In other news, read on for Record log exports; Hettich records increased turnover; Leadbeater’s possum status review; Tokyo 2020 Olympics irresponsible procurement; Guitar makers to play a new tune; HOMAG new company image; Robots assemble prefab house; Forestry agreements extended in Victoria; 3D Printed Car; Furniture testing.

Record log exports

Australia’s log exports remained above 5 million cubic metres per annum for the second successive month in February, with exports totalling a new record 5.067 million cubes. Softwood log exports continued to dominate, accounting for close to 97% of the total. Hardwood log exports totalled 45,550 m3 in February at just a little more than a pulpwood price, reflecting the end-use of the resource. Source: Timberbiz.

Hettich records increased turnover

The Hettich group of companies with its headquarters in Kirchlengern generated a turnover of € 975 million in 2017. This represents an increase of 6.8 percent over the year before (2016: €913 million). As announced by the Chairman of the Management Board, managing partner Dr. Andreas Hettich, business abroad rose to 71 percent of turnover after accounting for 69 percent the year before. In 2017, some €116 million were invested in products, plant and buildings world-wide.

Leadbeater’s possum status review

A review into the status of Victoria’s critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum is close to completion and clears for increased logging in the central highlands. The Turnbull government is reviewing whether the possum is still in imminent danger of extinction in central Victoria’s native forests, after almost half of its habitat was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. The review was requested by the Australian timber industry, under pressure since Black Saturday to reduce the number of sawlogs harvested in Victoria’s native forests. The restrictions led the private owners of the state’s biggest native timber mill in Heyfield to walk away, prompting a $62 million buyout by the Andrews government to save the mill’s 250 jobs. The industry’s request to review the possum’s status was based on claims that more than 200 new possum colonies had been found in the central highlands. Source: The Age.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics irresponsible procurement

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee has confirmed 87% of the plywood panels used to build its new national stadium come from south-east Asian rainforests but the timber cannot be traced back to its original source under the committee’s certification protocols. Peg Putt, a spokeswoman for ‘Markets for Change’ said “We are appalled by the substantial volume of tropical wood that has been used thus far and by the glaring lack of due diligence exercised to ensure the sustainability and legality of the wood being used. It exposes the massive extent of irresponsible procurement.” Plywood being used in Japan’s Olympic construction projects is mostly for formwork or moulds into which concrete is poured once or twice, before being disposed of. Environmentalists see this as a wasteful use of tropical wood. Source: Climate Change News.

Guitar makers to play a new tune

An international crackdown on illegal logging in tropical forests is forcing the makers of some guitars and other musical instruments to reconsider the wood used in their instruments. Rosewood; a material prized for its rich, multi-coloured grain and resonant sound is now affected by new rules, designed to limit the illegal trade to China’s furniture manufacturer’s. The new rules have also impacted many of the World’s major guitar makers, mostly those based in the USA like Martin and Taylor. While these companies use only about 50 cubic meters each a year compared with nearly 2 million cubic meters in China, the new rules have seen long delays in getting the prized material. Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

HOMAG new company image

At the HOLZ-HANDWERK trade fair in Nuremberg, HOMAG appeared under its new company image for the first time including a new logo, a new look and a new modern machine design. This is helping HOMAG to make digitalization and the topic of Industry 4.0 even more tangible with suitable solutions for trade and manufacturing companies. Thanks to two strategic partnerships with Kuka and Grenzebach, there were also developments in automation expertise. On a technology platform in Hall 10 measuring just less than 1800 m², HOMAG demonstrated technical innovations and solutions. The exhibit included 30 machines and cells live in action, all of which are tapio-ready, as well as new, digital products, customized software, and completely new services from the global service network.

Robots assemble prefab house

A team of researchers from Swiss university ETH Zurich are using robots to help assemble prefabricated timber modules into a 100 square metre, three-storey house. The robots will install 487 load-bearing structures on the first two floors of the DFAB House, which is located in Dübendorf, on the eastern outskirts of Zurich. These will be visible behind a transparent façade after the home is completed. The robots use information from a CAD model to cut and arrange the beams, then drill holes and connect them. Human workers bolt the beams together. Matthias Kohler, a professor of architecture at ETH Zurich, said: “If any change is made to the project overall, the computer model can be constantly adjusted to meet the new requirements. “This kind of integrated digital architecture is closing the gap between design, planning and execution.” Source: Global Construction Review.

Forestry agreements extended in Victoria

The Victorian government has made short-term extensions to three of its regional forest agreements (RFA) allowing logging of native forests, but also announced new limits on the trees that can be cut. In a move likely to be watched closely by other states including NSW, the Andrews Labor government extended three agreements to bring them line with two others that expire in March 2020. The state will also provide immediate protection to approximately 2,500 hectares of high environmental-value forest in and around East Gippsland’s Kuark Forest. The government will also protect all large, old trees greater than two-and-a-half metres in diameter across Victoria, securing key habitat for wildlife. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

3D Printed Car

From small-scale, plastic prototypes to ship’s propellers to entire houses, there is little 3D printing can’t do. Hackrod, a digital manufacturing company, is collaborating with Siemens PLM Software to create the world’s first car designed in virtual reality, engineered with AI and 3D printing in structural aluminium alloy. The car, La Bandita, is intended to serve as proof of concept for a new industrial design to production methodology. Another partnership; this time between car company XEV and 3D printing company Polymaker, brought the SLEV into life, a 3D printed electric vehicle. All visible parts of the car are said to be 3D printed, save the chassis, seats and glass. The car consists only of 57 separate parts and weighs 450 kilo’s. Source: Materia.

Australian Furniture testing

Testing of furniture in Australia can be conducted at AFRDI in Newnham, Tasmania. The Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute is an independent not-for-profit technical organisation providing standards, testing, product certification and research for buyers and sellers of furniture. AFRDI Chairman Tony Rogers says of 2017, “We have continued supporting both our members and the industry through our strategic direction of updating ageing Standards and developing new Standards as required. The Institute has continued investing in new equipment which enables us to provide peace of mind to our members that the products they have tested are both safe and sustainable.”