Friday Offcuts 27 January 2023
We have a number of stories relating to new technology in this week’s issue. In addition to the array of new mechanised planting technologies showcased at recent ForestTECH events, a new Swedish autonomous planting machine, Autoplant, was put through its paces last year (see video below). A link to a new report, Next Generation Resource Assessment and Forecasting for Australian Plantation Forestry, has been supplied where Australian researchers are proposing that sensing data can be better utilised to improve forest growth along with planning models and systems.
In wood transport, 2023 transportation trends are examined, with much of the focus on telematics where vehicle fleets are able to make better use of real-time data and predictive intelligence to improve their operating and financial performance. The article points out that the global vehicle telematics market is projected to grow from $72.78 billion in 2022 to $213.67 billion by 2029. And supply chain issues still exist within New Zealand with an estimated 40,000 unused containers still awaiting transportation out of the country.
We introduce the concept this week of distributed manufacturing that could be one of the answers to better utilising regional wood residues. Rather than processing wood at super-skid sites and then transporting it to mills, or to the port for export, small manufacturing facilities are being suggested as an alternative option. A series of mini factories would be able to process biomass into higher value wood-based products or biochemicals.
Finally, our thoughts go out to the small West Australian community of Nannup with the announced closure of the town's timber mill. The closure comes less than a year after the Queensland-based company, Parkside shut its mill in Greenbushes following the WA government's decision to ban native timber logging by 2024. Forest Industries Federation president Ian Telfer said the impact on timber towns in the South West will be ongoing and that mill employees (many who have been there for their entire working lives) have been left shattered along with their families, contractors and local communities.
This week we have for you:
Industry leaders see merit in Tairāwhiti reviewThe forestry industry is in support of an independent review of the challenges faced by the East Coast following ex-tropical Cyclone Hale, believing it will be beneficial for the region in the future.
The weather event affected a significant part of New Zealand earlier this month. However, like Cyclone Bola in 1988, it was once again the East Coast community who felt the brunt of the weather with roads and bridges damaged, and power taken out.
Speaking for the Eastland Wood Council, Chief Executive Philip Hope noted the combination of factors that makes Tairāwhiti so vulnerable. “We are managing an area almost twice the size of Auckland with three percent of their population, whilst sitting on some of the worst eroding country in the world.
It’s a big challenge for many including the Council, but we are committed to the Tairāwhiti community.” The industry is proposing a review that takes a 20–50-year outlook and assesses what needs to happen to achieve an outcome that is realistic to ensure communities are supported.
Grant Dodson, President of the NZ Forest Owners Association, says that such a stocktake clearly needs to look at the role of forestry in the region, including new processing investment and bioenergy potential. To achieve a holistic picture, he says it must also consider other land uses and risk management decisions made by all parties.
Aratu Forests is one of the forest companies involved in assisting with the clean- up. Its Chief Executive Officer, Neil Woods, agrees that there is merit in a review. “Forestry, farming and horticulture all need to be part of maintaining a sustainable community on the coast and that includes new processing investment. We are encouraged by some of the recent changes we have implemented. The systems have held up well, despite the intensity of this storm, but we know debris slash is still a problem. There is more we need to do to improve resilience for the benefit of our community - a science-based independent review can help us with that.”
The industry is working alongside Gisborne District Council to remove woody debris from Tolaga Bay. Operations to clear the Gisborne City beach will begin on Monday 23 January. The industry has mobilised large amounts of equipment and manpower to assist with the clean-up of council roads, beaches and private property.
While the clean-up continues, the industry is reflecting on past reviews and the impact they have had. For example, previous reviews prompted a decision from government to plant trees under the East Coast Forestry Scheme to stop the unsustainable erosion that trying to farm some of the country resulted in.
Mr Dodson says that decision wasn’t wrong: “Planting trees was a good decision that prevented a much worse outcome. Today, however, we know that with the weather, we are going to have some land that is unstable and the best solution there is permanent native cover.” Learnings and change have always come out of previous reviews, and the industry expects this should be no different.
Mr Hope says the industry has reached out to other stakeholders, including Gisborne District Council and Iwi, about the proposal to work together on a collective review. “What we don’t need is a top-down solution determined by those outside the region. Government has a role to play here, but we would like the Tairāwhiti community to be involved too as any decisions have the greatest impact on them.”
