Friday Offcuts 27 March 2020
This is an unprecedented time for all of us, and we appreciate everyone will be working through similar challenges right now. Most of you will now be working from home or taking a bit of forced time off. The business landscape in which we were operating in just last week has already been turned on its head. The good news is that a number are anticipating that forestry operations, may well be one of the first industries to start to get back into work once we get the green light to start up again.
For our own company, who have been bringing you your weekly news fix along with the region’s most extensive listing of industry employment opportunities twice a week now for well over 15 years, we’ll ensure we keep you informed, up to date and entertained during this time. We’re committed to weathering this crisis, as you are. Feel free to send in your tips and tricks on how to get you through this enforced downtime (check out the results of a recent survey on the challenges of working from home), send through industry updates and interesting bits of news and of course, in times like these, the stories that are going to put a smile on all of our faces. For our part, we’ll ensure that we cover and pass on the information to you, our readers.
Details on the myriad of industry events that have been postponed or cancelled will be updated as the picture for each becomes clearer. Also, as outlined in our last issue, if as an equipment or product supplier you wish to maintain and grow your brand out there during this current slowdown, give us a call and we’ll work with you to make this happen through our own network of on-line media platforms.
So, let’s finish the week on a few “good news stories” then to brighten the mood. Assistance to the beleaguered forestry industry in both New Zealand and Australia is already well on its way. The NZ Government has announced they’ll be spending NZ$100 million (with NZ$28 million going to Tairāwhiti (Gisborne) – one of the country’s hardest hit regions) redeploying forestry workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The NSW Government has announced an AU$46 million equity injection into the Forestry Corporation of NSW as a first step to aid the State’s forest industries to recover from the recent bushfires and the COVID-19 virus. And finally, unrelated to the current crisis but still good news, AU$28 million funding has just been secured for a new initiative aiming to transform how buildings are designed and manufactured in Australia. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
2020 Australasian Forest Products Industry Map out nowThe only thing that is constant is change … and isn’t that the truth. Not only do we face uncertainty with our businesses linked to COVID-19 at the moment but changes for our own wood products industry over the last 12 months have been significant. Every two years Australasia’s wood processing and manufacturing industry is detailed in an eagerly awaited Forest Products Industry Map that’s produced for this region. The new 2020 map has just been printed.
This is the fourth edition of a full colour 980mm wide x 680mm tall map produced by the Forest Industry Engineering Association combining major wood processing and manufacturing plants in both Australia and New Zealand.
It features 171 wood processing operations including over 65 sawmills cutting in excess of 25,000m3 sawn lumber per annum (with sawn production levels), all fibreboard, particleboard, plywood, pulp & paper, veneer/LVL/CLT, paperboard and chip export operations along with major wood manufacturing operations.
Since the last edition produced in early 2018 there have been over 50 major updates to mill locations, ownership and production. Changes in the last two years have indeed been significant. The new map is now the most up-to-date industry reference providing an essential mapping resource for New Zealand and Australian forest products companies.
A folded copy of the map will be inserted into two industry magazines in April/May. If you wish to purchase your own folded or flat laminated copies of the new map, orders can now be made from the FIEA website ( www.fiea.org.nz) or by clicking here
Note: Orders are being taken now and the maps will be posted as soon as we can.
NZ$100m forestry package announcedThe New Zealand Government will spend NZ$100 million redeploying forestry workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The forestry industry on the East Coast has been hit hard by the coronavirus because of supply chain disruption in China. Many of the country’s logging crews are unable to work as a result.
Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford, Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced the funding last Friday. Twyford said COVID-19 has had a "significant" impact on workers throughout New Zealand, but acknowledged that forestry workers in Gisborne have been the hardest hit.
"Our Government is moving quickly to help people stay in work through a NZ$100 million package which will see workers redeployed into local alternative employment for the next three to six months. Of this funding, NZ$28 million will go to Tairāwhiti [Gisborne] to help redeploy almost 300 workers.
"Forestry was one of the first industries to be seriously impacted by COVID-19 but by keeping the infrastructure and workforce of the sector intact, we hope it will be one of the first to recover," Twyford said.
Jones said the forestry industry, which is responsible for 6.7 percent of regional GDP, is still recovering from a "slow-down" last winter. "Many small firms used their cash reserves to get them through that and some companies are now struggling to survive.
"However, the future for the forestry sector is extremely bright and we want to ensure it is in a position to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 as quickly as possible. By redeploying workers to short-term projects, we can help ensure they are available to go back to the forestry sector once it returns to normal," Jones said.
