Australasian Timber Magazine - June 2021

Page 1

JUNE 2021



Building industry in crisis


Single-use wrap issue solved

TALL ORDER Big River’s BIG job


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Building industry’s ‘perfect storm’ BRUCE MITCHELL


“PE RFE CT storm” has been blamed for the nation’s timber shortage and massive impact that it is having on the building industry. The success of Homebuilder across the country (where more than 140,000 have applied for the grant), a spike of up to 400% in the price of timber exported from Australia, and delays in timber being imported into the country due to COVID restrictions have been blamed. The unprecedented demand for timber products has led suppliers and organisations such as the Australian Forests Products Association and Timber Queensland to urge customers to keep calm. AFPA CEO Ross Hampton has reassured builders and homeowners that everything is being done to supply as much construction timber as possible to meet soaring demand. Timber Queensland’s CEO Mick Stephens said the industry is doing everything possible to increase supply. Suppliers have also said that they are doing their best to meet demand. “We have seen unprecedented demand for timber products for a number of months now due to Australians spending more time at home and the incentives for new home builds and renovations,” , Bunnings General Manager Merchandise Toby Watson said. “This is creating a challenge for the entire industry with demand particularly strong for structural timber. “We’re working with our Suppliers and Trade customers to forecast demand and plan earlier in the build process so we have additional time to manage orders as best as possible,” he said. Wesfarmers boss Rob Scott has pledged that Bunnings would heavily resist passing on rising timber prices to customers to protect its brand equity of being a low cost retailer. “Lumber prices have gone up and there has been constraints there around supply, we have seen pricing pressure, similarly containing shipping is another area where there has been strong increases in pricing and there’s

• AKD shareholder/director Ian Colless countersigns a long-term log supply agreement with HQ Plantations, with CEO Shane Vicary.

also been some increases in other raw material prices, cotton and other categories, and I think what is important to note across all these areas the whole market is facing these cost pressures,” Mr Scott told the recent Macquarie Australia Conference. John Bowen in a note to customers said that volumes of supply have remained at 2020 levels while building activity has grown substantially in Australia and around the world. “Timber availability is definitely an issue, with engineered wood products in a more critical state than structural pine framing. Very tough for all who are associated. “It is hard to forecast when this craziness will end.” In the meantime, however, smaller and medium sized builders, who lack the buying power of their larger counterparts, have claimed they are under increasing financial strain amid warnings of a looming jobs “valley of death”. A major South Australian builder told a timber summit at the start of the month in Adelaide that the HomeBuilder stimulus grant had led to builders “price gouging” and that customers have cancelled building contracts due to rising prices for materials. Timber companies are trying their best.


“It is hard to forecast when this craziness will end.”


Continued on page 6 AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER May 2021




Detached House Building Approvals - Australia


Publication Design: Jarren Gallway Timber classifieds: Adelaide Office (08) 8369 9517 Subscriptions: Adelaide Office (08) 8369 9522 Subcription rates One-year (8 editions) $55 Two-years (16 editions) $95 Accounts: Adelaide Office (08) 8369 9555 Postal Address: 630 Regency Road, Broadview South Australia 5083 Phone: (08) 8369 9555 Fax: (08) 8369 9501 Melbourne Office: Suite 2262, 442 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122 Phone: (03) 9810 3262 Website Printed by Lane Print, Adelaide, SA


The opinions expressed in Australasian Timber Magazine are not necessarily the opinions of or endorsed by the editor or publisher unless otherwise stated. All articles submitted for publication become the property of the publisher. All material in Australasian Timber Magazine copyright 2021 © Ryan Media. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means (graphic, electronic, or mechanical including information and retrieval systems) without written permission of the publisher. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information, the publisher will not accept responsibility for errors or omissions, or for any consequences arising from reliance on information published.









building approvals reached a record level for the third consecutive month in April. “There is an unprecedented volume of building starts set to occur in 2021. HomeBuilder and low interest rates have facilitated in a surge in demand for detached homes that will see a record number of detached homes built this year and into 2022,” HIA economist Angela Lillicrap said. “Detached housing approvals increased by 14.8 per cent in the three months to April 2021, to be 63.7 per cent higher than the same time last year. “Detached housing approvals are expected to stay ETACHED


elevated for several more months, consistent with the results in more timely leading indicators such as HIA’s New Home Sales Report,” Ms Lillicrap said. Although new home sales fell in April, the results suggested that a significant

number of new homes were still entering the construction pipeline for customers post HomeBuilder. Low interest rates, strong house price growth and an increased preference for detached homes and regional areas would also continue to drive demand for new houses over the months to come. “The value of renovations activity approved is also elevated, up by 49.7 per cent in the three months to April 2021 compared to the same time last year. This is the highest quarterly result since records began in 1973,” Ms Lillicrap said. In seasonally adjusted terms, detached approvals

saw the biggest increase in the three months to April 2021 compared to the same time last year in Western Australia (+159.2 per cent). This was followed by South Australia (+93.3 per cent), Queensland (+65.7 per cent) and Victoria (+44.5 per cent). New South Wales recorded in increase of 36.4 per cent during the same period. In original terms, detached house approvals increased in the Northern Territory by 174.3 per cent during the three months to April 2021 compared to the same time last year. Tasmania (+48.8 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (+44.4 per cent) also increased during this period.

Australia’s timber shortages creating the “perfect storm”


HE causes of the na-

tion’s current timber shortage have been widely described as “the perfect storm”. The description is probably correct. The causes have been identified as the success of Homebuilder, a spike in the price of timber exported from Australia, and delays in timber being imported into the country due to COVID restrictions. Record low interest rates can be added to that list. The effects of this perfect storm has, in South Australia at least, been described as a “Valley of Death” for the building industry.


It’s not hyperbole; it’s a fact, and not limited to SA. Smaller builders are reportedly struggling to access building materials. There are also reports of housing projects being started, and then left unattended simply because there is little or no supply of timber. It’s almost ironic. The Federal Government’s Homebuilder scheme, which was AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER June 2021

launched to support more than 1.14 million jobs, including sole-trader builders, seems likely to bring many to their knees. Homebuilder has of course finished and the boom in new home approvals will taper off, but as Tim Woods from IndustryEdge pointed out in a briefing for the Frame and Truss Manufactures Association, that still leaves a massive pipeline of building work left to complete. SA-Best MP Frank Pangallo, who is also a member of a Select Committee investigating the state’s timber

industry, is concerned too much timber is going overseas because of the better profits. He wants to know if sawlogs from the State’s South East are finding their way to the lucrative overseas markets. If this is happening our Federal and State Governments need to step in immediately to save jobs and business here from collapse. The priority must be local. Already there is genuine fear many tradies won’t have incomes after July and many businesses will be forced to start shedding jobs by September or October.


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Front Cover: Part of the interior of the Marrickville library and community centre which won the coveted overall award at the 2020 Australian Timber Design Awards.







Source: 8731







Awards night


Source: 8731




Detached House Building Approvals - Australia







Apr-14 Apr-17


Apr-13 Apr-16

Incorporating Australian and New Zealand Timberman. Established 1977.

