Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Editor, Timber Processing April 2023
Often I wonder what the future holds. I close my eyes and try to think 10, 15, 20 years down the line—30 years seems like a lifetime. Right now, in this moment, I’m a young mom, with young kids. I am in the thick of long nights at the ballpark and practicing spelling words in the car. It’s hard to think about that in 30 years, my perfect little boys will be older than I am currently. Likely they will have families of their own and little ones of their own who for some astonishing reason can drink three gallons of milk per week without a care in the world.
When I gaze into my crystal ball it is hard to see what is coming down the line. Does the sawmill of the future have digital twins for every machine, like Tesla cars? That sure would make for an interesting maintenance call wouldn’t it.
“Yes, hello, please go pull the headrig for Johnson Lumber in Ruston, La. It’s throwing a code and we aren’t sure why. The robots are spinning on their wheels in circles here.”
Or is the sawmill of the future about not just automation in grading and breakdown, but complete automation, like a small army of robots pulling lumber? Is it like “The Jetsons” but with 2x4s and a robot voice trying to learn how to say “kiln” properly?
One thing I know for certain is that like my children aging, what comes in the immediate next might not be revolutionary: A “mature” industry such as lumber manufacturing many times measures progress in constant innovations rather than leaps and bounds yet remains continually moving forward technologically.
The army of robot operators might be on the horizon, all you need to do is look up the video of welding robots BID Group uses to machine parts to know what innovations they are likely concocting. In the immediate future, we as an industry only need to look at mills like this issue’s cover, Sierra-Pacific in Noti, Ore., to see that keeping up with the times is not only possible but profitable—Jetsons-esque robots optional; complete rebuild optional. Old dogs can be taught new tricks. You don’t have to toss the baby out with the bath water.
Greenfield mills sure are sexy: all bright shiny paint and the latest and greatest machines. Of course, they all run like well-oiled Ferraris, or at least most do…eventually.
But there’s just something about the resilience of a facility that we can all admire, the vintage Porsche 911 that has seen some things, and well you know what I mean. The engine purrs with a good overhaul every so often. And you gotta change the tires.
The mill in Noti has seen ownership changes over its 50-year history and of course machinery changes, but what has remained is the core—a good timber basket, a focus on quality, a niche market in green lumber, and a willingness to try new things. Isn’t that what we all hope for the future? Remaining true to who we are while staying willing to try new things? If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.
The stacker project at Noti is a great example of what I mean: two longtime industry suppliers provide solid and productive innovations that provide benefits to production, working conditions and customer satisfaction. No robots needed.
Every year, millions of workers get injured on the job, and a significant number of reported occupational injuries are hand related. But some of the best companies have managed to reduce hand injuries by 50, even 90 percent. How?
Brad Thorlakson, President and CEO of Tolko Industries, has announced that Pino Pucci, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Logistics will assume a newly created interim role as Tolko’s Chief Operating Officer. “This role has been created to support our succession planning process, as Pino will eventually succeed me as President & CEO,” Thorlakson says. “Pino’s proven leadership experience, significant focus on people and…
Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Editor, Timber Processing September 2023 – Unlike my dear old boss Rich Donnell, I did not grow up in Nashville. When the Southern Forest Products Assn. announced the move from my beloved hometown of Atlanta, Ga. for its Forest Products Machinery & Equipment EXPO…
As a specialist in engineered wood production lines, Minda has been a perfect partner for green and brownfield projects for more than 40 years. One of the last brownfield projects was the extension of a glulam line in Poland for Andrewex Construction, the biggest manufacturer of glulam in Poland with more than 30 years of experience…
Terry Brown and the Lumber Quality Institute will again offer two lumber quality-related workshops in Salem, Ore. for the sawmill industry in November 2023. The Lumber Quality and Process Control Workshop will be held November 6-7, and the Lumber Quality Leadership Workshop will be held November 8-9…
In a significant development for the local community, BID Group has collaborated with the Dept. of Labor and Apprenticeship Carolina to launch a groundbreaking apprenticeship program in its Fabrication Shop. The program provides valuable opportunities for aspiring professionals in the manufacturing sector…
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