An Interview with Andy Dick – www.logjiztix.co.nz
Andy Dick led the CHH Forests value recovery team in the late 90’s. The goal was to close the Value Recovery Gap between the much lower harvest values being realized vs. optimal grade outturn. This involved the launch of the IFR Timbertech (Invader) technology, throughout the CHH forest estate.
In 2000 he teamed up with Mike King and Wes Parkes and formed Logjiztix to buy and optimise stumpage. He ran the Logmeister optimiser at Pan Pac Forest Products 3PY processing yard in NZ from the early 2000s until 2012.
Logmeister Plus is now in development, with the offering being; portable, low cost, full stem optimisation, a holy grail of forest value recovery. Andy is also a senior consultant for Interpine Forestry Innovation.
FVR: Good morning Andy, thanks for making the time. I see you as one of the ‘uncles’ of Forest Value Recovery in NZ. Why has the subject held your interest so long?
Andy: Kia ora James. I first got involved in forest value recovery in about 1998. It is a passion of mine. Our first task was to develop a process to measure value loss. With this, we could isolate behaviours and systems leading to value loss, or opportunities for gain.
Big money was on the table. The solutions were logical, simple and obvious. I was hooked from there on: there was easy money to recover for the forest owner. Being able to meaningfully measure value recovery was core to everything we did.
FVR: Since seeing a high level of forest value recovery effort and investment in NZ in the 1990s, it is as if the forest industry has regressed into some irrational behaviours. So what do you see forest owners experiencing today?
Andy: I see similar value loss factors to those we saw in the mid-90s and not enough focus on marketing the log grades from the forest. Forest owners are mostly unaware of the value they are losing.
FVR: A double edge to the high log prices in China, is that forest value recovery discipline has slipped. This may be because a seemingly acceptable return is made from harvest, even under poor practices. What is your view?
Andy: Strong demand has seen the historic price differentials between “top” logs and “rough” logs become narrower. This new value range means that crews are not “losing” as much money as they would have before. But the principles remain the same, and I come back to the perspective of maximising forest value for the forest owner. We need to own the process, focus on opportunities for gain and work to improve practises.
A forest owner might ask: Why are we not sorting the inherently higher quality logs for the Asian market at a premium? Why is the range of log attributes not reflected in pricing? And why has the price of A grade logs not increased in proportion to the price of KI logs? Is there an opportunity to explore product lines for super-fine A grade? What log type and species fill the Asian structural market niche? Can NZ radiata share in that?
FVR: What have you witnessed when it comes to Forest Value Recovery culture?
Andy: Forest Value Recovery is hard to measure. Businesses will focus attention on the operational metrics that define their relationship with their owners and contractors. Safety, costs, sales and productivity get most attention, as they are easily measured and performance goals can be set around them.
Today some forest management companies use “compliance to cutplan audits” as their measure of forest value recovery. This is an astounding reflection on the current level of forest value recovery practices. Lost value is assured.
Most harvesting contractors I deal with are hard working, competent people, and take pride in their profession. They will work to recover value for their forest owner and employer to the extent that it fits with their twin goals of production and profitability.
Maximum production means survival and profit. If value recovery processes (such as full cut plans and optimisation strategies) have a neutral impact on their profitability, yet increase the rewards for the forest owner, then they will have a crack. If forest value recovery processes reduce their productivity and profits, they will tend to resist, ignore or avoid them.
FVR: Now you get to deliver your pitch like we promised. Tell us about Logmeister Plus. What does it do? Why might a forest owner specify its use?
Andy: Logmeister Plus is an advance on the Logmeister. The deck contains a bucking saw, auto-scale and auto-label capability. It optically scans each stem from multiple angles, optimises and then cuts it precisely. It merchandises trees and maximises value, collects data, scales and marks logs – faster and more safely than current harvesting systems. That’s it.
A forest owner might specify its use if they wanted to generate more income from their forest. If they are happy with their current income, productivity and safety performance then they should stick with the status quo.
FVR: Last one Andy. What is your ideal future for forest harvest in the world?
Andy: That we harvest more from plantations and less from native forest. That harvest is done safely and the people doing the work are respected and rewarded, and do it in an environmentally sensitive way. Where forests are grown for commercial gain, I would like to see more awareness and practice of forest value recovery principles.
In NZ, I would like to see more forest owned by New Zealanders. One way of making this a reality is to support Maori forest ownership and encourage the afforestation of underutilised Maori land.
And we need to ensure that wise harvest decisions are made based on science, mathematics and logic, for best forest value recovery.
James Powrie www.forestvaluerecovery.com