The future  of forestry

The future of forestry

Smaller, more powerful machines that are more comfortable and easier on the environment are part of the evolution of forestry, Mario Gauthier believes.

Weyerhaeuser uses strong scraps

Weyerhaeuser uses strong scraps

The sky is the limit for wooden structures, and the 66-foot-long beams at Weyerhaeuser’s parallel strand lumber mill carry the weight of inspiration.

Strong Canadian presence at TP&EE

Strong Canadian presence at TP&EE

Day one of the Timber Processing and Energy Expo saw manufacturers in the North American sawmilling industry raving about the strength of their Canadian market.

Mulcher guide 2014

Mulcher guide 2014

Canadian Forest Industries has rounded up a powerful crew of mulchers, carriers and attachments to fit different needs and conditions.

Sawmill has limited options

Sawmill has limited options

The lumber business is a difficult line of work to be in in eastern Ontario. Just ask Ed Heideman, owner of Heideman Forest Services.

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Komatsu has a new harvesting head...
The new harvesting head is designed to be highly productive in thinning applications.
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Some environmentalists exaggerate...
Quebec’s forests are not threatened, according to a new documentary and an Economic Note from the Montreal Economic Institute.Video location: QuebecRecording date: August 2014
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FPAC on innovation in forestry...
Catherine Cobden explains what is meant by innovation in forestry
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WorksafeBC cautions workers falling trees...
WorksafeBC cautions workers falling trees

Harvesting

The future  of forestry The future of forestry

Oct. 21, 2014 - Smaller, more powerful machines that are more comfortable and easier on the environment are part of the evolution of forestry, Mario Gauthier from Faconnage MG believes. That’s the reason he has opted for a Ponsse Fox harvester with an H5 harvesting head for his logging operations in Côte-Nord, in northeastern Quebec. Mario Gauthier was the second forestry entrepreneur to get his hands on a Ponsse machine when they first appeared in Quebec in 2000. Back then, he bought a Buffalo King. Over time, he has become an avid Ponsse fan. Equiped with an Ergo harvester and an Elephant King forwarder, he got his hands on a Ponsse Fox last year. (His Buffalo Dual went up in flames last year and hasn’t been replaced.) He chose the Fox primarily because it is comfortable to drive. “On the north coast, the terrain is really harsh. There are mountains, trails and a wheeled machine is much more comfortable,” says the 56 year old who benefits from the improved quality of life while working. The terrain is so extreme that it was chosen as the test environment for Ponsse’s Elephant King before putting it on the market. Gauthier got to test the machine a year before it was available for purchase. Ponsse FoxThe Ponsse Fox is a shocking sight in the Quebec forest. “When I show this machine to foresters, they all say it looks like a tractor. But it works, it’s economical, it’s quick, comfortable and quiet,” says Jean Trottier, president of Hydromec, the host of a Ponnse machine demonstration in May. “I told myself this would never work in the forest! Ponsse makes refined machines. But I realized we don’t need tanks to go into the forest,” explains Gauthier. When visiting Europe, he found that the Europeans were cutting bigger logs than those found in Quebec using smaller machines. It’s because of European environmental standards that the Finnish manufacturers began to produce lighter machines that are easier on the environment. Its eight wheels keep it from destroying root systems and lessen the soil compaction. With an H5 harvesting head, the Ponsse Fox weighs in around 18,200 kilograms (40,100 lbs). “And since gas is more expensive, it’s a priority for them to reduce fuel usage,” he reasons. And so the machines are lighter … and fragile. That’s why operators must change their way of thinking to maximize the positive aspects of the machine. They must be more meticulous and aware of their surroundings. “The machine forces the operator to be more intelligent,” says Gauthier. In Quebec, wheeled harvesters make up on 10 per cent of the market but they occupy 100 per cent of the European market. “The kind of machine the people of Quebec want would never work in Europe,” Trottier notes. “It would be too heavy.” “I sincerely think these are the machines of the future. Most foresters wouldn’t agree because they aren’t there yet. But soon, for environmental reasons, we won’t have the choice,” Gauthier estimates. He compares it to the automobile industry that started making dramatically smaller vehicles to curb fuel usage. “In the northern forests of Quebec, where we find softwoods from 6 to 14 inches in diameter, it requires a machine with a much lower operating cost because it consumes almost half the fuel of a tracked harvester,” explains Trottier.  Taking total costs into consideration, the Ponsse Fox, which retails at $550,000 all included, consumes 14 to 17 litres/hr when clearcutting or 10 to 14 litres/hr for thinning operations. Façonnage MGBorn in a forestry family, Mario Gauthier has 38 years of experience in the industry. In 1996, he founded Façonnage MG, of which he is now co-owner with his wife, Hélène Martin and his son Charles Gauthier. With a diploma in finances from HEC Montreal, 32-year-old Charles has chosen to return to work in the forest and eventually take over the family business. Today, the company has seven employees who work on a schedule of eight-days on and six days off on a 12-hour rotation.  Façonnage MG primarily harvests fir and black spruce 20 feet long for the Arbec de Port-Cartier sawmill. On the northern coast of Quebec, the terrain is rough with trees that are generally 20 cm in diameter. Average production is around 1800 m/cu per week and around 70,000m/cu per year.  

