Lead researcher: Associate Professor Rameez Rameezdeen

The Australian plantation softwood manufacturing industry produces predominantly grades of high-quality structural timber typically used in wall and floor framing, and roof trusses. The strength of the construction industry is hugely important for the economic health of Australia.

This project aims to support and grow the $1.19 billion structural timber market by reviewing the current structural properties of its Machine Graded Pine (MGP) and to growing the reputation and market exposure of the MGP brand name.  It will also provide a comprehensive data set that will detail current strength timber properties as well as any changes over time. Additionally, the project will focus on developing innovative training material and outreach activity to facilitate understanding and communication of contemporary timber grading throughout the supply chain.

The SMAG (Specialized Testing & Research Unit) was established in 1980 to provide specialised testing and industrial research services for the government and private sector companies. SMAG draws on expertise within the research hub located at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus to deliver independent specialist testing and research on structures and construction materials.

The overall aim of the NIFPI project ‘Characterising Softwood Sawn Products in Australia’ is to capture a representative sample of softwood sawn timber production from the Australian sawmills from across a full year. The sampled timber will be tested at UniSA and results analysed to provide feedback to the industry on all of the structural properties of their sawn timber products; and provide a benchmark of Machine Graded Pine (MGP) properties that can be compared against the results of previous and future test programs.

Many industry partners have been significantly affected by the bushfires over the past four months and this is now compounded by COVID19 disrupting the industry and society. These back-to-back catastrophes are affecting the project, but every effort is being made to adapt whilst continuing to deliver the outcomes the industry needs from the project.

Progress to date:

  • 13 softwood mills from all parts of Australia are participating in the project.
  • A dedicated in-grade timber testing facility is almost complete at UniSA Mawson Lakes campus. The timber testing ‘production line’ is optimised to process bending, tension, compression and shear tests from timber up to 6m long with associated moisture and density information captured.
  • Four test machines have been purchased by UniSA. Two have been installed. Delivery of the third and fourth has been delayed due to current international restrictions.
  • Rigorous data capture and storage software has been developed by UniSA’s IT team to keep track of the samples, store pictures and ensure the integrity of the project results.

Our team:  Rameez Rameezdeen, Julie Mills, Yan Zhuge, Xing Ma, Mark Ellis, Chris Chow, Jim O'Hehir, Ben Evans, Geoffrey Boughton (TimberED Services), Jon Shanks (TimberED Services)

Metriguard Tension Tester on location at Mawson Lakes
The Metriguard  Tension Tester on location at Mawson Lakes


Contact information

Dr Jim O’Hehir
General Manager: Forest Research Mount Gambier
Ph: +61 8 830 28997
E: Jim.O'Hehir@unisa.edu.au

Michele Cranage
Administrative Officer
Ph: +61 8 830 28902
E: Michele.Cranage@unisa.edu.au