Tolko reopens Athabaska OSB

Tolko reopens Athabaska OSB

February 12, 2013 was an important day for Tolko Industries and the Athabasca OSB mill in Slave Lake, Alberta.

Lumber shipments at crossroads

Lumber shipments at crossroads

The Lac Mégantic tragedy has brought the transportation of hazardous material by rail to the forefront.

Loggers put brakes on ABS

Loggers put brakes on ABS

As those in the forestry sector know well, truck driving is not for the faint of heart.

Moncton hosts a full show

Moncton hosts a full show

There wasn't any room to spare at the Atlantic Heavy Equipment Show in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Top 20 lumber producers

Top 20 lumber producers

The big companies are getting bigger! North American lumber production moves higher as demand continues to improve.

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Foothills planer line...
Foothills planer line
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Faller training - undercuts...
Faller training - undercuts
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Welcome home to forestry...
Welcome home to forestry
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CFI tests chainsaw...
CFI tests chainsaw

Harvesting

Bandit's Stump Gun a sure shot Bandit's Stump Gun a sure shot

Apr. 15, 2014 - Bandit Industries now offers the Stump Gun, a powerful stump grinding attachment designed for use with skid steers. The Stump Gun's innovative-yet-simple design allows it to easily grind stumps of virtually any shape or size. It attaches to skid-steer loaders in seconds, and it's powered by the skid steer's hydraulic system. "If you have a skid-steer loader, you can have a powerful stump grinder," said Christopher Smith, Bandit's marketing and communications director. "The Stump Gun is a perfect addition for anyone with a skidsteer who's also seeking a simple, easy-to-use stump grinding solution." The Stump Gun connects to any skid steer with a quick attach plate. Once attached, the operator simply connects the hydraulic lines and removes the Stump Gun from its stand cradle. Because it operates vertically, the Stump Gun can be used to grind stumps of virtually any size. Operators simply drive to the stump, raise the Stump Gun into position, and grind the stump from left to right. The vertical design helps to aid chip containment while also being very effective on odd-shaped stumps and rootballs. "What's nice about the Stump Gun is that it's a very basic design with just a few moving parts, yet it's effective on pretty much any kind of stump," said Smith. "It's high-production with low maintenance, and that's something everyone can appreciate." Maintaining the Stump Gun is as easy as operating it. Two grease points, nine grinding teeth and an end-cap on the shaft are the extent of the maintenance. Keep the Stump Gun greased and monitor the teeth and end-cap for wear—that's it. The powerful hydraulic motor requires no routine maintenance, and the steel grinding shaft is built to easily withstand regular grinding operation. And because the Stump Gun comes from Bandit, it's built with the same durable construction and attention-to-detail people have come to expect from a Bandit product. To learn more about the Stump Gun, contact your local authorized Bandit dealer, or contact Bandit Industries directly at 1-800-952-0178.

DuraTech Industries debuts chipper

Apr. 14, 2014 – DuraTech Industries has launched its new TC-15 Tree Chipper. The TC-15 is the larger option in the DuraTech tree chipper line. With option of a 122 hp (91 kw) CAT C4.4 or 139 hp (103.7 kw) CAT C4.4 diesel engine and PT-Tech clutch, the powerful TC-15 can grind logs up to 15 inches in diameter. "We are excited to offer a larger tree chipper with the same advanced and powerful technology utilized in our grinders," said Bob Strahm of DuraTech Industries. "Our TC-12 Tree Chipper entered us into a new market, and now we are expanding further into this territory." The TC-15 features a spring-loaded feed wheel with adjustable down pressure, an optional height sensor that automatically adjusts the feed roller to material size and an optional hydraulic gathering winch. A hydraulic two feed roller system feeds the four 4.5-inch knives designed to chip wood waste. This high-powered unit discharges debris 360 degrees from the hydraulic rotating adjustable chip spout, allowing the user to alter chip disposal. The TC-15 has multiple safety features like the innovative hopper safety light bars with easy and instant shut down. There are also two E-stop switches, a disc hood closed proximity switch and a breakaway brake switch to ensure the safety of the operator. "Safety is a major concern when operating chippers," said Strahm. "The precautions installed on both of our tree chippers allow the users to operate safely and benefit from full use of all the features." The new tree chipper is available with a pintle or ball hitch and can easily be towed to a job site. This unit is compact measuring 79 in. x 208 in. For more information on this or other DuraTech products, please visit www.duratechindustries.net.