Mulcher guide 2014

Oct. 15, 2014 - Canadian Forest Industries has rounded up a powerful crew of mulchers, carriers and attachments to fit different needs and conditions. Please note that the following information has been provided by the equipment manufacturer and is not endorsed by the editorial staff of Canadian Forest Industries magazine. TigercatTigercat’s new 470 mulcher is equipped with the Tigercat FPT C87 Tier 4i 245 kW (328 hp) engine. It is narrow and agile with extremely low ground pressure, rated at 20,9 kPa (3 psi). The 470 is best suited to tough terrain and sensitive site right-of-way jobs. The 470 is equipped with an efficient, high-capacity cooling system with a variable speed fan and automatic reversing cycle, a dedicated attachment pump and an efficient closed loop track drive system. Inside the cab, the operator has ergonomic electronic joystick steering with CRF (counter-rotate function) for “turning on a dime” at the touch of a button. The heavy-duty steel engine enclosure and precleaner guard eliminates the requirement for a rear canopy. All structural components are designed for full-time forest duty. PrinothPrinoth offers a full line of mulching equipment including the RT 200 (173 hp), Raptor 500 (440 hp) and the Raptor 800 (630 hp). Its mulching equipment is developed for harsh conditions and difficult tasks: land clearing, right-of-way clearing, vegetation management and site preparation where sub-soiling is necessary.         SeppiStarforest is a powerful yet easily manoeuvrable forestry mulcher. It is so agile thanks to the articulated and self-aligning three-point linkage to reach large inclinations. The improved roller now has a larger diameter and a higher number of toothed rings and is thus able to penetrate the soil more easily, ensuring a smooth movement of the roller.  The bearing was reinforced and built into the roller to prevent wear.   RaycoThe C260 is a compact, mid-sized mulcher that delivers 260 hp with low ground pressure. This mulcher is suited for clearing small trees, underbrush, and a variety of unwanted vegetation across a wide range of environments. The heavy-duty steel undercarriage and powerful final drives allow operators to tackle difficult terrain with confidence. Rayco’s elevated cooling design keeps engine and hydraulic temperatures within their limits in the harshest of environments. To minimize maintenance, a reversing fan can be activated from the cab to clear the limbriser debris screens. When manual cleaning of the debris screens is necessary, they are easily removable and the rear door opens to allow unrestricted access to the debris screen and engine radiator. BaumalightPower and control come together when excavator meets Baumalight BrushFire Mulchers. The bent axis piston motors are carrier matched to make the most efficient use of a machine’s hydraulic flow and pressure (25-70 GPM up to 4000 PSI).  A 48” rotor and 62 teeth mean the job will soon be done.     FeconFecon’s new FTX128L, built in their Lebanon, OH facility is strong on cutting power with 60 GPM to the BullHog Forestry Mulcher and features 20” tracks that work effortlessly while cutting up hill. Low ground pressure at 3.8 psi is ideal for soft conditions resulting in minimal ground disturbance. Serviceability is easy with full access side doors and engine compartment roof. The Cummins QSB4.5 diesel engine running at 128 hp and Fecon’s hydraulic technology allows the FTX128L to outperform machines with higher horsepower. Fuel consumption remains under 4.5 gallon per hour.   Pro MacPro Mac rotary brushcutters are available in rotary and horizontal shaft models for mount to excavators and backhoes in three sizes 36, 52 and 66 inches. They’re available with either two blades or three blades or standard mulching disc units. The rotary cutters can be set up to specific operator requirements such as ground level clearing and cutting and set up with heavy duty mulching disc to cut and mulch standing trees. RisleyRisley Equipment E-Clips EX300 Multi-Purpose BrushCutter, Mulcher and Stump Grinder is a High Drive Flex-Trac multipurpose workhorse. Powering the EX300 is a 325hp Cummins QSL tier III engine. The combination of “High and Live” allows for the high drive system to manage only the forces required to manoeuvre the machine and the lower track undercarriage manages the static and running live weight of the machine. The High and Live Flex-Trac system offers greater stability and mobility with the D.T.S (Dynamic Transfer Suspension), which dynamically transfers machine weight to each track frame as uneven terrain is encountered. This in combination with the Flex-Trac system allows minimal moving effort and maximum tractive effort as obstacles and terrain are encountered. BradcoThe Bradco Series II Mulchers by Paladin Attachments attach to excavators, skid steers and forestry tractors to shred hardwood trees, brush and ground vegetation up to eight inches in diameter. Available in cutting widths of 36, 60 and 72 inches—depending on the machine and application—they feature a heavy-duty bent-axis variable displacement piston motor that offers better performance on demand, prevents stalling under heavy loads and provides a quicker recovery time. A patented interchangeable tooth