The pace of housing construction stalled in June, with total housing starts falling 9.3 per cent for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 893,000.
Low quality, high danger as more counterfeit chainsaws are available.
Professionals are required to use the best available science in making our decisions, and so we recognize that climate change is occurring.
"Climate change is occurring and it has fundamental impacts on British Columbia's communities and ecosystems."
When it came to choosing a replacement for their aging log-handling equipment, the two site managers, working 500 miles apart, came to the same conclusion.
FPAC on innovation in forestry...
Catherine Cobden explains what is meant by innovation in forestry
WorksafeBC cautions workers falling trees...
WorksafeBC cautions workers falling trees
Forestry waste put to use...
Forestry waste put to use
July 30, 2014, Kirkland, Wash. – The Kenworth T680 and Kenworth T880 are now available with the fuel-saving SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) by Bendix CVS as an option when specifying these models. The factory-installed Bendix system uses wheel-mounted sensors in each tire to monitor the tire's pressure and temperature. Sensors are located on the steer and drive axle wheels. If tire pressure becomes too low, or tire temperature becomes too high, the system sends a signal to the driver via the dash display. Operating at recommended tire pressure is important for optimal tire life and fuel economy. "Fleets and truck operators are becoming more proactive in addressing tire inflation as they strive to maximize each truck's fuel efficiency," said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. "Now, with the Bendix system for the T680 and T880, they can take advantage of an easier, very efficient and time-saving way to regularly monitor tire pressure and temperature and gain enhanced tire life. The result can be less downtime and more money in their pocket." According to Bendix, a tire that is under-inflated by as little as 10 per cent can result in a 1.5 percent drop in fuel economy, which may increase fuel spending by up to $1,000 per year for a single truck. Under-inflation by 20 per cent results in a 30 per cent reduction in tire life. A tire failure on the road due to improper tire inflation can also rack up large roadside assistance charges, depending on when and where they occur. For more information call or visit a local Kenworth dealer, or visit www.bendix.com. Kenworth Truck Company's internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.
July 30, 2014, Paris, Ont. – Tigercat has broken ground on its new $12 million, 125,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Paris, Ontario. In an official ceremony held at the site of its current Paris-based production facility, a 30,000 sq. ft. building, the company welcomes staff, partners and community officials to break ground and mark the start of construction. "The Paris expansion is a long time coming," said Tigercat CEO Ken MacDonald. Tigercat has been in the small town of Paris, located approximately 100km southwest of Toronto, since 1995 when it purchased its current facility. The new building will be located on the same property as the current plant, on a previously vacant lot at the northwest corner of the lot. "This is a significant milestone in the history of our company," said Tony Iarocci, President of Tigercat. Tigercat has a rich history in the region. Tigercat began in 1992 at the MacDonald Steel fabrication plant in nearby Cambridge, located approximately 30km north of the Paris site. Since that point, the company has expanded to facilities in other nearby communities, with plants in Brantford and Woodstock. Tigercat is one of the few remaining heavy equipment manufacturers in a region that once was at the heart of the industry. Companies such as John Deere, Caterpillar, TiberJack, Massey-Ferguson and Cockshutt used the call the area home, but have all since either shut down or reorganized their operations in a different location. The new plantThe new 125,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant will initially focus on swing-to-tree and cut-to-length attachments. That includes the 200 series material handlers and the 800 series tracked feller bunchers, as well as shovel loggers. The facility is meant to also provide capacity relief for its other plants, especially the one in Woodstock. That will help the company address current needs in the market.The current Paris facility produces undercarriages for the company's extensive product line. The building is being designed and powered for multi-purpose capabilities, providing Tigercat with the flexibility to change product lines manufactured at the plant as worldwide customer demands change. The plant will contain three bays, with 6x32-ton cranes per bay. J.H. Cohoon Engineering of Brantford has provided all of the engineering needs for the new plant. Another Brantford company, Vicano Construction, has been awarded the building contract. It is expected that the plant will be built in time for a Spring 2015 move-in, with full production to follow in the summer of 2015.
