April 24, 2015 – Tigercat's innovative new low-wide bunk system combined with the reshaped F195T85 hooked crane provides a host of benefits for Tigercat's high capacity forwarders.
April 17, 2015 - Resource Roads I – Maintenance management solutions Date: April 29, 2015Presenter: Glen Legere, FPInnovationsCanadian resource road networks, composed primarily of unpaved roads, provide year-round access for sectors such as forestry, energy and mining, as well as general public access for remote communities and recreation. Maintaining safe and reliable access to these roads in a cost-effective way is a huge challenge. The level of maintenance, such as grading and resurfacing, will vary for each road and is strongly dependent on factors such as traffic volume, road surfacing quality, season of use and climate. Resource roads are an important asset and should be managed with a long-term vision while incorporating life-cycle costing analysis (LCCA) principals where transportation and maintenance costs are optimized. This webinar will discuss road surface distress and failure modes, cost-benefits of LCCA and tools for planning, monitoring and managing resource road maintenance.And all of this for only $25!To register for the webinar, click here.
April 17, 2015 - Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster, which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change.
April 14, 2015 - The 22-ton Volvo EC220E is the newest excavator from Volvo Construction Equipment and is fitted with a top-range Tier 4 Final Volvo D6 engine that meets emissions legislation across North America.
April 14, 2015 — Recently, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding forest destruction and deforestation in Canada. While these issues are certainly important, there has also been considerable misinformation circulating on the subject. In response, Natural Resources Canada has released a fact versus fiction discussion on their website.
April 2, 2015 - Canfor Corporation has completed the purchase of the operating assets of Southern Lumber Company.
April 1, 2015 — John Deere introduced its L-Series Skidders today, celebrating a major milestone for the company. The addition of the L-Series lineup marks 50 years of manufacturing skidders for John Deere.
April 1, 2015 - Forest tenure agreements aim to strike a balance between industry and stewardship. In 2012, the Canadian forest products industry shipped products valued at $58 billion and supported an estimated 235,000 direct jobs. The value of all forest-based recreational activities is also significant. It is essential that we ensure Canadian forests are managed in the best and most efficient means while taking into consideration all forest values. The Sustainable Forest Management paradigm is our present model to achieve this (for more details on the paradigms go to www.woodbusiness.ca). Forest tenure agreements are of fundamental importance in the management of Canada’s publicly-owned forests. Canadian provincial governments have developed two basic tenure agreement models: area-based and volume-based (See Fig 1) Forest tenure agreements have two central purposes: to establish the conditions under which timber is made available to industry, and to ensure and deliver specified forest management performance. They can be long-term (20 to 25 years) or short-term (one to five years) depending on the circumstances. Only secure long-term timber supply agreements provide any reasonable basis for forest management planning and industrial investment. Tenure typesTypically, tenure agreements are signed between a province and a forest products company. The agreements provide the tenure holder with rights to harvest timber from publicly-owned forestland together with a set of specified forest management responsibilities. Provincial governments have comprehensive regulations to ensure the maintenance of environmental values, public access and recreation. Area-based tenures: The provincial government allocates a specified area of forest to a private sector manager, usually a single forest products company. In some cases, several medium-sized companies may rely on one area for their wood supply. The private sector manager (tenure holder) is responsible for preparation of a long-term forest management plan, subject to review and approval by government, as well as all forest operations and post-harvest regeneration. Provided the tenure agreement is secure for a period of 25 years or more, the licensee is able to develop a sense of stewardship for the forest. Volume-based tenures: The provincial government establishes a forest area under management by the provincial department responsible for forests or by a government agency. This area of forest will usually supply timber to several forest products companies. The public sector manager is responsible for preparation of the long-term forest management plan and allocates areas for annual forest operations to the companies. Post-harvest regeneration may be the responsibility of the public sector manager or the company that carried out the harvest operation. Companies operating under a volume agreement are less likely to develop a sense of stewardship. They have no clear stake in the future productivity of the forest. An efficient tenure system should be structured to achieve three objectives essential to ensure good forest management and a competitive industry: Logical and clear allocation of responsibility for all aspects of forest management and operations. (It is important to place the responsibility where it can be carried out in the most efficient way.) Clear lines of accountability for performance of forest management responsibilities. Incentives to increase forest growth and productivity as well as the quality of trees to be used by industry. (These incentives have been lacking due to the current structure of tenure agreements.) Historically, many of the large forest products companies have been able to look back on 50 years of management of a specific area of forest. Unfortunately, there has been no