design keeps each tooth seated in its holder with a cross bar that runs the full width of each tooth. Standard reversible carbide teeth double operation life and can be easily interchanged without needing to rebalance the rotor. The spiral cut pattern reduces the amount of cut per tooth for less drag, finer chip size and increased performance. BronWith models from 275 HP to 700 HP, Bron has a range of efficient and powerful forestry mulchers. The Berco D3/D4 undercarriage features an oscillating front axle for improved stability. The BRON 275 maintains constant ground pressure for a better ride with less wear and tear. The newest BRON 275 Mulchers come equipped with a Seppi MIDIFORST mulching head as well as ergonomic tilting cab and removable multi-section belly pans for ease of use and service. CaterpillarThe Cat 586C Site Prep Tractor has the muscle to run power-hungry attachments, like the Cat HM825 Mulcher and BR624 Brushcutter. The 350 hp engine and oversized hydraulic system push more flow to the attachment for faster recovery without slowing other functions. The high-capacity cooling system keeps the machine running cool. The on-demand reversing fan spins only as fast as needed to maintain proper hydraulic and engine temperatures. The machine is segmented into pressurized compartments to prevent debris from entering. Robust box section frames and a field-proven center hitch provide a solid foundation. Weight is distributed evenly over the axles for rock-solid stability and a smooth ride. Denis CimafDAH Forestry Mulchers use DENIS CIMAF’s patented horizontal-shaft rotor technology with fixed knives and bolt-on cutting blades, a design with numerous advantages. They offer variable displacement, axial-piston motors that minimize overheating problems and improve re-acceleration, and timing-belt drive to eliminate slippage. The DAH Forestry Mulcher is designed for intensive work, allowing for greater productivity, and it is supported by unparalleled technical support. DENIS CIMAF currently offers DAH Forestry Mulchers models adaptable on excavators between 7 to 35 metric tonnes. GB EquipmentNew multi-task machines “MTM’’ and ‘’MTH’’ are designed to be capable of grinding frozen ground in winter and grinding asphalt or reclaiming gravel roads during summertime. The latest FAE Variable Geometry System crushing chamber is an innovative design that guarantees the outstanding crushing and shredding results. The rotor is hydraulically adjusted up or down to set the volume of the grinding/mixing chamber in relation to the working depth. The forestry companies can highly benefit from what the ‘’MTM’’ and ‘’MTH’’ can achieve by making smoother and harder road surfaces. Gyro-Trac GT-25XP brushcutterThe GT-25XP Brushcutter has a 270 horsepower Tier III Turbo Diesel driving four powerful hydraulic pumps, two drive motors, and two rotor motors in the 700HF cutter-head. Gyro-Trac’s brushcutters efficiently mulch trees and stumps to the ground, creating park-like effects, leaving fine, highly desirable, nutrient-rich mulch on the ground.   KMC KootracThe versatile KMC High Speed Steel Track (HSST) Vehicle, which was originally designed to be a log skidder, has now been adapted to become a carrier for front- or rear-mounted mulcher attachment. The vehicle, when rigged with a rear mounted mulcher attachment, can be utilized for fuel reduction, fire reclamation, vegetation clearing and fireguard construction. The KMC Tracked Vehicle is capable of working on steep slopes as well as in sensitive soil conditions.  One of the major benefits of the KMC Tracked Vehicles, because of its torsion bar suspension system, is that it has always and continues to have minimal environmental impact. NokamicNokamic has designed a unique mulcher head with a rotor made up of rocker arms and ultra-resistant blades that revolve 1800 rpms at high speed. This combination is able to shred stems, stumps and trees without interfering with the work and has rock protection that limits breakage on rockier terrain. When shredding wood residues, the NP-8030 leaves a carpet of shavings behind, which makes it easier for the workers to move about and contributes to the fast decomposition of the residual matter. VermeerThe FT100 is a 111-horsepower (82 kW) Tier 4 Interim (Stage IIIB) skid steer loader with a forestry mulcher attachment designed for tree care and land-clearing contractors who work mostly in residential and municipal clearing applications. The hydraulic system on the FT100 optimizes the horsepower delivered to the mulching head and provides improved hydraulic component life by utilizing a higher flow with less pressure. The mulcher attachment features a ringed rotor design featuring 18 disks with 17 interchangeable tips to help achieve smaller, consistent-sized chips compared to non-ringed rotors. Four different tip options allow the ringed rotor configuration to be adjusted to match several different applications and environmental conditions. The fully enclosed cab protects the operator from outside dust and wood particles while the FT100 is in operation. The cab is pressurized and circulates filtered air for operator comfort. A rearview camera with in-cab monitor comes standard, providing added visibility to enhance manoeuvrability.