Jackson said the package includes training, transport, administration, assurance and other project-related services. Alternative work identified for Tairāwhiti forestry workers includes:
• local roading work, including road maintenance
• hazardous tree removal
• fast-tracked One Billion Trees projects
• conservation activities
• retraining and educational opportunities.
The money will be administered by the Provincial Development Unit, the Mayors' Forum and Gisborne District Council. Affected workers will be referred via the Ministry of Social Development's Rapid Response Team and affected businesses.
AU$28 m to transform building design and productionMonash University, Lendlease, The University of Melbourne, Donovan Group, BlueScope, Sumitomo Forestry and CSR, along with 23 other partners, have been successful in an AU$28 million funding bid for an initiative aiming to transform how buildings are designed and manufactured in Australia.
Building 4.0 CRC will put the customer at the centre of each building experience and seeks to deliver buildings that can be built safer, faster, cheaper and smarter.
Some of the outcomes this initiative hopes to achieve include: 30 per cent reduction in project costs; 80 per cent reduction in construction waste; and 50 per cent reduction in Co2 emissions for more sustainable buildings.
Reducing waste, delays and emissions from building projects is the focus of a collaborative initiative between 30 industry partners that received AU$28 million from the Australian Government.
Monash University, Lendlease, The University of Melbourne, Donovan Group, BlueScope, Sumitomo Forestry and CSR, along with 23 other partners, have been successful in securing this funding to establish the Building 4.0 CRC – an initiative seeking to transform how buildings are designed and manufactured in Australia.
Announced by The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the AU$28 million grant will leverage a combined AU$103 million from industry, government and research partners – bringing the combined research budget to AU$131 million over seven years.
The Building 4.0 CRC research initiative is focused on use of digital solutions, new products and processes aiming to transform Australia’s building industry to a tech-enabled, collaborative future where the customer is at the centre of each building experience and buildings are not only better, but faster, cheaper and safer.
Building 4.0 CRC is funded by the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program, which has the potential to boost the economy through job creation and position Australia as a leader in the advanced manufacture of buildings.
Source: miragenews.com, Monash University
NSW Government’s support for forest industriesThe Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement of a AU$46 million equity injection into the Forestry Corporation of NSW as a first step to aid the State’s forest industries to recover from the recent bushfires and now the Covid- 19 virus.
Forest industries are significant regional employers in NSW, supporting over AU$7 billion of economic activity and directly employing over 21,000 people in the State, but with a significant amount of the softwood plantation assets and sustainably managed native forest estate damaged by the fires and now the Covid-19 virus there will be long-term impacts on the supply chain, manufacturing businesses and jobs.
AFPA Chief Executive Officer Mr Ross Hampton said, “Our supply chain starts with the planting of trees, timber is then sustainably harvested and transported to regional manufacturing facilities and processed into renewable products that store carbon. The recently announced equity injection for the replanting of burnt trees and forestry infrastructure is a welcome step, and it responds directly to some of the priority initiatives we’ve urged the NSW Government to deliver,” Mr Hampton said.
“However, our domestic manufacturing businesses and their jobs are also impacted and will need ongoing support from Federal and State governments for many years to come. “Timber workers continue the huge and urgent task of recovering fire damaged timber to be processed into renewable timber products for Australia’s housing and other markets. The window of opportunity to effectively recover usable timber from the burnt plantations is only about a year.
“Our industry needs urgent support to address barriers to recovering this timber such as increased road access, availability of harvest machinery and crews, the capacity of the facilities to keep employees, process the logs, store the timber and market the products,” Mr Hampton said.
“The replanting effort, the recovery and processing of burnt timber, employment pressures, and the increased freight costs facing the industry from the recent bushfires and now the Covid-19 virus are unprecedented.
“We are working with the States and Federal Governments to manage these challenges – we hope to see further announcements to support jobs, our manufacturing businesses, and the massive recovery effort needed in NSW, Victoria and South Australia,” Mr Hampton concluded.
Government funding packages need to be flexibleNew Zealand Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) is appealing to Government to offer some flexibility in the funding packages announced last week as the industry remains in an unstable and complex environment.
It has been well over 6 weeks since emergency meetings were held by forest owners with their contractors to advise some of them that their work would be stopped immediately, within a month or that their work schedules would be reduced ongoing. That followed a 27 January announcement from Zhejiang Province that returning to work and school would be delayed to 9 February post the Chinese New Year.