Sawmilling

Montreal hosts Intersaw 2014

Apr. 16, 2014 – Sawmill owners and operators will decend on Montreal in September to stay up to date in this highly competitive market. Intersaw 2014 will attract sawmill owners, mill workers and other industry stakeholders and will focus on the full spectrum of sawmilling equipment and technology, from influences in the log-yard, through primary and secondary breakdown, to the final shipping of the product. Quebec sawmills produce over a quarter of the nation's lumber. Olympic Stadium will play host to the latest and most innovative equipment and services required to run these mills at the highest rate of efficiency. With over 400 primary processing plants found throughout the region, this industry provides approximately 80,000 direct jobs in the forestry and wood processing sectors. The forest generates one out of every six jobs in outlying regions, and another 1.6 indirect jobs in the rest of Quebec's economy. For close to 250 of the Quebec municipalities, the forest industry is the main foundation of the local economy. Exhibit categories include:• Band Saws• Blades• Blower Fans• Canter Heads• Chippers• Circular Sawmills and Blades• Conveyor Belts/Decks• Cutting Tools• Debarkers• Delimbers• Edgers-Board• Engines• Feeders• Grapplers• Hogs and Wood Grinders• Loaders• Log Turners• Planers• Scragg Mills• Shavings Mills• Slab Saws• Stake Pointer• Trim Saws• Wheel LoadersThe List Goes On... This event is conveniently co-located with Canada Woodworking East and will be a one-stop shop for those in the industry. Combined, the two shows are expected to attract some 250 exhibiting companies and over 5,000 tradeshow visitors. Trade show badges from either show will allow attendees to have admission to both events.

FPInnovations tackles hardwood issues

Apr. 14, 2014 - The Canadian hardwood sector is facing significant economic challenges but still represents a source of intense activity: it generates many jobs and economic value from hardwood forests across eastern Canada. Research results from FPInnovations’ Hardwood Initiative demonstrate that substantial benefits will be obtained once every step of the hardwood value chain is tightly linked with user needs. Transforming the industryThe hardwood sector has been in a vulnerable position since the American housing downturn and many manufacturing facilities have shifted to Southeast Asia. Major changes were needed for the Canadian hardwood sector to remain competitive and be able to adapt quickly to demand fluctuations and shifts in economic power. “To stay competitive, the hardwood processing industry has to change. Today, secondary manufacturers are focused on acquiring lumber products of the right dimensions and quality that correspond to their specific needs,” explains Torsten Lihra, FPInnovations Technology Transfer Leader. At the forefront of this transformation, FPInnovations and the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre partnered in 2009 with the industry, provincial governments and Natural Resources Canada through the Transformative Technologies Program to launch an intensive four-year program dubbed the Hardwood Initiative. The objective was to accelerate the industry transformation and improve the sector’s short-term competitiveness by looking at the whole picture, from harvesting to user needs and markets. One of the main goals was to examine how best to shift the hardwood lumber industry from a product-focused into a client-focused industrial structure. From a push to a pull modeThe plethora of projects and resulting conclusions is impressive. The main conclusion however, is quite singular: Every industry involved from harvesting to marketing should orient their activity towards what their clients hold in highest regard. This means buying or producing only what the users can transform and sell back at the highest price. Seemingly obvious, this represents a radical change within the sector because the challenge has to be tackled by every player at once. How can sawmills inform harvesting operators of their needs in fibre and log characteristics if they themselves do not know the needs of the secondary or tertiary wood manufacturing industries? Only a handful of companies work on an integrated basis, with every operation dependent on the following operation’s needs. Most companies rely on ad hoc communications with clients and suppliers to prioritize operations. The Hardwood Initiative offers conclusive arguments in favour of integrated change in business practices. A project linking log characterization to user needs, for example, calculated the potential recovery gain obtained by sorting logs according to user criteria instead of sorting with traditional criteria. Potential recovered volume ranged from 20 per cent for flooring components to more than 300 per cent for molding components. This translates in cost reductions between 17 and 75 per cent for these components. These results can be further used to develop silvicultural strategies or merchandizing yard centres that correspond to the sawmills’ fibre demands. What about lumber grading? NHLA rules are still the basis on which sawmills deal with the second and third transformation manufacturers. These players are increasingly looking for lumber adapted to their processes. For example, there exists a discrepancy between the target thickness required for lumber leaving the mill (one inch) and the target thickness actually needed by wood product manufacturers. One of the projects evaluated the sawmill’s benefits of reducing the traditional one-inch target thickness by 1/16 inch. Benefits of this reduction represents 3.8 per cent in terms of lumber recovery. This means close to $130,000 in additional income for a mill producing five MMbf/year. There are many publications and reports available through the Hardwood Initiative website that offer new approaches to ensure better utilization of available wood while growing and improving the hardwood forests for future generations.