Sawmilling

Does WorkSafeBC need more clout to address combustible dust?

October 21, 2014, Victoria, B.C. – On the heels of the latest explosion in the B.C. wood products industry, it has been suggested that perhaps WorkSafeBC needs to have more clout in order to get compliance from the industry. According to an opinion piece by Globe and Mail political reporter Justine Hunter, failed inspections at wood products facilities across B.C. have been met with little penalty based on the regulations currently in place. Gord Macatee had been brought in to WorkSafeBC to repair the agency’s reputation after the explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George in 2012 were seen as preventable. Macatee presented a report that included 43 recommendations back in June, including the fact that the agency needs more clout to get industry compliance. In recent months, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada has worked vigorously in conjunction with WorkSafeBC to try and mitigate combustible dust concerns. However, the latest explosion at Pinnacle’s pellet mill in Burns Lake has brought the issue back to the forefront. Macatee’s recommendations could result in new legislation this fall. However, the current workload in overseeing the combustible dust issue has stretched WorkSafeBC’s resources, and continued increased attention would only diminish time and resources available for other important projects. To read Hunter’s full opinion piece, CLICK HERE

Earthquake resistant in China

Oct. 21, 2014 – When a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit China's Yunnan province recently, authorities expected heavy casulaties. Instead, though there were 324 injured, only one person was killed. The earthquake hit a region that is forested and homes are built with wooden frames – rather than the concrete and steel that is considered safer in other parts of China. But wooden framed houses stand up better to earthquakes than concrete and steel do. "That's the message pushed by wood producers in Canada and other tree-exporting nations that hope to encourage Chinese authorities to alter perceptions and dial back conservative building codes that favor concrete construction over wood," says the Wall Street Journal. For more information, click here.

Industry news

Does WorkSafeBC need more clout to address combustible dust?