July 30, 2014 – The owners of a sawmill in Prince George, B.C. have been fined more then $700,000 by WorkSafeBC. An explosion at Lakeland Mills on April 21, 2012 resulted in two fatalities and twenty-two injuries. The sawmill was found to be in violation of the province's Workers Compensation Act and occupational health and safety regulations. The $724,163 fine is the harshest penalty WorkSafeBC can levy against the mill. It has three months to file an appeal. For more information, go to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-sawmill-owners-fined-more-than-700000-after-deadly-explosion/article19839481/
July 29, 2014, Prince Albert, Sask. – Today, the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, and Fred Bradshaw, Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Environment for Forest Management, on behalf of the Honourable Bill Boyd, Minister of the Economy announced a combined investment of $1.1 million to the Prince Albert Model Forest Association (PAMF). With the assistance of its delivery partner, FPInnovations, PAMF will provide guidance to Northern Saskatchewan forestry companies, particularly First Nations- and Métis-owned companies, to improve management and business practices, revise their product lines and increase marketing activities to be ready to enter new international export markets. "Forestry is a key contributor to this province's economy and to First Nations and Métis employment and entrepreneurship. With seven mills now online in Saskatchewan, the time is right for the industry to start diversifying to meet global demand for new forestry products. This investment will help our northern businesses tap into emerging markets, create jobs and promote sustainable economic growth," said Fred Bradshaw, Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Environment for Forest Management, on behalf of the Honourable Bill Boyd, Minister of the Economy, Government of Saskatchewan. Northern Saskatchewan's forestry companies will also receive customized technical support to produce higher-value products that will result in increased domestic and international sales. FPInnovations will also provide support to companies to professionally market their products at international tradeshows. "Our Government is committed to expanding export markets for Saskatchewan and Canadian forestry products. This project will help achieve that goal, while strengthening the competitiveness of Saskatchewan SMEs, as well as creating long-term employment and economic development opportunities for First Nations and Métis peoples," said Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. This investment will help build capacity and productivity in the Northern Saskatchewan forestry sector to help companies take advantage of strong export markets. · 23% of Saskatchewan's land mass is covered by commercial forest.· Saskatchewan's forest sector generates more than $1 billion in sales annually and creates approximately 5,000 direct jobs, in normal market conditions.· Forestry is Northern Saskatchewan's second largest economic driver. First Nations and Métis people comprise over 15% of the workforce – the largest percentage of Aboriginal forestry employees in Canada. "The Prince Albert Model Forest is all about helping communities build sustainability through programs such as this and as a non-profit partnership association we absolutely depend on external funding to achieve that. We are pleased that Western Economic Diversification Canada has provided this opportunity for us to work together with FPInnovations and other partners to support this initiative," said Mark Johnston, President of the Prince Albert Model Forest Association.
July 30, 2014 - Over 92 per cent of global forestry CEOs think it's important to reduce their environmental footprint, according to PwC's 17th Annual Global CEO Survey. But they can't do it alone. To make sustainability a success, the world's forest, paper and packaging (FPP) companies need to reduce costs and investment risks, while also increasing goodwill among consumers who are becoming more environmentally conscious in their spending choices. In May 2014, senior executives from the Americas, Europe and China came together in a roundtable to discuss the priorities facing the world's forest, paper and packaging sectors. Participants agreed: companies are recognizing the bottom line benefits of sustainability. These include money saved on energy costs, which is viewed positively by investors, as well as increased goodwill among consumers that are actively seeking out environmentally friendly products. But, improving sustainability performance requires constant measurement and benchmarking against peers within and between industries. It's through this ongoing process that sustainability performance will become synonymous with business performance. For more information on PWC findings, read the document.