ability to look ahead with confidence into the future for 50 years of access to the wood supply. This has reduced the incentive for industry to invest in silvicultural treatments to improve the quality and value of the timber. Further, many companies have disappeared during the past decade due to changing markets, especially for pulp and paper. Although some of the their forest tenures may be taken over by other forest products companies, the continuity of management is broken, as is any sense of a stake in future productivity. The conditions of forest tenure agreements are almost always framed in provincial forest management legislation. This results in periodic change at intervals of about two decades to keep in step with perceived public values, and perhaps more specifically, to conform to the political and economic philosophy of the government of the day. These periodic changes in tenure often result in uncertainty about the future allocation of timber supplies and the allocation of responsibility for woodlands management and operations. This raises a further question about the ability of the existing tenure systems to provide for the management of public forests. We must recognize that there will be changes in both timber and non-timber values and uses and the markets for both – often related to changes in technology. A further consideration is that forest-based communities throughout Canada, including First Nations, have had little active participation in forest management decision-making although they are often economically dependent on forest management operations and timber processing. Public participation in the development of forest management plans is important, but does not recognize the essential responsibilities that reside with the forest managers. Despite these realities, we must develop and implement a form of tenure that will achieve the three objectives mentioned above in order to ensure good forest management and a competitive industry. What is lacking?The present models of area- and volume-based tenures have not yet developed to the point where they address both the dynamic nature of the marketplace and the participation of forest-dependent communities in management decision-making at the forest level. They do not provide any incentive for the tenure holder to explore new markets or invest in the long-term improvement of timber values or non-timber values, such as habitat improvement or recreational use. The present tenure system is essentially inflexible. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that a different approach is already underway. An early example of what can be accomplished when a provincial government delegates the full management of a forest region is illustrated by the success of the Algonquin Forestry Authority (AFA) established in Ontario in 1974. Although responsible directly to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, the directors of the AFA represent the local communities. A key result of the silvicultural program (particularly in the maple forests) has been a marked improvement in tree quality, which would not have occurred if the tenure had been left to individual forest company licensees. The forest managed by the AFA is audited and certified to the CSA SFM Standard. This model of stewardship can provide both responsibility and accountability to a board of directors that represents local communities, forest products companies and forest interests such as recreation and hunting and fishing. In Ontario, such forest management corporations already exist with varying representation on their boards of directors. In 2011, provincial legislation broadened this approach with the establishment of a local forest management corporation (LFMC) – the Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation (NFMC), which will be responsible for forest management on the Big Pic Forest covering 1.9 million hectares with an annual allowable cut of 2.2 million cubic metres. The NFMC Board of Directors includes representatives from three First Nations bands: Pic River, Pic Mobert and Hornepayne, and the communities of Marathon, Manitouwadge, Hornepayne and White River. Similar innovations centred on First Nations communities are being tried in B.C. The recent Supreme Court decision concerning title to lands of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in B.C. is another sign that provinces must consider new approaches to the management of public forestlands. Placing forest management in the hands of community-based organizations, combined with an influential role for industry in all forest management decisions, offers an opportunity to combine long-term timber management and timber supply obligations, an incentive to increase forest productivity and the means to respond to market demands. Forest-dependent communities have a long-term socio-economic interest in forest productivity as do the forest products companies that depend on the forest for their wood supply. Locally fundedTo make this opportunity truly effective, some or all of the stumpage revenue should be retained by the organization to offset the costs of management and silvicultural operations and to ease the burden of companies providing employment in the community. Stumpage revenues are merely pocket change in large urbanized provinces such as Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Redirecting them to a community forest management corporation for investment in silviculture, inventory and other forest resource enterprises would be a solid investment. The economic stimulus to the forest-based communities involved will more than compensate for any reduction in Crown stumpage charges received by the province and encourage the sale of timber and development of other forest values in a competitive marketplace. The process of forest management and sale of timber from public forestlands has evolved in response to economic and social conditions, the marketplace and technology. The move to community-based management is part of this process. This is particularly