Photo: Removal of Debris from Mangatokerau stream
Source: Eastland Wood Council
W.A. Nannup timber mill closesThe small West Australian community of Nannup has been left devastated by the closure of the town's timber mill, which the council says could drive "a significant amount" of the working population away from the area.
After almost 50 years in the timber industry, Neil Marlow is now out of work after the state government's ban on native logging led to the closure of the 100-year-old mill.Mr Marlow, who started working at the mill when he was 14, was among the 45 people who lost their jobs when Parkside Timber closed the doors last week.
The ABC understands a small number of staff will keep working at the mill, which was acquired by Parkside in 2019, to help clean up and decommission the site. The closure comes less than a year after the Queensland-based company shut its mill in Greenbushes following the WA government's decision to ban native timber logging by 2024.
Forest Industries Federation president Ian Telfer said the impact on timber towns in the South West would be ongoing. "It's devastating for communities and devastating for Nannup," he said.
"The illogic [sic] around some of the decisions that have been made makes it even more galling that we're losing employees, losing investment, losing community infrastructure and support for a decision that, to be frank, doesn't make sense.
The state government has agreed to support workers who have lost their jobs by offering them a one-off payment of AU$30,000, plus a top-up payment of AU$1,000 for every year of service, capped at AU$15,000. The money is expected to be given to workers by the end of the month.
Source: ABC, Photo: WA Forest Alliance
Autonomous planting machine runs for first timeThe autonomous planting machine project Autoplant is getting closer to reality. In September 2022 the first test of a complete machine was made in Bräcke, mid-Sweden, close to the Bracke factory where the planting head has been developed and manufactured. The machine works, as you can see in the video below. But it will take a while before it hits the market.
The project has proven that it is possible to ground prepare and plant autonomously. The project’s different parts were put together into a complete machine for the first time. The autonomous machine concept, developed by Luleå Technical University, LTU, was brought together with the planting head, developed by Bracke Forest.
The project members are researchers, users, and manufacturers. For one and a half years, hard work has been done to develop different parts of the concept. “The field tests show great potential for an exciting development of technology for forest regeneration,” says Magnus Bergman, technical manager at SCA and chairman of the Autoplant project.
Bracke Forest has presented several prototypes of planting heads for ground preparation and planting. An autonomous plant feed has been developed, making it possible to conduct the whole sequence from picking the plants from storage to planting without human intervention.
“It has been challenging to develop such an advanced head with such a low weight. We are proud that our new prototype just weighs 200 kg – ten percent of the weight of our other planting heads,” says Klas-Håkan Ljungberg, CEO at Bracke Forest.
Source Skogforsk, forestry.com
SnapSTAT: NZ forestry export values
Year ended June 2004–2021, 2022–2026 forecast, NZD millions
Call for speakers: FIEA Environmental Forestry 2023 ConferenceHello all prospective speakers — If you are interested in being a speaker at our 2nd annual FIEA on forestry and the environment, please confirm your interest as soon as possible by submitting:
1. A presentation title for a case study, innovation or other practical topic of interest to our audience of environmental foresters, regional managers and environmental monitoring consultants, practitioners and regulators.
2. A short abstract that will help us to choose which presentations to accept for the Environmental Forestry Conference running on 20-21 June in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Early event details can be found on the event website. Please send details to email@example.com
Distributed manufacturing for biomass processingMini factories that use residues from production forests, or horticultural, crop and natural fibres to create new wood products, biochemicals and biomaterials.
New technology is making it possible to create mini manufacturing facilities that use a range of biomaterial, including forestry slash, to make wood-products, biofuels and chemicals. These mini factories will enable the transition away from fossil fuels, while supporting economic, environmental and social benefits for our regions. Their success depends on the manufacturing process matched to the available feedstock and creating products that customers demand.
A networked biomass processing sector distributed across New Zealand is well positioned to take advantage of regional opportunities.
Distributed manufacturing can play a large role in the forest- based value chain. This process means that mini factories are tailored to process biomass such as forest wood waste, horticultural and farm shelterbelt thinning’s or crop residues into high-value wood-based products, biochemicals, or their intermediates.
