Frame & Truss Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand
Why ‘Wood’ you use anything else?
Business View Oceania profiles the Frame & Truss Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand for our focus on the NZ Wood Construction Industry
The Frame & Truss Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand (FTMA) was established in 1997 in order to better coordinate and represent this industry sector with government and related building industry interests, as well as establishing consistent industry standards in a time that was experiencing a lot of change and erosion of trust in timber-based building.
In New Zealand over 95% of residential buildings are constructed using prefabricated frames and trusses. Currently the FTMA represents over 80 of approximately 90 frame and truss manufacturing sites in New Zealand In addition to the frame and truss fabricators, we also have a number of industry and associate members including our key partners such as the two main nail plate and design software providers, Mitek and Pryda, timber and wood product suppliers, building and related materials suppliers, along with related equipment providers are also important partners helping to support and guide the Association. The FTMA in New Zealand is governed by a board comprising up to 12 members including the Chair and Vice-Chair. The board or executive group members are drawn from a wide range of fabricator members and related trade, supply chain and industry members. We also have two part-time contract roles for administration and member services.
Some of the important concerns that prompted the creation of the Association in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, such as consistent grading and treatment specifications for framing timber, have been resolved. These days there are other issues to deal with and to which the Association is turning our attention. A key current concern is industry training and skills development. New Zealand is experiencing strong residential building demand and frame and truss manufacturers are struggling with finding staff with the required skills and experience to help run their operations. A key skill that is in short supply for example is timber structure detailing, which is the task of using sophisticated software packages to convert an architectural design or house plan into a set of frames and trusses that comply with building code requirements to form the basis of the structure.
Once the frame and truss designs are set up using the software, the required cutting instructions are directly downloaded to computer-controlled saws which cut out all the timber sections required with a high degree of accuracy and precision. So, the role of a detailer requires high levels of computer literacy, attention to detail and a good understanding of the building process. To its credit, the New Zealand government is offering strong financial support to individuals and employers to undertake trade skills training. FTMA works closely with key trade training organisations such as the Building & Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) to improve awareness and uptake of these support packages among the members.
Another pressure common to most industries is the ongoing need to control costs while also improving product quality. Many truss and frame factories have invested in automation to reduce the need for direct human handling. Labour and building costs in New Zealand are relatively high compared to some other countries, so off-site factory prefabrication of key building components is an important part of controlling costs, saving time and lifting quality of new building development. Consequently, a number of FTMA members are also looking to how they can extend their participation into off-site manufacture beyond the core frame and truss set using the skills and infrastructure that are already in place.
The New Zealand government with the Building for Climate Change consultation is pushing the building and construction industry broadly to make buildings more energy efficient with better thermal performance and have a lower net environmental impact by using more sustainable materials to help meet the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act. As the construction sector is one of the largest generators of landfill waste, the initiative also aims to create less waste in the construction process while providing buildings that are safe, durable, comfortable and affordable for the users and owners. It is a tall order and the timber frame and truss industry can play an important part in delivering this vision, particularly as more medium density and high-rise residential development becomes prevalent in our larger cities. We are also keen to see greater use of timber-based building solutions for commercial and public developments.
Looking to the future, we are optimistic and looking forward to exciting new developments in our sector. Residential building demand is expected to stay strong in New Zealand for a few years at least. Traditionally New Zealand has been a stronghold of stand-alone houses with one or two levels only. However as discussed above, trends such as more multi-unit and high-rise residential development will drive our fabricator and supplier members to innovate and come up with new wood-based building solutions that suit the new environment. Also as discussed above, we believe that there are drivers and scope for timber-based building to take a greater role in commercial and public building development. We believe that FTMA members and industry associates have the necessary skills and capacity to rise to these new challenges. We are also actively seeking to engage with other industry sectors and technology providers to improve mutual understanding and collaboration.
It would be fair to say that FTMA in New Zealand has not expanded our communication horizons in the new world of social media and we have tended to be a relatively insular industry to industry facing organisation. A vital initiative that we will commence in 2021 is enhancing our communication and engagement platform with a more active contact plan with our members and a wider selection of their employees and wider reach into related trades and industry with relevant social media.
For further information please contact:
Daniel Howe – FTMA Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org +64 (0)21 798 811
Peter Carruthers – Member Services Manager – email@example.com +64 (0)21 912 977
AT A GLANCE
Frame & Truss Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand
What: Industry association representing prefabricated timber framing manufacturers in NZ
Where: Auckland, New Zealand