relevant in view of the rapid pace of urbanization and lack of political representation of distant forest-dependent communities. There is reason to be flexible in allocating forest management tenures. We have seen ample evidence that governments have difficulty holding themselves accountable. Governments have no difficulty holding the private sector accountable for poor performance – all that is required is political will. Beyond the local desire to protect the long-term health of the community and existing government regulations, certification to one of the forest management programs offers additional assurance of exemplary performance. Ken Armson R.P.F. (ret.) was a professor of forestry for 26 years at the University of Toronto and retired as Ontario’s Provincial Forester after 11 years with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Tony Rotherham has a BScF from the University of New Brunswick, and is RPF registered in Ontario and B.C. Tony spent 21 years with the Woodlands section of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association (now FPAC) and has worked with Canadian private forest land owners since retiring from FPAC in 2001. He has worked in Quebec, Ontario, B.C., Kenya and Iran. A sustainable tenureA successful tenure system will provide: a secure long-term timber supply to industry; incentives to improve forest productivity and tree quality; long-term stability in tenure and policy to allow management targets to be set and met; availability of funds to ensure fulfillment of management and silvicultural obligations through market cycles; an influential role for industry in all forest management decisions; an influential voice for forest-dependent communities that have a long-term interest in the management of the forest; private sector management rigour and discipline; and government oversight to ensure long-term policy goals are met. Tenure agreements should be signed under contract law, not under provincial forest management legislation. Forest management should not be subject to political cycles and ideology. Comments and good ideas can be sent to:
March 31, 2015 - Resource Roads I – Maintenance management solutions
March 31, 2013 - Despite the steady inroads made by CTL logging technology in many regions, the skidder remains a staple of logging operations across Canada. Those who rely on the machine need it to provide the power and versatility to combat the most challenging terrains and weather conditions, while meeting ground disturbance guidelines at the same time. Here is our look at the companies producing forestry skidders: TigercatTigercat has recently launched the E-series skidder line-up. The Canadian manufacturer says the Tigercat E-series skidders have everything harvesting professionals have come to expect – advanced, electronic controlled hydrostatic drive technology, ergonomic, productivity-boosting Turnaround seat and incredible performance and pulling power. Tigercat FPT Tier 4 final engines deliver great fuel efficiency and the industry’s simplest and most reliable Tier 4 solution, the company says. The machine is also fully supported by Tigercat and the Tigercat dealer network. CaterpillarThe Cat D Series Wheel Skidder is designed to increase productivity while reducing operating cost, the manufacturer says. Its stability and agility gives the operator a smooth ride. Major improvements from the C Series include a six-speed transmission with more gears in the working zone, lock-up torque converter and independent front and rear differentials for more pulling power and control, high capacity cooling system with reversing fan, roomy operator station and tilting cab for servicing. Equipped with the 205 kW (275 HP) Cat C7.1 ACER engine, the 555D is the largest, most powerful in the line. KMC KootracKMC/KOOTRAC is expanding to other industries with the production of a 3000 Series vehicle. Like the 1000 & 2000 Series of Track Logging Skidder, the 3000 Series features a steel track and torsion bar suspension. The 3000 Series, however, is a flexible machine that can be adapted for a number of industries. The KMC Track Skidder combines the speed of a rubber-tired machine and the payload of a crawler tractor. Its speed, power-to-weight distribution, low centre of gravity, traction and stability, combined with a light flotation effect on the ground surface, are the characteristics offering the most potential benefits to the forest industry both in terms of safety and environmental concerns. John DeereIn addition to fuel-efficient features, John Deere Skidders recently gained a significant increase in performance with a new optional wheel weight package that will add 1,900 pounds to the front of the machines. The kit is compatible with the 640H Cable Skidder and 648H, 748H and 848H Grapple Skidders. This is a simple solution that increases machine capabilities to help John Deere’s customers become more productive on the job. Loggers will see a substantial difference in the load weight they are able to pull with the heavier set of wheels. The manufacturer has brand new skidder technology set to be released in April 2015. TanguayThe TG88E is one of the largest skidders available in the industry. It features a powerful 400 HP Cummins QSM11 Tier III engine. The TG88E comes equipped with a low maintenance hydrostatic drive system. It has extremely low ground pressure for minimum ground disturbance. The TG88E has excellent stability for safe steep slope forwarding (engine pan designed for 45 per cent slope). Operators will find an ergonomic cab design and electro-proportional joystick handles (no oil in the cab). It is easy to service, the manufacturer says. The unit is designed to more easily load and skid the large timber typically found in stands in Western Canada, and can push itself with its boom in difficult ground conditions. Tanguay also offers clambunk versions of its skidder, currently popular in regions with soft soils and very long skids, such as northern Quebec. For videos of the units operating in various conditions visit www.tanguay.cc.