This is lean, agile, customer-specific manufacturing. In New Zealand’s current wood processing model, wood is pre-processed at super-skid sites and transported to centralised pulp and paper or timber mills, or it is exported. In the future, distributed manufacturing will mean that mini factories are tailored to process this woody waste, as well as horticultural or crop residues close to their origin.
Imagine a factory that fits in a shipping container – compact and mobile. These mini factories can be strategically positioned within a forest, orchard or farm where the waste is created. These factories can perform novel scalable processes such as biochemical conversion, pyrolysis and pulping. The choice of process depends on inputs and the product being made.
Around 4 million tons of residue remains in our forests each year. Mobile, tailored mini factories will be key to using this resource.
New Zealand currently exports over 60% of harvested wood as logs for other countries to process and add value. A network of small-scale wood processing units could create value from these logs with the economic, social and environmental benefits of a forest-based bioeconomy returning to the communities in our regions.
A biomass processing sector distributed across New Zealand is well positioned to take advantage of regional opportunities. For example, forestry thinning’s in Northland, crop stubble from Canterbury and pruned orchard shelterbelts in Hawke’s Bay. Greater processing, making better use of forestry residues, creates high value products, supports regional communities and leads to new employment. Jobs created in manufacturing and engineering in New Zealand tend to create additional employment in support jobs. Similarly, revenue created in manufacturing has a multiplier effect in regional economies, with economic benefits accruing to transport, primary production and commercial construction.
Due to New Zealand’s rugged and often remote forest plantations, transport is an important factor in business decisions and competitiveness. Supporting the value chain with new products that can be delivered in a timely, cost-effective manner is an important part of developing business within the industry.
While New Zealand is fortunate to have plentiful woody biomass feedstocks, they are clumped at landing sites, skid sites and within forests. Lowering the extraction and transport costs of harvesting residues will be key to increasing their use.
Establishing new large central biorefinery infrastructure capable of converting feedstock to biochemicals and bioproducts needs large capital investment. However, mini factories in a distributed network have lower capital required for their establishment and are complementary to new biorefineries. They can be added alongside existing infrastructure. Mini factories create processing options that can generate multiple products from different feedstocks across the forestry, horticultural and cropping sectors.
FSC publish new forest management standardFSC ANZ has announced the launch of a new standard for responsible forest management in New Zealand. After a comprehensive process of rigorous consultation with industry, environment, and social stakeholders and Indigenous groups, the FSC Forest Stewardship Standard for New Zealand (NZ FSS) targets the most pressing issues in New Zealand forestry today. This includes living wage requirements, better protection of waterways, addressing issues related to erosion, and establishing culturally appropriate means of communication with Māori communities affected by forestry operations.
FSC would like to thank the members of the chamber-balanced Standards Development Group tasked with developing the Standard for their years of commitment and hard work in this process.
One of these SDG members, Sally Strang, Environmental Manager of Hancock Natural Resource Group, states, “Over the past two decades, FSC certification has been the catalyst for vast improvements in the standard of forest management in New Zealand, particularly relating to the management of environmental values in our forests and engagement with stakeholders. This has been positive for the industry to ensure we are well-placed to meet future challenges.” She is optimistic that the standard will lift forestry in New Zealand to a new level noting that “The NZ FSS will continue to raise the bar and ensure our forest management meets international expectations of responsible forest management.”
January 17th is the publication date of the NZ FSS. From this date, FSC-certified forest managers in New Zealand will be able to study the Standard. 3 months later, on April 15th, the Standard will come into effect. Once it comes into effect, forest managers will have 12 months to implement the NZ FSS. Within this 12-month phase-in period, the FSC forest managers can choose to be audited against the old interim standard or the NZ FSS. After 12 months, all FSC certificate holders in New Zealand must be evaluated against the NZ FSS. By October 15th, 2024, 18 months after the effective start date, all certificates under the old interim standard will be invalid.
Introducing the new standard:
To support the implementation of the NZ FSS, FSC ANZ will be hosting a number of events across New Zealand. These events will focus on presenting the key changes introduced in the new Standard and the transition arrangements. New Zealand stakeholders will be contacted directly with further details on the events in early February.
Visit the FSC ANZ website here to view the NZ FSS and find out additional information about its publication.