Industry news

Swedish imports at 10-year high

Apr. 11, 2014 - The forest industry in Sweden imported about ten per cent of its wood material needs in 2013. Softwood log imports reached a ten-year high, while there has been a decline in the importation of hardwood logs. The major log suppliers to Sweden in 2013 were Latvia, Norway, Estonia and Finland. Sweden is the fourth largest importer of logs in the world, despite having forests that cover almost two-thirds of the country. The import volumes have been growing steadily the past five years, with 2013 imports being almost 60 per cent higher than five years ago. Softwood logs make up all of the increase in imports and 2013 had the highest softwood log import volume over the past ten years. In a contrary development, the importation of hardwood logs in 2013 declined, with import volumes being down about 16 per cent from the previous year. As a matter of fact, imports last year fell to the second lowest level in 15 years, with Latvia reducing shipments the most. During the past few years, between 10-15% of the imported log volume have been sawlogs destined for sawmills in the Southern part of Sweden, of which most have been sourced from Norway. Almost 90% of imported logs in 2013 were pulplogs, evenly split between softwood and hardwood. The two major supplying countries have been Norway (softwood) and Latvia (softwood and hardwood), with other neighbouring countries including Finland, Russia and Estonia following far behind. The total softwood log shipments from Norway to Sweden, including sawlogs and pulpwood, reached just over two million m3 in 2013, up from 1.4 million m3 in 2012 and only 709,000 m3 in 2011. The major reason for this dramatic increase was that the Swedish pulp company Sodra permanently closed its pulpmill in Tofte, Norway last summer. As a consequence, private forest owners in the region have increased their log shipments to pulp mills in central Sweden. This has had an impact on log flows and prices in the local markets in Sweden and there has been no shortage of wood fibre in this part of the country. Imported raw material for the Swedish forest industry is not just a marginal business but quite important for many manufacturers of lumber and pulp. The past two years, imported logs have accounted for about ten per cent of the total log consumption in the country, this was up from 7.5 per cent in 2009.Global pulpwood and timber market reporting is included in the 52-­page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 30 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices, trade and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please go to www.woodprices.com.

