WoodWeek – 11 October 2017

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. With production forest assets held almost exclusively in commercial and private hands it’s not untoward to suggest that here in New Zealand forestry and politics mix like oil and water. So, while our local mainstream media continue to stubbornly and fruitlessly stalk the coalition talks, we’ve got an international news agency piece that's speculative. Sadly, they've introduced the term ‘protectionist’ to pique interest. As an industry, it’s likely many of us wouldn't look forward to certain unnamed politicians completing coalition talks to greet us with this old chestnut: “Hi, we’re from the government … we’re here to help you!”

The New Zealand forestry industry is facing a frightening amount of work in the next few years, as it struggles to attract staff, a forestry management company says. PF Olsen said the shortage was the biggest challenge faced by the industry and unlikely to improve in the near future.

News from FICA – Several members working in silviculture have asked FICA to arrange a pan-industry meeting with members of the Forest Owners Association (FOA) to discuss several aspects of their industry that are undermining their business sustainability. Contractors are meeting on 14 November in Rotorua, and then going to work with FOA members after that. FICA’s aim is to bring together parties to discuss key sustainability challenges with a view to finding potential solutions.

Moving to harvesting equipment and technology, we’ve got updates from some of the key manufacturers on a range of developments concerning people and products. As local forestry leaders are focussed on resolving skills shortages issues and the related issue of attracting younger people into forestry and logging, this story and footage from a young logger from USA is timely.

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Winston: Forestry a priority in party talks

Some New Zealand forest owners are suspending replanting of trees and re- thinking investments as the country’s third-largest export earner finds itself in the sights of maverick politician Winston Peters’ protectionist agenda.

The election king-maker last week said he would prioritize a restructure of the forest industry in closely-watched coalition talks with major parties after last month’s inconclusive election result.

The plan includes a possible quota system which would force growers to favour local mills over a higher-paying export market. Exports of forest products totalled around NZ$4.75 billion ($3.36 billion) in 2015, with China the top destination.

That has put the Pacific nation’s lucrative forestry sector at the heart of concerns that New Zealand First in power will spell greater government intervention in New Zealand’s small, outward facing economy.

“Every time the government has done something like that we get what you call a hole in the supply of timber and we’re going into a hole now, an undersupply,” said Joe Carr, the owner of a privately-held logging business managing 500 hectares of forest in the far north of the country.

Carr is holding off replanting 60 hectares of his land due to the possible restrictions and said on average growers were paid a third less to sell logs locally than to export them. He said his son was re-thinking whether his family should stick to forestry after 44 years in the business.

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Source: Reuters

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Log jam: too many trees, not enough trucks

The New Zealand forestry industry is facing a frightening amount of work in the next few years, as it struggles to attract staff, a forestry management company says. PF Olsen business development manager Scott Downs said the shortage was the biggest challenge faced by the industry and unlikely to improve in the near future.

The amount of forest available for harvest is rapidly increasing as the surge of plantings in the 1990s are now maturing. The volume harvested could potentially rise by 15 million tonnes to just under 40 million a year by 2023. That was going to be a major problem, Mr Downs said.

"It is almost scary how much wood is coming on in New Zealand. All this wood [planted in the 1990s] is maturing now and the fact is we won't be able to harvest all that wood or cart all that wood."

The industry often suffered from a sometimes-unearned reputation that workers struggled for good pay and good conditions, he said. "But we're certainly seeing some very good pay rates for people in the industry and we're not very good at getting that message out to the community."

Meanwhile, a shortage of logging truck drivers was also playing a part in the industry's challenge. Simon Reid, who owns S J Reid and nine trucks, is based at Maungatapere on the outskirts of Whangarei. Attracting drivers was a huge problem because of the anti-social hours, he said.

He believed truck driving needed to be put on the government's critical shortage list, but was doubtful that would happen. "The government isn't interested in helping us. They don't see it as being a critical problem in the bigger picture of the economy. Everything you see in a shop is actually freight and it relies on a truck to get it to the point where it then becomes a retail item," he said.

Source: radionz.co.nz
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Tigercat - Changing of the Guard

New leadership at Tigercat. Tony Iarocci to step away from role of president and join board of directors. Grant Somerville steps up.

Tigercat has announced that Tony Iarocci will be stepping away from his position as president effective October 16, 2017. Tony has held the position of president since Tigercat’s inception in 1992, steering the company through rapid growth both in terms of product development and geographic market expansion amidst an often fierce competitive landscape, major economic downturns and other challenging externalities.

