New Testing Method Could Be Aussie Structural Timbers Edge

New research will help MGP12, MGP10 and F5 remain price competitive

Tue 07 May 24


A new testing method could hold the key to keeping structural timbers price-competitive without compromising strength and stiffness.

The upshot is that the new method can help MGP12, MGP10, and F5—all sold in the Australian construction industry—reduce testing costs and use a smaller sample size when testing, all the while achieving the same confidence level in verification results.

That is according to a new Forest and Wood Products Australia report just published, Biased position testing for verification of structural softwood, a report prepared by Professor Jon Shanks, Director of TimberED Services and Associate Professor in Timber Engineering at the University of Tasmania. 

Professor Shanks, in collaboration with the University of South Australia, found that a new type of testing system—biased position testing—could be used instead of random selection to test Australia’s structural timbers. 

Where random testing, samples timbers like drawing names from a hat, biased selection picks samples (with known defects) that give specific insights rather than about the whole group.

“By focusing on the grade-determining features of the timber, biased position testing provides direct feedback on the grading process with fewer boards tested,” according to Professor Shanks, who used a 2023 In-Grade Study to analyse different products from mills across Australia.

For Chris Lafferty, the FWPA’s RD&E Manager, “this innovative approach offers cost savings, improved efficiency, and accurate estimation of properties,” adding that “it is a significant step towards enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of the industry.”

According to Gavin Matthew, CEO of the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia, “biased position testing does work and can ensure continued product compliance.”

“By embracing this new sampling method, the timber industry can maintain high levels of quality control while reducing costs and improving overall productivity,” Mr Matthew said.

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FWPA team at the launch of the Timber Market Index (or TMI). From left Jodie Mason, Janette Newport, Sarah Downey, Kevin Peachey, Andrew Leighton, Emmy Petersson and Erick Hansnata

The new research follows the FWPA’s launch of the softwood Timber Market Index (TMI) last year, which will, for the first time, track historical price movements for different categories of softwood products.

According to Kevin Peachey, head of built environment programs at FWPA, “the Timber Market Index is a powerful new tool in tracking industry price movements and trends over time.”

“It’s exciting to see this great initiative launched and to be able to support our industry with increased transparency and confidence in tracking industry trends.”


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