Friday Offcuts 17 June 2022
In the technology space, we’ve built in two harvesting and transport updates this week. A freight technology company, Einride, founded in Sweden in 2016 develops “electrified commercial mobility solutions” including autonomous trucks. We first heard about them a couple of years ago when they rolled out their T-Log, an autonomous all-electric logging truck. The Pod followed, an all-electric, driverless truck. The first public road testing began in Sweden in 2019, soon followed by more remote trials on US roads. The company has just unveiled a raft of new products including a new trailer design along with a system to help optimise transport flows for electric and autonomous shipping fleets. We’ve built in a video clip to a story this week outlining these new innovations.
Much closer to home, Dale Ewers and his team at DC Equipment have been at the forefront of motorised grapple carriages for quite a few years now. They’ve been designing, producing and promoting the use of these carriages to contractors around the world who’ve been looking on how best to safely extract wood off increasingly steeper slopes. As Dale says, “if you’re smart about the way that you can make a motorised grapple carriage work in your crew, you’re going to be better off in a number of ways – operationally, financially, health & safety-wise and environmentally.” To help contractors unlock the true potential of these carriages, DC Equipment has just produced a new online guide, The Ultimate Guide to Motorised Grapple Carriages for Mechanised Forestry Harvesting using their 10 years of combined experience. A link to the new guide is contained in the story below.
And finally, this week we’re releasing details of the just printed two-yearly mapping resource detailing Australasia’s wood processing and manufacturing industries. We’ve been working with many of our wood processing and manufacturing readers over the last few months to pull together the very latest information on wood producers across the region. It’s the fifth edition of the full colour 980mm wide x 680mm tall map featuring all major wood processing and manufacturing operations in both countries. Since the last edition was produced in early 2020, there have been over 60 major updates to mill locations, ownership and sawn production in both countries. Orders for the new folded and flat laminated maps are now been taken with further details on how you can order yours contained in the story below. And that’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Making full use of a Grapple CarriageMotorised Grapple Carriages seem to have been around for ages and have revolutionised the way many steep forests are harvested around the world…….and yet, there is still some reluctance to use them in certain settings or at all. So, DC Equipment, which pioneered the wide use of motorised grapple carriages more than a decade ago, has produced an online guide to help foresters unlock their potential.
“The industry leaders who have recognised the potential of grapple carriages are seeing beneficial results in their operations, in addition to addressing the obvious safety concerns regarding the vulnerability of people working in dangerous situation,” says Dale Ewers, owner of DC Equipment, which developed the highly successful Falcon Claw motorised grapple carriage.
"These include the solving of recruitment shortages for high-risk environments while increasing workflow and productivity on skid sites. We can’t pin the benefits to one or two points, more rather that crews are seeing an improvement across the wider harvesting process.
“To make the best use of a motorised grapple carriage requires forward planning and that’s what we’ve aimed to cover in our new online guide. Logging isn’t easy and there will always be challenges making a motorised grapple carriage work in certain settings, but there’s always a solution”.
“It’s known in the industry that contractors have their own approach to how they’ll successfully harvest their blocks. They’ll know what has been working for them and the challenges they have – we’re just being open and advising that in similar settings, we’ve had excellent results by utilising motorised grapple carriage combined with forward planning and accommodating the change in harvest methodology”.
“How we used to log 30 years ago and how we’re logging now has completely changed. How we log in the next 30 years will also be completely different, so being open to other harvesting strategies and improving current methods is a large component of increasing productivity.”
Mr Ewers accepts that motorised grapples carriages are suited to shorter pulls and where there is good deflection, but he adds: “You’re not going to find the ideal setting every time, so you have to think more creatively. “For instance, with concave/convex slopes you’re going to have a mixture of good and poor deflection, so when planning your setting it makes sense to identify a tree that can be used as a tail spar or maybe one that can be used as an intermediate spar to raise the height of the rope and keep the grapple carriage and wood off the ground. Or use a block to pull from a different direction to improve deflection.”