Since then, there has been a steady stream of contracting businesses that have closed and without work for many weeks have had to turn their workforce off. Younger says the Government response although criticised for being slow initially, has been generous to the forestry sector in most areas that were identified as hot spots for support but businesses without contracts and without a future ahead of them are left with high debt and little confidence in the industry and little support for the funding packages albeit to register on the benefit.
The media and Government have singled out the East Coast region as the epicentre of crisis for forestry, but the extent is much broader. “I applaud the work that collaboration has achieved in the East Coast with the regional council, economic development agency and the regional wood council taking on the responsibility of advocating for a very important industry in their community, where 1 in 4 are associated with forestry,” says Younger.
FICA are constantly monitoring the national situation and again last week identified that 30% of the industry remained without work and have been like that since announcements from forest owners were made. There is not one forestry region that is not reporting closures of contracts, losses of jobs and financial demise of businesses.
While Younger acknowledges the economic relief package last week was good for those that had been on reduced production under 70%, it did not address those without any work and those that have been forced to shut down their businesses.
“We have been at the forefront of this crisis and the rest of the country is catching up”, Younger says, “we need to have further discussions with Government about the $100M funding that has been offered for redeployment for forestry workers, as there are many exceptional cases in different areas. Firstly, we need to ensure those contracting business owners are relieved of their excessive debts before moving into other work”.
Younger also reports that in Nelson, they were in a crisis this time last year with fires and so reporting on income at that same time is irrelevant. “As responsible taxpayers, we also have a desire to make sure the funding is spent appropriately and where it is truly necessary. Our industry is telling us that financial support and tax relief is more a priority than redeployment, so we urge the Government to be flexible,” confirms Younger.
“We are still not out of the woods and could see more contractors out of work as domestic processing yards full up and the alerts around COVID-19 put workplaces under pressure to close, says Younger. If the market starts correcting itself next month as indications have predicted, there is a strong message from the contractors represented by FICA, to forest owners, export traders and forest management investment companies. There needs to be a supported strategy not to over supply as has been seen in the past as a sustainable industry that values the “whole of supply chain” is what is being asked for by FICA.
Study results from fatigued, distracted truck driversTruck drivers are twice as likely to crash when fatigued and 11 times more likely to crash when both fatigued and distracted according to the latest findings by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC). Using a new purpose-built truck simulator to measure truck driver performance, the study accurately detected the level of truck driver fatigue ahead of when a safety critical event occurs.
The study also tested fatigue prevention and driver-monitoring technology in working fleet trucks on the road. World-class Guardian technology supplied by Seeing Machines was used during the evaluation that included the participation of 74 different drivers. It actively monitors for and alerts commercial drivers to fatigue and distraction in real time.
Seeing Machines in partnership with Ron Finemore Transport and Volvo Trucks Australia, used automotive grade technology alongside Guardian, to study driver behaviour well before a microsleep resulted. In a breakthrough innovation never reportedly achieved before, the study also detected where a driver was looking as part of the distraction monitoring in real-time testing.
This resulted in the team creating a comprehensive distraction warning system for drivers. With the direct input of Ron Finemore Transport, the team fitted ten fleet trucks with the technology and monitored drivers for nine months. Over 100 drivers enrolled in the study, collectively driving 22,000 trips across over 1.5 million kilometres, resulting in the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind in the world.
Using Australia’s first Truck Simulator, Monash researchers conducted tests on truck drivers under different conditions, using Big Data to fine-tune the technology that will be rolled out in future vehicles. The drivers were sleep deprived and then intentionally distracted during driver simulation for two-hours. Researchers recorded 29 crashes in the simulator, with 21 (72 per cent) in fatigue condition and eight (28 per cent) in an alert state during a crash.
Drivers were twice as likely to crash when fatigued, but 11 times more likely to crash when fatigued and distracted at the same time. The study provided a unique test-bed for the evolving sophistication of the sensor technology that aims to reduce heavy vehicle crashes in Australia, improve truck driver well-being and help truck companies better manage their drivers’ fatigue. More >>.
Fatigue, and safety issues around wood harvesting and haulage operations are key themes for this years Forest Safety & Technology series set up for local companies by the Forest Industry Engineering Association. Both the Australian and New Zealand events originally scheduled to run in May of this year (which had to be postponed through COVID-19) will now be running alongside the HarvestTECH 2020 series in Melbourne, Australia on 16-17 September and then again in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 September 2020.
