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Executive Director’s Report / September Newsletter 2023


Roy Southey - Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

Read the full August newsletter HERE


With the advent of spring and the end of the year approaching, time just seems to speed up. In the past, this was a period when bulging order books saw mills work to full capacity to clear outstanding orders before the annual shutdown. Given the difficulties encountered this year, however, a late upswing is by no means a certainty. But, as they say in the classics, ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast’.

A major success in September was the Timber Construction Conference hosted by the University of Pretoria.

The University’s York Chair of Timber has been contracted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to promote the increased use of timber in the construction sector. The event, which was staged in support of this goal, drew a number of prominent guest speakers from the timber and construction industries. The keynote address was delivered by the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina, who reassuringly expressed her intention to encourage government departments to give serious consideration to the use of timber in future contracts. Take some time to read her address at the conference.

It was then the turn of a panel of eminently qualified speakers to discuss and promote the virtues and versatility of timber as a construction medium. The audience comprised a large number of architects and construction engineers, the very people whose decision-making can exert a positive influence on the uses and application of timber in housing and construction. You can read more about it here.

Our gratitude must be expressed to the university’s Dr Schalk Grobbelaar and his team whose efforts are giving the timber industry the credit it deserves.

This past month also saw the biannual South African Lumber Driers Educational Association conference in Johannesburg on 14 and 15 September. It has been long recognised that the skills needed to operate a drying kiln are essential to every sawmill. For more than four decades, the association has been training operators in the art of kiln drying. It is a forum that brings both the veterans and newcomers together and no fewer than 18 participants were there to discuss drying issues at their mills and how best they be addressed. Experienced mill managers are unanimous in saying that skilled kiln drying is a major contributor to the quality of timber produced and therefore key to an enhanced average sale price.

An equally important conference takes place this month with the staging of the South African Lumber Saw Doctors Educational Association conference to be held on 19 and 20 October. We all know the importance to our mills of an experienced saw doctor, so please give your support to this valuable event.

There are also a number of webinars taking place that are being hosted by the industry:

  • 5 October – Unpacking the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement for the Timber Processing and Pulp & Paper Sector – Register
  • 10 October – SAGERS – South African Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting System – Register

Well, that’s all for this month. So keep on cutting straight and drying flat, and take good care of your saw doctors and kiln operators.

Until next month.

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

Read the full August newsletter HERE

SourceSawmilling South Africa- September Newsletter 2023

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