Mr Ewers says the main reason he developed the Falcon range of motorised grapple carriages was for the safety of his employees – removing people from the dangerous task of hooking strops to trees on steep slopes is seen one of the most successful ways of preventing harm in the forest. But once they were introduced to his crews, they soon found there were numerous other advantages.
For example, as yarder operators become experienced in using a motorised grapple carriage, cycle times will drop and logging operations become more productive. There’s also a misconception that motorised grapple carriages can only successfully be used with tower haulers and are not suited to swing yarders or yarder/loaders, being too heavy and bulky, resulting in mechanical grapples being retained as the first option.
However, new generation lightweight motorised grapple carriages that have been designed specifically for these types of yarders, are proving their worth in a variety of terrain, not just on steep slopes. These include environmentally sensitive areas in what would normally be a ground-based operation but where extracting trees or logs with skidders and forwarders will have a detrimental effect on the land or it’s just too difficult. Putting the tail hold on higher ground or using a tail spar to provide deflection keeps surface disturbance to a minimum.
And with the latest high quality, durable cameras fitted to motorised grapple carriages providing the operator with an excellent view of felled trees on the ground, another bonus is that there’s no need for a spotter on the hill, as required with mechanical grapples. “Put simply, if you are smart about the way that you can make a motorised grapple carriage work in your crew, you’re going to be better off in a number of ways – operationally, financially, health & safety-wise and environmentally,” adds Mr Ewers.
For more information, check out the new Ultimate Guide to Motorised Grapple Carriages online.
Photo: A new online guide to Motorised Grapple Carriages highlights has been launched to demystify their use
State Government delivers AU$19m for industryThe Malinauskas Labor Government will invest AU$19 million to help grow and develop the state’s forest and timber industries, one of the most significant contributors to the economy in the south-east.
As part of the State Government’s investment of more than AU$130 million in the Limestone Coast, sustainable forest industry initiatives will maximise the state’s capacity to produce vital fibre for Australian construction and manufacturing and support South Australian jobs.
- AU$15 million for a new Centre for Excellence to secure a long-term Forestry Research and Development capability at Mount Gambier – funded over 10 years
- Supporting and expanding the role of the Forest Industries Advisory Council (FIAC-SA) as an ongoing platform for government and industry to work together
- AU$2 million over three years to develop a Forest Products Domestic Manufacturing and Infrastructure Masterplan, including a focus on future skills needs
- AU$2 million to replace fire towers with new technologies to provide landscape level fire detection, while ensuring existing towers are serviceable during the transition
- Development of the Trees on Farms initiative to quantify and promote the environmental and economic benefits of on-farm plantations
- Investigating the feasibility of incentives to ensure that arrangements favour local processors who may be locked out of contracts with the larger forest growers
2022 Forest Products Industry Map out nowThe only thing that is constant is change … and isn’t that the truth. Not only have we been facing the uncertainties with our businesses linked to COVID-19 over the last two years but changes for our own wood products industry over the last couple of years 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 2022 map has just been printed.
This is the fifth 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 172 wood processing operations including 77 sawmills cutting in excess of 25,000m3 sawn lumber per annum (with sawn production levels), all fibreboard, particleboard, OSB, plywood, pulp & paper, veneer/LVL/CLT, paperboard and chip export operations along with major wood manufacturing operations.
Since the last edition produced in early 2020 there have been over 60 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 has been inserted into two major industry magazines in early May. If you wish to purchase your own folded or flat laminated (limited copies) maps, orders can now be made directly from the FIEA website ( www.fiea.org.nz).
Foresters challenge gaps in He Waka Eke NoaAotearoa’s forestry sector has been committed to a proactive stance in the battle against climate change, since it entered the ETS in 2008. In the fourteen years since then there’s been a lack of real commitment from agriculture to join the fight.