March 31, 2015 - I joined the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) in January as the new executive director after working for 10 years as a financial analyst for ERA Forest Products Research – an independent financial research shop located on the Sunshine Coast. As an analyst, I viewed the B.C. forest industry from 30,000 feet, as part of a broader global industry perspective following world markets and trade. In my new role, I’m standing on the stumps alongside B.C.’s coastal forest contractors. And, from my new ground level view, I can see the turbulence created by the challenges facing B.C.’s forest industry on a regional level. The most serious challenge I see facing TLA members today is contractor sustainability. We need to ensure contactors can create jobs and make investments that are necessary for stable community economies, while at the same time ensuring the log supply to sawmills remains intact. It is clear the supply chain is at risk because, despite a market rebound in forest products over the last few years, the balance sheets of many contractors are unhealthy, in contrast to many of the licensees. For any industry to flourish, the entire supply chain needs to be healthy. What we have now for the B.C. coastal forest industry is a supply chain where some links are strong and some are crumbling under severe strain. No Logger, no logsSuch a situation is unsustainable. How can TLA members attract new workers to the industry when they cannot offer them the wages or job security provided by other natural resource sectors where their skills are also valued? Conversely, how can TLA members take on the time and expense required to train new workers to work productively and safely when contract rates are unsustainably low? You could say contractors are in the bight, between a falling tree and a cliff. When the contracting community is unhealthy, it means rural community stability and the outlook for the entire forest industry is at risk, too. Since the recession, more than 25 B.C. contractors have sought insolvency protection. Each time that happens, the economic ripples are felt across the community. People in rural towns lose well-paying, local jobs and suppliers who lent money in good faith all lose out as well. The examples are numerous and the situation is getting worse. Auctioning our future?And it seems every month, more logging equipment is going to auction by those who can no longer see a positive future. In the winter issue of Truck Logger BC, the article “Tough Decisions Facing The Logging Sector” highlighted two contractors leaving the industry. Bryan Gregson of Copcan Contracting, based in Nanaimo, B.C., explained it this way, “We were constantly told our rates were too high but at the same time, the return on the capital we had invested in equipment was simply not there anymore.” Bruce Jackson of Bruce Jackson Contracting, based in the southern B.C. Interior, talked of a similar situation. “Is there recognition for fuel costs, rising wages, parts or repairs? The answer is no. The industry standard rate is what you get. Take it or leave it.” Many TLA businesses are multigenerational and have operated in the same area for decades as licensees come and go. We lose a vast knowledge base when a contractor leaves the industry. However, without a serious discussion on rate-related topics, we will lose the contractors needed to support the growing global demand for our forest products, which means this is not just a contractor issue, but one that threatens the entire industry and the communities they support. David Elstone - David is the executive director of the Truck Loggers Association
April 17, 2015 - Many sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Workers Compensation Act ("Act") have associated guidelines.
April 15, 2015 - Planer upgrade kits from Murray Latta Progressive Machine are designed to help mills optimize their operations while increasing safety.
April 2, 2015 - Cut Technologies line of Predator Series carbide saw tips are designed to offer resistance to chips and breakage due to foreign materials, abrasion resistance for longer run times, and are treated to resist chemical dulling from wet lumber.