July 29, 2014 - For the second quarter, Acadian Timber Corp. generated net sales of $12.0 million on sales volume of 229 thousand m3 which represents a $3.6 million, or 23%, decrease in net sales compared to the same period in 2013. Results were less than the same period last year reflecting the delayed recognition of sales in the prior year due to the vendor managed inventory ("VMI") program that was in place at the New Brunswick operation. On a year-to-date basis, net sales are 2% lower than in the same period last year with a slower start-up of operations in the second quarter due to an extended mud season being largely offset by improved log pricing. "Demand remains strong in Acadian's operating region," said Reid Carter, Chief Executive Officer of Acadian. "Softwood timber selling prices are benefiting from the continued positive outlook for lumber demand and strong demand from regional hardwood pulp and structural panel producers is supporting hardwood pulpwood prices." Adjusted EBITDA of $1.9 million for the second quarter was $1.0 million lower than in the second quarter of 2013, while Adjusted EBITDA margin decreased to 16% from 19% in the same period of last year. On a year-to-date basis, Free Cash Flow improved $1.0 million to $6.7 million resulting in a payout ratio of 104%, below the ratio of 121% in the same period last year. Operating earnings for the second quarter, at $1.8 million, decreased $0.9 million year-over-year, largely reflecting the timing of sales. Net income totaled $4.7 million, or $0.28 per share, for the second quarter, an increase of $5.6 million or $0.33 per share from the same period in 2013. The increase in net income reflects a higher non-cash fair value adjustment due to lower harvest levels and a $2.7 million unrealized exchange gain on long-term debt compared to a $2.5 million unrealized loss in the same period of the prior year. Acadian traditionally experiences low levels of operating, marketing and selling activity during the second quarter of each year owing to the spring thaw period that causes much of the infrastructure to be temporarily inoperable. Harvest volume for the second quarter, excluding biomass, was 138 thousand m3, down 21% compared to the same period in the prior year due to a slower start-up at the New Brunswick operation resulting from the well above-average snowpack of the prior winter. Sales volume of 229 thousand m3 was down 31% from the second quarter of 2013, with the decrease largely coming from Acadian's operations in New Brunswick due to the discontinuation of the VMI program. Acadian's weighted average log price during the second quarter increased 11% year-over-year primarily due to higher softwood sawlog and hardwood log prices, a stronger U.S. dollar and a higher proportion of high value hardwood sawlogs in the sales mix. Softwood sawlog prices were up 10% relative to the same period last year, benefiting from our customers' continued positive outlook for lumber demand. Prices for hardwood sawlogs and pulpwood were both up 7% relative to the second quarter of last year reflecting strong market demand. Softwood pulpwood pricing has weakened, declining 8% year-over-year, with fewer groundwood customers operating. Biomass gross margin was down 27% year-over-year due to fewer export customers during the period, but is expected to recover in the coming quarters. New Brunswick Timberlands Softwood, hardwood and biomass shipments were 68 thousand m3, 74 thousand m3 and 40 thousand m3, respectively, during the second quarter. This represents a year-over-year decrease in sales volume of 37% largely reflecting the impact of the VMI program that was in place in 2013, which deferred sales from the first quarter to the second. Harvest volume in the second quarter of 2014 was typical of seasonal conditions, but lower than the same period last year as the well above-average snowpack of the prior winter led to a slow start-up. Approximately 40% of sales volume was sold as sawlogs, 38% as pulpwood and 22% as biomass in the second quarter. This compares to 42% sold as sawlogs, 34% as pulpwood and 24% as biomass in the second quarter of 2013. Net sales for the second quarter totaled $9.3 million compared to $13.5 million for the same period last year, again reflecting the impact of not operating under the VMI program in the current year, but partially offset by increased softwood sawtimber and hardwood selling prices. The weighted average log selling price was $61.11 per m3 in the second quarter of 2014, a 9% increase from $56.12 per m3 in the same period of 2013 as a result of improved selling prices for most product and a higher proportion of hardwood in the sales mix. Net sales for the six months ended June 28, 2014 were $23.7 million, a decrease of $1.9 million over the first half of 2013, due to lower sales volumes. Costs for the second quarter were $7.6 million, compared to $10.6 million in the same period in 2013, due to lower harvest volumes of primary products, partially offset by 3% higher variable costs per m3 caused by a higher proportion of hardwood products being supplied from log handling yards. For the six months ended June 28, 2014, costs were $17.6 million, $2.0 million lower than during the first half of 2013, due to lower harvest volumes. Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter was $1.7 million, compared to $2.9 million in the second quarter of 2013 reflecting the discontinuation of the VMI program. Adjusted EBITDA margin decreased to 18% from 22% in the prior year. For the six months ended June 28, 2014, adjusted EBITDA was $6.1 million, an increase of $0.2 million over the first half of 2013. There were no recordable safety incidents among employees and contractors during the second quarter of 2014. Maine Timberlands Softwood, hardwood and biomass shipments were 18 thousand m3, 20 thousand m3, and 10 thousand m3, respectively, during the second quarter. This represents a year-over-year increase in sales volume of 12%. Approximately 36% of sales volume was sold as sawlogs, 43% as pulpwood and 21% as biomass during the second quarter. This compares to 37% sold as sawlogs, 43% as pulpwood and 20% as biomass in the second quarter of 2013. Net sales for the second quarter totaled $2.7 million compared to $2.1 million for the same period last year. The improvement was the result of increased hardwood sales volume and improved pricing across all products, as well as the positive impact of the stronger U.S. dollar. The weighted average log selling price was $68.34 per m3 in the second quarter of 2014, a 19% increase from $57.30 per m3 in the same period of 2013 in Canadian dollar terms. Weighted average log selling prices in U.S. dollar terms increased 11% year-over-year. Net sales for the six months ended June 28, 2014 were $9.5 million, an increase of $1.3 million over the first half of 2013, due to improved log selling prices. Costs for the second quarter were $2.3 million, compared to $2.0 million during the same period in 2013. Variable costs per m3 increased 14% in Canadian dollar terms and 7% in U.S. dollar terms reflecting a shift in product mix during the period with a greater proportion of the sales being higher cost hardwood sawtimber processed through the woodyard as well as longer hauling distances for softwood pulpwood due to the closure of the paper mill in East Millinocket. For the six months ended June 28, 2014, costs were $6.7 million, $0.7 million higher than during the first half of 2013, due to higher harvest volumes and adverse foreign exchange movements. Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter was $0.4 million, compared to $0.2 million for the same period in 2013, while Adjusted EBITDA margin increased to 14% from 10% in the prior year. For the six months ended June 28, 2014, Adjusted EBITDA was $2.9 million, an increase of $0.7 million over the first half of 2013. There were no recordable safety incidents among employees and contractors during the second quarter of 2014. Market Outlook U.S. housing market forecasts continue to be adjusted downward despite significant pent up demand. Analysts have concluded that last spring's increase in mortgage rates coupled with increases in home prices and tighter mortgage lending rules explains much more of the current weakness in mortgage applications and new home sales than the harsh winter weather experienced in 2014. Improved economic growth, with further gains in employment and wages, will need to take place before a more robust recovery in housing can be expected. Despite this less robust outlook, most industry watchers continue to forecast year-over-year increases in total housing starts of approximately 10 to 20% in 2014 with increases of the same magnitude in 2015. This optimism has kept North American lumber prices strong throughout 2013 and 2014 encouraging Acadian's key solid wood customers to continue to operate at full capacity. As such, we expect to see ongoing strong demand for softwood sawlogs in the region. Markets for hardwood sawlogs have been positive and are expected to remain stable and demand and pricing for hardwood pulpwood continues to be strong. While Acadian has been successful in selling its softwood pulpwood production, this market is challenging due to the closure of several regional groundwood mills. Biomass sales have been somewhat slow during the first half of 2014, although we expect to see modest improvements through the remainder of the year as several of the logistical challenges currently constraining export markets are relieved.
