Research on the development of North American structural board industry and market problems

When the production of waffle plates and oriented strand board (WB/OSB) increased to a certain amount, the concept of the plywood industry was extended to the structural board industry. The industry is developing rapidly and technological innovation is continuous. Its products occupy a share that cannot be ignored in many market segments. It shows a bright future for improving the utilization rate of forest resources, strengthening the competitiveness of the forest products market, and maintaining the healthy development of the forestry industry. .

1 Overview and characteristics of North American structural board industry development

1.1 Structural board industry life cycle

The structural board industry in North America has a history of about 70 years and has maintained a growth trend for a long time. Although the growth rate has declined in recent years, it has never stagnated. In the 1930s, plywood in the United States entered the market. In the 1960s, due to the large amount of P. sylvestris used in the production of plywood, and the advantages of log production cost and transportation distance, the southern pine plywood spanned the introduction period and directly entered the growth period. From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, WB/OSB began to enter the market, and in the mid-1980s it was still in a high-speed growth period. In 1990, North American softwood plywood accounted for 50% of world production, and OSB accounted for 97% of world production. According to the data and forecast of the American Plywood Association [1], the average annual growth rate of the national structural board at each stage is: 12.0% from 1936 to 1961; 4.5% from 1961 to 1986 and 2.2% from 1986 to 2010 (forecast). Technological innovation is the main reason for the growth of the structural board industry. Innovative content includes: the expansion of plywood tree applications, the adoption of a non-card-axis rotary cutting method, the advent of outdoor rubber, and the emergence of various non-single-plate structural panel products.

1.2 OSB suddenly rises

In the structural panels, the status of non-single-plate structural materials represented by OSB is remarkable. Mainly manifested in:

(1) The growth rate is much higher than the growth rate of other wood-based panels. From 1981 to 1991, the average annual growth rate of OSB production in North America was about 20.12%, and the average annual growth rate of OSB production in the United States reached 33.2% (see Table 1).

(2) Increased proportion and become an important substitute for plywood. In 1995, North American OSB production was 46.2 times that of 1972; the following table shows the proportion of OSB in structural board production in North America in each year.

(3) Equipment utilization has gradually increased and the market has stabilized. From 1980 to 1985, the average utilization rate of OSB equipment in the United States was 64.8%, accounting for 85% of the highest utilization rate. From 1986 to 1991, the average utilization rate of equipment was 84.2%, accounting for 96.8% of the highest utilization rate.

(4) Reasons for the rapid growth of OSB. First of all, it comes from the advantages of resources. OSB uses small diameter wood as raw material, with wide source and low price. Secondly, OSB production has high automation. During the product introduction period, OSB can quickly penetrate the market with an advantage of 30% lower than the cost of plywood. In the 1980s, the American Plywood Association added some standard and grade grading systems based on the original plywood standards, such as the tree species, grades, thicknesses, and glues required to produce a specific grade of plywood. The smooth entry into the market laid the foundation. Although OSB is close to plywood in mechanical properties, it is difficult to meet the requirements of the above standards. The new standards and rating schemes are based on product performance rather than type, which provides an advantage for OSBs with the same performance to successfully enter the traditional plywood market.

1.3 The average size of structural boards is on the rise

In 1978, there were 182 structural board production plants in the United States, with an average size of 97.35 million m3/home. In 1988, the number of factories fell to 169, while the average size rose to 142.49 million m3/home, and the average size increased by 46% in 10 years. In 1990, the largest OSB plant in the United States had a production capacity of 177,000 m3 (see Table 3). The economics of scale have always been an issue of concern to experts. Rich [2]'s research on the US forest industry competition strategy shows that the company's size and profitability have the following relationships: medium-sized companies have the highest profitability, followed by small-scale enterprises, while large companies have the lowest profitability (see Table 4).