March 31, 2015 - The shortage of saw filers in the forestry industry is a big problem, especially in Western Canada. Putting all the reasons for the shortage aside for a moment, let’s focus on solutions. One way to take some of the strain off the filers who are still in the mills is through the use of automation systems. Equipment companies have recognized this and have been hard at work developing new automated systems, many of which are either currently available or will be very soon. One company that has experienced a surge in interest and demand for new automated sharpening solutions is Vollmer. Shannon Fox, manager of sawing technology for Vollmer, says that his firm offers a wide variety of automated machines for the servicing of cutting tools, such as circular saw blades, band saw blades and polycrystalline diamond (PCD) tooling. Different levels of technology are also available within the Vollmer line-up, from cam-driven sharpeners up to field-proven fully automatic service centres. A sharp increase in salesCut Technologies of Penticton, B.C., is the exclusive Canadian dealer for Vollmer, and it has seen interest in automatic sharpening machines increase significantly in recent years. Mike Weckel, vice-president of operations and sales manager for Cut Technologies, says sales have increased by 200 per cent on Vollmer automated products in both 2013 and 2014, and he expects 2015 to be a record year. The Vollmer CHD 270/CHF 270-ND 340 Service Center – an automatic computer-controlled cutting (CNC) machine that loads and sharpens all the sawmill saws, and will run “lights out” is one of the company’s top sellers. These machines feature four loading carriages and a data input station, are extremely reliable, and offer excellent repeatability on saw geometry angles and kerf, says Weckel. One of these units is going to be installed at a West Fraser mill in Quesnel, B.C., in the near future. Cut Technologies has also experienced an uptick in sales of the Sawmill Kahny round saw tipping (tip-brazing) machine. “These machines are fully automatic and allow the labour for re-tipping saws to be allocated to a different task in the filing room,” Weckel explains. The Sawmill Kahny possesses extreme precision and speed, he notes, and has been recently redesigned. There are 40 of these units now running in major Canadian sawmills. Robo-cutsWilliams & White of Burnaby, B.C., will be rolling out an automated saw filing machine in the near future, the patent-pending RoboSharp Multi-Function Saw Sharpening Center. The unit is the result of two years of development and is able to top and face, dual side and plunge grind a circular saw blade with a single setup. The Robosharp’s robotic loader retrieves the saw blades from the carts magnetically and can retrieve two blades at a time, explains Riley Kufta, director of marketing for Williams and White. “The saws are then loaded into the machine, where they are fed into the grinding area,” he adds. The automated tool changing system is a combination of a large tool bay, where grinding wheels are stored, and advanced probing technology. This technology monitors the grinding wheels in use, and when wheel wear reaches a specific level or wheel damage occurs, a new wheel is automatically retrieved from the tool bay. “The entire process, from detecting the need for replacement to completing the change, is done automatically with no human intervention,” says Kufta. Tension techPennsylvania-based Oleson Saw Technology also offers an automatic bandsaw leveller and tensioning centre. The computer-controlled Iseli RZ-1 is programmable by the operator to automatically produce consistently levelled and tensioned band saws. “The computer touchscreen and technology are user-friendly and make inputting instructions straightforward and uncomplicated,” says Mat Harris, Oleson product manager. “Tension, levelling and back are adjusted as the saw is fed through levelling rolls controlled by the feedback from the electronic non-contact sensors connected to the RZ-1’s computer.” The sensors control the proportional hydraulic rolls quickly and quietly, notes Harris, and the end result is a finished saw, benched completely to customer specifications. The RZ-1 will