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TechTALK – #23, Winter 2022

Kia ora,

Winter is here!

Techlam was lucky to avoid major damage after the tornado that recently hit Levin, was indeed a crazy weather event and a good test for our emergency preparedness – well done team.

We’ve been working on some pretty big projects in the first half of this year and the teamwork and expertise on the floor is a pleasure to be part of.

Plans are afoot for new product innovation and we continue to upgrade our capability within our manufacturing plant, please read on…

Take care out there, kia kaha!

Brett Hamilton

Managing Director

Murihiku Marae

The new Murihiku Marae project is all go at the moment. A collaboration between, BOON Team Architects, Beca Structural Engineers, Henderson Construction and Techlam.

Here’s Brent at Henderson Construction on the project so far.

“Henderson Construction were one of 2 main contractors pricing the Murihiku Marae, we were stoked to be the chosen party to undertake this project. It’s a large chunk of our work for this year, and it’s great to be involved.

Over the past 4-5 months, the project has been gaining momentum. We started off a bit slow with supply issues. But all of our subcontractors including Techlam have been very very supportive along the way and helped us to get product to site on time.

We’re currently putting up the portals. We’ve learnt more about timber swelling because there’s so much moisture about, but apart from that everything has gone together nicely, and you guys have been extremely supportive. We have got roofing going on now, so it will be good once that’s up, I just hope it stands up to the weather in the meantime.

What makes the marae project so exciting for our team is the amount of carpentry involved, we are enjoying working with timber for a change. The finished project will be a stunning structure overall. 

Techlam is one of our major out-of-town suppliers for the project, and they have acted the same as anybody that we would have used locally, they’ve done everything we would expect them to, so thanks for being a part of the collaboration.”


And here’s a few notes from our Director Sales & Projects, Roy…

Tell me about the Murihiku Marae Project, what other parties have we worked with throughout the project so far?

“Henderson Construction are the main people involved.

Boon Architects contacted us probably 6-8 months beforehand, asking for our input and indicative pricing, as well as any technical advice we could offer.

We didn’t have a huge amount to do with Beca (the engineers) until the project was underway. We had some online sessions going through their model to help them fine tune and refine the designs.

The modelling was really complex because many of the parts of the structure didn’t fit together, so we had to work really closely with the design team to make it work.

We also worked closely with Henderson Construction during the tender stage, Alistair our rep flew down to site a few times, and that definitely helped us get the project across the line.”

How much glulam is in the project?

“94m3 (52 ton) of glulam in total, as well as a large volume of steel plates and connections.”

Any other timber manufacturers involved?

“No, no other engineered timber apart from the glulam that makes up the entire structure – all the portals and all the exterior, architectural type timber elements. We’ve got some pretty complex curves going through our factory now.”

How has Māori culture influenced the project?

“The whole sustainability/taonga aspect is huge, everything onsite has to be left onsite, nothing can leave.

Materials from the old marae are being upcycled into the new marae because this has spiritual significance for Māori.

Any waste material that leaves the site is sorted into different bins.

There’s an area on site we’re not allowed to walk on because it’s recognised as tapu.

A big hunk of the existing marae will remain, right behind the new marae structure. The old marae features a very high-pitched roof which is quite unique in New Zealand, as most marae roofs are low pitched.”

How have we overcome issues and adapted to the client?

“We had a few pre start meetings with Henderson Construction to rehearse the construction sequencing – the best way to lift and stand the portals, the best way to erect the structure, from where to where and how to do it. Henderson had experienced major supply issues with steel and other suppliers, originally they needed all the curved whale bones first but there was no steel available for 6 months!, so we’ve been fluid in how we manufactured and adapted to suit the changing game plan.

The FSC side of it has been challenging because of supply. There have been times when we were going to drive down to deliver product to help them out, and equally Brent from Henderson’s has driven up, so there has been some pretty cool collaboration. Henderson Construction, Richard from Southern Quantity Surveyors, Emily from BOON and Amber from BECA have all been great to work with.”

Techlam have manufactured many marae projects throughout New Zealand, how does our experience with these projects help our clients such as the Murihiku Project?

“We’re building our understanding of Māori protocol – how Māori think and what is important from a cultural perspective.