Detached dwelling approvals break another record in April

Apr-12 Apr-15

Issue 4 – Volume 29

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JUNE 2021

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Building projects across Australia ground to a halt W E LL-KNOWN North Ameri-

can forest market specialist Russ Taylor reported that at May 1 US sawntimber prices have soared approaching $US1000 per cubic metre ($AUD1300/m3). The same could happen here. Not everyone will agree with me and it is my personal opinion, but I have been watching the supply and demand dynamics of wood products in Australia and around the world for the last thirty years and this time I think it is different. Australia has always been a net importer of forest products including timber and we are now paying a huge price for under investing in new softwood plantations and reducing the log supply from our natural forests. Our past solution of just importing the balance to meet demand is now proving very hard. The reasons are complex. A lack of surplus supply from Europe, China’s huge demand is soaking up New Zealand log exports, a significant lift in prices and demand in North America combined with logistical challenges with shipping and containers that has coincided with Australia’s new housing boom. Together they have all worked to create this timber shortage. I don’t know any sawmiller who can keep up with demand at the moment. Supply is king and if you do not have secure supply, you are likely to be left out of the supply chain. This means that home builders via frame and truss fabricators and sawmillers need closer connections with growers to maintain supply. It is not about price anymore; it is about supply. A potential timber price of $,000 per cubic metre should yield softwood sawlog stumpages around $130 to $150 per cubic metre and log prices from natural forests could be even higher due to the premium qualities of our local hardwoods and consumer

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Rob de Fégely Margules Groome Consulting P/L

choices for these natural products. While these prices may look “eye wateringly” high, their impact on the cost of building a new house will be relatively minor possibly less than 5%, but they may be enough to recommence softwood plantation establishment he said Importantly, doubling the price of timber will not double the price of a new home. This is because timber is a critical element in building a new house but it is not the major cost. Sadly, I am still hearing stories of perfectly good plantations (previously established by managed investment schemes) being cleared for agriculture. This will continue unless we improve the transparency of log prices so that they are freely and publicly avail- 1800 736 460

able for potential investors in forests to observe. Otherwise, they will look to alternative investments for their funds. Money for new forests is not the problem. Agricultural prices are booming, so we need to compete openly in the market so we give ourselves a chance. To grow new plantations we need access to land and so we must develop a more open and trusting relationship with farmers. Forget indexes, farmers need to see real log prices and examples of successful plantation and natural forest investments! We cannot wait for government assistance as they do not have any significant areas of cleared land, and have more urgent funding priorities in other sectors. Carbon credits will be important but we cannot over-rely on them as they are not a silver bullet and they could easily distort the market with serious social consequences in rural communities. Just look at the disputes in New Zealand between forest growers and farmers, we must not end up there. Our fundamental aim must be to get the profitability of growing trees and managing forests right, then the market will take care of the rest. In developing my opinion, I know some people will disagree with me and I would not use these figures as the basis for any investment, but if we don’t use this surge in demand to reset the wood market we will be losing an amazing opportunity to fix a two centuries old problem of not being able to grow enough domestic wood to meet Australia’s future demand. Our industry has a great opportunity to be part of the climate change solution by growing more trees and encouraging more people to build healthy, carbon storing wooden buildings. Hopefully this opinion is the beginning of a wider consideration of the value of wood. The above is a personal opinion of Rob de Fégely and not necessarily a position taken by Margules Groome Consulting P/L.


Building industry’s ‘perfect storm’ Continued from page 3

AKD’s has secured additional sawlog at various sites and believes it will produce a similar volume in FY22 as it did in FY21 – essentially negating the volume impact of a reduction in salvage timber at Tumut. AKD has signed a long-term log contract in Queensland with HQPlantations for additional volume and once new kilns are installed at Caboolture on Queensland’s near north coast mid-next year, AKDs volume will increase. AKD is also investing to improve product quality and output, including moving to a double shift at their Caboolture site from July. Hyne Timber is currently removing a production bottle neck at its Tuan mill in Maryborough by installing a new continuous drying kiln which will see a significant lift in output. This increase will also help to lift production at their new Glulam factory in Maryborough. And DTM Timber in South East Queensland and the Simms Group in North Queensland have also invested in finger-jointed timber production lines to improve resource recovery and production of structural building products. And Victorians have been reassured that the difficulties in gaining supplies of timber and other necessary building materials are not due to either sawmills producing less, or Australia exporting sawn timber. “Victoria’s sawmills are running at capacity, processing around 40 per cent more timber than they were at this time last year,” Victorian Forest Products Association CEO Deb Kerr said. “The sentiment expressed by some that Victoria exports sawn softwood is simply incorrect. The reality is that Victoria has a reliance on imported softwood for up to a quarter of our house frames,” she said. “Imported sawn softwood volumes normally supplied from Europe and North America have declined due to the higher demand in those regions and exacerbated by other international export challenges such as a lack of containers to move it to Australia. “Victoria’s sustainably produced wood is the ultimate renewable and remains the preferred product of choice for builders and homeowners due to its environmental, cost and ease of use credentials. Supply will catch up with demand in due course.” Ms Kerr said the current supply challenges were an indication of the future if Victoria does not immediately implement policies and programs that drive tree planting for sawmills to supply the softwood framing timbers.

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Big River’s tall order at the zoo • As part of Taronga Zoo’s $150

million revitalising and facility upgrade over the next 10 years, the African Savannah precinct, brings together a lion breeding facility, and an expanded savannah for giraffes, zebras and fennec foxes, as well as a specialised meerkat encounter space.

obtrusive. What we have achieved has provided a unique connection with the elements of nature in which this multispecies habitat required.”


design brief for this ‘forever home’ called for a world-class visitor experience that included a tropical or subtropical woodland eco system to HE

show a great diversity of Savannah animals and plant life. The new African Savannah habitat known as ‘The Waterhole’ located at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, was designed

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to represent an open grassland of subAfrican vegetation and is a stunning landscape that is home to the Giraffe, Zebra, Lion, Meerkat and Fennec Fox. As part of Taronga Zoo’s $150 million revitalising and facility upgrade over the next 10 years, the African Savannah precinct, brings together a lion breeding facility, and an expanded savannah for giraffes, zebras and fennec foxes, as well as a specialised meerkat encounter space. The aim is to enhance guest experience by providing an innovative non-exhibit integrated with the surrounding landscape allowing for an upfront visitor experience. AFRICAN SAVANNAH HABITAT With an emphasis on replicating the animal’s habitats as well as meeting specific sustainability targets, it was imperative the building materials chosen were fit-for-purpose, providing a functional as well as natural environment, where timber played a significant role. Designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, constructed by Brenic Constructions working with Zaumer Constructions, the builders engaged Big River Group as its leading timber supplier. Robust timbers were chosen including recycled hardwood, spotted gum and blackbutt hardwood and plywood, for their long life, durability, sustainable properties and local availability. “The nature of the build made it important to use timber products,” says Brendan Abric from Brenic Constructions. “It needed to be sympathetic to the landscape while ensuring that major structures and infrastructure wasn’t


