Most of our readers make the stuff that goes inside homes and buildings, not the buildings themselves. But as the movement for mass timber buildings grows, that might change.
I recently attended the annual convention of the Western
Hardwood Association in Portland, Oregon, and listened to
a very interesting presentation from Yugon Kim, an architect
at the forefront of mass timber building and an advocate for
using hardwood rather than softwood in those projects.
Mass timber building uses new techniques and materials such
as cross laminated timbers to construct multi-story buildings
with wood products. Examples in North America include
buildings up to 18 stories tall. Using wood for the primary
structure is far more environmentally sound and cost-effective.
For example, the first mass timber building, a nine-story
apartment complex in England, took only 49 weeks to complete
compared to 72 weeks with steel and concrete methods.
Part of the efficiency is refabrication off site. Much
like the panel processing we are used to for furniture and
cabinets, CLT parts are CNC machined out of big sheets.
But rather than 4x8 or 5x10 sheets, these are much larger.
Most are composed of softwood
laminations, but Kim argues that
hardwoods would be stronger
with less material and save other
costs such as transportation.
Very few manufacturers are
currently equipped to handle
CLT machining, and the demand
is growing. Could the secondary
wood products industry with all
of its panel processing expertise
take advantage of this new
opportunity? It is certainly worth
looking into. ✚
Even with political problems, tariff questions and international unrest, Career Technical Education remains the number one issue. That was the feeling during the recent meeting
held by the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America in
Members of WMMA’s public policy committee discussed
current issues and plans for 2019, including the next Washington fly-in February 19-21, 2019.
Finding skilled labor remains a major issue for WMMA’s
member companies as it does for wood products companies.
The overall economy and shortage of all kinds of workers is
adding to the difficulty in getting technical and skilled workers, which has been in place for a number of years.
Tariffs are in the news and continue to be an uncertainty
for WMMA member companies, as they are for most stateside
companies. Many WMMA companies import materials or components to manufacture their machines in the United States.
One such company is Timesavers, a longtime manufacturer of widebelt sanders. Attendees at the meeting toured the
Timesavers factory, the Mereen Johnson offices and engineering center, and the 3M Innovation
Center and Cam Center, all in the
Twin Cities area.
The meeting also included a
discussion of the best countries to
export to, and how to improve the
WMMA has supported reauthorization of the Perkins Career
and Technical Education Act
to create well-paying jobs, even
though the successful reauthorization was only for a fraction of
overall education spending. ✚
by William Sampson
by Karl D. Forth
on a big scale
CTE tops issues,
tariffs on deck
✚ Follow Will
Karl online at