Robotic handling raises sawing productivity, Volker Bühler, group manager for robotics at German sawing machine and storage system manufacturer, Kasto, describes the widening choice of automation systems on offer to minimise labour costs and increase production output from the company's circular sawing and bandsawing machines. The production solutions are available in the UK and Ireland through the firm's subsidiary in Milton Keynes.
'No capacity' for KiwiBuild writes writes Alexia Russell for Newsroom. The viability over the Government's KiwiBuild scheme has been called into question by the building industry, which says there is just no capacity to do it.
The Chief Executive of New Zealand Certified Builders, Grant Florence, won't go as far as saying KiwiBuild is doomed to fail, but says it faces some massive challenges. They include the price of land for affordable housing, and the sheer lack of tradespeople to do the work.
Speaking from the organisation's 20th anniversary annual conference in Rotorua, Florence told Newsroom that builders throughout the country are booked up through to mid-2019, and there is further demand down the pipeline. Efforts to increase the number of trades apprentices have fallen flat - there has been no lift in numbers this year.
"The industry is definitely seeking more details (on KiwiBuild) right now - what resources are being put into this, how will it be priced, where will it be done, and at what pace?" Florence is sceptical about some of the short-cuts the Government has mentioned as aiding the scheme, such as pre-fabrication off-site, and doubts the attractiveness of large contracts will be enough to lure builders in, especially if it means lower margins.
"The key lever is addressing the price of land, which is 50 percent of the cost of housing - more in some places," he says. "Unless the Government is prepared to address that in some way or form then I can't see it working."
"I personally think we will struggle to do those things the Government is thinking. I think the industry right now is just asking for details on how and what KiwiBuild is and how it is going to be executed. There is a growing level of scepticism within the industry about its viability and whether it's actually likely.
"We are probably at peak capacity now. There is a lot of over-trading ... builders are trying to do too much.
"If and when KiwiBuild gets up and running, I think it will put huge pressure on the industry. If it were to come on tap tomorrow I doubt the industry could cope."
Florence says homeowners - both those planning renovations and new builds - are the ones who would be hit worst by sudden extra demand on the industry. "It comes back to the point Treasury made recently in the Budget. KiwiBuild work won't be in addition to local work being done now because of this constraint on resources."
Treasury has halved its forecast on the rate of progress on the housing policy, saying it now sees just $2.5 billion of KiwiBuild-induced additional residential investment over the next five years. In spite of that, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government still plans to build 100,000 affordable homes within a 10-year period. Housing Minister Phil Twyford lashed out at the "kids in Treasury" for the downgraded forecast - he's since had to apologise.
Florence says Twyford has quite rightly pointed to high-density housing as the answer, especially in Queenstown and Auckland. But he also has worries over Auckland's Unitec plans and the lack of detail being revealed. He says before the first hammer is swung there needs to be massive infrastructure improvements, including transport and water issues. "Building the houses is the easy bit," he says.
In terms of new apprentices coming into the workforce, the trend now is for older people who have already been to university taking up the tools. About 40 percent of those in the NZCB apprentice competition in Rotorua already had a degree.
Slightly more women are also turning to the trades, but Florence says there is plenty more room for that number to expand. It's thought anecdotally that the Government's fees-free policy may have backfired on apprentices, with school leavers who might have taken them up now heading to university. Tertiary institutes haven't yet been able to provide numbers on that. Florence says there's a need to work closer with schools to encourage people - especially women - to enter the industry. He'd also like to see some effort put into finding the 40 percent of apprentices who drop out after one year, to try and get them back into the fold.
In the meantime, any extra workers are going to have to come from overseas, and Florence is not just talking about hammer hands. He says quantity surveyors and engineers will likely come from Europe, and unskilled workers from Asia. He says we need workers from across all the trades. "We did it for Christchurch and we will have to do it again for KiwiBuild to go ahead," he says.
He can understand some of the outrage over the importing of nearly 200 Chinese workers to finish an Auckland hotel, especially when the labour is cheaper than can be sourced locally, but says we need to look at the problem on a macro basis. "If they want to build it, they are going to have to bring people in."
In the meantime the building industry wants more details on KiwiBuild plans.
The New Zealand Tech and Innovation Story, the UpStarters, launched this morning by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Techweek ’18, is a key milestone in supporting our tech and innovation companies to promote themselves on the world stage.
You see them in Germany, in Britain and in many other places – bands of tourists zipping through cities and scenic spots riding electric bikes. Tour operators, including those in Australia, are full of praise for the machines, which they say are revolutionising the active travel industry.
The review of New Zealand’s security and intelligence agencies began in June and will be completed by the end of February 2016. What is going on in this sphere, and who is causing it to happen? MSCNewswire sheds helpful light on the services through the eyes of those who work for them, or those who anticipate working for them.
Security and Intelligence Agencies Review: an Operational Glimpse MSCNewsWire- Aug 18 2015 - You operate in the shadows and this is where you must stay. Most of you will quite literally be in the dark, clinging to chat room walls, drilling down into dodgy sites, especially the ones that have an outwardly innocent appearance, and de-ciphering the real intention beneath the apparent one.
Boring, painstaking yet requiring incessant alertness because in your vocation few things are what they seem. The purest of intentions in one set of eyes, in this case the perpetrators, so often represent diabolical outcomes for your protectorate.
