FTMA chairman keen to raise industry profile

By Jo Bailey

 The Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association’s (FTMA) new chairman, Alan Westwood, is focused on raising the profile of the frame and truss sector and optimising the training and service offering the Association provides to its members.

“I’ve made it a priority to build the credibility of FTMA with government agencies, so the association is more widely recognised as a key leader in this critical part of the construction sector. It’s an area where we’ve sold ourselves a bit short in the past.”

Alan plans to invite organisations such as MBIE and BCITO to attend FTMA meetings every couple of months in a bid to build closer ties and open dialogue.

“I’d like to see FTMA’s credibility raised to where it should be as an industry expert. Timber frames and trusses can be quite complex and are essentially the bones of the residential building industry. I’m not sure this is always widely understood or appreciated by the broader construction sector.”

Alan says taking the plans from architects and turning them into frame and trusses is a complex, detailed process requiring skilled individuals.

This is where the FTMA’s focus on training is critical, to ensure its members’ have a high quality, skilled workforce who produce a product that complies with the manufacturing and quality standards set out by the association, he says.

“As an Association we’ve been actively involved in the development and delivery of NZQA approved qualifications since 2001 and continue to work closely with BCITO in the development of qualifications.

“We are currently looking at a new entry level training programme for employees on the factory floor, who could later up-skill by completing the Level 3 and Level 4 courses on offer.”

Alan says the New Zealand Frame and Truss Detailing Level 4 course is one initiative that has helped to attract new detailers to the industry.

“We had a critical shortage of detailers for a time, with some of this work being carried out off-shore. However this is now being resolved, with a good supply of new accredited detailers joining the workforce to enable the industry to meet the growing demand here in New Zealand.

“Key suppliers to the industry such as Pryda and Mitek can also take a lot of credit for the work they’ve done to bring on more qualified detailers, along with some of the big manufacturers who have run their own learning schools.”

Aside from the qualifications available through BCITO there is no other specialist training available to the frame and truss fabrication sector.

“Had FTMA not been involved in developing the existing training programmes and qualifications, they probably wouldn’t have been initiated. Our involvement has ensured information is technically correct and the assessment of skills meets required standards.”

Alan served on the FTMA committee before taking over the role of chairman from Robert Grimmer, who retired late last year.

Since August 2015, Alan has been national operations manager at Carters, for whom he looks after all the frame and truss manufacturing plants nationwide.

“My role with Carters is quite advantageous, as I am already talking to a lot of builders on a regular basis with a customer focus. However when I’m in my role as chairman of FTMA my focus is very much on the wider industry whilst understanding the needs of the customers.”

He says a couple of initiatives introduced at Carters could benefit the wider industry when it comes to attracting young people to the industry and up-skilling current employees.

“We have successfully trialed working with local schools and bringing students into the factory to give estimating and detailing a go. I believe there is a great opportunity for FTMA to develop similarly close links with schools throughout New Zealand, and potentially seek government funding for training.”

A successful numeracy and literacy programme run by Carters, and facilitated by private educators with government funding from TEC, could also be implemented by FTMA, he says.

“We plan to work with TEC to hopefully achieve funding to roll out a nationwide FTMA numeracy and literacy programme. It is good to have the ability to try out these programmes with large fabricators such as Carters before rolling them out to smaller members.”

Alan says regular communication with its members around legislative changes is another key role of FTMA.

“The vast majority of our members are small operators, with anywhere from five to 20 staff. They are not always in a position, or have the time to investigate and understand the implications of legislative changes which are often hugely complex and open to different interpretations.”

He says FTMA aims to make it easier for members by doing the investigating for them, and providing clear direction as to what any changes will mean for their businesses.

“The major review of NZ Standard 3604 during 2010/2011 is a great example of this, as it resulted in quite a few changes that impacted on what our members do and how they do it, which we have been able to communicate to them.”

Health and safety is another critical issue for the industry, with FTMA strongly encouraging all its members to be health and safety compliant, and take all practicable steps to ensure they meet their obligations to keep their employees safe at work.

“We have been undertaking a review of the health and safety section in the FTMA Code of Practice and have prepared a Serious Harm Incidents Fact Sheet to help our members understand the changes and processes they need to follow,” he says.

Regular newsletters, the AGM and visits by a membership services officer two or three times a year, are other ways members are kept up to date.

“We sometimes hold some executive meetings outside Auckland, when we invite both members and non-members to discuss the latest industry news and challenges.”

In 2018 FTMA will celebrate 20 years since it was formed by a group of proactive frame and truss manufacturers to promote timber and raise the standards of the frame and truss industry in New Zealand.

“We represent the majority of the prefabricated timber framing industry in New Zealand, and are leading the way to ensure that prefabricated timber wall frames and roof trusses remain the preferred choice for building in New Zealand.”

Today FTMA has around 70 members, and an executive of 12, who meet every two-and-a-half months.

“We have a voluntary membership base with very good take-up, representing around 80 percent of the total number of fabricators in New Zealand,” says Alan.

In June 2015, FTMA ended its six-year association with the Wood Processsors and Manufacturers Association to become a standalone organisation, following the restructure of the WPMA.

With construction buoyant across the country, and a strong appetite for timber continuing unabated, Alan says members of FTMA are gearing up for another busy year.

“FTMA is well poised to continue to support our members, as we continue to raise the profile of the frame and truss sector, and introduce a range of new initiatives to ensure we have a high quality, highly skilled workforce.”