New manufacturing plant for HeyfieldHeyfield Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has officially commissioned a new AU$3 million timber manufacturing plant. The centrepiece of the new plant at ASH's Greenmill in Firebrace Road is a high-strain twin band resaw, which uses German sawing technology to maximise the amount of useable timber while minimising sawdust and woodchip waste.
ASH managing director Vince Hurley said the technology used in the new manufacturing plant would mean less waste. "The new twin band resaw is more efficient at sawing smaller and lower grade logs than our current equipment, so we can now turn more of our saw logs into usable timber.
"Our business, our town and Gippsland more widely have weathered a number of storms over the past few years. The opening of this new plant is great news for our workforce and a big vote of confidence in Heyfield."
The Federal Government funding for the project was provided through the AU$20 million Regional Jobs and Investment Package. Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said ASH was a "vital part of the fabric of the Heyfield community".
"This project has supported 14 jobs during the construction phase and will secure another 140 ongoing positions - that's a significant number of jobs for this area," Mr Chester said. "The timber industry is facing difficult times following the bushfires and the state government's announcement last November that it would phase out the harvest of native trees over the next 10 years.
Photo:ASH managing director Vince Hurley and Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester at the commissioning of the company's new manufacturing plant in Heyfield, photograph supplied.
Warning NZ ports may start to seize upA "pile-up" is looming at New Zealand’s ports that will restrict the movement of food and medical supplies if non-essential freight destined for closed businesses can't be cleared, Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett has warned. "All manner" of freight could arrive at the same time on cargo ships, he said.
"We now have a situation where many businesses that receive some of that freight are closed and there is nowhere for it to go," he said. "The issue with non-essential goods is you can remove them from the port, but if there's nobody at the receiving end at work, where do you put them?'
The Government needed to recognise that "all freight must move" during New Zealand's coronavirus lockdown, and not just essential items, Leggett said. He forecast "constipation" at the ports and massive problems, if the issue wasn't addressed.
OneFortyOne NZ rebrandsWell known Nelson Tasman and Marlborough business Nelson Forests has been rebranded as OneFortyOne New Zealand effective from 25 March 2020. The move follows on from OneFortyOne’s purchase of Nelson Forests (including Kaituna Sawmill, near Blenheim) in 2018.
OneFortyOne Chief Executive Officer Linda Sewell says that nothing has changed in operational terms for the management company and its associated staff in Nelson and at Kaituna Sawmill, both of which have remained as they were at the time of the OneFortyOne purchase.
“What has happened is that the new branding has galvanised our sense of a single business across Australia and New Zealand, communicating a collective purpose,” says Sewell.
Sewell says the start to 2020 had been unprecedented with the Australian bushfires and now the impacts of COVID-19, which were completely unforeseen. “We had already started the rebranding project long before these events were on the horizon,” Sewell says. “We feel fortunate that we took an approach that was extremely mindful of waste and cost and so we felt we could finish the project very pragmatically. Ultimately, the branding project speaks to the unity of the business, which is very important in the current climate.”
While there will be a transition period in the community because Nelson Forests is a well-known brand in the areas in which it operates, there is now an opportunity for everyone in OneFortyOne New Zealand to share the great story behind the OneFortyOne name, says Executive General Manager New Zealand Lees Seymour.
“We are very mindful of the context in which we will be rolling out our new brand,” says Seymour. “The process will be gradual but will give our team a morale boost. They have put a lot of hard work into the project and we want to complete it to honour the effort made by them.”
Seymour says that OneFortyOne’s new brand represents the fibre that is at the heart of everything the company does. “The new logo is based on the cross-section view of an individual wood fibre from one of our trees. It represents not only the physical shape of fibre that is at the heart of our business, but also the three strands of our purpose: strengthen, integrate, and extend. It has a dynamism to it. It’s energising, fresh and new and it fits with the wood industry we’re in. The team and I love it.”
Robots are printing 3D bridges in AmsterdamAmsterdam's robot-printed steel bridge, the first of its kind in the world, is more attractive than you might expect. Its curved, raw steel balustrades with intricate mesh detailing are typical of the optimised aesthetic of 3D printing.
First displayed publicly in 2018 and awaiting installation over a local canal, the bridge was printed by Dutch firm MX3D. Chief executive Gijs van der Velden, in New Zealand as part of the Heavy Engineering Research Association 20/20 Vision Conference, says the company has developed a new way of using robotic arms as 3D printers.