Source: FSC ANZ
NZ supply chain grappling with 40,000 empty containersNew Zealand is currently facing a problem with the de-hiring of empty shipping containers with an estimated 40,000 unused containers awaiting transportation out of the country. The issue is causing frustration among clients in the supply chain as containers sit in warehouses waiting to be collected, while trucking companies in turn wait for empty de-hire slots, according to a recent update from local freight forwarder Go Logistics.
This is leading to additional costs such as detention charges from shipping lines for containers that cannot physically be dehired and smaller importers with limited space having to pay trucking companies to collect the container and hold it in a “hubbing yard” while everyone waits for an empty de-hire slot (called a VBS).
“Neither the client or the trucking company feel they should carry this burden. There is often a significant administrative cost as well,” the company says. Go Logistics says the problem is complex and not and necessarily due empty containers not being “evacuated” fast enough out of the country and therefore filling up yards leaving them with no capacity.
“This is not a new problem; many will remember that at the height of Covid we had an identical problem. Then we were told it was a lack of space and services to evacuate the containers from New Zealand that lead to the high inventory.
“Perversely some are now saying it’s the new players and more vessel calls into New Zealand that has led to this same issue – too much inventory. The solution however remains the same – the empty containers need to be ‘evacuated’ onto to ships leaving New Zealand.
“In the meantime, we do note however, much like other parts of our wider economy, the crisis of the past two years has not necessarily led to an immediate investment in new infrastructure that would alleviate some of these problems now. Hence the likelihood of a quick solution seems unlikely with Auckland and Tauranga locations at full capacity.
“The lack of labour/Covid stand down periods are still an issue: we are aware of a number of trucking companies that are still short of drivers or have high absenteeism rates due to the compulsory stand down periods that are still in place (as an aside, surely, it’s time to review the current 7-day period in 2023 to bring us in line with other nations?) meaning even when there are slots available, there may not be an available driver to collect the cargo.
Remote sensing supports future smart decision makingAustralian researchers have proposed a holistic approach to provide meaningful insights to support smart decision making for the future.
Contemporary forest and wood products companies face a significant challenge around effective planning, as traditional resource management models and systems become outdated in the wake of ongoing technological advancements.
Thanks to the recently published findings of the FWPA-supported project ‘Next Generation Resource Assessment and Forecasting for Australian Plantation Forestry’, researchers have proposed an approach that will support the industry to utilise sensing data to improve forest growth and planning models and systems.
“Our aim was to design a modern plantation resource assessment and forecasting system, as part of a holistic approach, to better position the industry for the future,” said Philip Smethurst, CSIRO Soil and Water Scientist and Plant Nutritionist, who led this project.
“We foresee companies drawing information from the research report and using that information as a starting point to envisage new and better ways to operate in the longer term. For instance, this proposed system could provide up-to-date and accurate estimates of standing wood resource that would minimise the need for on-site staff inventory assessments.”
Remote sensing technologies including satellites, drones and ground-based sensors help foresters to determine productivity drivers such as leaf area, tree population, stand height and forest health. Meanwhile, process-based models use environmental factors that drive plantation growth in the field. These factors include sunlight, water availability and soil nutrients. The models can then simulate decades-long cycles and inform future planning.
Sensed data can be used as inputs to these process-based models to update tree inventories and project growth, assuming one or more possible climate scenarios.
“As an increasing number of companies take steps towards having minimal-to-no boots on the ground for the purposes of improved safety and reduced costs, they are simultaneously searching for alternatives to traditional forest management practices. Remote sensing technology provides one such solution,” said Braden Jenkins, co-author of the report and Managing Director at Sylva Systems.
The researchers compared the strengths of various modern process-based models that incorporate inputs from new sensor technologies, which traditional models based on historical data do not always account for. The goal is to present potential pathways for Australian forestry companies to maximise the benefits associated with these emerging technologies going forward.
Click here to read the full report.
Source: FWPA R&D Works
Transport trends companies can’t ignore in 2023Global transport is on the cusp of substantial changes driven by constant innovation in technology, the need to deliver more, a powerful surge in customer expectations, and pricing.
In New Zealand, the industry has seen a wide range of ups and downs during the past year, all of which influenced the survival of many businesses. As fleet companies prepare for what’s ahead, here are a few key trends worth digging into to shift from survival to growth mode.
The global vehicle telematics market is projected to grow from $72.78 billion in 2022 to $213.67 billion by 2029. Telematics is an important tool that businesses worldwide are looking to incorporate quickly and easily. It allows companies to tap into a wealth of information and make the right decisions instantly.