The recent release of He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) offers little hope for change according to the NZ Institute of Forestry (NZIF) President James Treadwell. Treadwell acknowledges forestry and agriculture must, and often do, work side by side. “Agriculture is a material export earner for the nation and its on-going viability and success matters hugely, we also recognise agriculture supports many individual farmers and rural communities.”
“Unfortunately, since forestry entered the ETS over a decade ago, we have seen a lot of talk and very little action from agriculture to respond to climate change.” Treadwell adds “This lack of action has compounded the problems New Zealand now faces, and sadly we don’t see HWEN offering any sort of decent roadmap to face the current reality we all must deal with.”
NZIF is calling for the Government to do the right thing for NZ Inc. as a whole. “It’s time to stop buckling to the agricultural sector lobbying, and farmers with a ‘head in the sand’ denial of the real issues.” Treadwell asks “Where’s the incentive in HWEN for farmers to seek advice or just get on with tree planting? As drafted the HWEN proposals are no help: they’re more of a free pass for agriculture to ignore reality.”
NZIF acknowledges some positives from HWEN. It identifies forests as offset opportunities within farm systems. A positive outcome which will provide some breathing space while farm systems adapt. Treadwell believes it’s exactly the sort of action plan which should have been in place for the last decade.
However, there are some deep-rooted issues with HWEN. NZIF find it unacceptable a farmer dominated Board will retain oversight over the HWEN, and in particular future price setting for agriculture emissions. NZIF also believe the proposed levy price, 5-10% of the current market price for an NZU (a tonne of carbon) shows little commitment to climate change.
It would also enable farmers to profit from sequestration while paying little for emissions. “A farmer could plant a small area in trees and enter the ETS selling their NZU’s for $70 or more, which under HWEN would enable them to then emit 10 tonnes of carbon for each tone they have sequested. HWEN therefore has the potential to allow agriculture to increase its emissions.”
In the past, the farming sector has claimed it shouldn’t be captured in the ETS because there is inadequate science or options to reduce emissions. But NZIF is calling out this as fake news. “Many leading farmers are demonstrating profitable livestock farming with reduced intensity of stocking and fertiliser.
Farmers also have land on which they can plant trees. A portion of their land (circa 10% - 20% depending on farm type) in trees would offset livestock farming emissions.” NZIF believe this denial is no longer an appropriate response. Climate resilience is vitally important for all New Zealanders including farmers.
Grand Old Lady turns fiftyShe’s the Grand Old Lady of the Tamar, some would say with a chequered past, but Long Reach mill in the East Tamar, Tasmania, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on Monday of this week, with pizza and cake shared by staff and management on the deck.
First opened in 1972 under the ownership of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills (APPM), the mill’s steel superstructure was built to the highest specifications. At its peak of operations in the seventies and eighties, it’s believed to have been the biggest export woodchip mill in the world, with two processing lines.
As the centre for APPM’s Tamar and Northeast Forestry operations in the seventies, the site housed as many as 155 people on its riverbank location, including mill operators, administration staff, management and the forestry team of up to twenty.
Under the ownership of North Forest Products in the nineties, it was a prime site, with manicured gardens and a strong culture, recalls Bryan Hayes, whose fifty-year forestry career saw him work his way up from mill floor cleaner through forestry and mill management roles to CEO of Forico until late last year.
The next few years saw the fortunes of Long Reach turn when it famously became the proposed site of the pulp mill. During that time, it was driven hard under the ownership of Gunns, with spending on maintenance or upgrades embargoed.
Now managed by Tasmanian company Forico since 2014, the mill processes plantation pine and eucalypt for export as woodchip, grown and processed to the highest levels of global certification. The subject of a carefully planned program of re-capitalisation, the mill services customers primarily in Japan and China, where the chips are used for fibre-based product such as paper, cardboard and other renewables.
The old ‘north mill’ site, where native forest logs were processed now lies cleared and empty, with Forico having transitioned the supply chain to sustainable plantation logging only. These days, the 77,000 hectares of native forest under the company’s custodianship is not logged, but carefully managed for conservation.
