Daiken NZ – leading the world in MDF

Daiken NZ - leading the world in MDF
The Daiken NZ Rangiora plant was one of the earlier producers of Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) in the world when it was commissioned with one production line in 1976. A second production line was commissioned in 1994.

Daiken provides high quality Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) to the world, manufactured in New Zealand at its plants in Canterbury and Southland.
Daiken entered the New Zealand MDF industry in 2009 by buying the Rangiora MDF plant in Canterbury and consolidating its presence in 2018 by purchasing the Southland MDF plant at Mataura.
The Daiken Group is one of Japan’s leading building material manufacturers.
Its combined depth of experience from New Zealand, with its technical strength and international connections, provide a responsive environment to allow continuous improvement in its capability and processes in order to meet exacting international standards.
The MDF Daiken produces is made from locally grown plantation radiata pine, renowned for its colour, consistent quality and low emissions, which makes its products easy to work with while also ensuring optimal finish and long-term results.
Daiken New Zealand finance director, Geoff Shea, says the Rangiora plant is a significant employer in the district, with a muster of 180 staff.
Daiken’s Southland operation employs a further 126 staff.
The Rangiora plant was one of the earlier producers of MDF in the world when it was commissioned with one production line in 1976, producing 105,000m3 of MDF annually.
A second production line was commissioned in 1994 adding a further 107,000m3 to its annual production.
Daiken’s MDF products are made using wood fibres, urea formaldehyde (UF) resin, and a small amount of wax.
As a large employer and exporter operating in an isolated part of the world, Daiken faces similar challenges to other New Zealand exporters in get-ting its product to market.

Daiken NZ - leading the world in MDF
The MDF that Daiken produces is made from locally grown plantation radiata pine, renowned for its colour, consistent quality and low emissions, which makes its products easy to work with while also ensuring optimal finish and long-term results.

These include variable exchange rates and being competitive against Northern Hemisphere operators close to market.
About 85% of the Rangiora plant’s production is exported.
“Of that total export production, roughly 60% goes to Japan and the balance to South East Asia, predominantly Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.
“About 10% by value, currently goes to the United States.”
Recruiting skilled staff in a competitive labour market is an on-going challenge.
“We draw the majority of our staff from the local Rangiora/North Canterbury region, with the balance taken from the wider Christchurch area some 30 kilometres away.”
Operating 24 hours a day, the manufacturing process starts with screening and washing chips that are then heated until soft for refining. The refining process that transforms wood chips into wood fibres is thermo-mechanical, so no chemicals are used.
Resin and wax are added to the fibres before drying to control moisture.
Fibres are formed into mats and compressed under heat to produce solid fibreboard.
“Of that total export production, roughly 60% goes to Japan and the balance to South East Asia, predominantly Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.”
The boards are then sanded, cut to size, packed and delivered to customers. Traceability back to panel level ensures tight control on quality throughout the supply chain.
“About 60% of the raw material comes from pulp or chip logs, the other 40% is from local sawmills.”
The annual cost of the resin used in manufacturing is similar to the fibre cost.
“As a financial input, it’s quite substantial.”
One of the biggest issues related to the supply of logs is that forestry companies now have the option of exporting logs offshore, predominantly to China, which means export prices have to be met for a raw material that was traditionally low in value.
In order to remain competitive, Daiken has focused on meeting technological, process and engineering challenges.
The company has also focused heavily on be-coming world-leaders in managing emissions from its MDF panels.
By working with resin makers, it has developed a range of products that meet the exacting Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) for formaldehyde emissions.
The superior grade, F4 Star (also known as Super EO), has formaldehyde levels similar to natural wood.
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