July 24, 2014, Vancouver - Canfor Corporation reported net income attributable to shareholders of $54.3 million, or $0.39 per share, for the second quarter of 2014, compared to $45.5 million, or $0.33 per share, for the first quarter of 2014 and $110.3 million, or $0.77 per share, for the second quarter of 2013. For the six months ended June 30, 2014, the Company's shareholder net income was $99.8 million, or $0.72 per share, compared to shareholder net income of $172.2 million, or $1.21 per share, reported for the first half of 2013. The company reported operating income of $97.3 million for the second quarter of 2014, compared to operating income of $84.4 million for the first quarter of 2014. The positive variance largely reflected improved shipments across all segments in the current quarter resulting from improved railcar availability and resolution of the truckers' strike at the Vancouver port in the first quarter of 2014, mitigated somewhat by lower sales realizations in both the lumber and pulp and paper segments and maintenance outages at the Company's pulp and paper facilities. Reflecting the overhang of lumber inventories in British Columbia resulting from the transportation challenges experienced in the previous quarter, Western Spruce/Pine/Fir ("SPF") lumber prices saw a gradual decline through most of the second quarter of 2014. Towards the end of quarter, however, prices picked up in response to improved demand and as inventories reached more balanced levels. The U.S. housing market continued its recovery, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated as home construction activities continued to be hampered by a shortage of building lots and skilled construction workers across the country, as well as tight credit availability. U.S. housing starts averaged 980,000 units SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate), up 6% from the previous quarter. In Canada, lumber consumption was higher than the previous quarter, with Canadian housing starts up 11% from the first quarter of 2014, to 196,000 units SAAR. Offshore demand was steady, with higher shipments reflecting the improved transportation performance. The company's lumber sales realizations decreased moderately compared to the previous quarter, as a 9% decline in the average North American Western SPF 2x4 #2&Btr price (down US$32 per Mfbm to US$335 per Mfbm) was mitigated by less pronounced decreases on most wider dimension products as well as improved pricing on several other grades and more stable offshore prices. The latter largely reflected the nature of offshore pricing, much of which is negotiated monthly or quarterly in advance. Current quarter sales realizations also reflected the favourable impact of a higher percentage of prime products, in part reflecting the closure of the company's Quesnel Sawmill in the first quarter of 2014, and the unfavourable impact of a 1% stronger Canadian dollar compared to the US dollar. Overall sales realizations for Southern Yellow Pine ("SYP") products were up modestly compared to the previous quarter; while the benchmark SYP 2x4 #2 price was relatively unchanged, moderate increases were seen for several wider dimension products, which more than offset a decline in the 2x6 #2 price. Lumber shipments, at over 1.2 billion board feet, were up 33% from the previous quarter, reflecting the aforementioned improved railcar availability and increased offshore shipments. Lumber production, at just under 1.1 billion board feet, was down 2% from the first quarter of 2014, largely as a result of the closure of the Company's Quesnel Sawmill and the sale of the Company's Daaquam Sawmill in the previous quarter. Excluding the impact of the Quesnel and Daaquam Sawmills, the Company's lumber production was up 6% from the previous quarter, principally due to improved productivity following completion of several major capital projects as well as improved weather. Production in the current quarter was impacted by capital related downtime and continued ramp-ups at several sawmills following major capital upgrades in previous quarters. Lumber unit manufacturing costs were down slightly from the previous quarter, driven in part by the continued productivity improvements as well as other seasonal factors. Log costs remained relatively stable, mainly due to seasonally lower logging activity in the current quarter, ahead of an anticipated increase in log costs in the third quarter of 2014. Global softwood pulp markets were steady through the second quarter of 2014. Softwood pulp demand was solid across all regions and global softwood pulp producer inventory levels tightened through the quarter, decreasing 3 days from the end of March 2014 to 25 days' supply in June 2014, partly reflecting supply constraints due to seasonal maintenance downtime. The North American NBSK pulp list price was stable over the quarter averaging US$1,030 per tonne, up US$13 per tonne, or 1%, compared to the first quarter of 2014. Discount levels were consistent with the previous quarter. The NBSK pulp list price to Europe also remained largely unchanged, averaging US$925 per tonne, up US$5 per tonne from the previous quarter, while the average NBSK pulp