GIRAFFE HABITAT Featuring exposed Blackbutt and Spotted Gum rafters, the Giraffe House is a stunning circular design incorporating an all timber construction including marine plywood, the highest grade veneer, offering increased impact resistance, minimising water penetration and a high quality finish. The veneer has been stained to blend in with the earthy surrounds. Round hardwood poles in varying diameters that had been cast offs from the plywood manufacturing process at Big River Group’s Grafton mill have been upcycled and utilised as an external cladding on the Meerkat enclosure, marrying back with the completely natural environment. Western red cedar, known for its attractive appearance and beautiful grain patterns, resistance to weather and exceptionally high dimensional stability rating unequalled by any other timber in commercial use in Australia, provides the backdrop for the lion keeper talks auditorium, with a striking floating timber ceiling. The design and use of building materials on the amenities block are in keeping with the Savannah landscape with Blackbutt and Spotted Gum Hardwood being chosen due to their superior performance qualities including a tolerance to changes in ambient temperatures, durability and resilience that make them perfect for hard wearing areas. AFRICAN SAVANNAH TARONGA ZOO Key initiatives such as the use of renewable materials, recycled water and design choices to minimise the energy footprint drove the sustainable vision of the project. Timbers provided by Big River Group, sustainably sourced in Australia, were part of a carefully selected materials palette that would not only meet the project’s environment-friendly and sustainable goals but also seamlessly integrate into the natural setting. “The African Savannah is a magnificent gateway to Africa in the heart of Sydney. To stand back and see such magnificent structures built with natural and earthy materials, used to create a jungle oasis in the heart of Sydney is really special,” Abric said.


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BRIEFS AFPA GALA DINNER The inaugural Australian Forest Products Association 2021 National Forest Industries Symposium & Gala Dinner will be held on September 1. The symposium will focus on what’s next for the forest products industries, the challenges ranging from timber supply, access to forest and what is the research and innovations we can look forward to in the years ahead, culminating in a Gala Dinner at Parliament House that evening to celebrate the achievements of the industry, plus the 10th birthday of AFPA. Book at https://conlog.

• The completed Chadstone Link and during construction.

FRAME BACK ON Frame Australia’s Timber Offsite Construction will take place in November this year. The conference had initially been set for June, but was postponed in April due to concerns over Civid-19 vaccinations. The conference will be held at the Crown Promenade Melbourne on November 16-17. Event founder Kevin Ezard said experts had indicated all Australian adults could be vaccinated by Christmas if the supply of vaccines remains consistent, so on that basis he believed it will be safe to proceed in November. For further information and registration visit the website

MULTINAIL RETIREMENT One of the founding staff members of Multinail, Mark Ford, has retired from the industry after almost 40 years of service. Mr Ford joined Multinail from Hasting’s Trusses in the late ’80s and was involved deeply in all aspects training and supporting fabricators that facilitated much of Multinail’s early growth. He left Multinail for a period to manage a number of truss plants and hardware outlets, before returning to Multinail in 2015 in a familiar support role based in NSW. 10

Architects: Make Architects Structural engineer: Robert Bird Group Builder: Hickory Group Fabricator: Rubner Holzbau Photographer: Peter Bennetts

Arched link for Chadstone shopping centre I

N the 1960s and 70s Chadstone Shopping Centre in suburban Melbourne was the pinnacle of shopping in the suburbs. It was built at a cost of approximately £6 million by the Myer family and was the first regional shopping centre in Australia when it opened in 1960. It featured a multi-storey Myer building at one end, a covered-in strip mall and a supermarket at the other end. It was the largest built in Australia to that time and marked the transformation of shopping in Australia from the traditional central city and strip-shopping precincts to the now familiar mall-type shopping centre. It is now the southern hemisphere’s largest shop-

ping centre, featuring a giant shopping centre with a floor area of 221,217m², theme park, office tower and most recently a hotel. Linking the shopping centre, the office tower and the hotel became an exercise in clever design. The Link by Make Architects (design architects) and Cera Stribley (delivery architects) is an elegant timber walkway which won the Excellence in Timber Applications: Stand Alone Structure at the 21st Australian Timber Design Awards. The need to build on top of the existing car park meant a lightweight structural solution was necessary. The architects also wanted to explore something a little more environmentally friendly than a hermetically


sealed, air-conditioned tube. They opted for a series of intersecting glulam arches in whitewashed Italian larch (by Make’s accounting, a less carbon-intensive option than steel), staggered down the sloping site to form a ribvaulted tunnel that is open at the sides. This allows for natural ventilation and views out, while an ETFE membrane stretched across the apex of the arches provides some protection from the elements. “The simplicity of its materials belies the complexity of the diagrid structure which essentially acts as a harmonica – each element holding the other in position, albeit supported by hidden steel foundations,” the achitects said. Stretching 110m in length,

Chadstone Link is formed from a series of repeating diagrid archways made from the exposed timber which soars up and over – reaching 15m at its highest point – and is covered by PTFE. The material and semiopen design was deliberately chosen to connect users with the environment. There is a simplicity to the glulam arch which comprises a single repeating element, with legs varying in length to transition changing site levels. This repetition allows for consistent detailing, complete fabrication including all metal hardware and an elegant aesthetic, while the use of highly detailed bolted connections means the structure is more readily able to adapt to future uses.


Single solution to single-use plastic wrap C

ONSTRUCTION and demolition waste contributes at least millions of tonnes to the amount of plastic landfilled. But, since construction waste is usually not sorted by material, there is limited data on the potential to divert materials from landfill. In New Zealand a joint project by Unitec, Mitre 10 MEGA and Naylor Love has been working to identify where and what types of plastic appear in building projects to design out waste where possible. Construction timber is typically delivered to building sites in packs up to six meters long and covered in a plastic wrap to protect from weather elements while stored on site. The plastic wrap is discarded into the general waste bin and taken to landfill as there is no reuse stream available.

Funding from Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund has allowed Naylor Love and Mitre 10 MEGA to trial an initiative that could transform the way timber is delivered and stored on construction sites all over the country. Naylor Love and Mitre 10 have rolled out purposemade Timber Pack Covers to replace this single use plastic. The covers are heavy duty and can be used many times over. Naylor Love Project Manager Annie Day described the Timber Pack Covers as, “an ideal solution, eliminating single use plastic while ensuring that the timber is protected from knocks and

weather both in transit and on site”. Parul Sood, Auckland Council General Manager for Waste Solutions shares said that waste from construction and demolition represented more than double the total waste from all household collections in Auckland. “So industry leadership is needed. Auckland Council is keen to provide the incubation funding and bring partners together to identify the best opportunities to reduce waste,” he said. Associate Professor Dr Terri-Ann Berry, Director of Environmental Solutions Research Centre at Unitec said Unitec’s research was most useful if it could be successfully applied to achieve the best outcomes. “This involves working closely with industry, industry providers and regulators.


• Timber wrapped in the heavy duty resuable wrap. It is great to see new solutions emerging from our research insights,” he said. The Cover trial project fits neatly in Mitre 10’s sustainability plan, according to Sustainability Manager Julie Roberts. “We’re working on several initiatives that address problematic waste streams with trade and industry partners, both customers and suppliers,” she said.

