Friday Offcuts – 12 November 2021

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We regularly profile new developments in automation within the wood products industry. It has been ongoing, albeit probably at a slower pace than in some other sectors and compared to other developed countries where they’ve had to implement the technology. Automation has been essential for their operations with higher raw material and operating costs, shortages of labour and increasingly, stiff competition.

We’ve included this week an article and link to an excellent resource, exploring how factory automation is “being reimagined”. Unlike the gradual evolution that’s occurred in the past, the authors point out that this time, the change is going to be almost immediate. What’s occurring now is a “tectonic shift” on how we all perceive factory automation. In the next three to five years, it will have significantly changed, both in its form and in its shape. And, it’s a change that none of us, particularly those involved in wood processing or manufacturing will be able to ignore.

Another shift occurring right now is at the other end of the supply chain, in building and construction. Apple's former design director for example has switched his attention from designing Apple stores. He’s set up a new mass timber housing company and is looking at architectural and design flair to create housing that will dispel people's preconceptions about modular buildings. Using modular elements enables us to also take advantage of design efficiencies and economies of scale. And, it’s this high quality of construction and design, much like the iPhone that everyone now owns, that’s encouraging the consumer to instead opt for a new build that isn’t bespoke or unique.

Locally, it’s also this same perception of the earlier modular or temporary prefab construction that’s led to a name change for PrefabNZ. It’s now been renamed, Offsite NZ. And in New Zealand, as part of changes currently being made to building law reform, new regulations are being developed that are going to support a new voluntary certification scheme for modular component manufacturers. This is going to help increase the volume of offsite manufacturing and prefabrication building systems. Further details on the planned reforms can be read here.

And finally, we have included an opinion piece this week from the CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association, Nick Steel. In it he highlights the hypocrisy of the Tasmanian Greens and a handful of tourism operators who’ve recently been claiming that the forestry industry is damaging the Tasmanian brand. He points out that “our tourism businesses don’t just use timber; they drape themselves in Tasmanian timber and then yell it from the rooftops to promote what we have”. You can check out Nick’s full response to the latest claims below. And that’s it for this week.

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Major study to assess erosion & sediment control

Safeguarding New Zealand’s waterways is the key driver behind a seven-year study into the performance of control practices for reducing erosion and sediment delivered to rivers from forest harvesting.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has partnered with forestry company OneFortyOne New Zealand, providing NZ$1.37 million through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to the NZ$3.6 million project.

The project is in its second year, with a long-term monitoring programme now established within control and treatment catchments at OneFortyOne’s Donald Creek Forest, near Tadmor in the Tasman district.

“We want to find out what erosion and sediment control measures work best, and we can only know this through robust real-world studies,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director of Investment Programmes. This project is exploring the effectiveness of current best practice in sediment control as well as some new innovations”.

“Later in the project, the researchers will construct a large sediment retention pond to see how that measures up compared to traditional methods. As well as the benefits of erosion and sediment control, the programme will also compare the costs of different practices.”

Brent Guild, OneFortyOne’s Executive General Manager New Zealand says as a long-term business, it makes sense to invest in long-term studies like this one. The data will help us understand the impacts of our business. It will help us learn what works well and where we might do better”.

“We’re not doing this alone. We have the best people helping us with this research, including Cawthron Institute, Envirolink, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and the Ministry for Primary Industries,” says Mr Guild.

“Two similar plantation catchments have been set up, including a ‘control’ catchment that is exposed to the same weather events but will not be harvested. This is a valuable opportunity to test the performance of traditional and new in-forest sediment management techniques – and we are grateful for MPI’s support to help us do this important work, which we’ll be able to share widely with the forestry sector.

“We’ll also have a deeper understanding of which strategies are best value for money. For instance, if the results show that sediment traps are an effective treatment, we’ll have the confidence to persist with this practice without calling on additional resources. However, if we find that the environmental impacts are too disruptive, this would provide the rationale for investing more money in sediment control at source to achieve environmental benefits,” says Mr Guild.

Steve Penno says “the data collected from this project will inform how the forestry industry meets new government freshwater management standards for suspended and deposited sediment. It will also provide scientific backing for the most effective practices in forestry that have the best possible outcomes for our environment.”

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Reimagining automation: The winds of change

The need for a cognitive shift

Factory automation has played a pivotal role in the evolution of manufacturing from the early days of manual control through relays and switches to the advanced digital platforms that are seen today.