Canfor warns of mini-tender offer

Apr. 9, 2014 - Canfor has been notified of an unsolicited mini-tender offer made by TRC Capital Corporation to purchase up to 3,000,000 of Canfor's outstanding common shares, or approximately 2.14% of the Shares, at a price of $24.95 per Share. Canfor cautions shareholders that the mini-tender offer has been made at a price below market, representing a discount of 4.41% to the $26.10 closing price of the shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange on March 31, 2014, the last trading day before the mini-tender offer was commenced. Canfor does not endorse this unsolicited mini-tender offer and recommends that shareholders reject the offer and do not tender their shares in response to the offer. Canfor's recommendation is based upon the fact that this offer is at a price below the market price for the shares and the offer is highly conditional. TRC Capital's offer states that it may terminate the offer if, among other things, the market price of the shares declines since the close of business on March 31, 2014, or if it is unable to enter into a credit facility satisfactory to it to obtain the financing necessary to consummate the offer. Canfor is not associated with TRC Capital, the mini-tender offer, or the mini-tender offer documentation. TRC Capital has made similar unsolicited mini-tender offers for shares of other public companies. Mini-tender offers are designed to seek less than 5% of a company's outstanding shares, thereby avoiding many disclosure and procedural requirements applicable to most bids under Canadian and United States securities legislation. TRC Capital's mini-tender offer is not related to the previously announced renewal by Canfor of its normal course issuer bid pursuant to which Canfor may purchase for cancellation up to 6,995,228 common shares or approximately 5% of the 139,904,563 shares outstanding as of February 28, 2014, at prevailing market prices, in accordance with the rules of The Toronto Stock Exchange. The company repurchased a total of 2,847,838 shares for cancellation between March 5, 2013 and March 4, 2014 under its prior bid, at a volume weighted average price of $21.05 per share. The renewed normal course issuer bid commenced on March 5, 2014 and will continue until March 4, 2015, unless completed or terminated earlier. Canfor continues to believe its normal course issuer bid is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have expressed serious concerns about mini-tender offers, such as the possibility that investors might tender to a mini-tender offer based upon a misunderstanding of the terms of the offer, including the per securities price available under the offer relative to the market price of such securities. Comments from the CSA on mini-tenders can be found on the Ontario Securities Commission website at: http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/en/SecuritiesLaw_csa_19991210_61-301.jsp. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also issued comments about mini-tender offers. The SEC states: "Some bidders make mini-tender offers at below-market prices, hoping that they will catch investors off guard if the investors do not compare the offer price to the current market price." The SEC advisory can be found at http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/minitend.htm and provides guidance for investors receiving such an offer. Canfor urges investors to obtain current market quotations for their shares, consult with their broker or financial advisor and exercise caution with respect to TRC Capital's offer. According to TRC Capital's offer documents, Canfor shareholders who have already tendered their shares may withdraw their shares under certain limited conditions described in section 6 of the offer document at any time before 5:00 p.m. (Toronto time) on April 30, 2014 by following the procedures described therein.

Cellulose pulp tariffs remain high

Apr. 4, 2014 - China's Ministry of Commerce has rendered its final determination in its anti-dumping investigation on the importing to China of cellulose pulp originating from Canada, the United States and Brazil. The final duty imposed by MOFCOM on dissolving pulp imports from Fortress Specialty Cellulose, remained unchanged from the previously announced interim duty of 13%. The final duty imposed by MOFCOM on dissolving pulp imports from all other unnamed current or future Canadian dissolving pulp producers, was reduced to 23.7%. Despite the reduction, such duty materially impacts the economic viability of converting Fortress Paper's FGC Mill to a dissolving pulp mill. Accordingly, the company is currently evaluating strategic alternatives for the mill. Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Paper, commented: "We are very disappointed by this outcome and wholly disagree with MOFCOM's determination. During this challenging time, we will focus on and further enhance our strategy to improve production efficiency and reduce costs. We also remain confident that current market conditions for dissolving pulp will improve as the market adjusts to a reduction in supply caused by the MOFCOM duties." Currently, the company is evaluating its options in response to the duty including, but not limited to, petitioning the Canadian Government to make an application to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to review MOFCOM's determination on the grounds that China's domestic dissolving pulp industry, which petitioned the investigation, suffered no injury as a result of imported dissolving pulp from the investigated countries. Furthermore, management believes the manner in which MOFCOM determined FSC's dumping margin was entirely inappropriate and contrary to WTO regulations which govern such investigations. Although the company believes it has strong arguments against the imposition of a dumping duty, there is no assurance that it will be successful in reversing MOFCOM's final determination or in securing the Canadian Government's support in commencing a WTO review.

