Wood Panels

Jan. 28, 2015 - Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced that Norbord shareholders and Ainsworth shareholders and optionholders approved the previously announced proposed combination of Norbord and Ainsworth by way of a plan of arrangement.

The transaction remains subject to customary conditions to closing, including approval of the plan of arrangement by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Subject to receipt of court approval and the satisfaction or waiver of all closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Norbord and Ainsworth also provided the following general update in connection with the transaction. While the transaction is not reportable under the U.S. Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act of 1976 or the Canadian Competition Act because Norbord and Ainsworth share a common controlling shareholder, the U.S. Department of Justice has requested information about the transaction and the companies, as it is entitled to do. Norbord and Ainsworth are providing the DOJ with the information it has requested and are working proactively with the DOJ to ensure an expedited review process. Norbord and Ainsworth are confident this review will have a satisfactory outcome and that it will not impact the companies' ability to close the transaction by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Dec. 8, 2014, Vancouver – Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced that they have signed a definitive agreement under which they will merge to create a leading global wood products company focused on oriented strand board across North America, Europe and Asia. The all-stock deal is valued at $762.6 million.

“This transaction unites two complementary businesses behind a common vision of enhanced service to our customers and growth in North America, Europe and Asia,” said Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Norbord and Ainsworth are each low-cost producers in their respective regions, and with our complementary operations and a more diverse range of specialty products, we will be better able to serve our customers across the globe. Ainsworth has excellent mills, a proven track record of innovation in value-added product development, and we look forward to working together. The growth potential we see in the combined company also offers significant value to our shareholders.”

Under the terms of the arrangement agreement announced today, Norbord has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth in an all-share transaction in which Ainsworth shareholders will receive 0.1321 of a Norbord share for each Ainsworth share pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the British Columbia Business Corporations Act.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and its affiliated entities, which control approximately 55% and 52% of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth and Norbord respectively, have entered into a binding agreement in which they have committed to vote in favour of the transaction. Upon closing, the Brookfield entities will control approximately 53% of the outstanding common shares of the combined company.

Said Jim Lake, Ainsworth’s President and Chief Executive Officer: “The combination of the two companies will mean tremendous opportunities for our people and our customers. By joining with Norbord we will be able to leverage its commitment to low-cost operational excellence to expand and improve our existing range of products and enhance our customer relationships. For our shareholders, this transaction offers significant potential for continued value creation as investors in a larger and better-capitalized company with ongoing participation in the current U.S. housing recovery. This is an exciting transaction for Ainsworth and its stakeholders.”

On a pro forma basis, the combined company generated USD $1.63 billion in sales and USD $143 million in Adjusted EBITDA for the 12 months ended September 27, 2014. The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings and cash flow in the first year.

Nov. 25, 2014, Mississauga – Weston Forest Products Inc. has purchased an interest in Toronto-based Bramwood Forest Products, effective December 1, 2014.

"Bramwood has been a strong competitor of ours for many years," said Ekstein. "They are an excellent company, with great remanufacturing capabilities, great people and a loyal customer base. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship."

Bramwood owner and President Nir Meltzer will remain as a partner. He will continue as President – and will operate Bramwood as a fully independent entity. That means for customers, suppliers, and employees of both entities, it will be business as usual.

"Weston recognizes that Bramwood's growth over the past 25 years has been based on our culture and our unique approach to business," said Meltzer. "We want to ensure that continues, which is why both businesses will continue to maintain independent operations, locations and brands."

Weston Forest is one of North America's leading full service distributors and remanufacturers of softwood & hardwood lumber and specialty panel products.

Weston maintains an extensive inventory of industrial and commodity lumber and panels to provide just-in-time service to the crating and industrial packaging industry, construction and infrastructure sector, and Lumber and Building Materials dealers, including MSR lumber for truss manufacturers. Weston also acts as an exclusive sales agent for a group of SPF sawmills in northern Ontario, producing mostly rough lumber in dimensions up to 12x12x32'. Weston Forest operates a distribution and remanufacturing facility at the head office in Mississauga, Ontario, and uses several distribution and remanufacturing facilities in Quebec, Ontario, Michigan, New York and Maryland.