accommodate saws that are three to 16 inches in width, and 20 Ga. to 14 Ga. in thickness. Tuning up the bandSimonds International, which has Canadian offices in Granby, Que., and Langley, B.C., also has a new automated product, the 090 Automated Bench (090 AB). This unit replaces the original 980 model and is designed for processing bandsaws used in high-production softwood mills, high-production hardwood mills and mid-sized hardwood mills. Simonds has sold over 100 Automated Benches all over the world since they were first introduced in 2013. “The Automated Bench has allowed current staff to keep up with their duties in the filing room – even with the staff shortages,’’ notes Simonds product manager Ray Eluskie. The 090 AB follows the success of the original Simonds Automated Bench, says Eluskie. It simultaneously levels and tensions the bandsaw blade while measuring to .0004 inches across the entire area of the saw – length and width. The machine performs all scanning via a contact sensor. The measurements made via the sensor are fed into the computer, and the machine performs all calculations, and adds the appropriate back, tension and tire line to the band. The 090 AB features a touchscreen control panel that can be operated even while saw filers are wearing gloves. “It has a unique ‘Learn’ mode feature that allows the filer to load a ‘Best Practice’ saw,” adds Eluskie. “When instructed, the machine will scan the saw and record all the measurements in memory. Using the memory function, the filer can recall a stored saw and duplicate the specifications from the stored saw on all saws in the future.” The 090 AB has the capacity to store up to 999 different saws. Watch a CFI video of Simond’s Russell Barrett explaining this machine on our video carousel at www.woodbusiness.ca. Big tipperIn Charny, Que., B.G.R. Saws says the Kirschner L1 automated tipping process machine highlights its automated line-up. B.G.R.’s president, Sylvain St-Hilaire, says the unit’s perfectly centred tip brazing maximizes grinding accuracy, as well as workload on the grinding centre. The L1 also provides consistency in the brazing quality because of the pyrometer, which precisely controls when the proper temperature for brazing and annealing is reached. Another benefit is found in the high-frequency generator that does not affect steel structures. This technology is available in a semi-automatic version as well as a fully-automated version with automatic loading and unloading. Automation for safetyIn addition to speeding up saw filing tasks and allowing saw filers to focus on other duties, automation is also being used to create safer saw filing environments. Williams and White has created a robotic Babbitt pouring machine. “The concept of the Auto Babbitt is quite simple,” says Kufta. “It is to end the days of manually pouring Babbitt in the filing room. Handling molten metal, regardless of cautions taken and experience of the operator, is an unsafe task. Our hope is that with the help of the Auto Babbitt, burns and fume exposure will be things of the past.” The fully enclosed robotic machine replaces having an employee for the task of Babbitt pouring, which is used in most saw mills to create Babbitt pads that are bolted to saw guides. Babbitt wears quickly and needs to be melted down and moulded and reshaped regularly. “Much like the RoboSharp, we do not yet have an estimate on how much time the Auto-Babbitt will save, although it will be considerable,” says Kufta. “The main selling point for the Auto Babbitt is safety, as it eliminates Babbitt burns, which are quite common, and fires, which are less common but still happen.” To complement the Auto Babbitt, Williams and White has developed a tabletop robotic screw-fastening machine, which is designed to decrease repetitive motion injury caused by fastening Babbitt pads to saw guides, while speeding up the task. Automation in the saw filing room has come a long way, and companies are continuing to innovate. This automation is making various tasks quicker and freeing up saw filers to do other things, allowing fewer people to handle the workload. Automation is also making things safer and preventing injury. Stay tuned for more automation innovation to come.