At a celebration last week, management and staff got together to mark the day, with Forico CEO Ange Albertini handing out cake and Bryan Hayes, now Chair of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association, dropping by to look back at the mill’s history with many of its current workforce of around twenty-five, operational staff and mill management.
Photo: Members of today’s team at Forico’s Long Reach Mill
Monitoring system for sensitive environmentsThe conservation and restoration of remnant native woodlands and wetlands to enhance biodiversity and ensure the sustainability of habitats is a priority for many agencies. The task, however, of monitoring and reporting on numerous small areas located on private land across the landscape regularly is onerous.
This article introduces a monitoring framework developed in collaboration with Waikato Regional Council’s (WRC) Spatial Analysis and Modelling Team to continuously monitor 300 000 ha of Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) distributed across three districts of the Waikato region in New Zealand.
The monitoring framework developed uses satellite imagery and an alerts process that allows SNAs to be continuously monitored. The streamlined approach provides users with a tool that identifies and tracks small changes at a regional scale. In the past, many of these areas may have been undetected.
The system is built around Indufor’s ‘MO’ alerts system, which automatically scans each SNA for change. Mo’s scalability and efficiency is enhanced by dividing SNAs into a network of hexagons. As a new satellite image is captured, each hexagon is independently checked for change. If changes are detected, an alert is generated and pushed to the Landscape Watch app for the WRC team to further review.
A key advantage of Landscape Watch is that it allows the reviewer to access the same satellite images used to generate the alert. This streamlines the monitoring processes by effectively scanning each SNA for change, showing only persistent alerts. Alerts can be received in batches or sent in near-real-time as required. WRC receives SNA alerts for each district, each date stamped and plotted over time using a vegetation health index, as shown in the example below.
The standard workflow would involve a reviewer selecting a red line on the graph, which corresponds to an alert. This action also appends the relevant satellite image to the map. In this example, three alerts for the same hexagon have been detected. Multiple alerts provide confidence of genuine change.
After review, any alerts that require further investigation are summarised and hosted on an online web application (web app). Web apps provide an efficient way of sharing information across different user groups. They do not require specialist GIS knowledge and are easily linked to field applications and mobile devices for verification purposes.
Over the past year, the monitoring system has been developed by Indufor based on feedback received from WRC. Refinements have been made based on this collaboration and to meet WRC’s monitoring aims. The project has demonstrated the advantage of effectively generating change alerts from repeat visit satellite imagery to improve efficiency and land cover monitoring tasks. Historically, this process would have relied on infrequent manual interpretation of aerial or satellite imagery.
The monitoring framework was built with flexibility in mind, as shown by the following links, which demonstrate how the process can be adapted and used to monitor the success of afforestation projects, compliance of land use activities, or tracking the location and extent of forest harvesting activities.
Vale John GibsonAE Gibson and Sons sadly announced that their driving force and former owner John Gibson passed away on the 6th June 2022. AE Gibson and Sons is located at Kendall, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, which was once the heart of Australia’s native forest industry.
Having begun operations in the late 19th century, John and his team built up the family owned and operated business to be one of the most experienced sawmilling equipment suppliers in Australia. As a leading sawmill equipment supplier, they have also supplied sawmill machinery as well as complete sawmills to Fiji, PNG and New Zealand.
In a statement from the company, they said John’s passion, tenacity and leadership will be missed. We as the 4th and 5th generation of Gibson Management will continue walking in John’s footsteps and forging the company’s future in his honour.
AE Gibson and Sons will be closed for business on the 17th June 2022. All family, friends, staff, past and present are invited to John’s memorial service at Camden Haven Church, Mission Terrace, Lakewood at 10.30am Friday 17th June 2022.
Einride E-Trailer concept unveiledAutonomous EV freight company Einride introduced their new E-Trailer concept along with new software and hardware products at its first Einride Mesh technology conference.