list price to China was down US$27 per tonne, or 4%, to US$730 per tonne. Despite the average NBSK pulp prices to North America and Europe increasing slightly compared to the previous quarter, the combination of the weaker prices to China, the 1% stronger Canadian dollar and a higher proportion of shipments to lower-margin markets, including Asia (mostly tied to constraints in the previous quarter due to the Vancouver Port truckers' strike), resulted in a small decrease in pulp unit sales realizations. Pulp shipments were up 23% from the previous quarter, largely attributable to improved transportation performance following the challenges experienced in the prior quarter. Pulp production levels were down 7% from the previous quarter principally related to the maintenance outages at the Intercontinental and Prince George Pulp Mills, which reduced market pulp production by 18,000 tonnes. Pulp unit manufacturing costs were up moderately compared to the previous quarter, mostly due to the aforementioned maintenance outages and increased fibre costs, partially offset by seasonally lower energy costs. The higher unit fibre costs reflected higher delivered sawmill residual and whole log chip costs and seasonal factors. Commenting on the second quarter performance, Canfor's President and Chief Executive Officer, Don Kayne, said, "After the various logistical challenges experienced in the first quarter, we were pleased to see the transportation pressures across our lumber and pulp businesses ease somewhat in some regions in the second quarter. We continue to make good headway with our capital upgrades at our lumber business and anticipate a steady increase in production over the balance of the year and into 2015." Looking ahead, North American lumber consumption is forecast to improve with steady demand in the residential construction market and continued strength from the repair and remodeling sector. The build of lumber inventories from the shortage of railcars in the first quarter of 2014 is projected to be cleared before the end of the third quarter. Offshore shipments are forecast to remain stable reflecting steady demand from China and other emerging markets, while shipments to Japan are projected to ease and prices soften from lower lumber demand. NBSK pulp markets are steady heading into the seasonally slower third quarter of 2014. A risk of pulp price weakness remains for the second half of 2014 due in part to reduced global consumption during the historically slower summer months and new hardwood pulp capacity projected to flow into markets.
July 24, 2014 - The pace of housing construction stalled in June, according to the US Census Bureau, with total housing starts falling 9.3 per cent for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 893,000. The decline was primarily in the South where local labour and lots shortages were slowing construction activity. Nationwide, the May count of unfilled construction jobs is the third highest since the end of the Great Recession. Builder sentiment, however, points to more positive conditions in the near term, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which rose four points in July. At a current reading of 53, it's the first time since January that builder condfidence passed the key break-even level of 50. Builder sentiment is up in all four regions of the U.S. and in all components, including current sales, future sales and traffic.
July 29, 2014, Toronto - Norbord Inc. reported EBITDA of $33 million in the second quarter of 2014 compared to $27 million in the first quarter of 2014 and $102 million in the second quarter of 2013 (prices are in US dollars). The year-over-year change is due to the exceptional North American OSB prices in the first half of 2013. North American operations generated EBITDA of $24 million in the quarter versus $17 million in the prior quarter and $92 million in the same quarter last year. European operations generated EBITDA of $12 million in the second quarters of both 2014 and 2013 versus $13 million in the prior quarter. "In North America, homebuilding activity continues to improve. But the pace has been held back by labour availability and a lack of entry-level buyers and OSB prices have been disappointing," said Peter Wijnbergen, President and CEO. "However, we are not discouraged. We always expected it would take time for OSB demand growth to absorb the additional capacity that has been ramping up since early 2013. At Norbord, demand from our key customers in all core segments - new home construction, home improvement and industrial - continues to grow, driving 10% higher shipments so far this year. At the same time, our OSB cash production costs are declining due to improved productivity and lower raw material usages." "European panel markets were a bit slower in the second quarter, reflecting a pullback from a particularly robust first quarter. Our business there performed well once again and our panel mills are operating at record production levels. I expect we will continue to generate solid results through the second half of the year." Norbord recorded earnings of $11 million or $0.21 per share ($0.20 per share diluted) in the second quarter