March 31, 2015 - A small rough cut mill in Mackenzie, B.C., has taken safety to a new level. Rather than housing the sawline in the mill and equipping the building with fans and vacuums to keep the dust from settling, the Duz Cho sawmill is built outside, where the elements keep dust levels down and only the finished lumber is stored inside. But that’s not the only way Duz Cho sawmill thinks outside of the box – this sawmill boasts a full line of fresh ideas. Duz Cho sawmill is owned by the McLeod Lake Indian Band and began ramping up production in July 2014. It had only been up and running for a few months when Canadian Forest Industries got to peek behind the curtain – in fact, the curtain hadn’t been hung yet (more to follow). Planned to be a cant mill and designed to use the four-inch tops other sawmills reject, it’s a rough cut mill that cuts to order. On the day of the tour, it had a number of orders of furniture-grade ready and another 10 containers worth of economy grade all bound for China. Not bad for a mill in its third month. More of a co-op than a traditional sawmill, all the workers have matching coveralls, including management, to show that they’re all in it together. The employees are all trained in each position and they get paid a flat rate once they’ve done their time on the broom. “It’s a real team atmosphere,” mill operations manager Bill Barwise says. “If there are knives to be changed, the operator is in with the millright changing. Or if a sprocket needs to be changed out, the operator is assisting with the whole process.” The mill has 20 employees and runs four 12-hour days on and four days off with maintenance on graveyard. Two shifts keep the mill running daily. Barwise demonstrates how the mill is designed to make use of off-the-shelf technology to save money. “From a safety perspective, what I really like is that any of us can log on and see who is onsite at any given time.” When workers clock in, they scan a card over an iPad that is equipped with an app to log payroll. Combined learningBarwise has learned a lot from his career at different sawmills. He and maintenance superintendent Steve Holdstock have taken best practices from their experiences and come up with efficiencies and safety protocols that make a lot of sense. One of these safety details is the lockout board in the staff room. A set of locks and a spot on the board has been assigned to each worker. Everyone collects his or her locks at the start of the shift and keeps them until the end of the day before retiring the locks to the board. Managers can take a quick look at the board to check for any missing locks – a red flag. The mill has been designed to consume underutilized log tops, rather than the status quo, which sees them burned in the woods. Instead, Duz Cho has gone back to full tree logging and log yard processing. Logs are brought in by truck from Duz Cho Logging, which is also owned by the McLeod Lake Indian Band, but works with Canfor, Conifex and Mackenzie Fibre. Logs are merchandized on a deck, and sorted so that the small logs are kept for the sawmill, larger logs are sold to neighbouring mills, and the biomass from the merchandizing deck is sold to a local pulpmill. The long-term goal is to consume over a half a million cubic metres, but ramping up to that number will take some time. Managing riskAbout 70 per cent of the logs processed at the Duz Cho sawmill are beetle kill so dust management has taken priority in the mill’s design. “We’re eliminating one of the elements of a dust explosion right off the bat by not having any containment,” Barwise explains, while walking through the outdoor mill. Lights have been changed to LED to keep them from generating heat, ceiling beams were filled in with spray foam and a Hurricane 300 vacuum sucks up dust produced by the trimmer. “We perform dust audits daily at each job station to monitor accumulations and coordinate cleanup,” he adds. “Everyone’s been educated on our dust management policy and what we can and cannot do.” On the day Barwise took Canadian Forest Industries through the mill, it was shut down and the maintenance crew was doing a blow down. “We’ve assessed the ignition sources, use the vacuum where possible and use air in short bursts as a last resort,” he notes. The sawmill itself was purchased piece-by-piece from sawmills across Canada. The HewSaw line came from Alberta, while the tray sorter, stacker and debarkers came from Quebec. Much of the remaining equipment was manufactured to fit. A wheel loader drops the logs onto the infeed deck and they’re fed into the 12-inch Nicholson A5A debarker before being sent through the HewSaw line. The HewSaw processes the log into a cant and feeds it to a trimmer grader line. Because the mill is working with such small wood that is sold unfinished, the graders only have a few things to look for. “Bark and wane are the main thing,” Barwise says. “We make sure the length grades are tailored to customer requirements.” Graders decide whether to trim the boards to optimize the grade. Anything that doesn’t at least make economy is sent to the chipper. The lumber is then brought up to the trays and sorted by length, grade and moisture. The mill is equipped with a tray sorter with eight trays that can hold approximately 500 pieces each. The tray sorter is easy on the brittle beetle-kill wood and suits the mill’s needs. “Our prime product is a furniture grade. It’s pretty nice for a rough cut sawmill,” Barwise says. Container shippingA bander/forklift operator bands the rough cut lumber in a Signode bander for eventual loading into containers. He creates the sticker label and weighs the packages to maximize volume to the allowable weight of the container. “The reason we chose to stuff the containers here is that the truck backs right in, we put the material in the can, we put the seal on it and they open it up right in China,” Barwise says. “Our first container that we stuffed took an hour and 20 minutes just trying to figure out how everything was. Our last one took nine minutes and 50 seconds.” Overall, the mill could easily operate on as few as five people, including the operator loading logs on to the deck. But it’s the people who operate the machines that bring life to the operation – and that’s how the business was conceived. The sawline operator has a prominent indoor seat with a view of the mountain behind the saws. He brings much of the experience that’s being passed down to workers. “[He] can see the whole yard, the chip bin, and his monitors tell him everything that’s going on right now. The fellow that sits in this chair is our lead guy. Our whole design was to protect people from the elements and have machines exposed to the elements.” There is a significant number of band members and other First Nations working in the mill. Though the crew was fairly inexperienced, Barwise says they decided that a good attitude, willingness to learn and safe work ethic were more important than experience alone. Rather than simply recruit the most experienced workers in the region, management wanted a fresh start. “We thought it was imperative not to inherit a culture, we want to establish one as our own group,” he says. “So it meant that we brought in a little bit less skill.” But as long as a worker has the desire to learn, skills can be taught. With fresh thinking and a focus on safety, Duz Cho sawmill is a smooth addition to the forest industry in Mackenzie.