Bramwood Forest Products was established in 1990 by the Meltzer family and has grown to become one of Ontario's leading suppliers to the Industrial marketplace as well as several specialty markets. Bramwood remanufactures lumber & panels at their facility in Toronto providing a variety of value added products. Bramwood has also positioned itself as a major player in the Premium Strapping market, in addition to being a leading supplier of Framestock to furniture manufacturers as well as Lagging and Shoring to the construction industry.

Nov. 11, 2014 – After a six-year closure, the MDF plant in Pembroke, Ont. is once again producing particleboard. The re-opening of the mill means 160 full-time jobs in the plant with ripple effects throughout the region.

A partnership of Chilean investers pruchased the plant, according to The Daily Observer. Inversiones Pathfinder Chile told the paper it had faith the market would bounce back after the housing market crash in 2008 so it maintained the facility through the closure. The company has plans to "branch into more value-added, sophisticated products for the market in months to come."

For more information, go to http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/2014/11/03/a-relaunch-for-the-pembroke-fibreboard-plant

Oct. 30, 2014 - West Fraser Timber reported earnings of $70 million or $0.83 per share on sales of $1,030 million in the third quarter of 2014.

Operational Results

In the quarter our lumber operations generated operating earnings of $101 million (Q2 - $81 million) and EBITDA of $131 million (Q2- $106 million). The increased earnings were largely the result of reduced costs and certain manufacturing productivity improvements related to capital investments.

Our panel segment generated operating earnings of $25 million (Q2 - $10 million) and EBITDA of $29 million (Q2 - $13 million), the result of substantially improved plywood prices.

Our pulp and paper operations generated an operating loss of $2 million compared to operating earnings of $19 million in the previous quarter and EBITDA of $9 million (Q2 - $30 million). The loss was largely the result of scheduled maintenance downtime at our Hinton pulp mill followed by a difficult startup.

Outlook

We have seen gradual recovery in U.S. home construction and expect the recovery to continue. Log costs are expected to trend higher in Canada as competition for purchased wood increases in certain areas of B.C. and contractor costs increase. However, as we complete our capital projects, we expect productivity improvements and cost reductions to continue.

"The largest capital program in our Company's history is currently underway and I expect combined capital expenditures for 2013 and 2014 to exceed $700 million," said Ted Seraphim, our President and CEO. "I'm excited about what these investments are doing to improve the competitiveness of the Company and how we are positioning our operations to succeed as U.S. housing continues its slow recovery."

Oct. 29, 2014, Edmonton – The Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) commends the City of Calgary for being the first city in Canada to adopt the 2015 National Building Code recommendation to allow buildings of up to 6 storeys to be constructed from wood. Calgary's leadership role facilitates better affordability of housing and increased opportunities for densification.

"This is a win-win for the City and for the forest industry," said AFPA President and CEO Paul Whittaker. "Midrise buildings framed with wood are less expensive to construct, have a much lower carbon footprint, and make use of Alberta's only renewable building material. Using wood also benefits the thousands of Albertans who work in the forest industry and the 50 communities where the industry is a major social and economic contributor. Congratulations to Mayor Nenshi and the city for their leadership."

In Alberta, wood-framed buildings are currently limited to 9 metres (3 or 4 storeys depending on building design). British Columbia permits wood buildings of up to 6 storeys, with a potential for taller buildings to be approved through a special permit process. Ontario has amended their legislation to allow 6 storey wood buildings as of January 1, 2015.

The lower costs associated with wood mid-rise buildings allow for increased densification of urban spaces and additional flexibility for developers. The Alberta Forest Products Association is advocating for 6 storey wood buildings to be permitted throughout Alberta.

For more information on the City of Calgary's announcement, please visit tinyurl.com/mw44f58 .

The Alberta Forest Products Association is a private, non-profit industry organization, representing forest products companies operating in Alberta. For more information about the Association or Alberta's forest products industry, please visit www.albertaforestproducts.ca.

