Framing lumber trading hit its fastest stride in more than two months, and the market finished the week with a firm tone. Wildfires in Western Canada and the West were a catalyst sparking sales, firming mill quotes, and lifting futures prices in last week.

Structural panel prices posted moderate gains amid slower trading. Prices of OSB continued to trend higher in most regions, although the pace of sales moderated. Western Canada was among the most active regions. Southern Pine plywood prices pushed higher throughout the week amid steady sales. Buyers covered their most pressing needs last week at a more frenetic pace, but many returned this week to bolster inventories. In western Fir plywood, a sales turnaround evident last week carried through.


Novopan del Ecuador, the leading producer of medium density particleboard (MDP) in Ecuador, will increase its production capacity in Quito with a new plant from Dieffenbacher. 

The scope of supply includes a forming station with conveyor system that begins at the glue blenders, a forming line with prepress, an 8 ft wide by 20.5 meters-long CPS+ press system, a raw board handling system and a stack and transfer system.

Dieffenbacher subsidiary Maier will contribute its wood yard and chipping technology. Novopan has ordered the storage cross chain and rectifying conveyor for feeding of logs as well as a chain bed conveyor for loading slab bundles, which is followed by a special cleaning section. Maier will also deliver a vibration dosing table to be loaded with short-piece wood assortments; a drum chipper feeding belt conveyor with metal detector; and waste belt conveyors. The key machine for the new chipping line is a Maier Drum Chipper HRL 1600 with a clamping plate rotor. Three MRZ 1400 knife ring flakers with FlowOptimizer complete Maier´s scope of supply for the wood chip and wet flake preparation.

“We are happy to work with Dieffenbacher once again,” said Cesar Alvarez, CEO of Novopan del Ecuador, at the contract signing in December 2017. “With our existing plant, Dieffenbacher proved they can help us produce high-quality panels very efficiently. That’s why we trust Dieffenbacher will be the right partner for our new production line, too.”

Novopan’s current MDP plant in Quito produces up to 1,000 m³ MDP per day. In 2010 and 2013, Dieffenbacher modifications to the forming station and an extension of the raw board handling system helped to expand plant capacity from 400 m³ per day. “In 2014 and 2015, we installed a new prepress and EVOjet P glue-saving system from Dieffenbacher to increase plant efficiency,” added Alvarez.

Dieffenbacher began working with Novopan following the delivery by Metso of most of the original plant’s production line components. Metso sold its wood-based panel business to Dieffenbacher in 2008. Ever since, Dieffenbacher has serviced the original Quito plant.

The latest Novopan plant is Dieffenbacher’s sixth new plant project in Latin America in four years. Other projects include three plants in Mexico and two in Brazil. Numerous modernization projects, mostly the addition of EVOjet M, EVOjet P and PROjet gluing systems—all enabling significant glue savings, are also helping Latin America customers operate more efficiently. 


According to SCOOP Business, New Zealand structural log prices rose to the highest level for 25 years as local mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the domestic construction market amid strong demand from China.

The average price for structural S1 logs increased to $135 a tonne this month, from $134 a tonne last month, and marking the highest level since 1993, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. The average price for New Zealand A-grade export logs hit a four-year high of US$145/JAS from US$144/JAS last month, and US$132/JAS a year ago.

In New Zealand, sawmills are competing with the export market to source logs for local construction, at a time when demand in China has stepped up after Asia's largest economy clamped down on the harvesting of its own forests and reduced tariffs on imported logs to meet demand in its local market.


New orders for furniture registered their biggest year-over-year increase in April, jumping 15 percent compared with April 2017, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey.

“We felt like business had picked up some going into the High Point Market but did not expect that kind of result,” said Ken Smith, partner at High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard, which conducts the monthly survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors. 

“One factor that likely had an impact was that the market was one week earlier this year, leaving more time for market orders to come in before month end. In addition, we did hear that there was more order writing this market than usual.”

A big order month in April – with 79 percent of survey participants reporting increases and several who were off pace down only a half or single percentage point – came on the heels of only 42 percent reporting increases in March.

With the large April increase, year-to-date new orders were up 6 percent over the first four months of 2017.

April shipments rose 10 percent compared with April 2017, when they were only up two percent over April 2016. March 2018 shipments were also only up 2 percent over March 2017. Year to date, shipments were up 3 percent over the same period a year ago. In the first quarter, shipments were only up 1 percent over the first quarter of 2017.

The jump in April orders led to a 6 percent increase in backlogs compared with March and 6 percent higher than April 2017.

Smith also noted that while housing starts are improving and new home sales have continued to pick up, “existing home sales are struggling with low inventories, higher prices and higher interest rates. We need people to be moving in these summer months to generate furniture sales.”


