EACOM Timber’s Nairn Centre focuses on recovery gains to capture the most from improving markets.
QFIC unveiled a study at its recent annual meeting showing the province has the highest log costs in North America.
Having survived more than seven years of nasty markets, veteran sawmiller Real Arsenault, from Manning Diversified, is upgrading his small-log technology.
Both single-family and multifamily housing starts are expected to post double-digit gains over last year. However, headwinds continue to hold back even stronger.
Canadian Forest Industries looks at the options available to cut trees and process the logs.
What's Happening in our Forest?...
What's Happening in our Forest?
New VAB Lineal Grading Optimizer at Sexton Lumber...
New VAB Lineal Grading Optimizer at Sexton Lumber
Eltec harvester at work in the Quebec forest...
Eltec harvester at work in the Quebec forest
USNR log loader minds log gap, improves throughput...
USNR log loader minds log gap, improves throughput
May 22, 2013, Mich. – Morbark Inc. announced its redesigned 40/36 Whole Tree MicroChipper, its latest in design enhancements to make a better machine for micro-chip producers.The 40/36 Whole Tree Drum Chipper was first introduced in 2008 as a compact, affordable and productive biomass chipper. The model was improved by the addition of the Advantage 3 high performance-chipping drum in 2011, which improved chip quality.The latest model includes an enhanced drum set with 16 knives, a slide-in forestry grate system to reduce oversized chips and a mechanically driven chip accelerator to fully load vans with the micro-chips.The Morbark MicroChipper allows owners to reduce costs and maximize profits with its average fuel consumption of 2.25 tons of micro-chips produced per gallon of fuel used.
May 22, 2013, Mich. – Morbark Inc., launched the Wearwolf Insert, the newest addition to its line of inserts for industrial grinders. It has heat-treated, knife-like edges on a solid, forged-steel insert blank and the Wearwolf cuts material rather than beating it into mulch.Customers can make chips out of hard and soft woods without needing another machine. Morbark says that the Wearwolf’s greatest advantage may be in its handling of stringy material like palm.In customer tests, the Wearwolf efficiently chopped and broke down palm waste when processing hardwood or soft woods and it provided a denser end product, yielding two to three additional tons per load than a standard insert. Due to its knife edge, the Wearwolf can handle frozen wood with ease.Like all Morbark inserts, the Wearwolf is made of a forged material, which is strong, durable and scores well on a Rockwell tester.See the Wearwolf break down palm at www.morbark.com.
May 22, 2013 – Focus on recovery, and the remaining problems solve themselves. That's how EACOM Timber Corp.'s Mel Lemky summarizes the spate of recent projects and investments at the company's Ontario sawmill operations (see a primer on its integrated Ontario operations here). Lemky, a graduate of the B.C. Interior sawmilling school of hard knocks, is EACOM's vice-president of operations for Ontario. Originally part of the Domtar pulp & paper empire, EACOM purchased its wood products division in 2010, with eight sawmills in Quebec and Ontario. Since that time, the emphasis has been on improving such standard sawmill performance indicators as unit cost and recovery. Lemky says the work his team has been doing at the company's Nairn Centre sawmilling complex reflects that new focus. "We've been working on some targeted upgrades and focusing on some key areas to take a mill that has been underperforming and make it a respectable sawmill again. Basically we've given the team the tools they need to significantly increase recovery." The timing couldn't be better, as a steady recovery in the U.S. housing market and expected supply-side constraints in the lumber market have made recovery gains a worthy goal again. At Nairn Centre both the sawmill and planer mill have seen investments worth more than $7 million as part of a larger initiative that also includes non-capital improvement projects. Adding an edge One of the first steps was to replace a 1980s vintage Esterer board edger with a new USNR optimized edger with Miltrak camera-controlled infeed to maximize both recovery and throughput. Not only did this move solve some obsolescence issues and boost recovery by double digits over the old model, but the enhanced production allows EACOM to target the markets with the highest return rather than being limited by edger throughput. "The old edger topped out at 4,500 to 5,000 boards per shift (employees work four