Oct. 17, 2014 - The sky is the limit for wooden structures, and the 66-foot-long beams at Weyerhaeuser’s parallel strand lumber mill carry the weight of inspiration. Not only are these beams strong, but they’re also made from a waste material. Weyerhaeuser has developed an engineered wood that rips unwanted veneer into strands that are then woven to create structural beams. The company calls this finished product Parallam PSL.

The concept of parallel strand lumber (PSL) was flushed out in 1975 when a team of researchers under MacMillan Bloedel set out to produce a high strength wood-based material. The first PSL plant was completed in 1982 with the first commercial sale of the product for Expo ’86. Over the years, the process has been improved to make bigger, longer beams and production and sales have picked up steadily.

Weyerhaeuser owns the patent on the production process and there are currently only two plants that use it: the Weyerhaeuser plant in Delta, B.C., and one in Buckhannon, W.V. Much of the equipment is designed in-house because the process is a tightly guarded secret and constantly being tweaked.

Graeme Dick is the Plant Technical Director for Weyerhaeuser’s parallel strand lumber plant in Delta, B.C. who took Canadian Forest Industries on a tour of the plant. “A lot of the equipment here was innovated by the people who work on the floor. So we involve ourselves in the process and then our maintenance or electrical staff make it a reality.”

Veneer with broken corners, splits and random widths are all consumed at the plant and turned into massive beams for mid-rise and open concept houses. “Above your garage door, down the center of your open concept home, large, straight beams are required.  It could be a steel beam, one of our competitors, or Parallam PSL. Our hope is that it’s Parallam PSL,” says Graeme Dick.

According to Dick, there are three types of beams offered by Weyerhaeuser in its Trus Joist-branded family of engineered wood products. “TimberStrand LSL, Microllam LVL and Parallam PSL, with increasing strength and stiffness properties,” Dick explains.

Market potential
As housing sales pick up, PSL has the potential to reach more of the market. New building codes that allow for up to six storeys of wood frame housing is good news for the mill; initiatives such as Wood First support the use of engineered wood products as well.

The company has managed to penetrate the local home building market and maintains a strong foothold in California. “Much of our product stays here in Vancouver,” says Dick.

But there isn’t enough local development to support the plant without relying on outside markets. Only 30 to 40 per cent of the product is used locally with the vast remainder going to the Western United States and Japan. But once the California market fully recovers, the mill will have reached full stride.

Scrappy veneer
In order to make LDL or plywood, the veneer has to be large, square and clear of visual defects. But because the process of making PSL cuts the veneer into narrow strands, what would otherwise be scraps are saved from the hog. “Although the veneer may be poor in visual grade, it is very good quality in terms of strength,” Dick explains. “The other benefit we have is that we pull from a 100 per cent Douglas Fir supply. It’s a very good fibre source, strong and dimensionally stable.”

As the veneer comes into the plant, the higher visual grade is run on an automatic feeder into a jet box dryer.  Narrow sheets and low visual grade veneer runs through screen dryers, made by Babcock (now Grenzebach BSH). These lower grade pieces of veneer are fed manually into the screen dryers that carry the veneer through the drying process.

“We run veneer through the screen dryer that we don’t think we’ll be able to automatically transfer through the process,” he points out. “It’s this ability to process and utilize veneer that would otherwise be unusable in our competitor products that helps distinguish Parallam PSL.”

According to Dick, the process requires a unique moisture content range.  To achieve these internal specifications, the mill maintains an ongoing dialogue with its key dry veneer suppliers.

Once the sheets have been dried to the appropriate moisture content, they are then clipped into long strands and go through a glue application process. A rotating conveyor system moves back and forth carrying the resin-coated strands and gently dropping them into a trough. The back-and-forth movement of the conveyor system ensures the strands are deposited in an offset pattern throughout the length of the billet.

The layered veneer is preheated and enters the press where it is condensed before the resin is cured with microwaves.

