INFORMATION FOR ARBORISTS


Thinking of adding a wood splitter to an arbour inventory? Firewood goes hand in hand with many arborist set ups, exploiting tree waste for profit while keeping staff busy on slow or wet days. Processing for firewood avoids dumping fees, chipping costs and adds immense value to what would otherwise be a waste product. With most setups already having access to trucks, loaders, yard space and staff, the addition of a wood splitter or processor is a profitable investment, capable of creating a high margin profit stream.

OVERVIEW OF THE FIREWOOD INDUSTRY

According to the most up to date report (Driscoll et al. 2000), Australians burn between 4.5 and 5.5 million tonnes of firewood domestically each year. When industrial use is added to this it jumps to 6-7 million tonnes. This occurs predominantly in the cooler south-east of the country with over half consumed in New South Wales and Victoria. 

Two thirds of the firewood consumed is burned in regional Australia, reflecting the limited availability of alternative sources of heating, such as natural gas. For firewood-using households, the average amount of firewood consumed per household is 3 tonnes. This varies nationally: from Queensland with 1.3 tonnes per year to Tasmania where 5.8 tonnes per year is burned. 

Approximately half of all firewood used is collected in the forest by the consumer and half is purchased. Of the firewood that is purchased, most (60%) is purchased from small scale, itinerant suppliers rather than established wood merchants who provide only 24% of the market. The rest of the purchased market is purchased from friends, sawmills and joiners.

THE BUSINESS CASE

Whitlands Engineering has worked alongside wood yards, arborists and wholesalers for over 20 years. While the study mentioned above is the most recent, anecdotally, we’ve seen huge growth in the firewood industry since 2000 - driven both by household use and restaurants across every state but concentrated along the eastern seaboard. The demand for firewood is stable and growing, so from our perspective, if you’ve got access to trees, there is money to be made. 

The price per ton of dried ‘mixed’ hardwood in Australia ranges from $290 to $340 in Australia direct to consumer. For Redgum and Ironbark these prices go up towards $380 - $450 per ton. We work on a conversion roughly that 1.6 cubic meters equals one ton - of course, water content and wood species influence this. 

WS150 - 9HP

WS4150 - 18HP

REX 600X

INVESTMENT

$7450 inc GST

$15,250 inc GST

$59,400 inc GST

OUTPUT per hour

3m3 / 1.9 ton

4.5m3 / 2.8 ton

10m3 / 6.25 ton

Tons/Hours to recoup cost

23 tons (12 hours)

48 tons (17 hours)

185 tons (29 hours)

Based on average price of mixed hardwood at $320 per ton / equivalent 1.6 cubic meters

TURNING TIMBER INTO PROFIT

It depends on the location (and therefore access to consumers) but undoubtedly firewood is worth more per ton than wood chips - which often can’t even be given away. To exploit the profit potential of firewood,  an established arbour business requires the following:

  • Access to timber that can be used for firewood 
  • Staff members to operate machinery
  • Yard trucks / loaders to move blocks
  • Storage space for drying the timber
  • Route to market & delivery capability
MACHINERY OPTIONS

The range of machinery covers all bases. The Superaxe wood splitter range (WS100, WS150, WS3150, WS4150)  suits farm and small commercial operations, while the Rex range provides solutions to bulk and industrial firewood processing. The Rex Firewood Processor range (600, 600X, 900) and the Rex Log Saw (650C, 800, 1050) range are the result of many years’ research and development and have been met with industry acclaim. A range of wood cleaning trommels, infeed hoppers & outfeed elevators rounds out the range, providing options for wood handling requirements. 

WARRANTY AND BUSINESS SUPPORT

The Superaxe range is covered by 2 year frame warranty and Honda, Vanguard & Yanmar powerpacks are covered by a 3 year manufacturers warranty. All of our machinery is built using off-the-shelf parts ensuring quick replacement times. 

Our staff all have genuine expertise and experience in the industry and our pre & after sales service is unrivalled. We work with industry to design solutions to common issues and continually refine our machines in the pursuit of efficiency, safety and ergonomic comfort. 

SAFETY

The safety of machinery operators is critical. The key issue for the arbor industry is that if an employee uses a non-compliant machine and injures themselves, it is the company that is most likely liable, not the manufacturer. The same applies for machines which have been tampered with. In which case the company can be fined for owning a tampered machine even if there is no actual injury. Both Superaxe and Rex ranges are NSW WorkCover compliant and have set benchmark standards across the industry when it comes to ensuring operator safety.