“Post-consumer solutions like the Timber Pack Covers and EXPOL’s polystyrene recycling programme, alongside the work we’re doing to reduce and improve the packaging that comes into our business, are important steps on our sustainability journey. “These innovations support the government’s focus on transitioning New Zealand to a circular economy.”


DELIVERING INNOVATION TO THE TRUSS AND FRAME INDUSTRY With the right partnership anything is possible The team at Vekta was instrumental in the design of this system and were able to open our eyes to possibilities we didn’t know even existed. The finished product has not only met, but exceeded our expectations. With the minimal footprint of the PackFeeder, the accuracy, speed and reliability of the Razer V5, the speed and efficiency of the Material Conveyor system, and the overall support by this team we are extremely pleased with the outcome. Josh Wright V.P. of Manufacturing The Truss Company, USA With 15+ years experience, Vekta specialises in creating automated factory solutions based on your objectives, space requirements and budget. The Truss Company’s customised solution focused on flexibility with two Razer V5’s and two PackFeeders sharing a common nine KickOff Conveyor System. If the key to business success is selecting the right partner- the key to automation is choosing Vekta.



Bringing things back to ‘scale’


NEVER realised the depth and

breadth of the word ‘scale’; Fish skin, Remove fish skin, Tartar on teeth, White deposit formed on a kettle/coffeemaker, Instrument for measuring mass or weight, Ratio of size on a map/ model/ drawing or plan, Arrangement of music notes… In North America, scale can be used as a verb for estimating the amount of timber that will be produced from a log or uncut tree. “...the operators were accustomed to having their logs scaled for inventory control” Today, most Frame and Truss compa-

nies would favour the North American verb definition of ‘scale’ especially if it could be accurately extrapolated for the next 18 months. Then again even if we could future ‘scale’ Australia’s or even the world’s forests, it wouldn’t alleviate the immediate timber issue. There is another definition of the word ‘scale’ that would alleviate some of the pressure points facing timber frame and truss companies today. SCALE • To grow or expand in a proportional and profitable way • Ability of a business to grow with-

out being hampered by available resources when production increases. Definitions have the ability to make things seem simple- just grow or expand your business- easy! The reality of scaling up a business- it takes time, you lose before you gain and it’s hard work. However, there are a few quick wins you can implement today to position your business for scaling up. QUICK WIN #1 Use the statistics data in your software. It is amazing the data that can be pulled out of the software of your linear saw- Uptime, waste, throughput and material costs. By analysing this information you can see where your strengths and weaknesses fall. Once you know where you are, you can work out where to go. Improve optimising to save timber. Increase output. Improve Uptime. It all starts with your current statistics. Not sure how your data stacks up? That’s what your saw supplier is for! QUICK WIN #2 Analyse where the bottlenecks in your production are. Take the time to take a walk through your production cycle- starting from when the raw material is delivered and walking through the process until the finished product drives off the property. Where were the touch points? Where did staff members have to walk to/ from in order to fill their role? What took the most time and could it be improved? By process mapping your manufacturing you will understand the bigger picture and where improvements can be made. It will also



ensure that changes are being targeted correctly. QUICK WIN #3 Keep equipment working properly- in other words- preventative maintenance. Keep your saw and other machinery clean, follow the cleaning and maintenance schedules provided by your suppliers and…. BOOK IN THAT SERVICE! Yes your saw will be out of action while it is being serviced- prevention is better than cure. Planned versus unplanned downtime! One day versus an unknown amount of time… QUICK WIN #4 Keep up to date with the latest software for your linear saw. Your saw supplier should be releasing updated software regularly and you need to be installing it! You then need to know and understand the benefits- What are the new features? How can they help you? Is there a difference for optimising? Questions for quizzing your Service Engineer. New versions of the software should mean new and improved features - in other words, better overall efficiency! QUICK WIN #5 Cross train employees. Ensure your team are able to complete a variety of roles within the business- operating the saw, assembly, driving. If someone is sick or on extended leave you want to make sure you have the capability in house to cover for that role. Training may take time but it’s important for the bigger picture.

TECHNOLOGY QUICK WIN #6 Make sure you know your machines and exactly what they can do. Talk to your machinery provider and get recommendations on how you could use your machines more efficiently. No two plants operate exactly the same. Get the unique advice you need for your operation to get the most from your investments. QUICK WIN #7 Have a visual plan! Set daily or weekly goals for uptime/ production/ throughput- display the goals- put it on the wall and make sure the whole team knows what the expectations are. Use the data and reports from your linear saw to track the goals and see any trends in productivity. QUICK WIN #8 - THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE! People are your most valuable asset and your competitive edge. Take the time out of your production schedule to have the company BBQ, invest in the training, continue the safety seminars and daily toolbox meetings. Take the time to ask your sawyers what works well and what slows them down and then pass that feedback on to your saw manufacturer for suggestions. A temporary drop in production that prioritises your team will strengthen your culture- positively impacting every aspect of your business. The quick wins- a few ideas to implement an immediate ‘scale up’ for

your business. Long term- automation will play a role in ‘scaling up’ and it may be more than a linear saw for your cutting. Vekta has extensive experience in helping timber frame and truss companies ‘scale up’ through automation. All of Vekta’s machinery is designed around the customer- everything can be ‘scaled’ to meet your individual requirements, space and budget. The Vekta PackFeeder- Eliminate the infeed bottleneck- keep your hungry saw cutting. • Various sizes available up to 25 bunks • Eliminates human error- the correct timber is always fed into the saw • Frees up your team- no need to have an operator breaking their back trying to keep up with a saw.. Vekta’s StakPro Trusses and StakPro Frames- an easy automation addition • Stacking solutions for finished trusses and frames - various levels of automation available • Removes the necessity to manually handle the finished product • Improves safety for your team • Keep your staff building trusses and frames - not stacking them Vekta’s Direct Delivery System- automation that will allow you to scale up quickly and efficiently. • A conveyor and kickoff system that automatically moves cut components from the saw to their jig/ assembly area.

• Components arrive in the correct order and orientation • Streamlines the manufacturing process- no need to cut a whole job before assembly begins • Customised for every installation- it is not a one size fits all solution • Scalable- you can add as many conveyors or kickoffs in the future as needed. • Eliminate manual handling between the saw and the assembly areas. The past 12 months have been tumultuous and we’re not out of the woods yet. From doom and gloom 12

months ago to a crazy busy, resources shortage. It has been a true rollercoaster ride. Scaling your operation either through quick wins or investment has never been so important. Shortage in timber? Maximise the benefit of your optimisation. Can’t find good workers? Invest in automation that keeps your existing employees focused on only the critical roles. Demand for increased volume? Make sure you’re getting the most out of your equipment. Vekta is passionate about automation and partnering with our customers to scale today for an easier, more efficient tomorrow.


Staying ahead through innovative technology Fully electric timber press

New BXT3-32 launched Intuitive touch screen controls

Modular strapping modules NM2000 Robotic Batten Placement

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WA cabinet makers recognised T

HE inaugural Cabinet

Makers Association of WA Awards Night was held in May at the Mills Park Centre with the awards designed to showcase, recognise and reward WA cabinet makers and celebrate their contribution of quality work in the industry.