Increasing productivity, achieving mass production, and improving efficiencies have been a perennial quest for manufacturers and have been catalysts for advancements in automation. We are at a crossroads once again as a new and vastly different era of automation dawns.

In the 20th century, the principal driver of factory automation was mass production; in the 21st century, the driver will be manufacturers’ need to manage rapid innovation cycles, complex personalization requirements, and intensifying cost pressures in a global landscape with stiff competition.

Many manufacturers that have enjoyed leading market positions with their legacy machines and production processes will soon find their value proposition either rendered obsolete or, at the very least, challenged by new competitors with innovative ideas. This demands a reimagining of factory automation: a new architecture that can meet the complexities and demands of the future.

For the industry at large, it is imperative to realize that this will be an immediate, tectonic shift rather than the gradual evolution seen in decades past. It will require a dramatic change in the way we perceive factory automation. Many of the rules are likely to be rewritten.

The 6 levers of change

Frost & Sullivan has identified six levers of change that will redraw the approach to factory automation. Foremost is the ubiquitous use of artificial intelligence (AI), which is a collective term that refers to technologies including machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing.

AI’s role in automation could vary from supporting design teams to empowering control systems via machine learning algorithms that facilitate continuous process learning and improvements. AI primarily will deliver value in factory automation through machine learning that harnesses the vast amounts of product and process data that remains largely underutilized today.

The worker of the future will not only have access to key performance indicators (KPIs) of production processes but will also be fed visual, immersive contexts in real time. Augmented reality (AR), the second lever, is poised to become a third eye for factory workers, providing greater visibility and guidance on the shop floor. The next lever, edge computing, is a relatively mature concept that has already found its way into many factories. The idea of edge analytics is to expand the functional capacity of automation systems (e.g., programmable logic controllers or PLCs) without having to push all critical data to an external cloud. Besides saving time and effort, it also ensures localized data analytics, high processing speed, and robust cybersecurity.

The next lever is blockchain. Traditionally referred to in the context of digital cryptocurrencies, blockchain is expected to expand its influence beyond financial services and into the manufacturing ecosystem, predominantly in the area of supply chain logistics. This lever is still in the nascent phase; however, its ability to automate processes, enable secure transactions or records, and bring transparency in the network offers many promising opportunities in factories of tomorrow.

Conventional automation systems enable low-level processes to run with little human intervention. Manufacturers could soon find themselves in a scenario where humans will not merely delegate tasks but work alongside another lever of change: autonomous systems that can also think and act.

AI also will play a role in cognitive engineering, the final lever of change. It is likely that in the factory of the future, cognitive systems that combine human principles of knowledge, contextual awareness, and situational intelligence will allow for the automation of many engineering tasks. A cognitive engineering system will be able to perform analysis faster than a human, without fatigue, distraction, or forgetfulness.

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Source: Frost & Sullivan, Siemens

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Opinion piece - Forestry is part of the tourism brand

Forestry and tourism in Tasmania are now and always have been intrinsically linked and complementary to each other as Tasmanian timber has been the centrepiece of the state’s unique and very marketable identity for decades.

Surely the hypocrisy of the Tasmanian Greens and a handful of tourism operators latest claim, that Tasmanian forestry is damaging the Tasmanian brand, is not lost on the public. Just think about at the famous, soaring, wave-like celery top pine ceiling in the award winning Saffire Freycinet or the beautiful aroma of Tasmanian specialty timbers through Salamanca Market.

Tasmanian timber is and always has been a tourism showpiece. I challenge anyone to find a Tasmanian tourist attraction or icon that does not use or showcase Tasmanian Timbers, portraying a natural Tasmanian brand and using this point of difference to market their business.

Simply look at the stunning Tasmanian Oak Veneer adorning the new Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. Or Pump House Point where (and I quote direct from their web site) “common spaces subtly give way to more refined Tasmanian timber veneer panelling.” “Material and product selection is subtle in its response to environmental stewardship with natural materials favoured where possible”.

What could be better than local timber? Imports from Indonesia? Perhaps plastic cladding from China? I have never seen plaster or concrete feature on a tourism icon’s web site as a point of difference.