of 2014 compared to $7 million or $0.13 per share (basic and diluted) in the prior quarter and $53 million or $1.00 per share ($0.99 per share diluted) in the second quarter of 2013. There were no one-time items in either the current or comparative quarters' earnings. Market Conditions In North America, year-to-date US housing starts were 6% higher than the same period in 2013 and permits were 5% higher. The consensus forecast from US housing economists is continuing to decline and currently stands at 1.05 million starts in 2014, which would still be a 13% improvement over last year. North American OSB prices were relatively stable and continued to trade in a tight range in the second quarter. The North Central benchmark averaged $219 per thousand square feet (Msf) (7⁄16-inch basis), unchanged from the previous quarter and down from $347 per Msf in the same quarter last year. In the South East region, where more than half of Norbord's North American capacity is located, benchmark prices averaged $199 per Msf, compared to $193 per Msf in the prior quarter and $313 per Msf in the same quarter last year. In Europe, panel markets slowed in the second quarter as strong demand on the Continent in the first quarter due to unseasonably mild and dry weather pulled homebuilding activity forward. Average panel prices held firm in the quarter, unchanged versus the prior quarter and 2% higher than the same quarter last year. Performance In North America, Norbord's OSB shipments increased by 11% versus the prior quarter, 12% versus the same quarter last year and 10% year-to-date, primarily due to higher demand from all customer segments. The North American OSB mills produced at approximately 85% of stated capacity (including the two curtailed mills in Huguley, Alabama and Val-d'Or, Quebec), compared to 80% in the prior quarter and 75% in the same quarter last year. The increase versus both comparative periods is due to improved mill productivity. The year-over-year improvement also reflects the additional volume from the Jefferson, Texas mill, which restarted in the third quarter of 2013. Norbord's North American OSB cash production costs per unit (before mill profit share) decreased by 4% versus both the prior quarter and the same quarter last year. Lower raw material usages and higher production volume more than offset higher raw material prices. Excluding the impact of higher raw material prices, unit costs decreased by 6% year-over-year. As previously announced, Norbord has begun rebuilding the press line at the curtailed Huguley, Alabama mill to prepare it for restart. The company has not set a restart date and will do so only when it is sufficiently clear that customers require more product. Norbord does not currently expect to restart its curtailed mill in Val-d'Or, Quebec in 2014, but will continue to monitor market conditions. In Europe, Norbord's shipments increased 3% year-to-date, but were 9% lower versus the prior quarter and 3% lower than the same quarter last year. The company's panel mills achieved a second consecutive quarterly production record. The European mills produced at approximately 105% of stated capacity in the quarter, compared to 110% in the prior quarter and 100% in the same quarter last year. Norbord's mills delivered Margin Improvement Program (MIP) gains of $6 million in the first half of 2014 from a richer value-added product mix, improved productivity, lower raw material usages, lower labour and maintenance costs and the timing of maintenance shuts. Capital investments totaled $42 million year-to-date and the full year target remains at $65 million. This year's capex target includes the rebuild of the wood handling end at the Joanna, South Carolina mill and a continuation of strategic investments across the Company's other mills to improve productivity and reduce manufacturing costs. It also includes approximately $10 million for preliminary work to rebuild the press line at the mothballed Huguley, Alabama mill. Further spending to prepare this mill for restart has been deferred to 2015. Operating working capital was $96 million compared to $93 million in the prior quarter and $86 million in the prior year. Working capital increased year-over-year due to the foreign exchange translation impact of a stronger Pound Sterling relative to the US dollar, as well as higher inventory and maintenance supplies on hand for annual maintenance shuts planned for the third quarter. At quarter-end, Norbord had unutilized liquidity of $425 million, consisting of $83 million in cash and $342 million in unused credit lines. The company's tangible net worth was $453 million and net debt to total capitalization on a book basis was 44%. Both ratios remain well within bank covenants.
July 21, 2014 – Laminate designs based on nature cannot be copyrighted, according to a lawsuit between U.S. laminate flooring distributors Mannington Mills and Home Legend. Mannington sued Home Legend for copying its patented approach to a maple floor pattern but the judge said Mannington had tried to reproduce the wood grain, which occurs naturally and cannot be covered under copyright protection. For more information go to: www.woodworkingnetwork.com.