The eight awards categories were: Small Kitchen Under $30,000 Large Kitchen Over $30,000 Small Bathroom Under $15,000 Large Bathroom Over $15,000 Small Laundry Under $10,000 Large Laundry Over $10,000 Best Showroom; and Best Designer

Develop our future workforce

And the winners were:

ForestWorks will shortly commence three new skills standards projects: •

Career paths to attract people to our industry

Developing our experienced workers and managers

Safety mindsets in remote operations

To register your interest or for more information contact or 03 9321 3500. 16


Kitchen Under 30k Winner Petgia Cabinets

Bathroom Under 15k Winner Samuel Cabinetry

Kitchen Under 30k Finalist Master Class Cabinets

Bathroom Under 15k Finalist Handwerk

Kitchen 30-45k Winner Ikal Kitchens

Bathroom Under 15k Finalist Western Cabinets

Kitchen 30-45k Finalist Veejays

Bathroom Over 15k Winner Samuel Cabinetry

Kitchen 30-45k Finalist Western Cabinets

Bathroom Over 15k Finalist Veejays

Kitchen Over 45k Winner Samuel Cabinetry

Best Showroom Winner Veejays

Kitchen Over 45k Finalist Western Cabinets

Best Showroom Finalist Silverline Cabinets

Kitchen Over 45k Finalist Western Cabinets

Best Designer Winner Western Cabinets

Laundry Winner Veejays

Best Designer Finalist Western Cabinets

Laundry Finalist Samuel Cabinetry

Best Designer Finalist Eco Cabinets


New direction for proven award-winner C

O MB ILIFT launched its first Combi-CB model just over 10 year ago, and this world first – a compact counterbalance design forklift with multidirectional capability - quickly made its mark on the materials handling sector. It also won a number of awards including the ultimate gold one-off winner of winners UK Forklift Truck Association accolade in 2012. Product development of the CB range has continued over the years, and enhancements and refinements have earned it a place as one of the company’s best-selling products. Designed for those needing to use a counterbalance type forklift for handling pallets but with the added ability of sideways operation for handling long loads, it is a universal machine, perfect for indoor and outdoor operation in multiple applica-

Safety Storage Efficiency

tions. It’s dimensions allow it to work in a small footprint and also enable it to be used for stuffing and destuffing containers, adding an extra Manageof your timber more safely and level versatility. more productively using less space with In linematerials with handling the general Combilift solutionsdemand more electric pow• Safer for product handling ered vehicles, Combilift has • Optimised production space • Improved storage capacity now introduced the Combi• Increased productivity & output CBE, a 4t capacity model • Enhanced profits which features internationally patented electric drive on all of its three wheels. This enables independent control of each wheel, guarantees 100% traction control and negates the need for differential lock when operating on wet or slippery surfaces. Operators benefit from precise acceleration and deceleration control, which significantly reduces long load

Australasian Timber May Chris 210 x145 rev 1.0.indd 1

momentum twisting when travelling sideways. Each electric drive incorporates parking and regenerative dynamic braking for power efficiency. Furthermore the AC drive means there are no mechanical brushes to maintain or replace. Over 50% of models that leave Combilift’s production lines in Monaghan are now electric powered, compared to around 25% five years ago. In Australia over 50% of total forklifts sold in the market year to date were electric. “We are finding that more and more of our customers are looking to replace diesel or LPG machines with electric models,” said Chris Littlewood of Combilift Australia. “The new Combi-CBE answers the growing market demand for higher capacity, powerful performance electric forklifts which offer quieter operation and which

comply with ever more stringent guidelines for reduced exhaust emissions.” Andrew Kidd, Fleet & OHS Manager at Dahlsens Building Centres is one happy Combilift customer who is switching to electric powered models, including a Combi-CBE. “It’s a highly compact and versatile piece of equipment that works in narrow aisles as well as in the yard for loading. Its reliability and ability to withstand the rigours of 25/05/2021 11:11:08

extended operating hours means it more than exceeds our workload requirements,“ he said. “When it comes to electric power, these models will prove to be more cost-effective over their operational lifetime, due to the increasing price of LPG. We no longer need to lift and manoeuvre LPG bottles, and the reduction of noise and fumes makes it safer and benefits everyone on site, as well as our neighbours.”

Safety Storage Efficiency Manage your timber more safely and more productively using less space with Combilift materials handling solutions

• • • • •

Safer product handling Optimised production space Improved storage capacity Increased productivity & output Enhanced profits Australasian Timber May Chris 210 x145 rev 1.0.indd



25/05/2021 11:11:08



Taking engineered wood to the top PHILIP HOPKINS


T’ S appropriate that The

University of Queensland’s (UQ) wood research centre, the Centre for Future Timber Structures (CFTS), is located in the Advanced Engineering Building. The main lecture theatre, made from timber, displays engineered wood in its beauty and functionality as a learning space. That’s what the CFTS, which includes the ARC Future Timber Hub, is all about – research into engineered wood, with a particular emphasis on the development of tall timber buildings in Australia and the Pacific, said Kelly Rischmiller, manager of the CFTS and Hub, which is funded by the Australian Research Council. The Hub emphasises collaboration between its partners – UQ, Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Arup, Hyne Timber, Lendlease and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. Other backers are Griffith University, New Zealand’s forest research centre Scion NZ, the University of British Columbia and the University of Canterbury. 18

The latter institutions point to the universal spirit of timber research, which is also reflected in many of its researchers at UQ. ‘Australasian Timber’ spoke to three of these – Dr Luis Yerman from Uruguay, and Dr Felix Wiesner and Dr Lisa Ottenhaus, both from Germany. Dr Yerman and Dr Wiesner are part of the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life, a collaborative research program between the University of the Sunshine Coast, UQ, and DAF with financial support from Forest and Wood Products Australia. Dr Yerman, a chemical engineer with a background in materials science and waste management who studied in Barcelona, was always interested in bioprocesses, but eventually gravitated towards wood science. “The director of the centre used to say, ‘I can speak several languages’ - biology, chemistry, engineering. I’m expected to be the connection between them!” he quipped.

With emphasis on extending the life span of a timber product, Dr Yerman is studying how the different variables, such as exposure to water – this could include ocean water - can affect timber structures. “Timber connections are in many cases metal. Corrosion will affect the mechanical performance of the connections. We also have fungi and its impact on timber. There is a specifically very Australian aspect – termites. It’s in the (research) queue to start later this year, working with Dr Hassan from the University of the Sunshine Coast,” he said. An immediate project centres on enhancing the effectiveness and long-term preservation of eucalyptus nitens – very important for Tasmania. Dr Yerman’s recent projects include the effects of decay on the flexural behaviour of solid and composite wood products. Dr Wiesner, a lecturer in timber engineering, has a focus on the durability of timber, but within that context, his area of expertise is timber’s traditional bugbear: fire. His background is in structural fire engineering and the fire safety of timber structures, specifically engineered timber structures. AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER May 2021

The interior of the main lecture theatre at the University of Queensland’s Advanced Engineering Building.

