Nick Hewson

XLam Australia has boosted its capability in design and construction, with the appointment of former AECOM Melbourne senior structural engineer, Nick Hewson, to the role of technical manager.

The move brings to three the number of full time staff in the company with more recruits likely as its workload expands “dramatically”, ahead of the company’s new $25 million plant at Albury-Wodonga, even before the plant swings into construction and commissioning.

Among Mr Hewson’s first projects will be the engineering overview of the CLT systems and the types of testing that will be required for the products.

He told The Fifth Estate that what attracted him to the role was the business model XLam is setting up for its Australian operation, which is based on providing a “fuller service” to industry that includes design, supply and installation of CLT products.

He said the significant financial investment by directors of Hyne Timber in the Australian operation means the company will have a high level of certainty around supply from the outset.

“We already know exactly what timber we will be using,” Mr Hewson said.

He said the Albury-Wodonga plant and the technology that will be used within it will make it a “world-leading, state-of-the-art facility.”

The plant’s design and install capacity in addition to manufacture and supply will mean the construction industry can obtain a service that is much more comprehensive than that provided by CLT companies based in Europe, he said.

This will take away a lot of the “hurdles and headaches” that have made it hard to get timber over the line in final project specifications.

Local manufacturing would also be an advantage, as bringing in product from overseas involves a high level of potential complications and risks.

The announcement of the new plant, he said, has generated enormous interest from project proponents.

“The project inquiries are constant. There is every chance we will be running at full capacity from day one.”

XLam expects to have its first CLT products coming out of the new plant in mid-2017.

Mr Hewson previously headed up AECOM’s timber solutions department in the buildings and Places division, working on projects including King William St multi-storey cross-laminated timber residential project in Kent Town, Adelaide.

He was also part of the team on the multi-residential MacArthur Gardens project in Sydney, which is seeing its first CLT panels lifted into place this week.

Previous roles have included project structural engineer for Irwinconsult and with SMEC in Australia, senior structural engineer for Techniker in the UK, where he worked on the detail design for the nine storey Stadthaus apartment project in London’s Murray Grove.