West Fraser acquires Alberta, Arkansas sawmills

April 4, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. - West Fraser continues to grow its lumber business in the U.S. South and in western Canada with the announcement that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the Bibler Brothers Lumber sawmill and lumber manufacturing operations located in Russellville, Arkansas. West Fraser also announced the successful completion of the acquisition of Buchanan Lumber sawmill located in High Prairie, Alberta from Gordon Buchanan Enterprises Ltd. The Alberta-based Buchanan Lumber sawmill has an annual capacity of approximately 110 million board feet of lumber. West Fraser plans to invest additional capital in the mill to expand the annual production capacity to approximately 175 million board feet. The acquisition includes timber rights having an annual allowable harvest of approximately 430,000 cubic metres of coniferous timber and 21,000 cubic metres of deciduous timber. The Company expects that the Buchanan Lumber sawmill and related assets will be complementary to several of West Fraser's existing Alberta operations. The Arkansas-based Bibler Brothers Lumber sawmill produced approximately 136 million board feet of lumber in 2013 and in excess of 160 million board feet in 2005. Russellville is located in western Arkansas and is approximately 80 miles from West Fraser's recently-acquired sawmill in Mansfield, Arkansas. Completion of the Bibler Brothers Lumber acquisition is subject to satisfaction of certain conditions that are expected to be satisfied before the end of April. Once completed, West Fraser will own four sawmills in Arkansas as well as sawmills in neighbouring Texas and Louisiana. "We are pleased to be growing and welcoming new employees to West Fraser in the U.S. South and in western Canada," said West Fraser's President and CEO Ted Seraphim. "We expect that these acquisitions will enhance our current operations in Alberta and Arkansas and will further position West Fraser to take advantage of the expected strengthening of our lumber markets." With respect to the acquisitions announced by West Fraser in 2014 to date, additional details will be provided in Management's Discussion and Analysis of its first quarter financial results as well as during the Company's regularly scheduled conference call to review those results.

Wood Panels

North American production is expected to jump even further, moving up by 5.5 per cent in the U.S. and 6.5 per cent in Canada. Lumber supercycle to take off