The diverse cultural backgrounds within the Techlam team further helps us to understand the cultural significance and importance of different parts of the structures we help build. Timber and connection to the earth, and the carvings created afterwards are vitally important.”

Any Challenges?

“Self-drilling dowels from Rothoblaas are very challenging – they’re going through double steel plates right on the limit of the thickness. 2 layers of 8mm.

The Henderson team have not used them before, so we provided them with methodology for installation and best-practice for drilling at heights.

Because government funding relies on firm completion dates and the supply environment has been so sketchy, timings have added extra challenges to the mix.”

New Developments & Upgrades

Techlam have some exciting new developments in the works, here’s Brett explaining what they are and what they mean for our customers.

What upgrades are we working on currently?

“The work continues on upgrading our docking and finger jointing line. And also, significantly increasing our CNC capacity.”

What does it mean for Techlam, both environmentally and capacity wise?

“At the moment we’re unable to process small timber pieces so small offcuts currently go to landfill. But very soon we’ll significantly  reduce our waste to landfill because we’ll utilise these offcuts to create new product lines.

It will significantly increase capacity in the areas we’re growing in, Both the project market and also the general markets.”

What benefits will an upgrade bring to the glulam industry in New Zealand?

“It will increase capacity and thus increase productivity.

We’re aiming to increase production by more than 30% and reduce waste currently going to landfill by circa 25%.”

Give us an overview on the Waka Kotahi project we’re involved in currently?

“Waka Kotahi have been actively engaging with industry, and we’ve been working with them closely on some pilot projects.

We attended a meeting with Dan Tingley a few weeks ago to discuss options on the right pathway to market to make sure we get it right.”

Who else is involved?

“This is an industry-wide objective, the exciting part for Techlam is that we’ll be working closely with them on some pilot projects. It’s all to do with Waka Kotahi’s mandate for reducing carbon in their infrastructure, and timber bridges fit nicely.

It won’t change the functionality of roads, but it will help them on their pathway to reducing carbon.”

Anything else?

“We’ve got some exciting new products coming to market over the next 6-12 months.

We’ve got multiple offshore projects on the go at the moment. Several projects in Tuvalu – a new chapel plus several transit terminals and storage buildings. In Tonga we’re about to start on the first of about 22 chapels.”

Haere mai Paul!

A huge welcome to Paul Stockford.

Paul joined the team earlier in the year as our new Operations Manager, hear what he has to say.

What are you most looking forward to about joining the Techlam team?

“Being part of the exciting projects that they produce”

Had you heard of Techlam before you started? ” Yes. Techlam are a big player and are well known in the industry.”

Tell me about your previous experiences and job roles.

“I’ve been involved with the construction industry for my whole life, as a joiner and then 15 years as a carpenter on site. Then I moved into prefabrication and spent the next 20 odd years managing frame and truss plants.

I managed Westlake timber in Christchurch for 7 years, and then went to Auckland and started one from scratch. Also have done heaps of houses and buildings along the way. Bit like Techlam, quite fast moving. Some projects are over within a day and others are a long-drawn-out process.”

Have you worked with glulam before?

” I’ve worked with glulam from the perspective that I’ve used it in lintels and beams, good to see the other side now, how it’s made.

How have you found it so far on the Techlam team?

“I’m gaining momentum every day, there’s a lot to learn and a lot involved right from the conception and design phase, through to the manufacturing process, even the logistics of getting our product to site. Techlam has a unique approach.

Techlam is good at creating case studies and showcasing to the public what they do which is a great thing to see, they take pride in their work. At other places I’ve worked, they just feed the product to the client and forget about it.”

How will your experience help us move forward as a company?

“My background in the industry and being able to understand the end usage of the products will help the team. Especially in ways that benefit our clients and make their job easier.”

Any proud accomplishments of achievements that we can share with our readers, personally or professionally?

I was the assistant coach and then the general coach of the New Zealand black sox softball team. Been to 2 world series of Softball in coaching roles. I have coached in Australia and Japan.”

Anything interesting we should know about you?

“I enjoy going out on my boat fishing, and I’ve got a lot of DIY projects on the go.”

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