Timber Processing’s September issue spotlights Arkansas’s Pinecrest Lumber Division, where General Manager David Cawein and his experienced team have efficiently curbed overhead costs by eliminating second shifts at the sawmill and by separating each mill’s operating hours. The issue provides a recap of the SFPA’s 31st Forest Products Machinery & Equipment Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., and an article highlights New England Wood Pellets, which has boosted output 50% with a new production facility in New York—the largest in the Northeast. The hardwood drying process is featured with an evaluation of avoiding degrade. An “Automated Grading” section features companies’ submitted articles and photos.
We returned from the machinery show in Atlanta in a good mood. Despite the current housing quagmire, most exhibitors we talked to were pleased with the event and especially at the presence of the many sawmill owners and managers who seemed to be looking to make improvements to their mills. After all, there’s only so much you can do to improve the efficiencies in a mill before the time comes when you have to upgrade the iron, or at least improve some of the controls and optimization. As I walked the show floor, I had to ask myself what this event would be like if housing starts were at 2 million, like they were in 2005, as opposed to the 550,000 annual we’re seeing now. Okay, just 1 million. It would still feel like we had “died and gone to heaven.”
In its largest study ever of fuel treatment effectiveness, the U.S. Forest Service has found that intense thinning treatments that leave between 50 and 100 trees per acre are the most effective in reducing the probability of crown fires in the dry forests of the Western U.S. The study, the results of which are published in a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, provides a scientific basis for establishing quantitative guidelines for reducing stand densities and surface fuels. The total number of optimal trees per acre on any given forest will depend on species, terrain and other factors.
As lumber markets and the U.S. economy sank into recession in late 2006, Pinecrest Lumber Div. (PLD) of Green Bay Packaging, Inc. elected to eliminate the second shifts at the sawmill in an effort to reduce operating costs and stay in the game. Then three years ago, PLD General Manager David Cawein and his experienced team took that a step further. They reduced overhead costs further by separating each mill’s operating hours. The sawmill went to a 10-hour night shift and the planer mill ran an eight-hour day shift with no overlapping hours.
Visitors and exhibiting suppliers at the Forest Products Machinery & Equipment Exposition held in mid August at the Georgia World Congress Center here remained surprisingly upbeat, despite a continued slow recovery for lumber markets and forest products in general. Sponsored by the Southern Forest Products Assn. (SFPA), this year’s trade show was SFPA’s 31st—a biennial event since 1949.
The hardwood lumber industry is a key player in today’s global wood products market structure because the lumber comes from a natural, sustainable, durable and visually pleasing material. The U.S. hardwood resource is abundant, and many lumber operations are drying their lumber as a “value-addition.” As such, it’s important not to sacrifice the quality of hard-earned, high quality lumber by letting it be devalued in a mill’s drying process. Previous articles talked about keeping hardwood logs from deteriorating by managing logs in sort yards and proper storage of lumber; this article points out critical quality concerns and operational requirements when it comes to drying hardwood lumber.
Startup continues smoothly at New England Wood Pellet’s (NEWP) new Deposit, NY plant, which opened in early June. The plant is the largest in the Northeast U.S. and is scheduled to produce 85,000 tons annually for the domestic wood fuel pellet market. The facility is the third for NEWP and has expanded overall company production by roughly 50%. “The project startup is going well,” said NEWP CEO Steve Walker, an almost 20-year veteran of the pellet industry, when contacted in July. “We’ve had multiple days running at full capacity, and we’re almost to 24/7 operating conditions right now.”
For Blough Hardwoods in Clarkesville, Mich., an aging debarking head was quickly progressing from headache status to full-blown migraine. So when a new debarking head was introduced by Morbark, Blough, which had just recently installed a full Morbark sawmill system, saw an opportunity to replace its troublesome head. The results were immediate with the company reporting debarking rates that more than doubled and an uptick in production that had trickled downstream.
The Autolog Prograder linear planer mill optimizer has received a major facelift over the last four years and thanks to its newly designed sensors and software algorithms, the system is now offered to the industry as a fully graderless system. “New 3D sensors with an accuracy of 0.003 in. working together with high definition 3- CCD color cameras and with dense tracheid sensors are among the elements that make the Autolog Prograder the most recently bought planer optimizer system on the market,” says Sales Manager Gabriel Payant.