The microwaves activate the molecules in the glue, heating it to a point of full cure. Because of the thickness of the product, microwave technology must be used to penetrate to the centre of the beam to completely cure the resin.

The billets are made in a continuous press, with the billet length only limited by handling capability.  After the billet exits the press, it is remanufactured on site to the customer’s order, which includes the product length, depth and width.

Monitored for quality
The product is tested regularly to ensure it meets structural requirements. “Throughout the day, we complete small- and large-scale testing as part of our Quality Management System,” he says. The results are entered into the database and carefully monitored. The plant is audited by a third-party inspector to make sure the company is in compliance with its accreditation.

“We have one full-time lab technician for every shift, we have two daytime lab technicians, and we currently have co-op students as well.”

The whole process is also closely monitored on a series of cameras posted throughout the facility. During the tour, Tony Deschamps and Russell Petrie are keeping an eye on the cameras. “The press operator is watching the veneer go into the glue dip, watching it come out of the glue dip, as it comes out of the press, and he has the camera focused on certain aspects of the process looking for any potential mechanical complications.”

Deschamps’ job is to make sure the process produces a high-quality product at the optimal rate. Not only does he have access to cameras strategically placed to monitor all of the intricacies of the press, but he also has access to a process historian that provides background on how the plant operated under different conditions. If there is a malfunction, he can decide whether the plant must be shut down immediately or if the issue can be resolved without impacting the final product.

“He [the press operator] has all these HMI screens to make sure we have the right glue mix, the right wood mix, making sure we’re making a certain mat height and density because combined, it will have an impact on our mechanical properties,” says Dick. “He’s watching the press performance. This is a continuous press with many moving parts. If any of these parts fail, you could potentially have a catastrophic failure in the press.”

If this seems like a big job for one press operator to undergo, it doesn’t faze Deschamps, who is quite confident in his role. “I do have a lot of alarms that tell me if anything starts to look a little different. I react to it pretty quickly.”

Once the mat is pressed and the resin is set, one long billet emerges to be sent to remanufacturing to be cut to the customer’s specifications. The plant makes a combination of the five sizes of billets each week so that the lead time is minimal. Once it has been cut to order, it is put through an automated strapping machine and then wrapped. Finished products are shipped by truck, rail or container for export markets.

The plant runs five days a week, for 24 hours a day, employing 121 people but the company plans to run the mill around the clock all week, implementing a four shift schedule in the near future. When U.S. housing starts pick up, Weyerhaeuser will be there to prop up the market with its “trash turned treasure.”

 

May 2, 2014, Vancouver - Ainsworth Lumber announced a 60 per cent improvement in safety results quarter over quarter in its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014. The company also said it generated adjusted EBITDA of $10.2 million notwithstanding logistical issues and weaker North American markets.

Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "Ainsworth had a challenging quarter as transportation issues and extreme weather impacted OSB shipments and demand. North American OSB prices were nearly 50% or U.S.$200/msf lower than the first quarter of 2013. Despite the recent weaker pricing, we believe that the outlook remains positive with further anticipated recovery of the U.S. housing market in 2014 as we move past the worst of the weather issues. We continue to see steady growth in our well-established export market of Japan as well as other markets such as China. From an operational perspective, I am pleased to report a significant improvement in our safety performance this quarter."

LP Acquisition of Ainsworth

On September 4, 2013, the company entered into an agreement with Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) under which LP will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth for $1.94 in cash plus 0.114 LP common shares per each Ainsworth common share, on a fully pro-rated basis. The transaction remains subject to obtaining regulatory approvals and the satisfaction or waiver of other conditions pursuant to the Arrangement Agreement. On April 18, 2014, the outside date for completion of the transaction was extended to June 2, 2014. The Arrangement Agreement permits either party to further extend the outside date for an additional 45-day period if required to obtain certain regulatory approvals. Both Ainsworth and LP continue to work with the Canadian Competition Bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice as they conduct their regulatory reviews of the transaction.