“The drive to build more sustainable buildings means more demand for timber. It can only be sustainable if a building lasts for a long time,” he said. “If a building decays after 10 years, or 20 years if a fire destroys it, that is a problem.” Dr Wiesner’s job is to look at fire performance and fire retardants – “protection measures we can use to help the timber in a fire, and also the interaction regarding durability and fire-retardant treatment”, he said. For example, a fire retardant could reduce durability, such as salts that can reduce the strength and moisture cycle of timber, or durability treatments that could reduce the fire performance of timber through chemical action, acting as an oxidiser, during and after fire. “The silver bullet …. is both to improve the fire performance and the durability,” he said. “To treat timber, you utilise chemical treatment. You have to get the treatment into the timber, and it then has to stay there for the lifetime of the timber.” Dr Wiesner said in a building must be designed so that a fire was constrained in a compartment.

“It’s hard to stop ignition; at some point someone will have a faulty charger. It could light something next to it, and once that grows to a certain size, you get ‘flashover’. Everything in a room that can burn will burn,” he said. “People who build whole timber buildings need to ensure that the fire will go out, especially in higher buildings where the fire service may not be able to intervene. The ideal system is where once you remove all things that can burn – desks, chairs - the timber self-extinguishes.” To achieve that depended on a few conditions – the timber species, the thickness of the timber, the adhesive used. “Large timber buildings are made from multiple board glued together, so there is a lot of research going on in that area,” he said. The fire issue was also relevant for exterior timber such as utility poles and fence posts. It was less a safety issue, more a cost issue for utility companies or private farmers. “You don’t want a small wildfire to take out electricity to a community by taking Continued on page 19

Nails vs screws in timber connections N


AILS and screws are the two most common fasteners specified by engineers and used by builders. When considering the suitable fasteners to use, sometimes we have options and sometimes we don’t. Let’s have a look at some common sizes and types of nails and screws which engineers often specify in the design drawings.

Hand Nails and Gun Nails 30mm x Ø2.8mm Reinforced Head Nail This type of nail is suitable for Multi Grips, Joist Hangers, metal and plywood bracing, and the like. It has a reinforced head, is easy to carry and can be found in most carpenter bags. However, from an engineering point of view, its capacity is relatively low compared to bigger sizes of nails. Ø3.05mm Gun Nail The most common lengths of gun nails in timber frames are 75mm and 100mm. They are pneumatically driven nails with equivalent capacities comparable to Ø2.8mm hand-driven nails. It is ideal for fixing two pieces of timber together without any metal ancillaries, however, it is not recommended for fixing metal connectors to timber members. It is quite hard to achieve the required end or edge dis-

Continued from page 18

out the line; you want to design it to withstand fires.” His compatriot, Dr Ottenhaus, also a lecturer in structural engineering, became interested in timber when studying civil engineering in Germany. She ended up doing a PhD in seismic design of timber buildings. “I have always had a focus on connections. My specialty is timber connections,” she said. Her work at UQ is focussed on three main areas. Together with Dr Yerman, she is exploring factors that can change connection performance, such as moisture content. Another focus is how seismic conditions can affect fasteners in connections.


tance as per design standards of timber structures using these gun nails. Refer to Table 1 for more information regarding the minimum end and edge distance and spacing for nails. Traditional Screws Gauge 12 (Ø5.59mm) Screw These screws are available in 35mm, 65mm and 100mm lengths with a much higher capacity than nails. They are also suitable for timber-totimber connections with metal brackets or steel angles. Gauge 14 (Ø6.4mm) Screw These screws are available in 75mm, 100mm, 125mm and 150mm lengths with capacities higher than Gauge 12 Screws. They are commonly used in timber joints where higher forces need to be

Under reverse seismic loading, vibrations might end up bending a fastener, such as a nail. “It could corrode, like a rusted paper clip; you bend it back and forth and at some point, it snaps,” she said. Dr Ottenhaus said new European fasteners being used in treated timber in Australia and New Zealand were encountering chemical corrosion, metal on metal corrosion. “We are doing a project on that,” she said. “I work together with the UQ School of Architecture on timber projects. We have started to explore modular construction and reversible connections in that context. A lot of these reversible connections do come from Europe. Adapting those systems to Australian construction, especially light timber

Spacing End distance Edge distance Between nails along grain Between nails across grain Note: D=Shank diameter of screws

transferred. It is also a common screw size for fixing roof battens and purlins. When designing screw fixing details, minimum end and edge distance and spacing for screws need to be considered as well. Same as nails, Table 2 below listed those critical distances according to AS1720.1 New Generations of Screws The Stud Screw was introduced to timber framing industry to tie down top and ribbon plates to studs in order to replace traditional stud ties or T-plates. It is installed in the factory of wall frame fabricators, along with

framing, where we use species that have a higher density than most European species - it gets interesting.” Dr Ottenhaus said back in the 1970s, the CSIRO was a world leader on research into strength in timber connections and timber species. “We are trying to now transition the Australian timber design system towards the European model. This will be a major aim for me, having a combined standard for NZ and Australia, connected to the codifying community in Europe. We are trying to come up with a more uniform approach, as the world is so connected,” she said. The UQ CFTS and ARC Future Timber Hub are aiming to ensure timber research in Australia is staying true to its universal outlook. AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER June 2021

Minimum distance 20D 5D 20D 10D

a tag attached for inspecting purposes. Screws can hold two pieces of timber together tighter due to their threaded shafts. They also perform better with moisture changes in timber in long term. Screws can provide great tensile strength however, they don’t have good performance when taking shear. Nails can provide greater shear strength, but they may bend under certain amount of load or pressure. Nails and screws are both excellent fasteners however, considerations need to be made when selecting which type of fasteners that you are going to use in your design.

For Multinail Ø2.8mm nail 20 x 2.8 = 56mm 5 x 2.8 = 14mm 20 x 2.8 = 56mm 10 x 2.8 = 28mm

Edge and end distance and distance between fasteners. This condition may result in your only option being the use of nails. Penetration depth. Make sure the fasteners are penetrating deep enough into the second member. For example, screws need to penetrate 7 times of its shank diameter into the connecting member to achieve their full shear capacities. Timber species. Softwood and hardwood may also have some impact on which type of fasteners you should be using. Fixing fasteners into hardwood requires pre-drilling for screws and sometimes nails.

• Putting timber to the fire test at the University of Queensland’s wood research centre.



FTMA Australia is an independent, national organisation representing fabricators of and suppliers to the timber prefabricated truss and wall frame industry in all Australian states & territories providing a unified voice, to protect and advance our multi-billion dollar industry.