“I’ve made it a priority to build the credibility of FTMA with government agencies, so the association is more widely recognized as a key leader in this critical part of the construction sector. It’s an area where we’ve sold ourselves a bit short in the past.”

What’s good about wood?

Timber has been a building material of choice for New Zealand homes since the arrival of the first European settlers, with many nineteenth century homes constructed in timber still in use and habitable today.

The timber industry is now a well-established industry sector with the manufacture off site of timber wall frames going back to around 1960, and roof trusses from around 1964.

Timber framed houses have been the norm since then, with probably 90 percent of standalone residential buildings constructed using timber framing.

The benefits of timber are widely known and with today’s focus on sustainability and high performance eco-homes, the material is as popular as ever.

It is very easy to meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code standards as timber buildings designed and constructed using NZS3604:2011 automatically comply.

There is no equivalent for concrete block or steel, resulting in a much more complicated and time consuming design and consenting process with those materials.

FTMA has been promoting timber and raising the standards of the frame and truss industry since it was formed in 1998 by a group of proactive frame and truss fabricators.

About the FTMA

The Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand is a non-profit, self-regulating and independently audited industry association.

FTMA is making New Zealand’s frame and truss industry the very best it can be:

By ensuring that prefabricated timber wall frames and roof trusses remain the preferred choice for building in NZ

By ensuring a high standard of manufacturing is consistent across the industry

By ensuring the correct timber and building standards are adhered to

By promoting, for it’s members, best manufacturing practices

By facilitating quality audit standards by using the following guidelines:

Code of Practice compliance

Manufacturer certification

Industry training programmes

Manufacturing practice guidelines

Quality assurance programmes

Regular quality reviews

An independent audit system.

 

I’d like to see FTMA’s credibility raised to where it should be as an industry expert. Timber frames and trusses can be quite complex and are essentially the bones of the residential building industry. I’m not sure this is always widely understood or appreciated by the broader construction sector.

– Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association chairman, Alan Westwood

Growth for Prowood

Motuekabased engineered -structural mber supplier, Prowood Limited, has embarked on a shakeup of its brands and how they go to market. Off the back of the success of its online specifier tool ‘Prolam Online’, Prowood are working their way through all touch points to improve the user experience wherever possible. Prowood has been a pioneer with its ability to provide customers with specifying informaon to speed up the design and build process. Their Prolam soware is used by 4480 architects and specifiers naonwide to determine correct beam specificaon in domesc and commercial projects. Recent improvements to ‘Prolam Online’ now provides specifiers with a range of added features, including more specific parameters. “Users can now allow for the extrahigh wind zones -recently added to the Building Code and cater to variances in roof weight, caused by product type, snow, thickness of ceiling plasterboard or addions such as solar panels,” says Prowood managing director, John Woodman. “For even more accuracy in beam specificaon, Prolam soware now includes deflecon and capacity raos. Users can shi a point load to exactly where it will be on the beam and the programme will adjust the results to suit.” Established in 2002, Prowood and its family of laminate mber products (Prolam) enjoys an 80 percent market share, has recently started exporng to South East Asia and is developing this market further this year. Woodman says with growing export markets and increased demand locally, the company would soon double its producon. “We are building a new laminate press at the moment which will double our producon capabilies and allow us to not only supply our local merchants and builders here, but also meet the demand from our burgeoning export markets in South East Asia,” he says. “Our aim is to dispatch 90 percent of orders within three days – this will give us the shortest lead me in New Zealand.” Prowood has a 7,300sqm covered factory in Motueka and employs 35 people.

 www.prolamnz.com

Reasons to choose timber

Timber is fast and flexible, the builder’s choice:

  • Timber allows flexibility of design and modifications, and tweaks to layout during the construction process become very easy to achieve
  • Builders are familiar with timber and like using it; they understand how to get the best out of it
  • Timber is our most sustainable raw material. It results in far less carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere than competing building products.

Your timber-framed home will be warm and comfortable:

  • Timber is a proven thermal insulator
  • Timber retains heat from the day and releases it at night.

Timber is a sustainable, naturally attractive product:

Timber used appropriately, in accordance with building standards and regulations, will exceed the minimum 50-year service life for materials used for the structure of houses in New Zealand

Timber is long-term durable

Timber treated with the appropriate level of preservative, and properly maintained, can last in service for 100 years or more

Timber is environmentally friendly

Timber is a sustainably produced and naturally renewable material, with low energy consumption during production and is known to have a low carbon footprint

Timber absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere whilst other products emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

We represent the majority of the prefabricated timber framing industry in New Zealand, and are leading the way to ensure that prefabricated timber wall frames and roof trusses remain the preferred choice for building in New Zealand.

– Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association chairman, Alan Westwood

Becoming a member

FTMA membership is open to all companies involved in the frame and truss industry in New Zealand.

The FTMA currently represents a group of 72 Fabricator and 18 Industry Associate members who are leading the way forward in our timber framing industry.

FTMA continues to work tirelessly to ensure prefabricated timber wall frames and roof trusses remain the preferred choice for building in New Zealand.

Also, the FTMA stays in regular communication with members around legislative changes; the vast majority of members are small operators, with anywhere from five to 20 staff, and are not always in a position, or have the time to investigate and understand the implications of legislative changes on their businesses.

Plus the organisation’s access to government via its membership of BIF allows it to hear of changes to regulations at their earliest stages.

Benefits of membership

Legislative changes are hugely complex and open to different interpretations. Regular communication with its members around these changes is one of the key roles of the Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association.

Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association

www.ftma.co.nz

 

 

Alan Westwood

Chairman of the Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association

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