October 21, 2014, Victoria, B.C. – On the heels of the latest explosion in the B.C. wood products industry, it has been suggested that perhaps WorkSafeBC needs to have more clout in order to get compliance from the industry. According to an opinion piece by Globe and Mail political reporter Justine Hunter, failed inspections at wood products facilities across B.C. have been met with little penalty based on the regulations currently in place. Gord Macatee had been brought in to WorkSafeBC to repair the agency’s reputation after the explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George in 2012 were seen as preventable. Macatee presented a report that included 43 recommendations back in June, including the fact that the agency needs more clout to get industry compliance. In recent months, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada has worked vigorously in conjunction with WorkSafeBC to try and mitigate combustible dust concerns. However, the latest explosion at Pinnacle’s pellet mill in Burns Lake has brought the issue back to the forefront. Macatee’s recommendations could result in new legislation this fall. However, the current workload in overseeing the combustible dust issue has stretched WorkSafeBC’s resources, and continued increased attention would only diminish time and resources available for other important projects. To read Hunter’s full opinion piece, CLICK HERE

Softwood lumber agreement ends

Oct. 21, 2014 - As the end of 2014 looms, eyes in the Canadian forestry sector are turning towards the planned renewal of the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA). It expires in October 2015, and it’s safe to say there is no one on this side of the border who doesn’t want a renewal of some sort.    In the United States, demand for lumber has long exceeded what domestic mills can supply, and the construction industry has therefore depended on imported wood products. But, over the past 25 years, the U.S. lumber industry has frequently sought U.S. government restrictions on Canadian softwood lumber imports because it felt the industry had an unfair competitive edge. It sought the application of countervailing duty laws and antidumping laws. Canada succeeded in challenging these actions through the dispute resolution mechanisms of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA. But, meanwhile, Canada’s forestry sector suffered. To prevent further squabbles and associated losses, the SLA came about in 2006, allowing Canada to apply charges and/or volume restraints on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. and prohibiting the U.S. from launching disputes. “The Agreement was designed to create a predictable trade environment and to bring stability and certainty to the softwood lumber market for producers and consumers on both sides of the border,” says Claude Rochon, an official DFAT spokesperson. “The Agreement has also created opportunities for companies on both sides to work together in order to grow the market for softwood lumber products and foster innovation.” The SLA had a seven-year term, and it saw the return of more than $5 billion in duty deposits by U.S. authorities to Canadian companies. The SLA continues to do its job this year. On March 26, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) ruled in favour of Canada in a dispute over the termination date of export charges related to a 2011 decision under the SLA. The Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) and the Ontario Forest Industries Association were “delighted.” They stated in a press release the next day that “The application of export charges following the ruling…in 2011 considerably hampered softwood lumber exports from Quebec and Ontario. By acknowledging this fact, the LCIA has confirmed that the forest industry of central Canada had already paid its penalty and there were no longer any grounds for collecting these export charges.” Under the ruling, exporters from Quebec and Ontario had had to pay additional export charges of 2.6 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively, on top of the charges provided for under the SLA. In early 2012, the two countries agreed to extend the SLA to October 2015, and talks to extend it further are underway. In terms of what steps have been taken Rochon is not saying much, however. “The Government of Canada has been in consultation with provinces, territories and key Canadian softwood lumber industry members,” he states. As to what sticking points might be present, Rochon would only say “Canada looks forward to continue working with the U.S. government on ways to foster a positive trade environment for our respective industries.” Rochon would also not provide information on the SLA renewal period that the Government of Canada is looking for. “There is a general interest to maintain the predictability and stability that the North American industry has enjoyed in past years as a result of the SLA.” As to whether the government is optimistic a renewal agreement will be reached, Rochon only states that “Canada is committed to the success of the SLA.” Provincial differencesIn 2013, the government of Quebec prepared for this SLA renewal by radically revising its stumpage system to make it more market-oriented and to satisfy the U.S. that Quebec sawmills are not benefiting from illegal subsidies. QFIC president and CEO André Tremblay believes the stumpage revision should satisfy the U.S. fully because the U.S. has long demanded that provincial stumpage should be based on auctions, and Québec now has an auction-based pricing system. “One need only compare lost jobs in Québec to lost jobs in the Atlantic Provinces (exempted from the SLA) and the west to recognize the SLA’s impact…There can be no doubt about the adverse impact of the SLA on the Québec industry, although we recognize that the global recession contributed significantly to a decline in North American demand, that was felt with particular severity by the Québec industry,” Tremblay explains. He says the new Québec stumpage system already has raised costs to the Québec industry between 15 and 20 per cent, and if the SLA is renewed “as is” (without recognition of these changes), it will cost the province’s forest industry thousands more jobs in years to come.    However, the Government of Canada has so far not integrated these changes in Quebec into the SLA renewal talks. Tremblay thinks this is due to two factors. “We understand that DFAT thinks it may be too late, that there is not enough time between now and October 2015 to negotiate,” he says. “[Secondly], the U.S. coalition has declared renewal of the SLA “as is” unacceptable. It wants negotiations. So, in this context, we disagree with the view that it is too late, or that renewal of the SLA would be impossible if there were some discussion about…the changes made by Québec.” Rochon will not comment specifically about the Government of Canada’s position on the concerns of the QFIC. “The SLA reflects a negotiated outcome to a complex trade dispute that takes into account the various interests of all provinces and regions,” he says. “At current market prices, all Canadian exports of softwood lumber have duty-free and quota-free access to the U.S. market.” Montreal-based Tembec weighed in on the issue in March 2014, releasing a statement saying it would like to “correct the record” because media reports around that point in time contained “broad generalizations about the views of the Quebec forestry industry.” The company stated that it strongly supports the SLA for the way it provides stability and predictability of U.S. market access: “Thanks to the SLA, lumber exports are free of export tax or quotas today and for the majority of the past year, resulting in a resurgence of exports from Ontario, and notably, Quebec.” Paul Krabbe, Tembec’s vice president of special projects (Forestry) confirms that the company supports the SLA renewal on its current terms. An “as is” renewal of the SLA is also supported by Council of Forest Industries (COFI, which represents 11 B.C. forest industry firms). In the view of COFI President and CEO James Gorman, the Canadian softwood lumber industry is “united” in its support for the federal government’s position, and that it was closely consulted in developing the SLA renewal mandate. “Despite flaws in the agreement perceived by both sides, the agreement has worked,” he notes. “Both countries have benefited from managed trade. The Canadian and U.S. industries need to remain focused on working together to develop and grow new markets in Asia, and the potential here in North America with taller wood buildings made possible by new wood technologies.” So, what happens if an SLA extension agreement is not reached? Rochon answers that (literally) million-dollar question this way: “The Agreement has served its functions well both during the economic downturn of 2008-2009 and also during the recovery since 2010. Canada believes that it is in the best interest of both countries to continue to provide stability and predictability to the North American industry. The federal government will continue to defend the interests of the softwood lumber industry across Canada, recognizing its vital economic importance for all regions.” Stay tuned.  