“I have immensely enjoyed my work at Tigercat — the initial research of potential business opportunities that was necessary to warrant the formulation of a new company, recruiting start-up staff, product development and all the sales, marketing and customer service functions that went along with my role,” says Tony. “I wish to convey my deep appreciation to Ken MacDonald for having provided me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I also want to thank everyone at Tigercat and all the Tigercat stakeholders for their much appreciated assistance, dedication and cooperation.”

Tony will be passing his day to day responsibilities over to Grant Somerville. Grant got his start in the forestry industry in 1978 as a harvester operator. He is a long serving executive at Tigercat who worked with Tony at Koehring Waterous in the early eighties on several development projects, including the design of the company’s first purpose-built track feller buncher. An integral part of Tigercat, Grant has led many important design initiatives since joining the team in 1992 and has held several positions with increasing degrees of responsibility, including product manager for track machines, advanced engineering, and most recently vice president, engineering.

“Opportunities to work with and learn from individuals like Tony and Ken are rare,” says Grant. “I feel very fortunate to have been included in the creation and growth of Tigercat over the past 25 years, and to now assume more leadership responsibility. 2017 marks my 40th year working within forestry and machinery manufacturing. I see a promising future for our industry and look forward to continuing Tigercat’s role as a leader in innovation.”

CEO Ken MacDonald answers the burning question of what comes next for Tony. “Tony remains in great health and he has agreed not only to join the board of directors but to continue to contribute to the company’s growth, focusing on the recruitment and development of design talent and working with fellow team members and suppliers on both product and component improvement.” Tony will also consult on special projects and new product development.

Pictured: Grant Somerville, new president of Tigercat

Source: Tigercat

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FICA Conference - Registrations Open!

Registrations for the 2017 FICA Conference are now open! Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to get together with your industry peers.

Details and registration form can be found on the Conference Event Page

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John Deere add to forwarder range

Earlier this month, John Deere released its latest forwarder - the 1910Gr. Now the largest model in their forwarder range, it the power and efficiency needed to tackle tough jobs, even on difficult terrain.

The 1910G machines are equipped with a Final Tier 4 200kW/268 horsepower engine. The maximum engine output has increased by 7.5 percent and torque by 21 percent compared to previous models, offering customers the power and performance they expect in a John Deere machine. Additionally, the drive hydraulics have been increased, with the transmission boasting 4.5 percent more tractive force.

"The G-Series Forwarder line provides our customers with the machines they need to tackle each workday, regardless of the conditions they may face. With our 1910G machines, operators are able to handle even larger loads," said product marketing manager Niko Solopuro. "Additionally, we maintained the features of the G-Series lines that our customers appreciate—including the improved operator station and configurable joystick controls—to develop a machine that customers enjoy while also boosting operator productivity."

A key feature on this model is the adaptive driveline control, a first in the forestry industry. This software-based control system improves the productivity and drivability of this G-Series forwarder, and enables the operator to choose the desired RPM setting (Eco, Normal, Power) for the operating conditions. The system automatically adjusts the engine's RPMs to correspond with the engine load. In high-load situations, the driveline control ensures that the diesel engine runs smoothly and uses the maximum available tractive force efficiently.

The new model has a larger load capacity. The cross-sectional area of the wide load space is bigger and the new-generation headboard provides excellent visibility to the load space. Additionally, the CF8 boom on the 1910G moves smoothly and seamlessly, increasing accuracy and efficiency.

Boom control is further enhanced using Intelligent Boom Control (IBC). Exclusive to John Deere, IBC is an innovative technology that improves operator productivity by automatically controlling the lift, slew and extension of the boom based on the location of the grapple. IBC increases accuracy and, ultimately, the number of loads per each work shift. Additionally, configurable joystick controls allow the dealer to quickly reconfigure the machine to meet the preference of the operator. The operator can select one of three configuration options, providing the operator with an intuitive system.

The 1910G, as well as the rest of the G-Series Forwarder line, is equipped with the TimberMatic™ F-16 control system. The improved control system features a configurable user interface, cruise control and inclination display, increasing operator efficiency. Additionally, the new software offers service personnel remote access to the machine. New MECA control modules, simple CAN busses and a streamlined electrical system improve the efficiency of machine functions.

The 1910G is available with two cab options, fixed or rotating and leveling, both of which are designed to improve operator comfort. The rotating and leveling cabin helps the driver to maintain the correct working positions to reduce strain on the back and shoulder areas, even when working on uneven terrain. With a cabin rotation of 290 degrees, the 1910G model offers a view of the boom and grapple, enabling safer, easier log loading. The large windows of the cab allow for virtually unrestricted all-around visibility. Other fatigue-beating features, including ergonomic armrests, a fully adjustable air-cushioned seat and an automated climate-control system, help to boost operator productivity.

