Timber Processing’s April issue spotlights Boise Cascade LLC, which has turned its Oregon mill, Kinzua Lumber, into a high-quality pine producer. Also featured are Canfor’s sawmill at Quesnel, which has found a new life and new market in China, and a discussion on the transportation dilemma of interstate trucking. A “Suppliers Snapshot” reports that equipment providers are mostly upbeat. One article highlights how the new generation wood pellet industry is experiencing both risks and opportunities, while another showcases results from the recent Bioenergy Fuels & Products Conference & Expo, which focused on challenges of the wood pellets business.
As a follow up to its approval of new design values for visually graded No. 2 and lower grades of 2x4 southern pine lumber in January, the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) Board of Review has approved new design values for No.2 2x4 Dense and NonDense grades, with an effective date of June 1, 2012. This size category includes material that is 2 to 4 inches thick and 2 to 4 inches wide.
When it acquired the northeast Oregon mill here three years ago, Boise Cascade LLC sought to avoid the impression of big corporate culture “taking over” the facility, says Plant Superintendent Mike Zojonc. “There had always been a very ‘can-do’ attitude at this mill. Boise Cascade came in looking at anything that could be changed or improved, with the idea of keeping the best, and improving the rest.’”
For about 150 employees at the Canfor sawmill here, China has been a lifesaver. Canfor shut down the dimension lumber mill in January 2010 due to poor market conditions in North America, but re-opened the facility just a few months later after it secured a major business deal with a large customer in China.
When it comes to the state of the industry, some sawmill equipment manufacturing companies report survival mode, others are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and a few are doing quite well. Like a lot of sawmills and other businesses, equipment suppliers are expanding product lines for traditional and new markets and have come through a period where focus on service was more critical than ever.
In recent years one of the brighter spots in the forest economy has been the wood pellet sector. The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory first documented the exponential rise of pellet manufacturing in a report published in 2009.
Wood products producers, or anybody else, interested in expanding or diversifying into wood bioenergy operations, and especially wood pellets, gained plenty of insight at the recent Bioenergy Fuels & Products Conference & Expo held in late February at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center here and hosted by TP companion publication Wood Bioenergy magazine.
A growing shortage of trucking capacity, caused in part by ever higher operating costs, increasing regulations and a shortage of drivers, underscores the need for reform of the log/wood fiber transportation system, today one of the wood fiber supply chain’s most daunting tasks.