Tembec urges Government action

Oct. 16, 2014 - Tembec is requesting that International Trade Minister of Canada The Honourable Ed Fast enter into World Trade Organization (WTO) discussions with China to resolve the trade dispute related to dissolving pulp. China imposed duties on shipments of viscose staple fibre pulp from selected countries including Canada. These duties negatively impact Tembec's operations and customers as we rely on market access to China for sale of viscose staple fibre. Rayon viscose, the first man made natural filament yarn and staple fiber is used in apparel, domestic textiles, and automotive applications. Tembec supports rules-based trade of forest products as this provides our customers with a predictable source of quality products, provides stability to our mills, employees and communities. Tembec calls on the Federal Government to appeal China's decision to impose duties on Canadian dissolving pulp at the World Trade Organization. "Tembec hopes dialogue between Canada and China will result in a resolution of the dispute in the short term," underlined Tembec President and CEO James Lopez. Tembec is a manufacturer of forest products – lumber, paper, pulp and specialty cellulose – and a global leader in sustainable forest management practices. Principal operations are in Canada and France. Tembec has 3,500 employees and annual sales of approximately $1.6 billion. Tembec is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TMB).

Price of lumber inches down

Oct. 16, 2014 - The Forest Products Index inched down in September (-0.6% m/m), but remains just above year-ago levels (+1.8%), according to Scotiabank's Commodity Price Index. Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2x4 lumber prices lost ground seasonally, falling from US$364 per mfbm in August to US$355 in September. Prices have been largely flat in October at US$352. U.S. building activity normally winds down seasonally at this time of year and wholesale buyers remain cautious. List prices for NBSK pulp (before discounts) are still near-record highs at US$1,030 per tonne in the U.S. market.