Further information about the Arrangement Agreement is set out in Ainsworth's management proxy circular dated September 24, 2013, which is available under Ainsworth's profile on www.sedar.com.

Financial Results

Sales of $107.8 million in the first quarter of 2014 were $34.0 million lower than sales of $141.8 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 25.3% decrease in realized pricing. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on our realized pricing was moderated by the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the first quarter of 2013 and stable export pricing, combined with a 1.8% increase in sales volumes due to additional production from High Level. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by transportation issues during the first quarter of 2014.

Adjusted EBITDA was $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2014 compared to $62.5 million in the same period of 2013, largely as a result of lower realized pricing. Net loss from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2014 was $14.5 million compared to net income of $36.5 million in the first quarter of 2013. The $51.0 million decrease was due to a reduction in gross profit and increased selling and administration expense, combined with fluctuations in non-cash accounting gains and losses and income tax expense.

Margins

Adjusted EBITDA margin on sales was 9.5% compared to 44.1% in the same period of 2013. The decrease was largely related to the decrease in gross profit.

Benchmark OSB pricing was down significantly from the same period last year, with North Central and Western Canadian pricing for 7/16" OSB both averaging U.S.$219 per msf (a decrease of 47% and 48%, respectively). Sequentially, the North Central benchmark price decreased 11% versus the prior quarter, while the Western Canadian benchmark price was flat.

Liquidity

At March 31, 2014, Ainsworth's available liquidity, consisting of cash and cash equivalents, was $115.5 million, a reduction of $21.9 million since December 31, 2013 resulting from our seasonal log inventory build and capital expenditures.

Outlook

"Despite a weaker quarter for OSB pricing, we are optimistic about the outlook as U.S. housing indicators continue to show overall improvement. Additionally, we continue to experience growth and stable pricing in our traditional export market of Japan. We are also continuing to advance our opportunities in export markets such as China for industrial applications of OSB. The restart of our High Level mill will allow us to meet the growing requirements of our existing North American and export customers as well as service new market segments over the longer term."

Apr. 24, 2014 - West Fraser Timber reported earnings of $72 million or $0.84 per share on sales of $809 million in the first quarter of 2014.

Operational Results

In the quarter, its lumber operations generated operating earnings of $79 million and EBITDA of $107 million. The improvement over the prior quarter reflects higher SYP lumber prices and the benefit of a weaker Canadian dollar partially offset by lower shipments. Operating earnings in the previous quarter included a $24 million restructuring charge.

The panel segment, which includes plywood, LVL and MDF, generated $7 million of operating earnings and EBITDA of $11 million in the quarter, reflecting higher plywood prices.

Pulp and paper operations generated operating earnings of $22 million in the quarter and EBITDA of $32 million. The improvement from the previous quarter reflected improved pulp prices, a weaker Canadian dollar and improved operating rates at our mills.

During the quarter, much of Canada and the U.S. experienced severe winter conditions and significantly restricted railcar availability, which impaired the transport of our products to market. Shipments were further adversely affected by a 28-day trucking strike at the port of Vancouver during March. As a result, our finished-goods inventories at the end of the quarter were at unusually high levels. We expect that as the weather improves and the building season progresses, inventories will decrease to more normal levels.

Outlook

We expect lumber prices to be volatile over the balance of 2014 as the supply chain adjusts to more normal shipping flows and the weather-delayed building season progresses. The recovery of the U.S. housing market continues to be the greatest uncertainty that will affect lumber prices. Pulp prices are under pressure as new global hardwood pulp supply entered the market in the quarter.

"We continue to be confident about the long-term recovery of the U.S. housing market although we do expect that it will be bumpy," West Fraser's President and CEO Ted Seraphim said. "Our purchases of three sawmills, two in Arkansas and one in northern Alberta reflects our positive view of the future. The current combined capacity of these mills is 380 million board feet and with some additional capital investment, we expect to increase capacity to 485 million board feet."

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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit the website at www.ammeraalbeltech.com.

