Adding a hole lot of value to a piece of pine

Adding a hole lot of value to a piece of pine
We all know that we’d prefer to export more than just a log of pine to overseas markets.

multipoleWe all know that we’d prefer to export more than just a log of pine to overseas markets.

At the same time, the NZ Inc desire to add value to our raw commodities such as trees is almost tiresome through over-use.

So, it is a pleasure to be able to highlight a company and person doing something different and in their case, making a better pine pole.

Now TTT Products (and no, I’d never heard of them either until going through a recent exercise to maximise the return from a 20-year-old four hectare block of pines that I’m involved with) isn’t a small firm. Its North Island headquarters at Tuakau covers 20ha, specialising in creating pine poles of many different sorts.

It may even seem to be a coals to Newcastle scenario, but TTT exports a fair number of these poles all around the Pacific and even to Europe and North America. This is partly because only pinus radiate (and Southern Yellow Pine) can take up the anti-insect, anti-corrosion chemical preservatives that then guarantee a longevity when buried in the ground.

However, the other clever product from TTT, partly ‘inspired’ by the recent Christchurch earthquakes, is what is called a MultiPole (and the basic focus of this blog)

It is a pole that’s actually a tube – TTT managing director John Reelick having perfected (and is keeping secret) a means to drill a long 50 – 150mm diameter hole in a pole. The pole is no weaker, and indeed, because the preservative chemicals can also be applied from the inside out, even more protected against rotting when in the ground.

What MultiPoles allow is a range of tools and complementary products such as cement or grout, that can be deployed because of this hole/tube.

For example, a water jet can be used to help clear the way and push the pole into the ground.

There’s a swag of engineering proofs and performance criteria, and Reelick and his team have further refined the MultiPole over the past couple of years.

Equally, the company’s demonstrating the versatility and application of poles as a modern building material for (rebuilding) Christchurch. They’ve built five-storey offices, and a 15-storey model has also been proven as viable for the Garden City.

That is quite a lot of value-add for a commodity, and an example of taking a raw material and making it work better.

Fantastic stuff all round. Keep up the good work TTT!

P.S: The MultiPole appears to be a perfect, exportable, value-add product beyond a commodity. I’m sure John Reedick and his team have ideas they would like funding to research and perfect.

Callaghan Innovation has the mandate to be proactive – go give these guys a hand up.

They already know their market, and have a special product with, as IT businesses like to call it, a secret sauce (how to make the holes).

In the scheme of things, a very good CI investment bet for a multiple (or multipole in this case) return.

This post originally appeared on Sciblogs and sticK