Wall in the Wilderness, The Abt Railway, Three Capes Huts, Derby’s Floating Sauna and Blue Derby Pods, more hotels, wineries, cafes and restaurants than I could even mention showcase Tasmanian timber. Then there are our distilleries, art galleries, museums, university, airports, football and basketball stadiums, all adorned with Tasmanian timber.

Our tourism businesses don’t just use timber, they drape themselves in Tasmanian timber and then yell it from the rooftops to promote what we have.

This latest claim is not just wrong, it’s damaging to the tourism businesses who choose to showcase these timbers as part of their brand. The Greens and some in tourism want to stop harvesting in our diversified mixed forests and instead limit the choice to single species plantation timbers or imported timber only. Try promoting that on your web site.

This hypocrisy and political opportunism must stop. The people in our industry who produce these timber products know that the forest practices undertaken in Tasmania today are world leading and that our plantation forests are well managed and our public native production forests will remain as native forests forever.

Sometimes managed forests will grow close to bike tracks or other attractions, just as some bike tracks might grow close to managed forests, but rest assured that forestry in Tasmania has no intention of destroying the livelihood of anyone operating tourist operations, in fact, we want to continue our close association to strengthen a Tasmanian brand based on natural and sustainable local products.

Lastly, congratulations to all the winners of the recent Tasmanian Tourism Awards who were lucky enough to take home a trophy made from Tasmanian myrtle, a beautiful and sustainable Tasmanian specialty timber worthy of representing the highest honour. Learn more at

Nick Steel, CEO, Tasmanian Forest Products Association

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Australian company positions itself for green energy

Sweetman Renewables expansion plans are well underway as its significance in the green energy sector grows through lucrative contracts and assets.

Emerging renewables player Sweetman Renewables will expand its three business divisions after closing multiple deals, putting the company on centre stage of the green energy revolution. After a successful pre-IPO raising prior to its planned ASX listing, the New South Wales-based company is seeking to expand its hydrogen production, biomass supply and high-quality timber products businesses.

The company has now closed a purchase deal on a 100-year-old sawmill business, formerly owned by the Sweetman family at Millfield in the Hunter Valley, that includes all sawmilling and timber processing assets and real estate, plus a 600-acre forest block with a harvesting approval issued by NSW Local Land Services.

Sweetman has advanced negotiations related to taking over a log supply contract from another sawmill and working with approved private property owners to secure additional log supplies. While timber products are experiencing a bull market, Sweetman’s plan to leverage its profitable historic timber business, by vertically integrating biomass supply and hydrogen production, that will drive revenue growth into the future.

With ~50% of a delivered logs from certified forest operations ending up as finished product and the other half residues the development of biomass power generation will substantially increase the value of residue products at the sawmill and other sawmills in a 300km radius of the Millfield site. These kinds of initiatives have seen sawmilling productivity increase by 50%. This increase in productivity has seen the company’s revenue climb, resulting in an increase in the direct and indirect employment of staff.

Wood waste a viable alternative energy

Biomass sourced from wood waste is seen as a form of baseload renewable energy that provides a viable alternative to coal and was an industry worth US$50bn in 2020. Sweetman has signed a AU$15m joint venture agreement with Singaporean renewable fuel technology company CAC-H2 to establish Australia’s first wood-fed hydrogen production plant, and the country’s largest green bio-hydrogen production eco-hub.

The hydrogen production centre of excellence to be called Hunter Valley One will be built on a site in the Hunter Valley. Under the JV, CAC-H2 will invest in establishing the first two production lines in return for 80% ownership of the new enterprise. CAC-H2 brings gasification technology that converts woodchip into 99% pure hydrogen via a proven proprietary process – along with off-take agreements for 100% of Sweetman hydrogen and biochar production.

Sweetman will provide the biomass feedstock, engineering services and land access in return for 20% equity in the JV as well as 30,000 tonnes of biomass per year. The New South Wales government is investing heavily in transforming the Hunter Valley to be home to one of the state’s first green hydrogen hubs, committing ~ $70 million to their development. The hubs will provide groups of hydrogen users common infrastructure for the local production, use and distribution of hydrogen.

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Source: stockhead

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Mana Wahine on a mission

Learning with the Generation Programme has proved life-changing for 22-year-old Ariana Ngaronoa and she’s already lining up more study to pursue a career in forestry that she previously hadn’t considered.

