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Creating a culture of smart wood manufacturing

5 June 2023

During the latest episode of FWPA’s WoodChat podcast series, listeners will hear from two thriving Australian forest and wood products companies adopting smart manufacturing principles.

Applying these principles during the wood processing stage brings a range of benefits, including increased profitability, improved worker safety, and better environmental outcomes.

Hosts Sam and Georgia spoke to Trevor Innes, Technical and Sustainability General Manager at Timberlink, which has long been committed to continually optimising its processes while looking to future industry trends at its Bell Bay, Tasmania and Tarpeena, South Australia sites.

Both premises have received major equipment upgrades during the past few years, with Tarpeena set to become home to a new cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (GLT) plant, in light of research suggesting demand for both materials will rapidly increase in the near future.

“We think there’s a real sweet spot for CLT in mid-rise construction, and there’s going to be a good market for projects in multi-residential and student housing,” said Innes. “Buildings currently under construction using steel and concrete are a natural home for this product and its many benefits … it’s quicker to go up and makes for a safer and quieter worksite.”

During the episode, Innes also shares details of plans to build a bio-composites plant at Timberlink’s Bell Bay site. This plant will use the principles of upcycling to create a line of wood plastic composite products. “We’re really excited about the wood plastic composite line. It’s a great environmental solution and will hopefully be a great economic solution as well,” said Innes.

Listeners will also hear from Daniel Wright, Director and National Business Development Manager at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) – an advanced manufacturer and established leader amongst Australian timber suppliers known for developing innovative hardwood products for specifiers.

Amongst the ASH innovations discussed during the episode is its unique MASSLAM range of mass timber solutions, including hardwood and softwood beams, columns, floors, and roof structures produced using sustainably sourced GLT. While mass timber is widely accepted to offer a host of advantages for construction, MASSLAM presents additional benefits, including enabling longer spans, higher ceilings, increased floor space, lesser beam depth, and increased affordability due to the unique strength increase made possible by using Australian hardwoods.

“ASH had long been Australia’s largest producer of GLT by volume, and MASSLAM was a natural extension on that experience and capacity by increasing capability to effectively laminate much larger section sizes, fit for the mass timber market,” said Wright.

Listeners can hear more about these and other exciting manufacturing innovations at Timberlink and ASH by tuning into the episode. You can listen to WoodChat on Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify.

Source: FWPA

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