Apr. 9, 2014 - In 2013, slowing softwood lumber consumption in Europe was more than offset by increases in North America, China and Japan. U.S. housing markets advanced further in the first quarter of the year, but then stalled near the 900,000-unit level for more than six months before increasing at the end of 2013. Relative to the derived long-term demand of 1.5 to 1.6 million units, there is still a long way to go (and returning to “normal levels” is expected to take longer due to a number of structural market changes — changes that most economists have not yet captured in their models). After a retrenchment in 2012, Chinese real estate and wood markets improved steadily in 2013 as Chinese buyers began buying again. Facing reduced log exports from Russia, China turned to more countries for its log and lumber imports. Europe’s ongoing economic woes caused wood products demand to slow further, and a recovery could take shape later in 2014. Japan showed remarkable growth due to sustained rebuilding efforts following the tsunami, and also from moves by homebuilders to get new-home starts sold prior to September 30, 2013 (the deadline for the higher consumption tax on new-home purchases to kick in). While the global economy continues to be fragile, a similar upswing in North American lumber prices in Q4/13 into Q1/14 has occurred that is mirroring a trend to the bullish prices achieved in Q4/12 and Q1/13. However, most buyers are wary of a repeat the Q2/13 lumber price crash, and should any crash re-occur, then this could stall prices from moving much higher for some time. In any event, when higher prices are achieved in North America, it will result in upward price movement on lumber and logs in Asia, and could create enhanced export opportunities for both European and Southern Hemisphere exporters.      When higher prices are achieved in North America, it will result in upward price movement on lumber and logs in Asia, and could create enhanced export opportunities for both European and Southern Hemisphere exporters.   Global Demand and SupplyAfter a 3.4 per cent gain in 2012, total global softwood lumber consumption in 2013 is projected to see a more modest gain of 1.8 per cent versus 2012, reaching 290 million m3 (181 billion bf, nominal). The U.S., China and Japan are expected to achieve the highest growth rates in 2013. For 2014, the global outlook is for an improved gain to 300 million m3 (+3.4 per cent). All major regions are expected to show increases in demand, with Japan perhaps being the only exception (as constructions slows somewhat after two strong years of growth). The U.S. and China are projected to see the highest growth rates in 2014, and these two regions could provide a catalyst for rising prices due to the tighter relationship of these markets in international trade. Global softwood production trends should mirror their consumption counterparts in 2013, increasing by 3.1 per cent to 298 million m3 (186 billion bf nominal. For 2014, production is forecast to grow by a similar amount to reach 307 million m3 (+3.0 per cent). A rebound in North American production (to supply the recovering U.S. housing market) will have the largest influence on global production in 2013: a gain of five per cent is forecast. And, in 2014, North American production is expected to jump even further, moving up by 5.5 per cent in the U.S. and 6.5 per cent in Canada. European production should finally get moving in 2014 (a 3.5 per cent increase is forecast) as export markets create further opportunities. Increased exports to markets in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will absorb the extra volume. North American DemandThe U.S. economy remains somewhat fragile, and recent GDP growth was on the low side for 2013 (1.9 per cent) but Q4/13 grew at an annual rate of 3.7 per cent for the last six months of 2013. The outlook is higher for 2014 at 2.6 per cent. A major downside risk has emerged: the ongoing battle in Congress over budget spending limits has resulted in lower consumer confidence and higher borrowing rates for government. The familiar themes of high unemployment, home foreclosures and “underwater” mortgages have been nearly as prominent in 2013 as in 2012. U.S. housing, the key driver of North American lumber consumption, is now on a slow upward trajectory. New- and existing-home stocks have retreated to historically average levels, prices have stabilized and are rising in many regions, and starts have been growing (albeit from very low levels). Based on increased housing starts, lumber consumption for new U.S. residential construction alone should soar in the next two years. Demand will also grow due to strong gains in repair and remodelling, industrial, and commercial applications. Based on the demand forecast, total U.S. lumber consumption is projected to rise strongly, moving from almost 40 billion bf in 2013 (nominal) to 43 billion bf in 2014 and over 47 billion bf in 2015 — up by about nine per cent each year. Total Canadian demand will also expand, but at a much slower pace (given that Canada’s housing market has already recovered fully from the 2009 recession).      Although limited by tightening timber harvests in the B.C. Interior, Ontario and Quebec, Canadian shipments are also forecast to grow, moving from 24.0 billion bf in 2013 to 25.0 billion bf in 2014 (+4.4 per cent), and then to 25.8 billion bf in 2015 (+3.4 per cent).   North American SupplyNorth American production has recovered by four to five per cent per year in the last two years, and is expected to expand at a similar rate in the next two. Total North American output is projected to be almost 54 billion bf (nominal) in 2013, and is forecast to grow to 56.5 billion bf in 2014 (+5.3 per cent) and 59.5 billion bf in 2015 (+5.3 per cent over 2014). The lion’s share of this increase is likely to come from the U.S.: shipments are projected to grow from almost 30 billion bf in 2013 to 31.6 billion bf in 2014 (+6 per cent) and to almost 34 billion bf by 2015 (+6 per cent from 2013). Although limited by tightening timber harvests in the B.C. Interior, Ontario and Quebec, Canadian shipments are also forecast to grow, moving from 24.0 billion bf in 2013 to 25.0 billion bf in 2014 (+4.4 per cent), and then to 25.8 billion bf in 2015 (+3.4 per cent). The peak year of the timber harvest in the B.C. Interior is expected to be 2015 or perhaps 2016, and then the last round of sawmill closures should start until the end of the decade when most mills will be back to cutting green logs. Chinese consumptionChinese softwood lumber imports continue to grow, and the peak level of 14.9 million m3 achieved in 2011 and this was surpassed in 2013 at nearly 17 million m3. The Chinese market continues to tighten the supply of lumber in North America, allowing lumber exporters from around the world to ship more lumber to China. North American lumber suppliers will need to watch the movement of market prices more closely in China. This is because Chinese buyers have become more aware of softwood resources and products available in other countries/regions worldwide. The Chinese are recognizing other lumber supply options, especially as prices move up in North America (as they did during the 2012/13 spike). The softwood lumber supply world for Chinese importers has become much larger and this will impact softwood lumber suppliers/sources in the future. The days of SPF setting the tone for lumber markets in China should begin to diminish, especially as the U.S. market gets hotter and exports to China diminish. Further details are available in WOOD MARKETS’ monthly China Bulletin and The China Book • Outlook to 2017. Super-Cycle? Maybe!WOOD MARKETS 2014 full five-year lumber forecast to 2018 predicts two distinct price spikes. The first one is anticipated in about two to three years, but will require sustained, strong demand (including an ongoing rebound in U.S. housing starts). A runaway market can only happen when the supply chain can’t keep up with demand and must struggle to keep enough lumber products moving to customers in a timely manner. We have seen this event occur a few times now since the beginning of 2010. With supply steadily ramping up in all regions of North America at a pace of five to six per cent per year, a price spike will require U.S. demand — and especially housing starts — to expand substantially and at a faster rate than production (if tension is to be kept on supply). This could occur if housing starts move toward their long-term sustainable level of 1.5 million units through increases of at least 150,000 to 175,000 starts per year from 928,000 units in 2013. Steady to rising demand should move prices generally higher, and very high prices will attract incremental domestic production (when economically or practically available), as well as imports into the U.S. market. This event is now forecast to occur in 2015 or 2016. At some point, supply will catch up to demand and a price retreat will occur (as it always does). It is highly possible that continued demand growth in the U.S. and Asia, along with an eventual recovery in Europe and key ME-NA markets, as well as the looming restrictions on production from Canada, could combine to create a major supply/demand imbalance. It is still possible for a lumber super-cycle to take place in 2015 or 2016, but it will require steady to strong demand growth in order to occur — something that really hasn’t happened on a sustained basis since the 2009 market bottom. Markets have been volatile, and more extreme volatility is forecast as this next market cycle unfolds. Is it time to fasten your seatbelts? Not yet…but maybe in 2015, and more likely 2016. Extracted from WOOD MARKETS 2014 — The Five-Year North America Lumber & Panel Outlook 2014–2018 - see http://www.woodmarkets.com/p_wmbook.html. Detailed summaries appear in WOOD Markets Monthly International Report.