In signals security intelligence you must be two quite different things. You must be what was once described as a boffin, a nerd as we would now describe it. You must also have an artist’s appreciation of the shaded variant and a policeman’s intuition about something or someone not being as it or they should be.
You will identify travel plans, loans, and money transfers, and out-of-the-ordinary on-line shopping acquisitions.
Chance messages, the ones out of the usual family and friends traffic, will be to you of especial interest.
What about the human side of the services, the one that gets the most public display and thus attention? At any given time here you and your colleagues will have under surveillance around 100 persons of interest.
But what type of person should you be? Ideally you should be at heart much the same as your signals interception colleagues. A mixture of the nerd and the curious. Your eye should constantly be on the look out for non-standard behaviour, or evidence of it.
You will be well paid, and so living in the more genteel suburbs. Let us say now that you visit for example your local supermarket and see there on the community noticeboard among church and Rotary communiques a message from this or that friendship group of the more zealous category soliciting interest from locals.
What do you do? In your case, you start by being suspicious.
Fashionable people with their access to the mainstream media want you to feel guilty. To make you believe that you are focussed on the poor and the disadvantaged. Those, as they see them, who are merely seeking to strike back at their oppressors.
You will know though that the present extremist danger also has solid roots in the ideologically-prone middle class.
You understand that in today’s era of re-tribalisation that New Zealand’s determined and manifest secularism is in itself a challenge to religious resurgence.
From a management point of view you are in the business of exception control, looking for departures from the norm.You are particularly attentive therefore in regard to those who have recently become religious converts or start to demonstrate an unusual degree of fervour or even just activity in the sphere.
If someone under your purview who has hitherto been a wowser suddenly develops an interest in clubbing and the frivolities of life, and vice-versa, then this becomes a signal to you.
In the main, your catchment will be those in the 15-25 years of age group range Yet you will also be highly focussed on those of all ages involved with their support groups and it is here that your hand must be most sure.
This is because so often these are exactly the category of people who receive unqualified support from the intensely vocal political classes.
Anecdotal evidence is central to your craft. Rumour, hearsay, gossip and innuendo are all your raw material.
On the one hand on the signals side there is the requirement for infinite technical precision. In the field, meanwhile, there is operationally the demand for having a nose for unverified yet relevant human data.
Here now is such an example. Immediately after 9/11 there was emanating from the Canterbury area talk about a group of male foreigners who had been training to become pilots.
Nothing unusual in this. Except that immediately after the World Trade Centre attack the entire group of trainee pilots abruptly quit New Zealand.
All rather academic now of course. Except for one thing. If this rumour has any basis at all then several question needs to be asked in relation to the existence or otherwise of a support group, and the composition of any such support group. Is it still there?
Now comes though, one of the most important issues of all. What type of person do you need to be to do this type of work?
You need to be the perfect public servant and of the traditional reticent type, rather than of the more modern show pony variety. It is said that in regard to secrets the world is divided into only three types.
There are the ones who tell their friends, the ones who do not, and the ones who forget what the secret was in the first place. No guesses about the category you must belong to.
Here now is the really important one. How do you get the job in the first place?
A requirement is that you can describe exactly where you were, and what you were doing in your life up to that point. There can be no cv black holes explained away by claiming for instance that for several uncharted years you were on your OE and wandering around Europe and the Middle East.
Must you have a university degree? Ideally. But not definitely. In no other area of the public service is there quite the same level of risk in engaging the over-qualified.
The over-qualified and under-engaged practitioner is exactly the type who tends to take their dissatisfaction public. Recruiters are on the look-out for candidates who show signs of neediness in terms of requiring recognition over and beyond that which a public service career might reasonably bestow upon them.
In the event you successfully navigate through the selection sieve. Now what should you expect? Bearing in mind that during the induction process you will have been taught not to expect too much from your new vocation. Not at the outset, anyway.
Sensibly you should become a spectator on your own career because nobody outside will know or should know,what precisely you do for a living, other than the fact that you are in the public sector. Sensibly, you will describe yourself as an analyst, which is of course what you are.
As a career officer you will have to learn especially to absorb criticism of the group variety which will come from two sources.
There will be external criticism which will come from the media, and especially the broadcast media.
This will focus on everything that has conceivably gone wrong or might go wrong. It will follow the theme of your departmental intrusion on the civil rights of an individual or a collectivity of them. There will be no mention in all this that you are in the business of saving lives.
Then there will be the internal criticism. It will come from actual or aspiring politicians. Most hurtfully of all it will also come from your fellow public servants in the course of one of their constant reviews scheduled or ad hoc on what you as an organisation are doing/should be doing.
Only very recently one such review carried the accusation of the security services being “over-siloed.”
Edward Snowden proved the extreme vulnerability to any such service that failed to have watertight doors between its activities.
Such are some of the thrills and spills of the service.
Now though you are operational. You are watching. You are being watched.
Alibaba is trialing a new supply chain model based on blockchain. Piloted in Australia and New Zealand, Alibaba’s Food Trust Network could improve supply chain traceability and transparency, and form the basis of a supply chain model applied across all of Alibaba Group’s e-commerce marketplaces.
A Mackenzie Basin farm is again the battleground for two seemingly opposed arms of Government – one trying to protect conservation values and the other happily approving agricultural intensification on Crown-owned land.