Mon, Aug 7, 2023 5:00 AM
Marlborough- based 141 Kaituna Sawmill was recently presented with the Primary Industries Researchers and Innovators, Fibre Producer Award.
The Primary Industry Awards acknowledge the talents and toil of New Zealand farmers, foresters and fishers, and what they produce, in intensely competitive international marketplaces.
In this, the fifth annual competition, winners were selected from 65 nominations across nine award categories. The judges commented on 141’s relentless drive for improvement and added value as well as their reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, by 46% in the last decade.
Communications and Community Relations Manager Kylie Reeves, says, 141 has invested $11.2 million in the conversion of the sawmill’s batch drying kilns, lowering annual emissions by 9%.
General Manager Tracy Goss said that previously the kilns were fuelled by waste oil at a cost of $500,000 annually, but the new kilns utilise the sawdust produced on site. The continuous drying process takes two to five days per batch reducing the moisture from 60% to 12 to 14%.
The company utilises 99.9% of the log during the timber production process, according to Tracy.
Bark is sold to garden centres for garden mulch, and last year a first shipment of wood chip was exported to Japan. Wood chips and pulp are used for paper or MDF.
The sawmill has installed new laser scanning technology, resulting in higher grade product and increased efficiency. Tracy says that a one second reduction in the process time of each log means $1 million increase in revenue to the company. As a result of operational upgrades, the sawmill has increased its capacity, processing 800 to 900 stems of radiata pine per day, producing 550 tonnes of quality, sustainable timber product.
Sixty per cent of product supports the NZ construction industry with the balance being exported to high value markets in Australia, Asia and the UAE.
The mill employs 95 staff, operating 10-hour day with one day off every 5 days. An incentive programme ensures that each employee shares in the company profits with 4% of the profit being divided between all members of staff.
Unlike the systems in place when Tracy first started in the sawmilling industry, extensive guarding of working machinery has been installed. Single point lockout switches are now in place at each point of entry to the mill.
With the aim of creating a circular economy and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill the company now uses micronized copper to treat posts destined for the ground. Traditionally vineyard posts were treated with a chemical containing arsenic and chrome, meaning that they could not be burnt, so many ended up in landfill. Now they can be recycled as fuel.
A new 1500 sq. metre treatment plant is under construction at Kaituna. This will again reduce the carbon footprint of 141, as previously the treatment involved transport of product to Tauranga or Christchurch.
The company’s connection to the community is of utmost importance. A community grants programme has been introduced supplying various organisations with over $100,000 during the last 12 months. Also, 141 has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Nelson, where their timber is much needed for community housing.
Since winning an environmental award in 2021 at the Cawthron Marlborough Environmental Awards, . One-Forty-One continues to build on its commitment to improve on employee’s working conditions, its impact on the environment, and the contribution to New Zealand’s export earnings, and the domestic building industry.