Belting solution takes the heat

April 7, 2014 - Process and conveyor belting solutions providers Ammeraal Beltech, working with and for the panel board and broader wood processing industry, have created an infeed belt for conti-presses that improves efficiency, is easy to install, and offers an extended service life. The company's ZipLink belt system has progressed from concept to proven global solution in just two years, with installations on every continent.  Greater efficiency, easier installation ZipLink belts are designed to solve a major issue with traditional continuous belts in panel board industry. Normally constructed from PVC or PU, and installed on site with the aid of a welding press, traditional belts withstand only 110ºC, are difficult to splice, and have a short lifetime. The available alternative, an endless woven belt, takes around eight hours to change when necessary, and a team of four to five people. Ammeraal Beltech's ZipLink belts feature a specially designed spiral link made of high quality polyester monofilament with a Silam silicone impregnation. They are continuous and seamless, and the innovative quick splicing method allows the installation of a seamless belt without the need to disassemble the processing machine. They can be installed from start to finish by just two people within two hours. The belt can handle high temp applications above 200ºC. The belt itself remains often cooler and is resistant to 180ºC; and it is designed to handle an 8mm nosebar. If an accident happens on the processing line, ZipLink belts can also be repaired. In all, ZipLink belts' construction delivers real benefits, particularly in terms of increased production time and saved costs. Contact Richard Duijn for further details on Ammeraal Beltech's products for the wood industry at rduijn@ammeraalbeltech.com, or visit the website at www.ammeraalbeltech.com.

