Responding to the coronavirus challenge30 April 2020
As I write this column, the coronavirus pandemic was starting to impact the international woodbased panels industry, with reports of mills starting to adjust production and even temporarily close some operations in North America and Europe.
With restrictions implemented by governments to try and reduce the spread of infection, builders, furniture manufacturers and other buyers of panel products have had to review their operations and in many cases companies have temporarily closed. While panels manufacturers have generally been allowed to continue operation as “essential” business operations, this reduced demand and the need to meet health guidelines is inevitably forcing them to rethink current production shifts.
Suppliers to the industry have been rising to the challenge to maintain production and service levels to customers and are demonstrating considerable resilience in what is a difficult and uncertain situation.
International panel plant supplier Siempelkamp is campaigning to support the We Against the Virus campaign and has photographed many of its staff, whether home working or still in the factory, supporting the initiative. Biesse is using its 3D printer to make personal protective equipment for local hospital medical staff in Pesaro, Italy, while white melamine panels are being supplied by US building materials suppliers for building temporary medical facilities in New York.
Of course, everyone wants to know where this is all going to end up and what does it mean for global panel production, sales and investment levels in plants? It’s hard to predict at the moment but longterm fundamentals still give room for confidence about wood-based panels’ popularity in global markets.
The onset of the coronavirus has made it difficult to make predictions in WBPI’s survey reports at the moment as the situation has changed so quickly.
In this issue our Focus on OSB brings you updates from North America, Europe, South America and Asia, as well as a look at the increasingly popular OSB variants, including fine surface OSB and OSB4.
The European Panel Federation also sets out its position on the European Green Deal – the European Commission’s guidelines for the EU to be climate neutral by 2050. This is an important subject we will be hearing more about in the years to come and it is vital the wood-based panels sector together with the whole wood value chain works hard to ensure its message is at the heart of the green debate.
We also interview Italy’s Giardina Finishing, which has recently completed an MDF priming line in Canada, as well as speak to Accsys Technologies’ new CEO Rob Harris. He rev eals the lat est on the w ork to establish a Tricoya Wood Elements plant in the UK. The material is used to make Tricoya modified wood panels.