Cover: Pleasant River Finds Formula For Drying
DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine – Lumber drying is one of the most nuanced elements to the manufacturing of dimension lumber while simultaneously one of the most critical for mills. For Maine’s Pleasant River Lumber, drying was the single greatest bottleneck the company had across its five locations.
Inside This Issue
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Pleasant River Finds Formula For Drying
Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Associate Editor, Timber Processing
DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine – Lumber drying is one of the most nuanced elements to the manufacturing of dimension lumber while simultaneously one of the most critical for mills. For Maine’s Pleasant River Lumber, drying was the single greatest bottleneck the company had across its five locations. One of Pleasant River’s facilities, located in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, was drying 95MMBF of spruce annually using three kilns. The kilns were starting to show age — the aluminum was cracking. They weren’t energy efficient.
Chris Brochu, who serves as Co-President of the company with his brother Jason, says the company was ready to make an investment to up drying capacity but didn’t want to do so via boiler expansion. So, instead they began looking at alternative options. In 2018, the pair along with others in the operation made the trip to Sweden to see Valutec dry kilns in operation in extreme cold weather climates not unlike that of Maine. Not long after the trip, the Brochus made the decision to invest in two Valutec kilns, one for the mill in Jackman, Maine and the one for Dover-Foxcroft.
“The reason we chose it, to put it frank,” Chris Brochu says, “is it has doors. We’re a cold climate, and in all the other continuous kilns we’ve seen heat just billows out because there are no doors.” Valutec calls their technology progressive continuous dry kilns, which as he points out have doors that completely seal, so there is no heat loss, no steam billowing in the wind.
The technology is somewhat widely used in Europe, but the Brochus were the first to bring it to North America.
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