“It is amazing,” she says. Plenty of Ariana’s extended whanau are in the industry but it wasn’t until a friend suggested the programme to her that her world changed. For her, it is all about a connection with the land. “That is very important to me.” But she was still a little reluctant to step into the programme. “I was just unsure but Siobhain (Fyall – the Generation Programme manager) kept calling and in the end encouraged me to take the risk. I am so happy that I did.”

Since she started the programme, her friends and whanau have noticed a difference in her. “Everyone within the programme is so supportive and helpful. Siobhain and our tutors really keep us on our toes and are really generous in sharing their knowledge – and they are patient!”

Her study bounces between the classroom and the forest. “We get to learn our theory and then put it into practice in the bush. At the end of the day, it is all about the effort you put in. If you want to learn, you will do really well.”

Her attitude comes from way back. Ariana grew up with her grandparents Rocky and Lovey Pardoe at Manutuke. By her own admission, they set solid foundations and instilled in her a strong work ethic, but when her nan died on Ariana’s 16th birthday her world changed. “It was just so upsetting and for a while I went a bit off the rails. I just had no direction but was lucky to have an awesome support system around me.”

Her parents Donna Tichborne and Aaron Ngaronoa were right behind her too. “Mum always made sure I had anything I needed even when she was struggling and the same with my dad too . . . he is what I think is the definition of what a hardworking man should be.” Eventually she ended up working for a local roading company which began the change in her perspective. “Just being outside and working. It is a thing for us as Maori to be connected to the land.”

For Ariana, being on the Generation Programme is bringing a true sense of fulfilment that she didn’t know was missing in her life. “I definitely see this as my career, and next year will start the diploma. Siobhain and our tutors make things seem possible where they weren’t before. They have been awesome to help me figure myself out.”

She’s quick to add there is no sugar-coating of things on the programme, and the tutors are “straight up” about what they expect from their trainees. “There’s a whole lot of different types of people who come through the doors but it is awesome to see so many mana wahine involved in this.”

Ariana wants to get her diploma in forestry management so she can start making a difference and next year will get her diploma studies underway. “I can be part of the decisions that count for our land for the future. I know there are a lot of ways thing can be changed within forestry around land use,” she says. “It is really excited to be a part of this.”

While shy about being a role model for others who have struggled to find their way, Ariana says it would be nice to think they could see a way forward thanks to her journey. “You can do it,” she says. “Being sad about stuff wastes time. Focus on what you can do, apply those changes and maybe later on you can fix the other issues and get yourself to the peak.”

The Generation Programme, which is under the umbrella of the Eastland Wood Council and funded by Te Uru Rakau and the Forest Growers Levy Trust, gives people a chance to see what the forestry industry offers and the variety of work available. It starts with a six-week base camp to get work ready, then once in work the study continues until trainees complete their Level 3 qualification. Training for the Generation Programme is provided by Turanga Ararau.

Source: Eastland Wood Council

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Mobile harbour cranes for Eastland Port

Mt Maunganui-headquartered port logistics company ISO Limited this week announced the arrival of two world-leading mobile harbour cranes for safer and more efficient handling of cargo at its operation at Eastland Port in Te Tairāwhiti Gisborne. The world-leading technology continues ISO’s significant investment in innovation to transform its port logistics supply chain nationwide.

Paul Cameron, CEO of ISO, says, “Our new mobile harbour cranes will help transform our operation at Eastland Port in Te Tairāwhiti. The new technology will remove our people from high-risk areas on the wharf and enable cargo to flow more efficiently through the increasingly pressured supply chain. With the implementation of the cranes, we are upskilling and training staff we move out of high-risk areas into other machinery-based roles within the business.”

ISO commissioned the German-manufactured Liebherr mobile harbour cranes to suit its operating environment, with advanced technology and safety specifications designed by its technology team. The cranes arrived at Te Tairāwhiti Harbour on Monday after departing Rostock, Germany on 24 September.

Liebherr mobile harbour crane from Germany to ISO NZ

Eastland Port will be the second port to benefit from introducing ISO’s mobile harbour cranes, following the introduction of four cranes in Mt Maunganui in August 2020. Andrew Davies, COO of ISO says, “We’ve seen significant improvements in safety and productivity in Mt Maunganui with the introduction of mobile harbour cranes, including a 75% reduction in incidents. The cranes provide a safer, more efficient and reliable method of loading logs directly from trailers into the vessel’s hold with mobile cranes instead of ships’ cranes.