Rising costs of lumber imported into the country could have an effect on home prices, especially in fast growing Hays County, News and Sports Editor, MOSES LEOS III reports.

While such an impact wouldn’t be felt in Central Texas for several months or more, Buda real estate salesperson J.D. Sanford believes consistent increases over time could lead to instability in the housing market.

According to a June 2018 New York Times article, tariffs imposed on lumber imported from Canada to the United States, along with supply and demand, as well as ecological factors, have played a role in the rise of home costs in the country.

Sanford said a rise in wood cost would be an “unnatural or inorganic” way to increase the price of home values.

In the Central Texas area, for example, increasing population pressures have led to a rapid rise in home values over the past decade. In Hays County, the average market value for homes rose by 7.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, while commercial and industrial value rose by nearly 13 percent, according to the Hays County Central Appraisal District.

The cause of that increase in the overall value was due to the 2,600-plus new homes and 83 new commercial units built in the area.

However, an increase in material could, in turn, lead to a rise in the cost of building homes. That could lead to instability in the housing market, Sanford said.


On February 7, 2018, Chinese wood-based panel manufacturer Anhui Huaining County Kelin Wood Industry Co. Ltd. produced the first board on its new Dieffenbacher particleboard plant. Acceptance of the plant took place on May 4, two months prior to the contractually agreed date.


"The smooth installation and commissioning by Dieffenbacher enabled us to start full-load production significantly earlier than planned,” said Anhui Kelin chairman Zhu Jiake. "This early acceptance is a prime example of the good cooperation between Anhui Kelin and Dieffenbacher," added Dieffenbacher project manager Stefan Hellmich.


The new plant in Anqing, in the Chinese province of Anhui, is designed to produce almost 1,000 m³ of particleboard per day. It produces boards with a width of 2,100 to 2,480 mm and a thickness of 6 to 38 mm.



Image: Anhui Kelin's new particleboard plant in Anqing, China.


According to Laver, the world’s lightest plywood is now available in the UK for the first time and is immediately proving popular with a vast range of users, from luxury yacht and motorhome builders through to packaging manufacturers and furniture producers.

The product, known as Banova Plus, is being sold exclusively by Arnold Laver.  It features an innovative design that combines a balsa core with lightweight hardwood surfaces, to create a product that typically weighs half as much as conventional plywood, whilst being just a strong and robust.

In addition, Banova Superflex is an extremely flexible variation of the product that features a textile layer that can be easily formed to create curved shapes.

Banova is manufactured by German company 3A Composites GmbH, using FSC certified wood from responsible sources, and features low emission values.  Both the Plus and Superflex products are available in a variety of thicknesses from 9mm to 50mm and formats that range from 1220mm x 2440mm up to 1220mm x 3050mm.


After five years of continuous growth between 2009 and 2014, EU wood flooring exports declined slightly in 2015, by 1.7 percent to 21.1 million sq.m. However, growth resumed in the first six months of 2016 and exports rose by 9 percent to 11.2 million sq.m, reports from ITTO. 

The downward trend in exports to Switzerland and Norway in 2015 was reversed in the first six months of 2016.

After making significant gains in 2015, EU wood flooring exports continued to increase rapidly to the USA (+23 percent) and China (+154 percent) in the first six months of 2016. However, some of the gains made by EU wood flooring products in the Turkish and Canadian markets in 2015 were lost during the first half of 2016. Exports also declined to Russia during the same period.

In summarising their latest market statement, published in June 2016, FEP were reasonably positive about future prospects for Europe’s wood flooring sector. They noted that “after several years of hardship for the European Parquet Producers and the overall negative developments in both consumption and production, the sky has cleared somewhat.


According to FEDNAV, Australia’s forestry sector continues to go from strength to strength, based on a report released on 24 May by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

ABARES Executive Director, Steve Hatfield-Dodds said that the Australian forest and wood products statistics – September and December quarters 2017 – shows the volume of logs harvested reached record levels in 2016 - 2017 exceeds 33 million m3, up 10 percent on the year.

“In 2016 - 2017, the value of total logs harvested was up 13 per cent to $2.6 billion, driven by a record hardwood and softwood commercial plantation harvest of 29 million m3,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

“Commercial plantation logs now comprise 87 percent of Australia’s total log harvest, up 19 percent over the decade.

“The volume of logs harvested from the hardwood plantation estate more than doubled since 2012 - 2013, increasing to 11 million m3 in 2016 - 2017 from 5 million m3 in 2012 - 2013.

“Hardwood commercial plantations are grown predominantly for pulpwood to meet growing export demand for woodchip, which remain Australia’s largest wood product export by value.

“In 2016 - 2017 exports were also at record highs, up 11 percent on the back of strong volume growth in woodchip. Roundwood is up 17 percent and paper paperboard up 10 percent, with exports of both growing strongly since 2012 - 2013.