Wood Panels

 Lower grade pieces of veneer are fed manually into the screen dryers that carry the veneer through the drying process. Weyerhaeuser uses strong scraps

Oct. 17, 2014 - The sky is the limit for wooden structures, and the 66-foot-long beams at Weyerhaeuser’s parallel strand lumber mill carry the weight of inspiration. Not only are these beams strong, but they’re also made from a waste material. Weyerhaeuser has developed an engineered wood that rips unwanted veneer into strands that are then woven to create structural beams. The company calls this finished product Parallam PSL. The concept of parallel strand lumber (PSL) was flushed out in 1975 when a team of researchers under MacMillan Bloedel set out to produce a high strength wood-based material. The first PSL plant was completed in 1982 with the first commercial sale of the product for Expo ’86. Over the years, the process has been improved to make bigger, longer beams and production and sales have picked up steadily. Weyerhaeuser owns the patent on the production process and there are currently only two plants that use it: the Weyerhaeuser plant in Delta, B.C., and one in Buckhannon, W.V. Much of the equipment is designed in-house because the process is a tightly guarded secret and constantly being tweaked. Graeme Dick is the Plant Technical Director for Weyerhaeuser’s parallel strand lumber plant in Delta, B.C. who took Canadian Forest Industries on a tour of the plant. “A lot of the equipment here was innovated by the people who work on the floor. So we involve ourselves in the process and then our maintenance or electrical staff make it a reality.” Veneer with broken corners, splits and random widths are all consumed at the plant and turned into massive beams for mid-rise and open concept houses. “Above your garage door, down the center of your open concept home, large, straight beams are required.  It could be a steel beam, one of our competitors, or Parallam PSL. Our hope is that it’s Parallam PSL,” says Graeme Dick. According to Dick, there are three types of beams offered by Weyerhaeuser in its Trus Joist-branded family of engineered wood products. “TimberStrand LSL, Microllam LVL and Parallam PSL, with increasing strength and stiffness properties,” Dick explains. Market potentialAs housing sales pick up, PSL has the potential to reach more of the market. New building codes that allow for up to six storeys of wood frame housing is good news for the mill; initiatives such as Wood First support the use of engineered wood products as well. The company has managed to penetrate the local home building market and maintains a strong foothold in California. “Much of our product stays here in Vancouver,” says Dick. But there isn’t enough local development to support the plant without relying on outside markets. Only 30 to 40 per cent of the product is used locally with the vast remainder going to the Western United States and Japan. But once the California market fully recovers, the mill will have reached full stride. Scrappy veneerIn order to make LDL or plywood, the veneer has to be large, square and clear of visual defects. But because the process of making PSL cuts the veneer into narrow strands, what would otherwise be scraps are saved from the hog. “Although the veneer may be poor in visual grade, it is very good quality in terms of strength,” Dick explains. “The other benefit we have is that we pull from a 100 per cent Douglas Fir supply. It’s a very good fibre source, strong and dimensionally stable.” As the veneer comes into the plant, the higher visual grade is run on an automatic feeder into a jet box dryer.  Narrow sheets and low visual grade veneer runs through screen dryers, made by Babcock (now Grenzebach BSH). These lower grade pieces of veneer are fed manually into the screen dryers that carry the veneer through the drying process. “We run veneer through the screen dryer that we don’t think we’ll be able to automatically transfer through the process,” he points out. “It’s this ability to process and utilize veneer that would otherwise be unusable in our competitor products that helps distinguish Parallam PSL.” According to Dick, the process requires a unique moisture content range.  To achieve these internal specifications, the mill maintains an ongoing dialogue with its key dry veneer suppliers. Once the sheets have been dried to the appropriate moisture content, they are then clipped into long strands and go through a glue application process. A rotating conveyor system moves back and forth carrying the resin-coated strands and gently dropping them into a trough. The back-and-forth movement of the conveyor system ensures the strands are deposited in an offset pattern throughout the length of the billet. The layered veneer is preheated and enters the press where it is condensed before the resin is cured with microwaves. The microwaves activate the molecules in the glue, heating it to a point of full cure. Because of the thickness of the product, microwave technology must be used to penetrate to the centre of the beam to completely cure the resin. The billets are made in a continuous press, with the billet length only limited by handling capability.  After the billet exits the press, it is remanufactured on site to the customer’s order, which includes the product length, depth and width. Monitored for qualityThe product is tested regularly to ensure it meets structural requirements. “Throughout the day, we complete small- and large-scale testing as part of our Quality Management System,” he says. The results are entered into the database and carefully monitored. The plant is audited by a third-party inspector to make sure the company is in compliance with its accreditation. “We have one full-time lab technician for every shift, we have two daytime lab technicians, and we currently have co-op students as well.” The whole process is also closely monitored on a series of cameras posted throughout the facility. During the tour, Tony Deschamps and Russell Petrie are keeping an eye on the cameras. “The press operator is watching the veneer go into the glue dip, watching it come out of the glue dip, as it comes out of the press, and he has the camera focused on certain aspects of the process looking for any potential mechanical complications.” Deschamps’ job is to make sure the process produces a high-quality product at the optimal rate. Not only does he have access to cameras strategically placed to monitor all of the intricacies of the press, but he also has access to a process historian that provides background on how the plant operated under different conditions. If there is a malfunction, he can decide whether the plant must be shut down immediately or if the issue can be resolved without impacting the final product. “He [the press operator] has all these HMI screens to make sure we have the right glue mix, the right wood mix, making sure we’re making a certain mat height and density because combined, it will have an impact on our mechanical properties,” says Dick. “He’s watching the press performance. This is a continuous press with many moving parts. If any of these parts fail, you could potentially have a catastrophic failure in the press.” If this seems like a big job for one press operator to undergo, it doesn’t faze Deschamps, who is quite confident in his role. “I do have a lot of alarms that tell me if anything starts to look a little different. I react to it pretty quickly.” Once the mat is pressed and the resin is set, one long billet emerges to be sent to remanufacturing to be cut to the customer’s specifications. The plant makes a combination of the five sizes of billets each week so that the lead time is minimal. Once it has been cut to order, it is put through an automated strapping machine and then wrapped. Finished products are shipped by truck, rail or container for export markets. The plant runs five days a week, for 24 hours a day, employing 121 people but the company plans to run the mill around the clock all week, implementing a four shift schedule in the near future. When U.S. housing starts pick up, Weyerhaeuser will be there to prop up the market with its “trash turned treasure.”  