nine-hour and one eight-hour shifts), so we had to be careful of our product mix to avoid a bottleneck," Lemky says. "The new USNR edger has been tested at 40 pieces per minute with no issues, although we have no need for that speed. We can get 11,000 boards per shift without pushing it at all, which opens up a lot of options for us." For example, the mill runs some export products for the U.K., a market it would like to keep to maintain some diversity. The challenge was that the product essentially meant making a single target piece and sending the rest of the material to the edger. That run no longer stresses the board edger. The edger has a three-saw top arbour and reman head to help handle the export products more efficiently, and a combination of mill-flow controllers, speed-up chains and positive chargers to maximize throughput without creating jack-pots. Another change made last year was upgrading the optimization system on the mill's single breakdown line to brand new Porter technology. EACOM runs an Optimil double-length infeed with four sided canter and twin bands. This is followed by a McGehee (USNR) gang. It has been a reliable producer, notes Lemky, but the scanning and optimization was a little dated. "With the Porter system we essentially went from 1993 technology to cutting edge. I get a chuckle explaining it sometimes – I'll ask people what was their computer like back in 1993? Think of the changes in computing power and performance in the past 20 years, and then imagine what that means for log scanning and optimization. The improvements have been dramatic." The mill runs two basic sorts to the single line (large and small), handling a log diet that ranges from a 4-in top to 20-in butt. Lumber from the main line and the edger converge on a Comact optimized trimmer followed by a Gemofor/Carbotech 50-bin sorter. Stacking is on a Gemofor double-fork stacker, which Lemky says does the job but with its fair share of maintenance. The mill also added some extra drying capacity last year, with the addition of an FEI-Wellons138-ft double-track kiln. Overall the mill has two direct-fired natural gas kilns and two wood-fuelled kilns with a Konus hot oil system. Automated grading Nairn Centre dries and dresses all its own production, as well as that from the nearby Gogama stud mill, where dual HewSaws produce 100 million bdft. Add that to the 150 million bdft produced at Nairn Centre, and the planer mill has its work cut out. Currently the mill runs two planer lines: stud and random length. Both have been converted to optimized grading using VAB Solutions systems. The stud line was converted in 2010, and after the project exceeded expectations, the random line was upgraded in 2012. The stud line runs graderless, while at the time of Canadian Wood Products' visit in March, graders on the random line had been dropped from three per shift to a single grade checker. Lemky admits that with all the big players in the auto-grading sector, going with a smaller group like VAB may seem odd. Still, he notes that the system is doing exactly what they bought it for, adding that the other systems they looked at were considerably more expensive. "We know what to expect from VAB, we know the principals, and we know they invest in R&D. Regardless of what you buy, that last point is key. Auto-grading technology is evolving so quickly that you're looking at major upgrades every few years." With more consistent grading and a reduction in graders from six to one per shift, he concludes that once you look at the numbers it's hard not to make the investment. And given the expected difficulty in staffing operations, eliminating hard-to-train occupations is a bonus (see more on EACOM's staffing challenges here). More than metal The new and upgraded equipment is great for morale, Lemky admits, and opens up a lot of potential for the mill (see a list of possible future improvements here). Still, he notes that adding equipment is only half the battle. The rest is training the staff and working with them to capture the technology's full potential. "Once the technology is installed, it's a case of making the mill run. As soon as you make significant upgrades, it changes everything and you have to get everyone properly trained and upgrade skills where required. And you have to look at the whole flow and see how the new technology can be used to its fullest." The new board edger is a perfect example. Installed in the summer of 2012, it took some training and attention to key details to get the most from this investment. Following that and a tune-up in January 2013, Lemky says they noticed significant improvements.