“The record 2016 - 2017 log harvest was also supported by Australia’s wood processing industries. Softwood sawnwood output increased by three percent, while production of wood-based panels and paper and paperboard grew more modestly.”


"Bringing innovation to the customer care system - This is the ambitious goal with which Biesse faces today's market. The company's desire is to go beyond the customary, to do more than simply sell a machine or a system, but rather to facilitate a complete experience that generates value for our customers," says Stefano Porcellini, CEO of the Group.


The vision remains the same, but day after day, it becomes increasingly concrete and tangible: Think Forward, creating innovation through integrated solutions that are sophisticated but easy to use, allowing you to produce more, better, and at a lower cost. A philosophy that fits perfectly into the revolution that characterises the modern era, driving forward towards the creation of Industry 4.0, the growing trend for industrial automation that integrates new production technologies in order to improve working conditions and increase plant productivity.


And within this vision comes SOPHIA, the IoT platform by Biesse, developed in collaboration with ACCENTURE, which enables its customers to access a wide range of services to streamline and rationalise their work management processes.


Over the past five months, IoT-connected machines have registered a 60% growth in productivity and the platform has highlighted that Biesse has handled more than 2,000,000 events of various types.


"The results registered over these first few months demonstrate how the services we offer our customers help increase the operating time of a machine and promote a proactive approach by reducing diagnostic times by 80%," states Stefano Calestani, the Group's Service Innovation Director. "It may have only been on the market a short while but SOPHIA is improving the quality of relations with customers who have benefited from using the tool. It is a quick and decisive support, which minimises waiting times previously required to deal with problems, and responds with effective and immediate solutions. This is the substantial opportunity SOPHIA offers our customers" Calestani continues.


The key value of Sophia is its predictive nature: the ability to anticipate issues and identify solutions to resolve these, thus reducing downtime. Biesse takes proactive steps to contact the customer before a problem can manifest, reducing inefficient wasted time. SOPHIA goes far beyond this. This solution is inspired by Biesse's desire to accompany its customers through a process of growth that enables the optimisation of all major assets - technological, strategic, organisational and human.


Reductions in production times, lower costs, no machine downtime, optimised production process, increased productivity, superior quality of daily work (thanks to tools that facilitate and speed up all operations and interactions with Biesse): these are just some of the benefits that SOPHIA can offer, and the advantages associated with this technology are only set to grow, in view of the ambitious platform development plans that the company has for the coming years.



SOPHIA is a digital platform that provides users with access to more machine information and initiates concrete actions to optimise performance and monitor the quality of the work produced, anticipating the causes of faults and providing clear solutions to resolve any anomalies. The data gathered and analysed by artificial intelligence is transformed into useful data to help optimise customer production and product quality, providing extremely valuable opportunities for growth. This information also provides customers with tools to prevent problems that could damage production. Thanks to SOPHIA, Biesse can take proactive steps to contact customers, reducing machine stoppages and inefficient time-wasting.



The flow of data is developed solely by the machine to network, never the other way around. 



Biesse's entire global service network is interconnected and has access to the SOPHIA web portal, ensuring customers all over the world receive quick and decisive responses and solutions. Through this tool Biesse technicians are able to constantly monitor possible problems, generating in real-time the solutions required to solve them.



Distribution of the SOPHIA loT SOFTWARE is extremely straightforward and rapid. It takes place through a dedicated function on an app called Software Distribution Manager, which, through a protected mode, directly sends the specific software package to the machine.



The platform consists of two powerful areas: IoT and Parts, integrated with each other. These are connected to two apps that provide customers with easy access to SOPHIA's capabilities.


The IoT - SOPHIA application provides the customer with full visibility of the production status of their machines, with performance parameters summarised historically and an overview of the machines in operation. Where a machine stoppage occurs, the corresponding ID code is displayed, with the relevant details if the assistance operations have already been taken over by the Biesse Service Team.


Parts – SOPHIA provides customers with the opportunity to browse through the documentation for the machines they own, enabling them to create a spare parts basket and monitor the progress of their orders via an easy, intuitive and fully customised tool.


This is just the beginning of a project with a host of revolutionary features, a tool that will prove indispensable in achieving maximum efficiency in working environments. Biesse strongly believes in the potential of SOPHIA, and has invested - and will continue to invest - in the creation products and services in subsidiaries and headquarters that are designed to foster the growth and evolution of new 4.0 manufacturing processes. 


Biesse Group Asia is hosting its open house in its permanent Kuala Lumpur tech centre on 27th to 29th June with an array of specially-selected technologies for live demonstrations. In addition, there will be a dedicated seminar and demonstration on SOPHIA. Contact Biesse’s local team in Asia at Enquiry.Asia@biesse for more information.

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