This includes updates to its Saga operating system, the E-Trailer design concept bringing end-to-end payload intelligence along with added overall range (reportedly more than 650km) from its integrated battery, possibly introducing it as early as next year, Electrek reports.
Einride was founded in Sweden in 2016 and develops electrified commercial mobility solutions and autonomous Class 8 trucks, revealing an autonomous electric logging truck called T-Log in 2018. An electric autonomous truck known as the Pod started public road testing in Sweden in 2019 and is expected to be on US roads shortly with Einride planning New York headquarters.
Einride has begun training remote pod operators in Texas to develop new careers for electrified shipping. This year Einride intends deploying 200 battery electric Class 8 trucks from BYD in the US and has partnered with Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk (aka Maersk) to further electrify shipping.
The Einride E-Trailer is designed for seamless integration with other Einride electric and autonomous vehicles to provide optimal performance, and it will also be compatible with conventional electric semi-trucks, says Electrek.
Ethics code for registered forestry advisersNew Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seeking public feedback on a proposed code of ethics for registered forestry advisers.
The draft code of ethics includes principles relating to compliance with relevant legislation, standards of service, and professional responsibilities. It provides a set of principles on conduct for forestry advisers (and their business operations) who will have to comply with the code of ethics when they register with the Forestry Authority.
It is important people providing forestry advice have the opportunity to consider the draft code of ethics and how it may affect them and their business.
Public consultation is now open and the deadline for making a submission is 11 July 2022 (5pm). You can read the consultation document, which includes the draft code of ethics, and how to make a submission on MPI’s website.
If you would like an on-line discussion with Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service about the proposed code of ethics, please contact TeUruRakau@mpi.govt.nz.
Please note: The registration system comes into effect on 6 August 2022 and forestry advisers and log traders have one year to register from this date. Forestry advisers and log traders are advised to register as early as possible, however registration won’t become mandatory until 6 August 2023.
Helping workers recover from addictionWhen Joe* failed a random drug test one Monday he expected to lose his contract. But his client Forestry Solutions Group offered him an alternative – sign up to a programme that offered him support to get clean, while undergoing regular drug testing, and would allow him to keep his contract. The programme included access to support and counselling, and trips with other recovering addicts that offered a different way to have fun. It provided a way to get better – while staying employed.
*Not his real name
Check out how one forest contracting company, Forestry Solutions Group, are approaching the issue.
No stopping 60-year logging industry veteranOne of nine brothers who, along with their father, were all involved in the log transport industry, Dave Siddle, 76, knows the roads that lead to the APM Mill at Maryvale, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, like the back of his hand. After all, he’s been going there ever since he was 17.
These days you’ll find him behind the wheel of a 2019 Kenworth T909 he drives for ANC Forestry Group, which runs a fleet of 37 log trucks in Victoria’s high country, from its base in Morwell. The truck has 400,000km on the clock now and Siddle says it’s a joy to drive. Dave ‘Daisy’ Siddle, with his wife Kath, during a special celebration ANC Forestry Group recently held to celebrate his 60-year milestone.
“When I first started on the log trucks I didn’t have a licence because I was only 17, so I had to have a licenced driver go out with me. I’ve been flat out ever since. We had 6ft billets when I started and we had to load ourselves back then. It was hard yakka. Now you go out to the bush and there are machines and excavators. It’s a lot easier now or else I wouldn’t be still doing it at my age. I’m 76 but I don’t feel it, I’m pretty fit and still have a bit in me now,” said Siddle.
“My brothers had trucks and I ended up having three of my own in the 1980s too (an Acco and two Dodges) but there was a bloke who wanted to buy them, so I sold them. I was with Aus Timber for 15 years before ANC bought their trucks.” Managing director at ANC Forestry Daryl Hutton says he’s proud to have Siddle on his team, “He’s been with ANC for about eight years and has done all sorts of different runs with us over that time. He used to do Victoria-wide but in the last few years stays more local, carting plantation pine,” he said.