UBC to build 18-storey wooden tower

Oct. 2, 2014 – The University of British Columbia issued an Express of Interest for architectural firms to design a wood-frame high-rise tower between 16 to 18 storeys in height. At 53 metres, it would be the world's tallest wooden building of its kind. For more information, go to http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2014/09/ubc-wooden-building/

Remanufacturing

Illegal trade impacts Cdn hardwood

Oct. 3, 2014 - A series on Global News is looking at where the wood for hardwood floors has been harvested. It has found that while Canadian consumers may believe the wood is coming from Canadian forests, it's most likely coming from illegal logging in Siberia and shipped to Canada through China. With cheap, illegal hardwood flooring available to retailers, Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturers are finding it impossible to compete. For more information, go to http://globalnews.ca/tag/liquidating-the-forests/

Briquettes get a boost in Maritimes

Sept. 9, 2014 – Lewis Mouldings and Wood Specialities Ltd. received $430,500 from the federal and provincial governments to boost its wood briquette production, according to the Chrionical Herald. The family business based in Weymouth, Nova Scotia launched Fiber Fuel to make wood briquettes using residual sawdust and chips from its wood trim business in 2008. The company has not been able to keep up with demand for the fuel. The new funding will help the company add a second wood fibre compressing machine and a biomass dryer, which should be up and running in November. The new equipment is expected to boost the company's briquette production by 400 per cent. The briquette business will take over the extra waste wood that was formerly consumed by the Resolute Forest Products' Queens County paper mill that closed in 2012. For more information, go to http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/1234854-lewis-mouldings-gets-cash-for-wood-waste-fuel-business

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