May 22, 2013 – “It keeps me up at night.” That’s how Brian Nicks, senior vice-president, forest management and operations, explains the looming staffing issues facing EACOM, and the forest industry at large. With Ontario sawmilling operations ramping back up to meet growing demand (see more on its integrated Ontario operations here), and the company’s Timmins sawmill slated to restart later this year, finding people to get the job done has become a full-time job in itself. “Right now, you have to work at it but we have it under control,” says Nicks, at the company’s Nairn Centre complex. “We try to hang on to tradespeople, and overall it’s a competitive market with mining and other resources. Every one of our Ontario mills is near a mining operation of some kind.” Nicks notes that the market is also changing, with people looking for more stable, stationary work. Not only are people less willing to move any great distance for work, but they have also changed the way they look for work, using the Internet and third-party agencies rather than simply sending in resumés. Nicks admits that on the logging side, recruiting has been tough, but to date they have managed by encouraging their existing contractors to grow, or by recruiting contractors from other regions where business has not yet recovered. “It’s no surprise that with a 60 per cent drop in actual harvest volume in Ontario over the past few years, a number have left the business. With the rebound comes an opportunity for those still here to grow,” says Nicks. “We’ve had some success with some really good local contractors that want to grow, but it will continue to be a challenge as we ramp up province wide. We went from a peak annual harvest of 24 million m3 across Ontario to under 10 million m3. Now we’re back at 13 million m3 and heading to 16 million m3 in the next couple of years.” With loggers, and especially truckers, in tight supply, Nicks says finding new contractors to enter the business is a priority. It’s also a challenge, as he sees less than half of existing contractors succeeding to the next generation, numbers that can be seen across the country. Stable supply One area of less concern is EACOM’s Ontario fibre supply, which Nicks describes as “among the most stable in Ontario.” Not only does the company’s wood basket have a relatively low fire risk, but it has seen increased planting activity in the past and the vast majority is outside the caribou zone, so not subject to the sharp cuts seen by operators further north. The four sawmills’ fibre basket also has FSC chain of custody certification. “The way we have it organized also means we have limited haul distances for the most part. For example, the Nairn Centre supply is within a reasonable 160 km average distance from the mill.” (see our report on Nairn Centre upgrades here) Also, the resource in this part of Ontario is of good quality and decent size compared to most of the east. “In forestry we still think the log profile is pretty nice here,” Nicks concludes with a smile.
Morbark Inc. is demonstrating several new product innovations for the forestry and recycling markets at the company's first few days of its annual Demo Days in Michigan. These innovations will help Morbark users streamline their processes and reduce costs. The highlight of the event will be the equipment demonstrations, which will showcase innovative machines for biomass production, including the new configuration of the 40/36 Whole Tree Drum Chipper to produce superior microchips for use by pellet mills and as supplemental fuel for cogeneration at coal facilities. Another new product to be demonstrated will be the 3200 Wood Hog horizontal grinder, created to fill the gap between Morbark’s 2600 and 3800 Wood Hogs for the recycling market and mulch producers. Completing the demonstration lineup are: the Beever M20R Forestry chipper, the 30/36 NCL and 50/48 WCL Track Whole Tree Drum Chipper, the 23 WCL Chiparvestor, the 4600XL and 6600 Wood Hog horizontal grinders, and the 1600 Tub Grinder. Morbark has scheduled a second Demo Days event on October 10-11 of this year.
Despite cantankerous exits by key ENGOs and the public targeting of one of its members and a founding signatory, FPAC remains committed to the CBFA.
May 21, 2013 – The Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) unveiled a study at its recent annual meeting showing the province has the highest log costs in North America. The exclusive study on the competitiveness of the Quebec forest industry within the North American context was commissioned by QFIC and presented by Peter Barynin, chief economist for wood products at RISI. "This study clearly shows that Quebec's forestry industry has a serious competitiveness problem that badly needs fixing,” says André Tremblay, association CEO. “It is proof that despite repeated promises by various natural resource ministers since Claude Bechard, the new forest regime that came into force last April 1 has not been able to reduce the cost of wood. On the contrary, there has even been an increase. " Investors give notice Barynin's study was also discussed by a panel of experts from various financial institutions, including Louis Vachon, president and CEO of the National Bank of Canada, Jacques Daoust, president and CEO of Investment Québec and Gaétan Morin, senior corporate and investment vice president of Quebec’s unique Solidarity Fund (FTQ). Clément Gignac, senior vice president and chief economist at Industrial Alliance and former Minister of Natural Resources, acted as panel moderator. While each plays a different role in forest industry financing, the three experts, however, agreed on one thing: they are willing to invest in forest projects as long as the industry is able to remain competitive and business plans hold up over time. In light of the RISI study by Barynin, panelists agreed it was necessary for Quebec’s forest industry to find ways to reduce procurement costs to remain competitive.
May 21, 2013 - Despite turmoil within the CBFA, Resolute says it will continue its leading role in forest sustainability.
A wireless grapple scale improves wood recovery program at Norbord OSB mill.
The recovering U.S. housing market has pushed profit margins up to stratospheric heights for oriented strand board (OSB) producers, whose engineered wood panels are outperforming lumber in the red-hot forest products sector.
Truckloads of raw lumber arrive daily at the Turuss (Canada) Industry Co. Ltd. facility in Chesley, Ont., which opened last summer as part of the China-based hardwood floor manufacturer.
The increasing use of robotics in the manufacturing sector is now being incorporated into the wood products industry.