Photo: The 2019 Kenworth T909 Siddle drives for ANC Forestry Group
PF Olsen announces new investment partnershipPF Olsen and Quayside Holdings (Quayside) are proud to announce Quayside has acquired 44% of PF Olsen, with the deal closing on 10 June 2022. Direct Capital is selling its shareholding after 11 years as a shareholder.
PF Olsen is a leading provider of independent professional forestry services and celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2021. Across NZ and Australia, PF Olsen manages 372,000 hectares of forest, harvesting 5.1 million m³ of logs each year as well as planting 14 million trees per annum.
Quayside, as the investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, focuses on commercial returns for their shareholder and the wider community; supporting impactful investments while investing responsibly for strong financial returns for generations to come.
Quayside’s Chief Investment Officer, Brendon Barnes, says “this transaction is the result of a thorough due diligence process. Quayside sees a number of compelling growth opportunities in the forestry sector and the investment in PF Olsen will be the catalyst for many of these. PF Olsen is a household name with a long legacy; we are excited to work alongside the strong management team to grow the company for the benefit of our community and NZ”.
Through their investment in PF Olsen, Quayside will appoint two Board Directors with complimentary skill sets to the PF Olsen Board.
Waste disposal issues for Russian sawmills escalateFrom 10 July, the Russian wood pellet exports to Europe, the main market for Russian companies, will be completely stopped. From this date, EU sanctions will come into effect, limiting the supply of wood products from Russia and Belarus. According to Lesprom Analytics, in 2021 the European Union accounted for 80% of Russian wood pellet exports, supplies amounted to 1.95 million tons and value amounted to $320 million.
Russia also supplies small volumes of pellets to South Korea (7% of total exports), the UK (6%), and Japan (4.5%). In the first quarter of 2022, the volume of exports of wood pellets from Russia to the EU increased by 14%, to 478 thousand tons, and the value amounted to $85 million. Exports of wood pellets from Russia to the UK in the first quarter, according to Lesprom Analytics, increased by 6%, however, this growth was driven by an exceptionally sharp increase in January (+120%, 49 thousand tons), in March shipments fell by 76% to 7 thousand tons.
Difficulties in the supply of wood pellets from Russia to Europe began on April 8, 2022, when the Russian and Belarusian trade certificates FSC and SBP were withdrawn. A week later, the ENplus certificates used in the consumer market ceased to be valid. After that, European companies began to refuse to purchase Russian wood pellets. And from mid-July, Russian sawmills in the North-West of Russia, the main producers and suppliers of wood pellets to Europe, will be completely without a sales market.
“Except for Europe, almost no one took Russian pellets,” says Valery Pisarev, general director of LHK Cherepovetsles, “So with the closure of European markets, they will have nowhere to go. You can’t deliver pellets to China - the price simply won’t allow it.” According to him, the inability to sell pellets on export markets may lead to sawmills not being able to recycle woodworking waste and will be forced to reduce lumber production.
Alexander Konyukhov, Deputy Director for Production at SevLesPil, confirms. “In part, the inability to supply pellets for export will entail a halt in production,” he believes. – If a sawmill cannot recycle waste that has already been transferred to the category of secondary raw materials, they accumulate. In the absence of their implementation, the company is forced to either stop production or pay a fine. It is also impossible to bury sawdust - it is a fire hazardous product.
So, sawmills will be forced to either stop or look for alternative ways to use sawdust. It is not profitable to produce briquettes, as their price has fallen. And this is not such a large volume of consumption. In part, in his opinion, sawdust can be supplied to panel mills for chipboard and OSB production. However, this is possible only for 15–20% of sawdust in the total volume of wood raw materials. So, the entire volume that used to be spent on the manufacture of pellets cannot be redirected to these segments.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... thoughtful
Two guys were talking at work. “I've got a problem,” said the first one.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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