We expect to see similar results in Te Tairāwhiti. The mobile cranes allow us to handle all types of cargo for a wider range of vessels, which increases handling cycles, lift capacity and vessel turnarounds – which means a better result for our customers, our business, and the port.”

Eastland Port Infrastructure Manager, Marty Bayley says, “We have the largest infrastructure developments in a century happening at Eastland Port over the next few years — including stage one of the Twin Berth project beginning in a few months. ISO is the sole stevedore operator at the port, and their new mobile cranes will help keep exports moving as volumes grow in Te Tairāwhiti.”

Three mobile harbour cranes will be in operation at Eastland Port by the end of the month; ISO will ship one of its Mt Maunganui-based mobile cranes to Te Tairāwhiti, so three cranes are available at each port. A world-first in terms of size and capacity, the fully mobile crane weighs 465 tonnes, has a 51-metre maximum lifting height, a 54-metre maximum outreach, and can lift a maximum load of 124 tonnes.

ISO, which handles more than half of New Zealand’s log exports, is applying robotics, automation and IT across its operations nationwide to minimise exposure to hazards and move its people into more skilled roles.

Over the past three years, thirteen Robotic Scaling Machines (RSM’s) for scaling logs have been installed across ISO’s North and South Island operations to automate the accurate volumetric measurement (scaling) of export logs on trucks and trailers. The world-first robotic technology was developed by Tauranga-based Robotics Plus in collaboration with ISO.

Earlier this year, ISO started the rollout of its Automatic Tally Stations, developed by its technology team, to replace manual scanning of tickets on packets of logs at the wharf following scaling through the RSM offsite.

ISO has grown to be one of New Zealand’s largest nationwide waterfront cargo logistics companies, operating out of Marsden Point, Tauranga, Kaingaroa, Murupara, Gisborne, Napier, New Plymouth, Wellington, Picton, Timaru, Dunedin, Bluff and Invercargill. ISO also provides innovative warehousing, IT and total supply chain solutions to port industries across New Zealand.

Source & Photo: ISO

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New suite of forestry qualifications launched

As part of the NZQA-mandated five-yearly qualification review, the suite of New Zealand forestry qualifications spanning across forest harvesting and silviculture operations have been updated and officially launched.

Coverage of some new operations has been introduced to keep pace with technology and changes in the industry and ensure updates to health, safety, and environmental regulations are followed. This includes programmes for the operation of mobile cable yarders, mechanised thinning, and mechanised land preparation machines. Updates have also been made to ensure health and safety, and environmental regulations are followed.

The suite takes a focused and robust approach, with each of the qualifications made up of core units that cover foundation skills. This knowledge is built on as learners progress through the programmes and diversify into specialised strands.

Most of the task-based learning that previously existed remains the same, but the programmes have been enhanced with the introduction of some of the more mechanised operations.

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Source: Competenz

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Apple stores to modular housing

Apple's former design director BJ Siegel has recently established a mass-timber housing company named Juno. In this exclusive interview, he explains how it aims to design housing like it is a product.

Architect Siegel, who worked for 19 years designing Apple stores – most recently as senior design director of real estate and development – believes that Juno can create housing that dispels people's preconceptions about modular buildings.

"If we're going to bring productisation to the built environment for people to live in, that's counter to most people's idea of what an ideal place to live in is," he told Dezeen. "Typically, architecture is bespoke, bespoke, bespoke – one project to another, there's even a disparity or taboo about repetition within the culture of architecture."

"So, we have to design something that is meant to be repeated and that is accepted as higher quality – almost aspirational." Siegel believes that designing using modular elements will allow Juno to take advantage of design efficiencies and economies of scale while being able to continuously improve the product.

And if the homes are high quality enough, people will not be concerned that they are not unique. "Taking it from product design, no one cares that your iPhone is the same as the next person's iPhone," he told Dezeen. "If the quality is so much better, then you're okay that you have the same phone as somebody else," he continued.

Housing built from 33 components

Working with co-founder Jonathan Scherr and New York-based Ennead Architects, Siegel has developed a modular system of around 33 components that can be assembled to create various different housing blocks. These components are being built in a network of factories across the US, before being delivered, flat-pack, to the site.

