Following CLTP Burnie’s establishment in February by parent entity, diversified private company The Hermal Group, Chris Skeels-Piggins joined CLTP on 4 June.
He has form as a manufacturing specialist, including positions as National Manufacturing Manager and prior to that NSW State Manager at Hyne Timber, and brings with him experience in running large, complex timber processing plants across Australia at senior management levels.
A central tenet of CLTP Burnie will be “challenging traditional processing methods for hardwood Eucalyptus Nitens,” he said. “My experience in running technologically advanced softwood mills with modern sawmilling techniques will be particularly relevant to this process.”
“We have secured our processing site in Hampshire outside Burnie in Tasmania and we are in the very early stages of determining what the business is going to look like from a manufacturing perspective,” he confirmed. “We have recently returned from an overseas trip visiting equipment manufacturers both in North America (including the prefabAUS tour) and Europe, which has provided us with a solid foundation of knowledge for our future plans.”
CLTP Burnie’s point of difference lay in a local plantation timber resource never previously utilised for a structural timber product in Australia or internationally, he said. The plant will use an innovative process that transforms juvenile plantation timbers into a structural product with unique strength properties; exclusively using responsibly managed FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified timber.
“Australia imports over 500,000 m3 of structural timber from overseas each year, and the imports continue to grow through the shortfall in available structural fibre in Australia today. This project will provide an opportunity for people to build with a FSC Australian Plantation Hardwood product, grown and processed in Australia, and help offset some of the structural timber imported into the country.”
“Another exciting aspect of the business is that we will be actively challenging the status quo at all levels of the supply chain. This will be a fundamental aspect of who we are; we have a great opportunity to do this as we build our business.”
“One of the key attributes of our product will be that the sawmill will only provide feedstock to the cross laminated processing plant, which will enable us to provide a more consistent and higher strength feedstock to the plant without other competing priorities that other sawmills have. This will result in a product that we believe will have better characteristics and strength properties than other panel products currently available in the Australian market.”
“An important aspect of our future will be the introduction of varying levels of prefabrication to our panel products. We see our business as providing solutions to our customers’ needs and believe that a prefabricated housing component can better meet our customers’ expectations for a high quality, fast building solution; we believe this is a huge opportunity in this space, particularly in the emerging Cross Laminated Timber Panel and prefabricated housing market in Australia.”
Vertical integration of the business would enable a ‘Plantation to Project’ structure unique to the Australian market, he said.“We are driven to supply a high quality, cost effective product to our customers, which we believe can only be achieved through integration of the entire supply chain. This will enable us to drive cost efficiencies and reduce cost throughout the supply line.”
The Tasmanian government will contribute $13 million in grant and training support to the project, and negotiations for Eucalyptus Nitens hardwood log supply are progressing with FORICO, Tasmania’s largest private plantation forest management company.
CLTP Burnie is expected to be in production during 2020. ■
CEO, CLTP Burnie.