Collaborative approach can help crack lucrative mid-rise construction market
Frame and truss manufacturers eager to “take next step”
AUSTRALIA’S FRAME and truss manufacturers are getting organised to take on the new mid-rise building market.
For years they have been the backbone of the Class 1 trade (basically low level residential construction) but their expertise is now being channelled into 4-5-6-storey buildings.
Added impetus to help them take the next step up -- a transition, if you like -- comes in the form of a market implementation group
(MIG) which was formed following strong advocacy from the Frame & Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia (FTMA Australia).
“The aim is to assist the frame and truss sector to be able to provide and offer timber framed solutions into the mid-rise market,” says the group facilitator Dr Alastair Woodard (Wood Products Victoria,).
“It was recognised that there was a need to have a collective group of companies nationally from the frame and truss manufacturer side who are keen to start moving and offering services in this 4-5-6-storey multiresidential market, and start working with them and helping them to come up to speed and capacity-to-supply the market,” he said.
“The market implementation group is a network, of people who have a common aim in this area so obviously when you look at frame and truss then the FTMA is the over-arching body and the nail plate manufacturers assist in providing innovation and solutions.
“It was really a case of let’s come together and look at this new midrise market opportunity for timber framed construction; let’s understand it in terms of what its needs are ... it’s quite different to a class one residential market, as there are much higher loadings, fire requirements and acoustic requirements that have to be met. There is a need to be clear about how the frame and truss sector might service this market.
“Do frame and truss manufacturers want to undertake design, or do they want someone else to do the design; ultimately skilling up estimators and in-house staff about what these systems look like and then ultimately working with the nail plate manufacturers for them to upgrade their software to be able to build these taller buildings,” said Dr Woodard, “and to consider some of the technical questions and the types of off-site prefabricated systems that should be supplied .... floor cassettes, open wall panels closed wall panels, roof cassettes and other value-add opportunities that can assist the builder on-site with more efficient and quick construction times.
“It’s all about collective and collaborative work that can be achieved through the market implementation group, “he said.
The market implementation group approach is not new to the frame and truss sector ... “We did a similar thing about two or three years ago with prefabricated cassette floor systems. Then, our focus was more on reclaiming the ground floor market that we had lost to concrete.
“That worked well. This is the same concept and approach for this mid-rise area.”
From an FTMA point of view the previous program was very advantageous because traditionally the nail plate manufacturers have been very competitive; they don’t often do things collaboratively because they are in real competition in the residential market in which timber has a very high market share.
“However, in the ground floor construction market, the competition wasn’t another timber member ... it was, and still is, concrete!
“Similarly, in this new mid-rise market it’s the same sort of concept. The competition is concrete and steel, it’s not another timber product or manufacturer.
“What is really good is that through the MIG all the participants genuinely buy-in to the approach ... sharing ideas and working out generic solutions,” said Dr Woodard.
The program was kicked off in
May with the first meeting of the full group in June. Now, it’s all down to collaboration, application and participation to allow the timber framed construction sector to fully utilise the changed building codes and get more mid-rise apartments, hotels and offices constructed with timber.
■ Dr Alastair Woodard.