FTMA Australia thanks our dedicated supporters and encourages you to support those who support your industry GOLD SPONSORS



For a full list of the conditions of membership and a downloadable application form visit: 20

Ongoing struggle is taking it’s toll A

S I sit here and type this welcome in May, I have a dreaded fear of déjà vu as a new cluster begins to grow in Victoria along with fears of another lockdown. It may be that I’m just a jaded Victorian who still feels burnt from last year’s massive lockdown but it just shows we have a way to go with COVID-19. There is no doubt that the ongoing struggle to find timber and to keep your doors open is taking its toll on fabricators and timber suppliers alike. I’ve been receiving calls at all hours of the day and am always happy to talk to fabricators, even if it is to dump your frustrations before heading home at the end of the day. Some of the rumours and stories I have heard don’t help the situation, as too often the good old rumour mills starts unnecessary fires that take a while to put out and the last thing, we need is more fires! I know when things are tough, it’s hard to be positive, but given this time last year, suppliers were winding down their stock to avoid being caught out, fabricators were unfortunately dropping their pants to secure jobs in fear the industry was going to crash and many were wondering how they were going to keep their doors open. We have been extremely fortunate to be one of the few industries which has been able to keep going throughout all the lockdowns. I know you may not think this, however, if you can survive the next twelve months, our sector has a bright future a head with strong markets for the next 5-6 years. So how do you survive the next year? You plan, you adapt, you monitor and you change if necessary and then you plan again. It will be tougher for some than others, but we encourage you to use the extra resources the government announced in their budget including: • Temporary full expensing • Temporary loss carry-back provisions • Extension of loan scheme for small businesses AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER June 2021

KERSTEN GENTLE Executive Officer FTMA Australia

“We support you!”

• Tax cuts • Digital economy strategy There are many other benefits the Government is putting forward to help small businesses which you can read about at https:// e d e r a l - b u d g e t- w h a t- i tmeans-for-small-and-medium-business-45901/ Timber of course is being unfairly blamed for holding up the construction industry as I’ve had many reports of builders or homeowners waiting up to six months for kitchens, delays on waffle pods and there are delays on most building products. On top of that you have the issue surrounding trades where roofers, brickies and other tradies are hard to find, let alone new employees for your own business. Fabricators have been contacting FTMA seeking help to find employees and we will be sending further information to members shortly on our plans to tackle this issue. We will get through this by working together and by increasing communication throughout the supply chain and by showing patience and understanding. Remember, I am always here for members whether that’s an evening or weekend call as I understand the pressure you are all under. We care about your health as much as we care about the survival of your business, so please reach out if you need assistance. FTMA, helping you keep on top of builder’s debts. In these extremely busy times, it is important for fabricators to keep on top of their builders’ debts, especially when a builder moves from fabricator to fabricator leaving debt in their trail or when they have a bad habit

of charging excessive back charges. Over the years, we have sent emails to fabricators titled Do You Use This Builder, which has helped many a fabricator either avoid being left with a debt or has resulted in the fabricator being able to talk to the builder about their behaviour. It is more important than ever before for our sector to work together to keep on top of this issue and FTMA Australia has increased our ability to help in this area. We have teamed up with Creditor Watch to enable us to check the credit history of the builders sent to us from fabricators before sending out alerts to members. So how does this work? If you have a builder who owes money way past the trading terms or you know of a builder that is going under, please send as much of the following information to FTMA Australia: 1. Name of Builder – both personal name and trading name 2. ABN details 3. Registered address of builder 4. Further details on the situation, i.e., how overdue is the invoice etc. Once information is sent to FTMA, we will check the credit history of the builder on Creditor Watch, including a director due diligence check and file the information, before sending the email to fabricators simply asking Do You Use This Builder? If members do use that builder they will be encouraged to call me for further information. What this service does not provide is: • Checking details for fabricators before accounts are approved. • Taking phone calls to check on directors or builders credit history without having dealt with them and experienced your own bad debt. If you have any questions, please give me a call on 0418 226 242 or email me at FTMA Australia is investing into this program to reduce the risk to fabricators during these unprecedented times.


Employment laws: be involved


T has been a busy few

month for our IR team here at MGA TMA. With various submissions to Fair Work commission, keeping our members up to date with new laws for employment, the team have been certainly hard at work! The current climate and changes in this area highlights the need for businesses to be active in this area and have support. Some key areas our team have been involved in are; PROPOSED FLEXIBLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR PARTTIME EMPLOYMENT As previously reported, MGATMA is working with other employer and employee associations to vary the terms of employing parttime employees who wish to work additional hours at the ordinary rate of pay. This

matter is currently before the Fair Work Commission, and MGATMA is seeking to clarify the clauses in the Award that will give certainty to parttime employees and employers if, employees choose to work extra hours. Currently, there is considerable uncertainty surrounding part-time employment. ANNUAL WAGE REVIEW 2021 All submissions in respect of any potential wage increase in 2021 have now been submitted to the Fair Work Commission, and they are currently under consideration. MGATMA is hopeful that if the FWC decides to increase wages in 2021 that they are low and hopefully delayed, as they were last year. We

will present our final views on any potential increase on behalf of our members to the Fair Work Commission in May, and a decision is likely to be provided in mid-June 2021. By being part of an association that understands your business needs you will not have only a voice on a national platform but guidance

in your day-to-day IR needs. Here at MGA TMA, we offer all this plus workplace health and safety audits, training, and our world class technical advisory service. For enquiries on who we are and what we can do for please contact Mark Paladino (Business Development Manager on 03 9824 4111 or mark.

Timber veneers pass the test of time T timber veneers are produced with state-of-the-art slicing and peeling machines, but the idea of veneering is nothing new. History tells us that the ancient Egyptians were the first to saw thin boards from logs, making best use of the material to hand. The history of veneering starts with the idea of conservation. Apart from the fertile Nile River valley, Egypt’s land mass consists of large areas of desert. Without forests, they had to stretch what they had since timber was rare and highly valued. The ancient Egyptians didn’t have slicing machines but they developed tools for shaving veneers from logs imported from Lebanon, Syria and Phoenicia. Thousands of years ago, incredible veneer work of ebony and ivory was put into the tomb of King Tut, and it survives in museums to this day. Throughout most of history, veneers were produced by sawing wood into thin strips by hand. Veneer production dwindled during the mediO DAY ’S


In sure sign that prefabricated buildings are set for broader acceptance, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) is to develop global prefabricated standards. Following a vote by 17 countries in favour including USA, Germany, France, Italy and Netherlands, the proposal from the Chinese National Standards body has been accepted to develop an ISO standard for prefabricated buildings. The new standards will establish universal criteria of quality, safety, technical and performance indicators, product standards, sizing of elements and the mechanical processes for prefabricated buildings.


LEDINEK reports of further development of their top series of high-performance planing systems for demanding final processing of finger jointed solid wood beams and glulam beams known for its excellent beam surface finish and therefore very popular in such production plants – which now also enables the final surface processing of up to 1.250 mm wide CLT elements with the required Residential Visible Surface Quality. Ledinek developed an oscillating belt sanding unit for the final sanding of the two main surfaces after planing. During the same through feed lateral profiles for on-site assembly can be easily finished onto the CLT elements.

HYBRID SANDWICH PETER LLEWELLEN Technical representative, Timber Veneer Association of Australia

aeval period, but veneered furniture began to reappear in the 16th century and came back into fashion during the 17th century in France. Veneering techniques became very sophisticated during the Renaissance when small pieces of exotic woods were used to create complex patterns and scenes, a technique known as intarsia or marquetry. In the early 1800’s machines were produced that could slice veneers, making valu-

able woods like mahogany and walnut go further by gluing them to less prized species such as maple and birch. Today, we have woodbased sheet products such as particleboard and medium density fibreboard (MDF) as substrates for decorative veneers. The Timber Veneer AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER June 2021

Association’s popular manual, titled Veneer, shows the many different ways they can be laid up. Copies of Veneer can be downloaded from the TVAA website, or hard copies are available free of charge on request to info@timberveneer.