All John Deere forwarders come standard with JDLink™ in base for five years. JDLink, the proven John Deere telematics solution, remotely connects owners and managers with their equipment and local John Deere dealer. Through JDLink, they have access to alerts and machine information, including performance and maintenance data, allowing them to better manage where and how equipment is being used, even from miles away.

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ANZ Commodity Price Index


The sun shone on the ANZ Commodity Price Index for the first time since June, with the index lifting 0.8% m/m in September (+12% y/y). All of the six major groups lifted in the month. At the sub-component level, 11 of 17 components rose, two were flat, and four fell in the month. Local returns received a 1.7% m/m boost (13% y/y) as the NZD fell against most major peers for the second month in a row.
  • Dairy prices continued to trade largely sideways (+0.4% m/m), but there were mixed moves for the various products. Both whole milk (-1.5% m/m) and skim milk (-1.8% m/m) powder prices slipped. Whole milk powder prices have traded a tight range in recent months with solid Asian demand and steady supply. Last night saw some further weakness, especially for WMP. This highlights buyer caution in the face of lifting global milk supply. On the other hand, milkfat prices continued to outperform in September. Both butter (+2.7% m/m) and cheese (+3.4% m/m) prices lifted, reflecting robust Asian demand and a tight supply-demand balance for butter in Europe.

  • Meat and fibre prices eked out a small increase of 0.4% m/m. Wool prices rebounded 7.7%, but off very low levels. Northern Hemisphere seasonal demand tends to pick up before the onset of winter, and there has also been low seasonal supply from New Zealand. Beef and lamb prices were fairly stable with lower seasonal supply locally and solid demand in most major markets.

  • Horticulture prices lifted 2.6% m/m. New Zealand apple prices rose 1.3% m/m as frost damage is expected to limit late-season supply from southern Germany, Belgium, Holland, the French Alp region and Eastern Europe, including the major EU producer Poland. Kiwifruit prices lifted 3% m/m, halting a two-month slide. Kiwifruit prices are up 14% y/y due to a smaller green crop and higher proportion of the gold variety in the export mix compared with last year.

  • Seafood prices lifted 0.3% m/m. Hoki (+2% m/m) and ling (+5% m/m) provided the uplift.

  • The forestry group increased 0.5% m/m with incremental rises for log and pulp products. Log prices were up 0.4% m/m, and have lifted for 12 consecutive months. Construction activity in China has entered its normal seasonal lull, reducing port offtake levels. Total log stocks on China’s ports have been tracking slowly down over recent months and radiata pine has been steady around 2 million m3. These dynamics have supported incremental price gains. Wood pulp prices also reversed last month’s fall to post a 1.3% m/m rise on renewed interest from China.

  • Aluminium prices had a further lift of 3.5% m/m (31% y/y). Prices are up 42% since their low point in November 2015 and are at the highest level in over five years. China’s environmental and regulatory changes are starting to take effect as the first smelters power down ahead of mandated cuts over the winter period to reduce air pollution.

Still-elevated NZD commodity prices will provide a strong boost to rural incomes in 2018, which will diffuse through the broader economy. This will be important with the economy entering a transition phase as some of its previous growth drivers (housing, construction, tourism, migration) peak, and we await others to step in and fill the void. Strong commodity prices, and the spill- overs, will be important to help the economy avoid a growth pothole.

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FICA Silviculture Meeting

Several of our members working in silviculture have asked FICA to arrange a pan-industry meeting with members of the Forest Owners Association (FOA) to discuss several aspects of their industry that are undermining their business sustainability.

We are planning this meeting to be held in Rotorua on the afternoon of 14 November at the Distinction Hotel. Our aim on behalf of FICA members is to bring together parties to discuss pain points and seek to agree on a small action group to consider and implement possible solutions.

Please register your interest to attend now by contacting FICA on 07 921 1386 or office@fica.org.nz. If you have any issues to raise before the meeting please call or email the FICA office. We look forward to your input and attendance.

Event Details >>

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Ponsse and Epec to collaborate in Finland

Ponsse and Epec jointly establish a product development unit in Tampere Ponsse and Epec jointly establish a product development unit in Tampere The two companies have announce they will jointly establish a product development uni in Tampere, Finland. It will be used for designing the software and automation of mobile work machines.