1.4 Additional Value Analysis

Under the pressure of resources, the structural board industry in North America has made efforts in the following areas: improving the comprehensive utilization of forest resources, increasing production and production efficiency, and producing alternative products with low-cost raw materials. And last but not the direction that OSB stands for. According to statistics, the cost of wood in structural panels accounts for the largest proportion of the total product cost, and there is an upward trend (see Table 5).

In order to use timber resources more economically and rationally, the concept of value added is particularly important. The added value is the difference between the final product price and the price of the raw material from which the product is produced. Canadian experts' analysis of the added value [3] shows that OSB has a high value-added potential compared to products such as plywood, because the value of products such as plywood depends to a large extent on the log diameter and its quality, while OSB The value of the product is less dependent on the quality of the log, and more depends on the quality and stability of the product itself. The former is constrained by resources, and the latter has broad prospects for innovation. Therefore, the added value will have a significant impact on the future development of the structural board industry (see Table 6).

2 Market problems in the North American structural panel industry

2.1 Major market segments and marketing strategies

(1) Residential buildings have always been the main market for structural panels, followed by the construction and decoration industry. The American Plywood Association estimates that during the period 1990-1994, the main market demand ratio of US structural panels was [4]: ​​35% for residential buildings, 21.5% for architectural renovation, 13.9% for industrial markets, 12.5% ​​for non-residential buildings, and 7.2% for exports. , assembly house (DIY) 6.7% (DIY = do it-yourself home use) and other 3.2%. Structural panels are used extensively in buildings for houses, ceilings, floors, and insulation siding. In the decoration industry, the structural panels are mainly used to add auxiliary facilities or decorate kitchens and toilets to existing houses. There are two major parts of the industrial market that have large demand for structural panels: one is transportation equipment and the other is furniture manufacturing. In the transportation equipment, the inner wall lining, the car, the door, the car floor, etc. of the vehicle are mostly made of plywood.

(2) Due to the small difference in structural board products, their production is mostly controlled by large manufacturers. These manufacturers usually pay more attention to shaping the quality image, less adopting the brand strategy, and price competition is an important means. Rich's survey of a number of forestry industrial enterprises (including structural board enterprises) shows that forestry industrial enterprises are gradually shifting from simply reducing costs to combining multiple competition strategies. It is believed that most companies that combine cost leadership strategies, differentiation strategies, and specialization strategies can achieve performance above average yields.

(3) North America is not only the production area of ​​structural plates, but also the region with the largest consumption and trade volume. In the United States in the early 1990s, the proportion of structural board exports was about 7 percentage points. In the 1980s, more than 40% of Canada's OSB was exported, and one of the main export markets was Japan. About 80% of the structural panels in the US are sold through wholesale-retail channels, while 20% are sold through the manufacturer's own sales branches.

2.2 Important factors affecting structural board requirements

(1) Construction industry The construction industry is the main market for structural boards. What can affect the demand for structural panels in the construction market is: 1 The high operating rate of residential buildings is the main factor leading to the change in the demand for structural panels. 2 The industrialization process of residential buildings. In the mid-1980s, more than 30% of US residential buildings were in the form of mobile homes, assembly rooms or prefabricated houses. 3 development of the non-residential building market. In the past, the use of wood in non-residential buildings was lower than that in residential buildings (about 1/4), and the use of structural panels in non-residential buildings was concentrated on the surface of the building (such as ceilings, wall finishes, Floor, etc.). The reason why wood materials are used less in non-residential buildings is that wood is expensive, the quality is unstable, and certain properties (such as fire protection) do not meet the building requirements.

(2) The decoration and repair market (hereinafter referred to as the R&R market) is one of the fastest growing markets in recent years. The results show that the impact of interest rates on the R&R market is far less than the impact on residential operating rates, and the following factors have an important role in the R&R market demand: 1 when the gap between the price of new homes and the price of old homes is widened People are more willing to buy old houses, and the residents who buy the old houses are generally required to repair and decorate the houses after two years of moving. 2 With the aging of old houses, people began to carry out large-scale renovation of old houses (including expanding the annex of the house, transforming the kitchen, bathroom, heating equipment and even replacing the roof, etc.), and these projects have to use a large number of structures. board. 3 In recent years, people have paid special attention to the property rights of housing. Many people see their homes as their own assets or for future generations, and changes in the concept of property ownership make people willing to pay more for R&R.