Metsä Wood and its partners have designed a hybrid sandwich wall element which will renew offsite construction. The innovation combines concrete with Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber). The first construction project to use the elements is Metsä Fibre’s Rauma sawmill. The need for more sustainable solutions is acute, because construction causes 30% of all CO2 emissions. Combining concrete and Kerto LVL, the hybrid sandwich wall elements offer an easy way to replace typical concrete sandwich elements, the popular wall element in residential multistorey buildings in Nordic countries. 21

ASSOCIATIONS australasian

Looking Back 2020

Is a backdated medical certificate acceptable?

AN Australian company that has developed technology to turn wood waste into timber that looks and performs like 100-year-old tropical hardwood has entered an agreement with Bosch to globalise the product. At the heart of technology is a patented process using a water-based, formaldehyde-free “Nano-glue” that biomimics the structure of a natural tree in just one day.

Any terms of the employer’s policy or the terms of the applicable enterprise agreement, which purported to provide the employer with the unilateral right to reject any or all retrospective medical certificates as evidence for the purposes of Personal Leave would be a term which conflicted with the provisions of the Fair Work Act (s.107). Exceptions Ultimately, it means that although a backdated medical certificate breaches the AMA’s guidelines, there are circumstances where a medical practitioner can issue a medical certificate based on the employee’s condition prior to the date of examination.

2016 STORA ENSO has introduced a modular construction solution based on CLT solid wood elements to the growing fast construction market, enabling buildings to be ready for use in just a few weeks. There is a need for fast construction in many fields in Europe, for example, student housing, school construction and now the significant challenge of providing housing for refugees. “This is a question of a high-quality, fast construction concept that is familiar to us in Europe. Using a similar system we have realised for example schools in Austria, and it has worked well,” says Stora Enso Wood Products Manager Jari Suominen.

2011 VICTORIA IS once again the lead State for building and residential hotspots in Australia, according to the Housing Industry Association. The HIA–JELD-WEN Population and Residential Building Hotspots report provides a snapshot of Australia’s fastest growing metropolitan and regional areas in the 2009/10 financial year. A “hotspot” is defined as a local area where population growth exceeds the national rate (which was 1.7% in the year to June 2010) and where the value of residential building work approved is in excess of $100 million. Victoria registered nine of the top twenty national hotspots in 2009/10, while Queensland had five, Western Australia had four, and New South Wales had two. 22


ITHOUT doubt one of the more contentious issues raised by TTIA Members relates to the legitimacy of medical certificates from their staff when taking leave. Some employees assume it is their right to access personal/carers (previously sick leave) to be taken at any time of their employment in a similar fashion to annual leave. Indeed, we often have employer’s report to us that personal leave often gets utilised after an employee has given notice to terminate their employment. While workplace policies vary on this issue, many employers request that an employee provide a medical certificate which is considered satisfactory evidence explaining a legitimate reason for the absence. However, what is the situation if a medical certificate is dated a number of days after the initial day of an employee’s absence from work? While a medical certificate is generally considered to be sufficient proof of an employee’s illness or injury which justifies being absent from work, can a business challenge the validity of a back-dated medical certificate or other aspects of the certificate for that matter?

LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK Medical certificates are


legal documents and a medical practitioner who deliberately issues a false, misleading or inaccurate certificate could face disciplinary action under the Health Practitioner Regulation National law. The medical practitioner may also expose themselves to civil or criminal legal action. Item #.6 of the Australian Medical Association’s ‘Guidelines on Medical Certificates 2011’ (Revised 2016) states the following: “6. Date of Certificate 6.1 Certificates must be dated on the day on which they were written. Under no circumstances should certificates be backdated. 6.2 There may be circumstances where the doctor will certify that a period of illness occurred prior to the date of examination. The doctor AUSTRALASIAN TIMBER June 2021

needs to give careful consideration to the circumstances before issuing a certificate certifying a period of illness prior to the date of examination, particularly in relation to a patient with a minor short term illness which is not demonstrable on the day of examination and add supplementary remarks, where appropriate, to explain any discrepancy.” Therefore, it is clear medical practitioners are bound by a professional code of ethics by their registered professional body and backdating is not good practice and may be considered fraudulent unless it can be appropriately substantiated. Ultimately, if they lose their practising certificate, they lose the right to their form of employment, so the stakes are high. MEANING OF ‘BACKDATED MEDICAL CERTIFICATE’ The Fair Work Commission has in the past found in favour of an employer’s interpretation of the term ‘backdated medical certificate’, that is, one certifying illness in respect to a period before the date of examination. However, the Fair Work Commission has also specifically cautioned employer’s that have an unqualified policy of rejecting a backdated certificate presented in support of personal leave claims.

FURTHER ISSUES AND ASSISTANCE Notwithstanding the issues raised about relating to backdated certificates, an employee also has notice requirements under the National Employment Standard (NES)to give notice as soon as reasonably practicable of an illness/injury or to provide care/support for members of the family or household. Many workplaces have a policy on the expectation of such notice to not unduly interfere with the operation of the workplace. In addition, medical certificates have been successfully challenged in court and summary dismissals upheld where they have been altered to deceive the business or the employee’s subsequent actions are not consistent with the terms of medical certificate. If as a business, you’re thinking this area of employment law is a dangerous minefield, you would be 100% right. As in most areas of the law, there are shades of grey and each instance turns on the given circumstances in a case. If you have a situation arise in relation to the legitimacy of a personal leave issue, please contact the TTIA National Timber Employers Hotline on (02) 9264 0011 or 0419 012 522 for confidential advice.


Sell your used equipment, advertise your tender, offer your real estate or find your next employee. For rates and deadlines call Gavin de Almeida on (08) 8369 9517 or email:

Classifieds advertising has long been regarded as one of the best value for money forms of advertising — because it’s been proven to work, time and time again


Now you can sell your used equipment, advertise your tender, offer your real estate or find your next employee through the new classified pages of Australasian Timber Magazine.



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I n c o r p o r a t i n g A U S T R A L A S I A N F O R E S T L O G G E R & S AW M I L L E R

Franz Building Supplies harnessed the power of our numbers and found true Independence. Why did you join HBT? We joined to ensure we remain competitive. We knew there was more that we could do with our suppliers and joining HBT was a way to fast-track that plan and gain access to suppliers that we may not have been aware of.

What has a HBT membership done for your business? By utilising the combined knowledge of the HBT buying team, and the other HBT members around the country, we’re able to source practically any product our clients need. The network of other stores around the country who have always been willing to lend a hand has helped us grow our business through some very challenging times.

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DELIVERING PRECISION Vekta‘s Interior and Exterior StakPros are designed to increase your production and improve safety.Why have many hands lifting trusses when one operator can do the job by using only a remote control! Vekta‘s Interior StakPro is designed to suit your truss jig system. With heavy duty caster wheels and a guided rail mount you can put the StakPro where you need it! The Exterior StakPro has adjustable feet allowing the machine to adapt to your site and manufacturing processes. With the PRESS of a button the StakPro will LIFT the finished truss out of the jig and STACK it on a trolley. Clever! I

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