Significant differences between categories
A voluntary survey of selected production facilities was conducted to ascertain the total level of investment over the past five years, where that investment had occurred within the production sequence, what type of technologies were being targeted and what potential benefits were being sought.
The selected operations represented approximately 90% of the softwood sawmilling industry, 45% of the hardwood sawmilling industry, 98% of the panels industry and 69% of the plywood industry.
The final summary of data available for inclusion in the review represented 52% of the softwood sawmilling industry, 40% of the hardwood sawmilling industry, 58% of the panels industry and 42% of the plywood industry.
The analysis on this data identified a total of $473 million had been invested by these operations over the past five years.
It also identified significant differences between the various categories when the level of total investment was expressed as $/m³ of investment per annual log volume processed. The results of this analysis were that $33/ m³ had been invested within the softwood sawmilling category, $111/m³ had been invested within the hardwood sawmilling category, $153/m³ had been invested within the panel plants and $78/m³ had been invested within the plywood industry.
The operations whose data was not available for inclusion within this survey represent a collection of more significant processors within the softwood sawmilling, panels and plywood categories and
could be assumed to reflect a similar level of investment as those included. The hardwood sawmilling category has a large number of small operators whose investment profile is likely to be far less predictable.
If it is assumed that all surveyed categories reflect the investment rate of the unsurveyed operations then the project total investment over the past five years would have been in the order of $938 million.
The analysis of investment within the sawmilling categories unsurprisingly identified the green-milling process to be the most significant area of investment with in excess of 30% of all investment for both softwood and hardwood sawmills.
However, dry-milling, kiln drying, re-manufacturing and storage differed in investment importance between hardwood and softwood for the operations surveyed.