In 2023, more companies are likely to make better use of real-time data and predictive intelligence to enhance their competitive edge, assist with seamless fleet management, and see an instant return on investment.
Thanks to increased visibility across your fleet, telematics helps streamline all areas of daily operations, from fuel management to asset utilisation and reduced accidents. Every year, the technology within our industries expands and advances.
It’s predicted that there will be a stronger focus on data security, fleet management systems, and the shift of key fleet metrics to meaningful information like timing, driver behaviour, and annual cost.
Soaring fuel costs Fuel has always been one of fleet companies’ most significant expenses, and the cost pressures will only get worse. In 2022, for 64% of the industry in New Zealand fuel accounted for more than a quarter of their operating costs.
As customers gain more market power, making it difficult for transport companies, especially small carriers, to pass along fuel costs, it’s vital to have a clearer picture of fuel consumption. With the help of fleet technology, transport businesses can plan more efficient routes, avoid conditions that lead to excess engine idling, and ensure that invoices are backed up accurately by GPS waypoints – no more debating the bills.
Source: transporttalk, Michael Barnard - Teletrac Navman
NZTIF announces new presidentBruce Larsen, General Manager and Director of Northpine Ltd, Waipu, Northland is the new president of the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation. He has been a valuable member of the NZTIF Board for six years and replaces John McVicar who served as president from 2013.
Bruce joined the New Zealand Forest Service as a trainee in 1981 and spent a year at Turangi as a labourer with other North Island inductees before going on to Canterbury University where he received his BForSci (Hons) degree.
After a couple of years at FRI (Scion) undertaking research in log harvesting Bruce joined the State Owned Enterprise Timberlands based in Woodhill Forest. Carter Holt Harvey purchased the northern forests in 1990 and Bruce then spent 11 years in various roles within that organisation, primarily related to harvesting and log sales.
CHH also sponsored Bruce’s MBA and his final role was as International Sales Manager for CHH Forests. He then purchased a shareholding in the recent start-up sawmill Northpine as well as spending time harvesting and trading logs – which came to an abrupt end with the Global Financial Crisis. Bruce has been General Manager of Northpine for the last 15 years and a NZTIF Board member since 2017.
Australian mill produces last ream of white paperWhite paper is no longer being made in Australia after the nation's last ream came off the line at the weekend, with the potential to send paper prices skyrocketing. Opal Australian Paper's Maryvale mill has suspended white paper production indefinitely due to a lack of timber supply, with VicForests' operations halted across the state.
The mill, near Traralgon in eastern Victoria, was the nation's last producer of white paper, which has a variety of uses, including office supplies, exercise books, printed bills, envelopes and custom posters. Opal has not said it will permanently stop manufacturing white paper at the plant but that it was "seriously considering" the future closure of its white paper operations.
The mill previously produced up to 200,000 tonnes of white paper per year, with 300 reams of paper created a minute. The end of white paper production in Australia is also sending prices for paper skyrocketing.
Wood processing innovation grants welcomedAustralia’s forest industries will benefit from newly opened Commonwealth grants that aim to drive innovation in timber and wood fibre processing, encouraging manufacturers to value-add by upgrading processing facilities or creating new products, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Ross Hampton said.
“The Government committed AU$113 million for these new grants ahead of this year’s Federal Election and it’s excellent to finally see the application process open. AFPA campaigned at the Election for a manufacturing innovation fund for timber processors to boost onshore value adding in Australia’s forest industries, allowing us to better utilise our current resources and create new manufacturing and jobs in regional Australia,” Ross Hampton said.
“We were pleased to get a bipartisan commitment to this grants program and the potential for processors to get more from their resource is huge. These grants will allow manufacturing businesses to pivot and make the most of the opportunities. With global timber and wood fibre demand forecast to quadruple by 2050, the domestic and international market opportunities are vast.
“We thank Forestry Minister, Senator the Hon Murray Watt for his strong engagement post-election on delivering the Government’s commitments for forest industries,” Ross Hampton concluded. Grant funding of between AU$1 million and AU$5 million will be available. The grants will be co-contribution with applicants contributing a minimum of 60 per cent of the overall project value.
Further information for applicants is available here.
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