Remanufacturing

BC to find new export opportunities

Apr. 16, 2014 – Langley, British Columbia –The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification announced $1,003,326 in funding to support a project by the BC Wood Specialties Group Association (BCWSGA) that will promote market development in the Americas. "The wood products sector is one of the cornerstones of our economy and providing jobs and opportunities for economic growth. By promoting the quality of locally manufactured wood products in new markets, this project will further enhance the sector's value to our economy," said Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. The goal of the project is to identify opportunities in western U.S., Mexican, Central and South American markets for value-added wood products, and prepare companies to participate in trade missions and tradeshows in these markets. Establishing a trade presence in markets across the Americas, would enhance the sales of value-added wood products, thereby increasing exports, boosting foreign investment in western Canada, and create jobs. "New regional markets in Western United States, Mexico and Latin America will be the first step towards increased sales and market diversification for many small and medium sized manufacturers of finished wood products in B.C. The next three years will be a time of rapid economic growth in these regions. With this new program and funding provided by WD, BC Wood and B.C.'s value-added wood products manufacturers will be well positioned to take advantage of that growth," said Grant McKinnon, Past Chairman of BC Wood and Partner of Pacific Homes. Quick facts • The value-added wood products sector includes companies that manufacture high-value products such as specialty lumber, millwork, cabinetry, furniture, engineered wood products, prefabricated homes, and log home and timber-frame structures. • Canada has 10 per cent of the world's total forest cover with more than 100 tree species, allowing for the ability to deliver diverse, high-quality wood products. • The BCWSGA is a not-for-profit trade association that was formed in 1989. Its mandate is to assist BC manufacturers of value-added wood products to achieve global competitiveness by providing marketing services to capitalize on new market opportunities.

Building code to boost mid-rise market

Apr. 8, 2014 - An update to the national building code will be coming out in 2015 with new rules for mid-rise wood buildings and it’s bringing excitement to the industry. Under current codes, wood buildings can be no more than four storeys tall but the new rules will allow for six storey wooden structures. Once the national code is updated, it will be easy for the provinces to adopt the new codes. Current regulations require buildings greater than four storeys to be concrete structures and few developers are buildings six storey apartments. Concrete buildings must generally be eight to ten storeys tall in order to be economically viable. But mid-rise construction is the new building trend as the population ages and urban densification plans keep the urban sprawl of single-family homes to a minimum. Wood buildings have a 15 to 20 per cent economic advantage over concrete buildings making them an affordable housing option for mid-rise condominiums and apartment buildings. “This is a huge opportunity for the wood industry,” Marianne Berube told CFI over the phone. She’s the provincial director of the Ontario chapter of Wood Works! an initiative of the Canadian Wood Council to promote the use of wood in non-residential and mid-rise construction. The Canadian Wood Council recently announced new funding from FedNor for the Ontario chapter; their goal is to position wood as an excellent choice and best-value building material for all types of construction. The GTA and the golden horseshoe make up 50 per cent of the construction market in Canada and condominiums are increasingly popular in this region. Increasing the market share for wood products here, and elsewhere in Canada, provides a stable market for Canadian secondary wood products manufacturers that are heavily dependent on the U.S. housing market. “In Ontario, the new building code will change our market share to three times what it is right now,” Berube explained. “That’s why FedNor is keen that we go to the next level and get that implemented.” The topic of mid-rise construction drew a lot of attention at the Montreal Wood Convention in mid-February (see page 39 for details on the convention). Aside from market forecasts and information on exports to the U.S., a fire scientist from FPInnovations, Christian Dagenais, talked about the challenges and opportunities of mid-rise wood buildings. Dagenais drew a large crowd as he described some of the mid-rise buildings that have been successfully built around the country. These buildings were constructed quickly and were a lot less expensive than concrete buildings that require time for the concrete to cure. He also noted the attractive structure of the wood buildings didn’t require interior finishes, saving additional time and money. Now that six storey buildings are essentially a done deal, Dagenais said his team is looking at wood buildings that are greater than 10 storeys. “We’re looking forward to our first high-rise wood building,” he told the crowd. Rather than setting a limit on the size and type of materials used, his goal is to focus on fully performance-based design that will allow for some flexibility. Fire resistance remains a concern though wood buildings pose no greater threat than other forms of construction; the use of sprinklers and one-hour fire resistance is crucial for any mid-rise building. It is important to maintain the integrity and continuity of fire separations making sure all fire-safety rules are followed. Once the codes have been changed, developers and builders will need plenty of training and technical support and this is where associations such as Wood Works! will continue to have an impact on the industry. “There’s a lot of new innovation going on,” says Berube, “there’s a bright future ahead though it’s been so gloomy for the past number of years. But there’s a lot of exciting things happening right now.”

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