He shares his thoughts on the future of automated construction, and how digital design and fabrication will change the world. "Basically, we 3D print shapes with a regular welding robot using regular welding wire and off-the-shelf equipment. It's technology that already existed but from a design background, we repurposed the machine to become a large-scale 3D metal printer.
Victorian Liberal Nationals to be commendedThe Australian forestry industry has congratulated the Victorian Liberal Nationals Opposition for showing its support for the industry in Victoria and trying to ensure it has a future. Last week the Opposition introduced a motion to State Parliament to establish an inquiry into the Government’s plan to end native forest harvesting by 2030.
Its recommendations to the “Economy and Infrastructure Committee” include inquiring into where Victoria’s timber will be sourced following the implementation of the plan; how it will impact the availability of machinery and infrastructure for fire-fighting and the impact on forestry workers and regional economies.
The Chief Executive of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries Inc. (VAFI) Tim Johnston said the questions about the future supply of Victoria’s timber must be answered. “We’ve asked the Andrews government repeatedly to explain how it will meet future demand, but it’s refusing to give us an answer, so hopefully an inquiry has better luck,” he said. “We’d also encourage all Victorian crossbench MPs to support the motion as they too will want answers to the questions being posed.”
The General Manager of the Australian Forest Contractors Association Stacey Gardiner said forest contractors and their workers have a cloud over their future. “Many already face an uncertain future with contracts terminated and lawsuits causing closures,” she said. “If, as the Premier says, plantations will replace native forests, then he should be able to show us how that can be achieved, because right now we can’t see it happening in time.”
The Chief Executive of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Ross Hampton has commended Victoria’s Opposition for putting an inquiry on the table. “This motion is asking common sense questions about Victoria’s future forestry needs,” Mr Hampton said.
“We know it’s already operating sustainably, providing jobs and supporting regional communities across regional Victoria. But that’s a message the Andrews’ Government doesn’t seem to want to listen to, and it also isn’t prepared to explain how its plan will work. This Parliamentary Inquiry is asking those questions, and we commend the Opposition for calling for it.” he concluded.
Wood touchscreen developed for smart homesSmart home devices are handy, but who wants to pull out their phone just to adjust the lights or pause the music? Mui Lab's solution is a single piece of wood that almost magically becomes a simple touchscreen where you can accomplish simple internet-of-things tasks. They also make a wood post where you can record your kid's height and recall it later in a similarly luminous fashion.
Be thankful we no longer use corn cobs and rope endsAnother light hearted take on the toilet paper issue. In olden times, sailors used the frayed end of a rope dipped in salt water. Rural folk, legend says, once used corn cobs hung in outhouses. Stones, moss, currency, newspapers, catalogues, almanacs, literature and government proclamations served until, by most accounts, a New York City inventor named Joseph C. Gayetty came up with the first commercial toilet paper around 1857.
It was “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper.” Made of hemp, it had the inventor’s name proudly watermarked on each sheet. Now the novel coronavirus and consumer panic-buying have made Gayetty’s creation scarce, and prompted a look back at the history of toilet paper and its predecessors.
To start with, Gayetty’s product was a luxury. A dollar — about $30 today — got you 1,000 sheets, according to newspaper ads of the time. It wasn’t yet on a roll. But “all persons who neglect to make systematic use of [it] for the Water Closet are doing themselves injustice.”
Four medicines blended with the paper pulp “render it a sure cure and preventive of piles,” the ads stated. “All other paper is poisonous,” Gayetty asserted. Paper bearing printed material was especially bad. “Printer’s ink is a rank poison … [and] persistent use of printed paper” would eventually lead to piles, a.k.a. hemorrhoids, he claimed.
It was a breakthrough. But research and advances didn’t stop. In 1890, Irvin and Clarence Scott, of Philadelphia’s Scott Paper Co., revolutionized toilet paper when they began marketing it on rolls. It wasn’t a new idea, but the subject was delicate and hadn’t been pushed. (Mention of toilet paper rolls in ads goes back at least to 1886.)
On April 9, 1889, Oliver Hewlett Hicks, of Chicago, received a patent for a new kind of roll. Normally, he pointed out in his application, when the desired number of sheets are pulled off the roll, it can often be hard to locate the following sheet next time around if it is not hanging down. Hicks suggested a two-ply role with uneven layers of sheets to make the end easier to find.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... social distancing
And finally, sent in by a reader yesterday. Maybe working from home isn't going to be that easy after all. Good taste in reading material as well.
And on that note, look after yourself, your family and those in your communities. Cheers.
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