About Cross Laminated Timber
CLT is an engineered wood product, similar in construction to extremely large plywood, used for pre-fabricated structural applications. Sometimes referred to as the engineered wood of the future, CLT was first developed in Switzerland in the 1970s.
Although cross-laminated timber (CLT) has been highly regarded and well utilised in European manufacturing for more than 40 years, the product’s use is still in its infancy in Australia.
However, a Tasmanian facility that came online at the end of 2019 is working hard to change that.
CLTP Tasmania’s State of the Art Plant
CLTP Tasmania’s state-of-the-art plant is Australia’s newest hardwood facility and the country’s first-ever dedicated hardwood CLT plant. They are also the world’s first CLT hardwood manufacturer in plantation Eucalyptus Nitens.
With such a groundbreaking foray into the market, the company knew they needed a machinery supplier who would work collaboratively and who could deliver a flexible solution.
Enter Stirling Machinery.
CLTP and Stirling Machinery Collaboration
From initial discussions, CLTP’s CEO Chris Skeels-Piggins says it was clear that Stirling Machinery understood their business and knew what they were trying to achieve, not just in the immediate term but well into the future.
“Every step of the way, Stirling showed that they could partner with us in a meaningful way. We weren’t looking for a quick set-and-forget arrangement. We wanted a genuine collaboration that would see us through from consultancy and installation to operation and beyond.”
Stirling Machinery’s Managing Director, Craig Honeyman says his company wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Our role is to understand our customers’ business. We need to know what the goal is, not just for right now but also where you want the business to go.”
The plant was ready and open for business in late 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.
Outcomes of the Collaboration
Chris says Stirling’s planning foresight and consultancy had already paid dividends in the earliest phase of operations.
“Like most businesses, ours was impacted by COVID-19 and we still haven’t had the opportunity to run at full capacity. We acquired a suite of five machines from Stirling and thanks to the flexibility of the machinery, we’ve been able to focus on supplying materials to the retail sector and this has been underpinning the business.”
Planned CLT production has been replaced by a vast range of value-added, high-quality and high-value products including finger jointer and laminated furniture panels, benchtops and posts.
“Eucalyptus Nitens is the perfect plantation material to deliver a strong, reliable and beautiful finished result,” Chris says. “The colour, grain structure and hardwood properties of Nitens leaves it without a comparable equivalent, and the market is requesting more volume every month.”
He also says that CLT will remain a major focus for the business in terms of both domestic and export however the take-up of the finished products has been a very welcome surprise.
Quality Local Supplier
With major European CLT manufacturers establishing a presence in Australia, CLTP was determined to be positioned as a preferred local supplier for Australian customers.
“Since the pandemic began,” Chris explains, “a great deal of attention has been placed on the need for Australia to be more self-reliant in terms of manufacturing. Consumers are demanding more locally produced goods and we are keen to play our role in fulfilling that demand.”
Ashley Wilson, one of Stirling Machinery’s highly skilled Technical Consultants played a significant role in the collaboration and believes that CLTP’s business has the potential to be both a domestic and international game-changer.
“I’ve got no doubt that CLTP Tasmania will be a significant exporter of Australian hardwood CLT panels in the future,” he says.
“From the outset, we collaboratively planned towards that goal. They have the machines, the know-how, not to mention the raw materials at their doorstep, and they are reinventing plantation hardwood production practices. It’s been really rewarding to work with a company that is pushing the boundaries and is very solutions-focused.”
CLTP’s operation features several Stirling Machines including a C Series Finger Jointer, E Series Moulder, Mechanical Handling and a Hydraulic Rotary Press among others.
Expert Collaboration Key to Success
With the pandemic exerting unusual and unique pressures on businesses throughout 2020, Chris says collaborating with suppliers and consultants who bring deep expertise is an important key to success.
“You can’t really understand how much you don’t know about an aspect of your business until an expert comes along and shows you. Honestly, Stirling Machinery has been like an extension to our business. If it weren’t for them, we may not have ended up with the flexible, adaptable solution we have now.
Even had we been dealing with normal circumstances, our collaboration was always intended to work towards scaling capacity, identifying and implementing additional revenue streams and entering the export market. It’s made the good old ‘COVID pivot’ a seamless reality for us.”
Contact the Stirling Machinery team today to find out how we can partner with you to improve machinery quality, performance and safety. You can also view our extensive range of timber industry machining solutions.