Mar. 28, 2014, Edmonton – Values of lumber, pulp and paper, and panelboard manufactured by Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) members totaled approximately $2.7 billion for 2013. The value of production was up $335 million or 14% from 2012. Part of the increase can be attributed to new members who joined the AFPA in 2013.

"A recovering global economy and stronger prices for our products have led to an excellent year for AFPA members," said AFPA Chairman Craig Armstrong. "We have invested these revenues back into our communities in the form of wages, facility improvements, and locally sourced purchases." Armstrong also noted that between 2011 and 2015, the forest industry will have invested well over $1.5 billion in capital into facilities throughout Alberta.

Alberta's forest industry has operated on the landscape for several generations. Strategic investments in reforestation and forest management have ensured the industry's sustainability. Predictable access to the forest resource stimulates economic activity in 50 communities and allows Alberta's forest sector to compete internationally.

LUMBER
AFPA-member companies produced 3.2 billion board feet of lumber in 2013 with a value of $1.2 billion. Part of this production came from the secondary manufacturing sector. Total production volumes increased 227 million board feet or 7.6% from 2012, while values increased $264 million or 29%.

For the 4th quarter of 2013, production totaled 771 million board feet with a value of $298 million. Compared to the 4th quarter of 2012, lumber production was up 25 million board feet or 3.4% and values increased $56 million or 23.3%. Compared to the 3rd quarter of 2013, production volume dropped by 84 million board feet, but stronger prices caused values to increase by $8 million or 2.7%.

PANELBOARD
AFPA-member panelboard operators produced 1.1 billion square feet of 7/16 inch equivalent product in 2013 valued at $362 million. Production increased from 2012 by 18 million square feet (1.6%), and values were up $21 million or 6.3%.

For the 4th quarter of 2013, panelboard production was 283 million square feet with a value of $85 million. Compared to the 4th quarter of 2012, production was up 5.6 million square feet (5.6%), but values declined by $5 million (5.9%). In comparison to the 3rd quarter of 2013, production increased by 6 million square feet or 2% and values were up by $2 million or 1.8%.

More information can be found at albertaforestproducts.ca.

The Alberta Forest Products Association is a private, non-profit industry organization, representing lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper, and secondary manufacturing wood products companies operating in Alberta. AFPA member companies are active participants in sustainability advancements that contribute economic, environmental, and social benefits for Albertans.

Mar. 12, 2014 – Georgia-Pacific Wood Products has launched an app for their structural panel products to deliver content in a convenient, on-demand, and easy-to-read format. The GP Panel Guide app is a free download, available in the App Store for iPad and iPhone, and the Google Play Store for Android devices.

"We recognized an industry need for more concise, complete information regarding structural panel products, and this app was created to meet that need," said Jeff Key, senior manager of marketing communications for Georgia-Pacific. "This app is perfect for answering customer questions and helping with product selection in the store aisles, on the job site, in the dealer yard, or at home."

The simple, colorful GP Panel Guide app is divided into two sections: Applications and Products. The Applications section introduces colorful dots indicating where each product should be used on a home, while the Products section allows users to navigate by brand.

Within each product information area, users will find a short product summary followed by links to product specifications, installation tips, warranty information, product sustainability facts, and third-party certification information. Finally, there is a section on how to read an APA grade stamp, which is the stamp put on nearly all Georgia-Pacific structural panel products and is the manufacturer's assurance that the product is manufactured to industry standards.

"We believe the installation instructions we've included can help cut down on common mistakes that may lead to call backs. We've also enhanced the offering with short, easy-to-understand videos," continued Key. "We want our customers to have the information they need, when they need it, and in a format that is easy to navigate and understand. We feel like this app delivers."

Feb. 13, 2014 - Following four years of mostly flat production (2009–2012), in 2013 North American non-structural panels began what is expected to be a long and steady recovery. The following article is summarized from WOOD MARKETS 2014–2018, our outlook report for MDF and particleboard, and contains an update detailing recent developments.

Demand trends

Since the majority of MDF and particleboard is purchased by manufacturers of products used in home and office interiors (e.g., furniture, cabinetry, flooring), the steady recovery in U.S. housing and R&R (repair and remodelling) markets has led to greater panel demand.