Juno has recently broken ground on its first project, a five-storey 24-unit residential block in Austin, and larger projects with more than 100 units are working their way through the planning systems in Seattle and Denver.

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Source: dezeen

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Forestry firefighters converge on Tumbarumba

Forestry Corporation put 40 new firefighting recruits through their paces at its Tumbarumba training camp in preparation for the fire season ahead. New recruits and contractors from North Coast, Mid North Coast, Bathurst, Deniliquin, Batemans Bay, Eden, Bombala, Tumut, Moss Vale and Baradine were trained in essential firefighting skills.

This included topics such as fire behaviour, tactics and strategy, leadership, command, control and communications, and how to operate the range of appliances and equipment used at fires, said Fire Training and Operations Officer, Adrien Thompson.

“The intensive training program is designed to get new recruits nationally qualified and ‘fire ready’ as forest firefighters,” Mr Thompson said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has added complexity to this year’s training, but we have changed our approach to make it work and make sure we are prepared for the bushfire season ahead.”

Forestry Corporation’s bushfire training camps are essential for developing a skilled and capable workforce for the fire season ahead. The training program is comprehensive and recruits also get the opportunity to learn other skills like using chainsaws, first aid, chemical use and driving 4WD vehicles and tankers when they return to their depots.

“Safety is always at the top of this list though – our firefighters’ wellbeing is our biggest concern and it all comes back to correct training and procedures,” Mr Thompson said. “We take our firefighting responsibilities incredibly seriously – our training ensures everyone from our most experienced firefighter through to our newest recruits are fit and ready to be deployed to the fire front”.

“We also send crews to assist on large bushfires across all tenures within their local areas, interstate and even internationally, so we need to ensure we are at the top of our game.”

Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across NSW, and also works collaboratively with the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and National Park and Wildlife Service across all tenures when managing fires across large areas of the landscape.

Source: FCNSW

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Lonza rebrands as Arxada

Arxada, a global specialty chemicals business, and Troy Corporation, a global producer of microbial control solutions and performance additives, announced that they have entered into an agreement to combine the two companies.

This agreement represents the first strategic deal by Arxada, formerly known as Lonza Specialty Ingredients or LSI and owned by private equity funds Bain Capital and Cinven, since the purchase from Lonza Group in July 2021. As part of the deal structure, Troy’s owners will invest in the combined company.

The new name Arxada follows the company’s launch as an independent business in July 2021, after the completion of the sale of Lonza Specialty Ingredients from Lonza Group.

Scott Connor was appointed Director of Commercial Operations for the NZ Wood Protection business earlier in the year. Commenting on the changes Scott says, “2021 has been an extremely demanding year for our customers and the industry with no sign of a slow down on the horizon. Our highly experienced team are more passionate than ever, striving to add true value to our customers businesses.”

“We are excited to see a focus on investment come through from our new owners and we look forward to enjoying an even stronger supply chain.” As we all know, this is currently one of the biggest industry challenges and will be for the foreseeable future. The industry will continue see our trusted Tanalised brand out in the market. Meanwhile we endeavour to ensure the global supply chain complications don’t impact our loyal NZ customer base.”

Angelo Hrastov, Director Commercial Operations MCS Oceania commented, “This combination of Arxada and Troy represents an exciting time for not only for us as a business but for all of our customers. The combination allows us to leverage the differentiated and complementary strengths of each organisation to provide better products and services for our customers while enabling us to better meet the challenges that face our customers today. As one company we will have a stronger value proposition to offer our customers through greater innovation and marketing capabilities.”

Further coverage on the announcement can be read here.

Source: Arxada

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New York City's hidden old-growth forests

In the popular imagination, New York City is a mass of soaring steel-frame skyscrapers. But many of the city's 1 million buildings are not that modern. Behind their brick-and-mortar facades, its numerous 19th- and early 20th-century warehouses, commercial buildings and row homes are framed with massive wooden joists and beams.

These structures probably harbour at least 14 million cubic meters of timber, the volume equivalent of about 74,000 subway cars. Their main sources: old-growth forests that long predated New York, and were erased to create it.

Historic preservation has never been New York's strong point; about 1,000 old buildings are demolished or gut-renovated every year, the remains mostly going to landfills. Now, a team from the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is harnessing the destruction to systematically mine torn-out timbers for data.