July 16, 2014, Edmonton – Since its 1999 start in Calgary, under the leadership of Jeff Floyd (Alberta Division Manager) Upper Canada Forest Products has continually grown its market presence and scope in Alberta. In 2007 it acquired Cambium Forest Products, doubled the size of its Calgary warehouse in 2013, acquired Reimer Hardwoods of Alberta earlier this year, and now has opened of a new LEED certified warehouse facility in NW Edmonton. Edmonton has a vibrant and established millwork and cabinet industry and is a growing metropolis of almost 1.2 million people. Edmonton is also the stepping off point to many northern Alberta communities. UCS Forest Group is North America's premier importer, exporter, and distributor of specialty products serving discerning customers in the architectural woodworking, commercial and residential furniture, and cabinet-making industries. UCS does business as Sierra Forest Products in the United States, Upper Canada Forest Products in Canada, UCS Global internationally and A&M Wood Specialty.
July 2, 2014 - While the Stella-Jones pole processing plants in Prince George and Galloway, British Columbia both report to North America's leading provider of utility poles and railway ties, each facility is responsible for managing its own operation independently. When it came to choosing a replacement for their aging log-handling equipment, the two site managers, working 500 miles apart, came to the same conclusion. Today, the Prince George and Galloway facilities are both running new purpose-built SENNEBOGEN 830 M-T material handlers. Bob Stewart was the Plant Manager in Prince George when the purchase of their 830 M-T was proposed to head office. "We looked at 3 or 4 different makes of machines last year, made our decision on Sennebogen and put together the business plan to acquire it." In Galloway, meanwhile, Richard Harkies was also shopping for new equipment. "We had already looked at the other two big names in material handlers," he recalls. "Then Tom Truman (from the Sennebogen dealer, Great West Equipment) came by and took us to see a Sennebogen demonstration in Lavington. We hadn't actually heard of Sennebogen before then!" Before the year was out, Galloway had become a Stella-Jones operation and the purchase of the machine went ahead. Great West Equipment delivered the first one of its 830 M-T's to Prince George in January, and the second was delivered to the Galloway Mill in June. The 830 M-T is a purpose-built material handler for trailer pulling. It has an undercarriage and transmission configuration that's specially built to pull over 100,000 lb. log trailers. The two material handlers were then fitted with Rotobec log grapples. They were also customized to widen out the tines and the tips to minimize damage to the wood. Each was then equipped with a live heel. While the two sites differ in some ways in their specific application, their managers are equally satisfied that the 830 M-T was the right way to go. The Prince George plant processes both utility poles and railway ties, so its log handler has to manage moving and loading square timber as well as round wood. "We stack the ties in packs of 25 for air seasoning," says Bob Stewart. "Then we load the bundles onto gondolas for delivery. The 830 M-T pulls a tridem trailer loaded up to 75,000 lbs. It could be a larger sized machine than we really need, but we wanted to be prepared for future demands, too. We anticipate that we'll get 10 to 15 years of service from this unit." "It has a lot of hydraulic power," he continues. "It takes a fine touch to grab a large load without damaging the wood. These controls are very user-friendly and the hydraulics are very responsive. We also find that the stance of the machine, with its wide wheelbase, is much better for getting around even in soft ground than what we experienced before." Richard Harkies also cites improvements in mobility among the advantages of the 830 M-T. "We have to drive a half-a-mile from one end of the yard to the other. With a separate transmission on each axle, it pulls smoother and it doesn't shift as hard and it's more stable." Harkies notes that the extra stability is especially helpful when the operator's cab is elevated. "The high-lift cab is way better for loading rail cars, because you can see the top of the load. The operators can set it at the best height, for comfort, for whatever they are doing. In the spring, after the snow, you can get potholes, which can make it a little rough up there! The wide stance and pneumatic tires smooth out the ride for them." Stewart and Harkies are both confident that their concerns about the future reliability of their equipment have been answered. Sennebogen's 100,000 sq. ft. headquarters near Charlotte, NC maintains the largest inventory of material handling parts in North America. Great West Equipment, their Sennebogen distributor, also keeps a large stock of off-the-shelf parts for their customers. And Stewart acknowledges the importance of Great West's experience in the industry. "We have been dealing with (Great West representative) Dillon Healey for 8 or 9 years. We always feel that we get a good deal and they're always very helpful making sure that our equipment is perfectly suited to our application." The stability and smooth pulling power of the 830 M-T is well suited to the 1/2 mile circuits in the log yard.