in Finland and Sweden were up 4% and 11%, respectively. Export prices for lumber in both Finland and Sweden have fallen from early 2018 to 2Q/19.

Sawmills in Siberia continue to expand exports to China with fairly stable lumber export prices over the past three years. However, in the 4Q/18, lumber prices fell to their lowest level in almost two years and the decline continued during the first six months of 2019. This decline occurred at the same time that sawlog costs were moving slightly upward in early 2019, which resulted in reduced gross margins for many lumber producers in the region. Sawmill margins for the 2Q/19 were below their 15-year averages in US dollar terms but above the average for the past 15 years in Ruble terms.

Source: Wood Resources International LLC,

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Airspace integration trials programme established

The NZ Government is establishing an Airspace Integration Trials Programme to support the safe testing and development of advanced unmanned aircraft and accelerate their integration into the aviation system, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced.

The Government will work with leading, innovative aviation industry partners to test and demonstrate the use of unmanned aircraft for passenger transport, cargo delivery, agricultural services and hazard management.

“The Government is committed to supporting the growth of an innovative unmanned aircraft sector in New Zealand. We’re creating opportunities to test and develop these emerging technologies to help make this happen,” Megan Woods says.

MBIE is engaging with Zephyr Airworks as the first industry partner in the programme to define the scope of a passenger-transport focussed trial. Zephyr has been testing and developing 'Cora' - their self-flying, electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft in New Zealand since 2017, after more than nine years of development in the United States.

To support the programme, NZ$2.1m has been reprioritised from Vote Science and Innovation to the Civil Aviation Authority to build capability, including the employment of more technical experts, and NZ$900,000 to the Ministry of Transport to support policy development related to regulatory settings.

In another step to support the modernisation of New Zealand’s aviation system, the Government will also reimburse aircraft owners for a portion of the cost of installing ADS-B transponders. The ADS-B Transponder Grant will be available to approximately 4,000 general aviation operators in New Zealand.

“ADS-B technology will bring numerous safety benefits to our aviation system, we understand small aircraft operators will face cost obstacles. That’s why this government has decided to provide financial assistance for aircraft owners to fit ADS-B technology,” Megan Woods says.

“These funding decisions support the Government’s vision for a thriving, innovative and safe aviation system, and works towards a future in which unmanned aircraft could be a part of the everyday life of New Zealanders.”


In July, the Government released the paper Taking Flight: an aviation system for the automated age which sets out the vision to integrate small drones and advanced UA into our transport system and develop a thriving, innovative and safe sector. Industry investing in the development, testing and certification of new and unproven advanced UA and adjacent technologies is a key to achieving this vision.

The emerging UA sector is fast growing and R&D intensive, and the integration of UA into the aviation system has the potential to generate significant economic benefits. A recent benefit study commissioned by MBIE and the Ministry of Transport estimated that the commercial application of UA could generate up to NZ$7.9 billion in additional value to the New Zealand economy over the next 25 years.

- To find out more about MBIE’s Innovative Partnerships Programme, visit

- To find out more about Zephyr Airworks’ Cora, visit

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Largest North American CLT plant opened

Engineered wood and building development giant Katerra's new cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam plant is now open in Washington. Katerra says the 270,000 square foot facility is the largest of its kind in North America.

Citing "off the charts" demand for its CLT, the US$150 million manufacturing plant will produce up to 13 million board feet of timber per year. Katerra's CLT will be made from 2x6 lumber boards - sourced mainly from Canada - compressed and glued together in layers that form structural panels and beams. Company head of architecture Craig Curtis told The Spokesman-Review the company hopes to transition to material from Washington soon.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Maria Cantwell both praised the plant and the 100 jobs created. Cantwell helped push 2018's Farm Bill into effect, which funded CLT research and development. The Timber Innovation Act is in effect in the U.S., which incentivizes mass timber construction.

Katerra’s near-term manufacturing expansion plans for the U.S. includes three more building components factories to serve the South and East Coast markets, as well as another mass timber production facility to be located in the Southeast. The company is worth around US$3 billion.

In June 2018, Katerra bought Michael Green Architecture, who's behind two of the continent's largest CLT structures: the T3 220,000-square-foot office building in Minneapolis and the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in British Columbia.

Michael Green is designing a 500,000-square-foot skyscraper in New Jersey - which will be the largest mass timber building in the United States.


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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... late at night

A woman is woken up at 4.30 in the morning by some strange noise downstairs.

She tries to wake up her husband, but the other side of the bed is empty.

Rather scared she screams: “Who’s that in our house?”

To her relief, it turns out that the cause of the noise is not a burglar, but her husband.

The noise continues for quite some time and the wife shouts down “What are you doing down there?”

The husband replies: “Oh nothing to worry about. I’m just trying to get a cast of beer up the stairs.”

His wife is pretty fed up by now and yells: “For the love of God, will you leave that down there.”

“I can’t”, the husband shouts back... “I’ve drunk it".

And one more sent in by a reader this week linked to the Rugby World Cup. A Scottish man walks into a pub. Normally there would be an Irish man, an English man and a Welsh man there too, but they're still in Japan!

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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