Annual growth rings from trees that were young in the 1500s may offer records of past climate no longer available from living trees. Studies of timber species, ages and provenances can shed light on the history of U.S. logging, commerce and transport.

"New York City is a huge repository of old timbers, probably the biggest in the country. It's an amazing resource for science," said dendrochronologist (tree-ring scientist) Mukund Palat Rao, one of the leaders of the effort (his position at Lamont is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). "These forests don't exist anymore—they're inside the buildings. They're being demolished at a rapid pace, and getting thrown away. We're trying to collect whatever we can."

After its settlement by the Dutch in the 1620s, New York grew steadily but slowly. Then, about 1840, great waves of immigrants began arriving. A resulting major growth spurt lasted some 80 years before tapering off. During this time, much of the now existing city was built. Before steel came in during the early 20th century, the framing material of choice was wood.

Starting in the 1700s, loggers to the north cut vast swaths of white pine, spruce, hemlock and balsam fir, often floating it down the Hudson River. By the latter 1800s, three-quarters of the Northeast's virgin forests were stripped. Many builders then looked to the vast old-growth longleaf pine ecosystems of the U.S. Southeast. When the eastern seaboard was exhausted, loggers moved on to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Today, only about 3 percent of the South's old longleaf forests remain.

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PrefabNZ announces new name

PrefabNZ is now known as Offsite NZ to reflect the industry’s expanding depth and breadth in providing much-needed, high-value, sustainable solutions for New Zealand’s residential, commercial and infrastructure building sectors.

In today’s high-demand and increasingly expensive building climate, offsite manufacturing is growing in innovation and appeal, and is a far cry from the prefabricated buildings of the 1950s.

Various terminology is used to describe prefabrication, modern methods of construction and offsite building. The commonly used term ‘prefab’ conjures up images of temporary homes, tiny homes, flat pack and secondary dwellings. While this is an important and valid part of the construction sector, it does not cover all parts of it.

Chief Executive Scott Fisher explains why the name needed to change. “When people hear the word ‘prefab’ their first thoughts might be of cold, damp classrooms. That kind of association is a stumbling block to starting credible conversations about the need for the building and construction industry to embrace innovative technology, systems and processes.”

Offsite NZ will keep its existing modern branding with strapline “The heart of innovative construction”. The organisation will continue to be the loudest voice promoting the benefits of offsite manufacturing to the wider construction sector, the government and public.

About OffsiteNZ

Offsite NZ is a non-profit membership organisation that informs, educates and advocates for innovation and excellence in offsite design and construction in New Zealand. Their members are at the heart of everything they do, and they are the heart of innovative construction in New Zealand.

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Wood modification company raises 30 million (EUR)

Kebony, manufacturers of environmentally friendly wood modification technology, has received 30 million (EUR) funding led by Jolt Capital and Lightrock.

The Kebony technology permanently transforms sustainable wood species such as pine into Kebony wood with features that are comparable, and in some cases superior, to those of precious tropical hardwoods.

The capital injection will expand and accelerate Kebony’s growth initiatives in core markets in Europe and the US. The funding will enable Kebony to further penetrate a EUR 3 billion market and leverage the underlying megatrends of producing sustainable materials for the residential and non-residential construction industries.

“Kebony produces the most beautiful and ecological wood on the market, with a superior quality that is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective. To further leverage opportunities within the enhanced wood technology industry, we are proud to announce Jolt Capital and Lightrock as new investors in Kebony,” says Norman Willemsen, Chief Executive Officer of Kebony.

Antoine Trannoy, Managing Partner at Jolt Capital, said that the investment firm has a strong interest in material science companies which leverage their patented technologies to offer sustainable products. “We are thrilled to finance the expansion of their European production facilities to both support the strong market growth and offer an alternative to rainforests deforestation.”

Source: WoodWorking Network

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... to be 8 again

A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching his wife who was looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she'd like to have for her birthday.

'I'd like to be eight again', she replied, still looking in the mirror. On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Coco Pops, and then took her to Adventure World theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Roller Coaster, everything there was.

Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. He then took her to a McDonald's where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake.

Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M's. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted.

He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, 'Well Dear, what was it like being eight again?

Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.

'I meant my dress size, you @*#*! idiot!!!!'

The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he is gonna get it wrong.

And one more sent in last week by an obviously frustrated reader.

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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