The strong scent of pine you get as you pass by logging depots at our major ports is one of the more obvious signs of our booming export industry for radiata pine logs from New Zealand. Around seven per cent of our land area is covered in forest logging plantations, which produced exports in the form of raw logs and milled timber worth NZ$6.4 billion last year. Nearly half of it went to China.
Our top-quality pine is highly valued, but it represents only a fraction of exports. The rest is considered second-rate and sent as logs for use in packaging or reduced to woodchip or paper. What if you could find a way to turn that exported deadwood into valuable building materials for the domestic market?
That’s exactly the goal of Auckland and Gisborne-based Wood Engineering Technology (WET) which, after 15 years of R&D, has mastered how to do it using a data-driven end-to-end automation process. WET has a patented method of creating glue-laminated timber.
The approach and technology underpinning WET’s innovation fit under the broad umbrella of “Industry 4.0”, which uses interconnected sensors, artificial intelligence and robotics to digitise manufacturing for greater productivity and better products.
WET’s industrial process exploits the variability within each log as well as the grade, or quality of the log, which is broken down and then reengineered as lumber. It is the optimisation of the disassembly and reassembly process that gives WET its innovation edge.
Source: Callaghan Innovation
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