TTF stages its first panels conference

8 November 2018

The Timber Trade Federation’s inaugural UK Wood Panels Conference took place at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on November 7.

The conference, which the TTF hopes to build on next year, was intended to bring the federation’s National Panel Products Division more in line with its National Softwood Division and National Hardwood Division, which already have their own events.

In addition, said TTF managing director Dave Hopkins, the panels sector is “the fastest growing and most innovative sector” within the timber industry.

“We want to ensure we run and lead that agenda,” he said.

Clive Pinnington, managing director of the European Panel Federation (EPF), provided the market context, saying that, while output still fell some way short of the peak of 2007, last year was good for the panels sector, with 3% growth in output across the different board types.

He added that one of the focus areas for the EPF in the future was to increase the use of panel products in construction.

Mr Pinnington also spoke about the circular economy, a topic that was picked up by Craig Bartlett, managing director of MDF Recovery, who spoke about his company’s work in recovering and recycling MDF fibres.

David Murray, head of innovation at MEDITE SMARTPLY spoke on the drivers of product development within his company and “creating value from something new”. Innovation has to be dynamic, he said, adding that prototype products replace existing products as soon as the market is right for it.

As an example, he said, MEDITE SMARTPLY no longer produces OSB2 as it had been superseded by higher performance value products.

Stephen Cope, compliance manager at Meyer Timber advised delegates on post-production treatment options and the importance of Declaration of Performance certificates and CE Marks.

Mr Cope said that the regulatory framework for preservative and fire retardant treatments had changed enormously over the last five years and that there was “a tsunami” of further change heading the industry’s way following the Grenfell Tower fire and subsequent Hackitt Review.

Architect Peter Wilson, director of Timber Design Initiatives, rounded off the conference by highlighting construction projects past and present where panel products had been the predominant material used.

He said that many architects already wanted to work with timber and panel products and that the industry should engage more with the engineers and quantity surveyors, whose timber knowledge was lacking.

TTF's David Hopkins with EPF MD Clive Pinnington at the Wood Panels Conference