Late 2019 saw The Hermal Group, which owns businesses including prefab building specialist Quipsmart and CLT operation CLTP Burnie (Tasmania), secure an additional 8,500 square metres of space at the Quipsmart plant in Braeside (Victoria) next to its existing facilities.

Hermal Group CEO Clinton Tilley told Built Offsite a suite of equipment has also been purchased from Lendlease, comprising the majority of Weinmann machines from Lendlease’s former facility at Eastern Creek, Sydney.

The machines include a large five axis CNC for CLT, a wall framing machine and a gantry crane. “Also in the purchase were two Multifunction Bridges used in the finishing of wall panels or frames, where plaster or internal linings are vacuum lifted onto the panel to be finished; the MFB will then cut and nail or staple as needed,” said Tilley. “The wall then gets flipped over mechanically and insulation, conduits, plumbing tails and so on can be installed manually along with exterior wall linings. The walls are then stood up and hung in a rack where windows can be fitted, plaster can be stopped and sanded and painting can be completed.”

The Quipsmart plant at Braeside now has a rated capacity of 300 house wall systems per annum on a single shift basis, dependent upon house sizes. Tilley confirmed the plant’s expanded capacity will enable Quipsmart greater throughput. In particular the group will work towards zero carbon footprint buildings that leverage Passive Haus principles around airtightness and design.

“Zero and low carbon footprint buildings will be achieved through our commitment to the use of mass timber which enables renewable carbon building products, through the use of plantation hardwood from Tasmania. This renewable carbon, harvested on a 15-20 year growth cycle has a negative carbon footprint compared to steel and concrete.”

“We will still use steel and concrete, however our material choice will be skewed far greater to renewable timber products. The buildings will also provide biophilic benefits to users, which studies have proven offer positive health and learning benefits.”

A Quipsmart project: the sales office for the Savana (Vic) scheme by Avid Property Group.

The Hermal Group’s investment in CLTP Tasmania is central to plans for overall vertical integration of product development and delivery, Tilley said. Quipsmart will provide volumetric and flat pack solutions to all sectors of the construction market, with a continued focus on core sectors of government volumetric buildings and display suites for the property development industry.

“Such integration sees us move away from selling commodity based engineered timber products and focusing on delivered solutions,” he said. “This fits with our ‘plantation to project’ ethos; from the time the log arrives at the mill to the installation and handover on site we plan for a Hermal Group wholly or partially owned business to be involved. This way, we control the service delivery chain and ensure our product and its brand integrity are supported at all times by everyone who handles it.”

“We have been focussed on our products and will be launching our brands and product suite in 2020,” he said. “Our product mix in the future will be a mix of schools, kindergartens, social housing, apartment systems, high-end fitout appearance grade timber products for hotels and office buildings, as well as mass timber buildings. We will let the market dictate the volumes but will be working closely with customers to assist them meet their volume requirements.”

“In acquiring the plant equipment from Lendlease we also look forward to working with them on their own product development and needs in the future.”

Hermal Group has also recently signed the agreement to be a major sponsor of the Australian Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020. Opening in October 2020, the expo is forecast to host 25 million visitors over six months. The construction of the Australian Pavilion will involve the supply of 1200 square metres of cladding, with the stand to be constructed using a triangulated pattern.

“Additionally we will be CNC milling the Australian coat of arms for the Pavillion as well as making seating for the main dining table for VIP functions,” said Tilley. “As one of the themes is sustainability, we are currently looking at how parts of the CLT panel products supplied can be repurposed after the Expo with uses in Australian schools, universities and trade offices across the UAE.”■

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