WBPI: the voice of the global panel industry

16 May 2016

The knock-on effects of the slowdown in the Chinese economy have taken some of the gloss off more positive figures for the panel industry seen in the last year or so.

For instance, the US is not as bullish as it was and that is reflected in the first of our 2016 panel product surveys – OSB.

As our expert’s analysis of the OSB market in North America confirms, the industry has been changed by mergers and acquisitions – not least the merger of Norbord and Ainsworth in early 2015.

Norbord not only has mills in North America, but two OSB mills in Europe (the UK and Belgium), as well as particleboard and MDF mills in North America and the UK.

One of the major, and unenviable, decisions facing many of North America’s OSB producers is what to do with the idled capacity which so many have.

Do they close the mills completely, or re-start them. If the latter is decided in principle, then when should they be restarted?

And how many other producers will make the same decision at the same time, putting too much capacity onto the market and further depressing prices for OSB? Not an easy decision to make.

Meanwhile our second OSB report – on capacity in the ‘rest of the world’ – shows that it continues to grow, putting margins under further pressure.

Of course the Chinese economic ‘wobble’ has affected the rest of the world, too, and thrown some doubt over panel markets of all types, globally.

Given the pre-eminence of Norbord on the world stage these days – and the fact the company has recently announced a new 640,000m3 OSB line in to be built in Scotland – my decision about who to invite to participate in The Interview in this issue was fairly simple. Karl Morris, managing director and senior vice-president of Norbord Europe, kindly agreed to be interviewed.

A new editorial section, making its debut in this issue, is Panel Processing. This will showcase the offerings of various companies in processing raw panels. This processing can be in the form of value-adding to the surface of the panel; digital control of a machining process; or technologies that can transfer complex design geometries to the language of a machining unit and a numerical control work centre.

I hope you find this extension to WBPI’s traditional editorial fare interesting.

We are entering the European woodworking exhibition season and the first of those, for us, is Xylexpo, the biennial show held in Milan in even years (May 24-28, 2016).

I will be there representing the magazine, as always, and looking for new stories to bring to you, our readers.