(3) Seward's material [5] shows that 92% of building materials retailers in the United States operate structural panels, while only 79% of OSBs operate. 66% of retailers believe that plywood and OSB can be substituted. By line of sales, retailers believe that the importance of various structural boards is as follows: Plywood > OSB > WB > OWB. Seward also focused on the retailer's perception of OSB. The retailers of the survey sample believe that: 1OSB end-use queues are as follows: ceiling > wall liner > floor > DIY; 2 queued according to OSB's main market segments: residential construction > non-residential construction > DIY / decoration market; According to the product characteristics queue, retailers believe that price is the first: price> (durability, strength, dimensional stability, quality, uniform surface)> fire protection characteristics> weight; 4 retailers in the evaluation of OSB suppliers, Most of them ranked their supply capacity first: supply capacity> sales service> reputation> brand> (brand, product variety, sales promotion); 5 through the retailer's feedback on end users, found that the final consumer dissatisfaction with OSB Focus on the following points: the surface is too slippery, the durability is poor (flaking) and the board is too heavy

(4) Price is the most important factor affecting the demand for structural panels. Many building material purchasers first consider the price scale in their purchasing decisions. The main competition objects of structural board materials are steel and cement, and many users think that the price of wood is higher than the price of these two materials. But Spelter et al. [6] believe that this conclusion is not absolute. They found that in the United States, the use of wood materials for residential partitions (non-load-bearing walls) can be 10% lower than steel, while the load-bearing exterior walls use wood materials 20% more expensive than steel. In low-load parts of the house, sawn timber is used as the frame. The cost of laminated wood flooring is lower than that of steel and cement. As the load increases, the cost of wooden flooring will also increase; therefore, the cost advantage of wood in light low-rise residential buildings is more obvious. In addition, Spelter believes that when comparing the economics of wood and competitive materials, the wood should be fully considered while reducing the load on other building materials, the saving of labor costs in construction, etc., in order to study under what conditions the wood material is more Has a cost advantage. In addition, OSB and plywood as replacement products, the price of cross-elasticity is of great significance to the demand of the two products. Singh [7] found that the price elasticity of non-single-plate structural boards such as OSB is relatively fixed in the study of the structural economics of the Canadian structural board, and its demand is very sensitive to the price of plywood. According to the model, he calculated that the short-term price elasticity of OSB is 0.8, the long-term price elasticity is 0.5, and the short-term cross-elasticity is 2.3, and the long-term cross-elasticity is 1.3. Singh believes that the substitution of plywood has a weakening trend. This is because the OSB in Canada is developing rapidly, and a large number of OSB manufacturers are influx and compete at low prices, which is destroying the quality image of OSB. He believes that it is not advisable to provoke a price war.

3 Reference and thinking

(1) From the development history of the structural board industry in North America, the status of OSB is becoming more and more important, and the resource pressure in China is more than that in North America. It can be seen that it is imperative to replace the plywood with OSB.

(2) With the development of China's economy, there are many factors that are conducive to the development of OSB, such as the innovation of new wall materials, the rapid growth of the building decoration industry, the start of building industrialization and the reform of the housing system. China should seize this opportunity to promote the development of OSB. Of course, in order for China's OSB to be successfully introduced into the market, the following work must be done: 1 layout planning, selection of scale, so that OSB can compete with plywood with more economic advantages; 2 to study the use and distribution of plywood in China in detail, So that OSB can borrow plywood channels to reduce the resistance to entry; 3 to conduct more in-depth research on the construction market demand, expand OSB's good quality image in building materials, improve the production efficiency and product performance. stability.

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