On average, North American consumption of both MDF and particle- board increased in 2013: and
• Total U.S. and Canadian MDF consumption is estimated to have risen by 5% in 2013 — from 2.5 billion sf (3/4" basis) in 2012 to 2.6 billion sf in 2013; and
• Total U.S. and Canadian particleboard consumption is estimated to have risen by 7% in 2013 — from 3.0 billion sf in 2012 to 3.3 billion sf in 2013.

While U.S. housing construction increased in 2013, Canadian housing slowed. This resulted in approximately a 6% decrease in Canadian particleboard consumption, offset by a 4% increase in MDF consumption, for an overall non-structural panel decrease in Canada of 2% from 2012 to 2013.

Outlook

The forecast for non-structural panel producers contains a mixture of sun and cloud for 2014 and 2015. Consumption is forecast to expand slowly as the housing and renovation markets strengthen. With operating rates generally well below 80%, there is substantial room for production increases before the potential for supply shortages begins to put substantial pressure on prices. WOOD MARKETS' forecast calls for a continued slow rise in prices of 3%–4% per year; rising fibre and resin costs are expected to keep a lid on margin increases. Capacity reopenings (if any) will likely be limited to niche products, such as thin MDF.

For more details on Wood Market's outlook for 2014-2015, go to www.woodmarkets.com.

Jan. 24, 2014 – With almost 590 million euro in new orders, 2013 was a good business year for the Siempelkamp Group. With a sales turnover of 710 million euro the group achieved the third best figure in the history of the company. With an order intake of 405 million euro, the machine and plant engineering business unit exceeded the target figures. The determining factor for this result were primarily orders for plants for wood-based panel which were placed at the end of the year.

Plants for wood-based panel – very successful fourth quarter
Ten wood-based board manufacturers placed primarily large orders with Siempelkamp in 2013 including ContiRoll presses as part of orders for partial or complete plants. In a market characterized by fierce price competition, 2013 orders placed exceeded 2012 by two.

Six board manufacturers including HOMANIT ordered MDF plants from Siempelkamp in 2013. For its location in Krosno, Poland, the company placed an order in December for a high-tech production plant for thin MDF including an 8' x 28.8 m ContiRoll of the latest generation. Furthermore, Siempelkamp sold four production plants for particleboard in 2013.

In the area of short-cycle presses Siempelkamp recorded four new orders. One of these orders is a 2070 x 5610 mm short-cycle press for the long-standing Siempelkamp customer Egger in Tyrol. Furthermore, several different plant operators ordered our innovative MDF blending system, the Ecoresinator. Since its market introduction in 2011, 18 systems have already been sold to date. In the area of second-hand plants, demand has significantly increased for both suppliers as well as buyers. In 2013 it offered three particleboard lines, one MDF line as well as seven short-cycle lines in this business area.

Jan. 17, 2014, Slave Lake, Alta. – Over four years after the plant was shuttered, OSB Athabasca in Slave Lake is back to producing boards.

The plant was originally closed in 2009 following the downturn in the North American housing market. In February of 2013, Tolko announced that they would re-open the mill and make significant investment in order to create a more efficient and productive mill. Just 10 months later, in December of 2013, OSB Athabasca produced its first board.

There have been major upgrades made to the facility since it last produced boards back in 2009. For starters, the in-feed system has been completely re-designed in order to produce a more efficient system for getting logs into the debarkers more efficiently. They have also added a system that allows the mill to produce OSB boards for roof sheathing, opening up a new market not available previously.

Perhaps the biggest change has been the installation of a new press system. The new system is 72m long, making it the longest press in an OSB mill anywhere in North America. Siempelkamp, a German company that specializes in customized production machinery, manufactured the new press system.

With the additions made to the plant, OSB Athabasca has a stronger position in the industry due to its new range of diversified products.

For more on OSB Athabasca, look for our feature story on the mill in the March/April edition of Canadian Forest Industries magazine.

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