Ponsse aims to ensure the continued availability of top experts in the fields of software and automation. With Finland’s improving economic situation, competition for the top professionals in various sectors has become more intense. Given the change in the situation, the aim is to ensure the competitiveness of Ponsse and Epec and the availability of personnel by expanding the product development activities of the two companies to southern Finland. With the rapid development of technology, the importance of software in forest machines is growing rapidly. Ponsse wants to remain at the forefront of development.

Tampere was chosen as the location of the new product development unit, since the city has become a growth centre for the work machine industry. The Tampere region also has strong training expertise and business operations in software and automation. Ponsse’s product development will continue to focus mainly on Vieremä and Kajaani, so there will continue to be good communications between customers, manufacturing and product development. With the Tampere product development unit, they are seeking to ensure the continued availability of a skilled workforce.

Engineers will be recruited for the Tampere R&D unit to meet the needs of Ponsse’s subsidiary Epec also. Epec is actively seeking growth as a supplier of smart control system solutions. Managing Director Teemu Raitis says that having the unit in Tampere also enables the company to cooperate more closely with its customers in southern Finland. The focus of Epec’s product development will continue to be its headquarters in Seinäjoki.

The R&D unit will be located in Kampusareena, which is a hub of science, research and technology located at the heart of the campus of Tampere University of Technology. Ponsse and Epec will arrange a recruiting and information event in the new premises on November 3, 2017 and the operations are scheduled to begin before the end of the year. The product development unit will have approximately 20 employees by the end of next year.

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A millennial with a real passion for logging

With some stirrings now locally to finally do something about the skills shortages out in the forest and to address the real issue of attracting younger people into forestry, in particular logging, this story and footage from a young logger out of the US, we hope stirs some interest.

With the goal in mind to one day own his own logging company, 25-year-old Zackary Sheets operates a computer-automated processor, picking up a log, stripping it of its bark, cutting it to length and stacking it all while sitting inside the machine. Sheets was working on a logging site in Canyonville this summer for Gold Hill-based Estremado Logging. He lives in Glendale during the week, then commutes to his house in Albany for the weekends.

Though Sheets said logging companies have been struggling to recruit young people to work in the woods, he’s passionate about what he does. “That’s the path I’ve chosen. I saw where everybody was running and I ran the other way, which is modern forestry technology,” Sheets said. “It’s a mix of technology but still has a hard work aspect to it.”

Sheets is not only a Douglas County logger but has experience logging around the U.S. and the world. “I randomly stumbled across an advertisement for loggers who wanted to work in an extreme environment, and it seemed perfect for me,” he said. Three months after he applied, he found himself on a plane to Siberia. He spent six months there, working in harsh conditions while the Discovery Channel filmed him for the show, “Siberian Cut.” “It’s important to show kids the positive sides to working hard,” he said of starring in the show.

Last summer, he logged in Alaska for his stepfather Fred Hurt’s gold mining operation. Hurt, known as “Dakota Fred,” has also been featured on the Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush.” Through the Siberian trip, Sheets met Pekka Ruuskanen, the president of Ponsse for North America. Ponsse, a Finnish company with its North American headquarters in Wisconsin, manufactures and sells harvesters and foresters.

He said operating the machinery is like playing a big video game, using buttons to control the equipment, and he questions why more people in his generation aren’t interested in it. “If you have any work ethic and if you like video games, you would like running a processor,” Sheets said.

But according to Sheets, it’s hard to find other young people who want to do the work. “It seems nowadays people want to float through life,” Sheets said, adding he knows some people his age who want to get rich quickly by selling marijuana or drugs, but they don’t want to put in hard work.

“They don’t want to get their hands dirty,” said Don Walker, a contractor working with Sheets in Canyonville. Walker has been working in the woods for 54 years and cutting timber for 40 of them. When Walker’s generation retires, which could be within the next decade, the industry will need new loggers. “If we don’t have new guys coming up to take over these jobs and stay on top of how things are changing, we’re going to be in trouble,” Sheets said.

Check out the full story by clicking here. Featured below is also a video, just some of the footage that Zackary Sheets has taken and posted that will appeal to the young millennials.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... there, there, don't blame yourself

How to know if your child may grow up to become an engineer:


I figured that at age seven it was inevitable for my son to begin having doubts about Santa Claus.

Sure enough, one day he said, "Dad, I think I've figured something out about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy."

Taking a deep breath, I asked him, "What is that?"

He replied, "They're all nocturnal."

That's all for this week's wood news.

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John Stulen
Innovatek Ltd
PO Box 1230
Rotorua, New Zealand
Mob: +64 27 275 8011
Web: www.woodweek.com

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