March 25, 2015 – More than 50 people registered across Canada, U.S. and the U.K. to hear successful drying expert and consultant, Peter Garrahan, present Canadian Forest Industries’ inaugural webinar, “Ten Steps Toward Successful Drying,” sponsored by Innovated Control Solutions (ICS) and hosted by edtor Andrew Macklin.
March 25, 2015 – USNR announced today that it has acquired Söderhamn Eriksson and all of its subsidiaries from Cellwoodgruppen AB. USNR is the world’s largest supplier of equipment and technologies for the sawmill industry, and the addition of Söderhamn Eriksson further cements USNR’s leadership position.
March 24, 2015 - Following the recent roof collapse of the Whiley sawmaill in Upper Hammonds Plains, N.S., the Whiley family are asking for help to find ways to preserve their family’s mill, according to a recent CBC report.
March 20, 2015 – The PICO Central Lubrication Pump from Beka-Lube Products Inc. is an all-season lubrication solution designed to provide trucks, compact wheel loaders, track and skid steer loaders and compact equipment including mini excavators, forklifts and telehandlers, longer life with no unscheduled downtime due to lubrication issues. The pump is rated to operate in temperatures from -13°F to 158°F (-25°C to 70°C). It comes with metered grease servicing for up to eight grease points and distribution blocks are available. A built-in shutdown protects the pump and user’s equipment in case the grease reservoir runs low. The pump also features a drive that fits into spaces up to 60 per cent smaller than comparable pumps and is easily installed in the engine compartment, according to the manufacturer. It is electronically-driven and is available in 24V or 12V models and comes with or without integrated controls. For more information, visit www.beka-lube.com.
Feb. 26, 2015 – Autolog has developed a scanning optimization system that provides extensive benefits by scanning boards at a 45-degree angle. The research and development group at Autolog came up with the idea to slant the scanner heads to try to help improve the boards and cants geometry. The experiment provided immediate positive results. Scanning the boards at an angle allowed for an improved edge detection and width accuracy, high density / faster scanner sensors combined with slanted features allowed for the detection of splits and shake, holes and torn grain. The R&D group worked for several months on extensive software algorithms that were necessary to achieve such positive results. The slanted heads do not retain dust and debris, so cleaning protocol is reduced to almost nothing. As an additional benefit, the air cleaning system is no longer necessary, thus reducing system and maintenance cost. Autolog supplies its transverse optimizer system on Windows 7. Multi-processors architecture, multi-threading applications and SQL database are all standard items within the optimizer systems.
Feb. 19, 2015 – LMI Technologies (LMI) announced the official release of the Gocator 2880 Profile Sensor and an update to Gocator’s Firmware. Designed for scanning large objects with complex shapes, the 2880 is a highly networkable sensor that provides high speed data acquisition on large surface areas with irregular features and textures. The IP67 rated industrial housing also has a small footprint, making it a quality control solution for manufacturers in industries such as wood and packaging. “The G2880’s built-in dual cameras create complete scans over large fields of view and around protruding features, such as knots on logs, or occlusions around box sides and flaps,” says Chi Ho Ng, LMI’s Director of Product Management, “The sensor’s high speed data acquisition allows for full flexibility in optimizing scanning parameters to fit different manufacturing and processing requirements.” “The sensor’s large field of view and measurement range can accommodate a wide range of target sizes,” adds Len Chamberlain, LMI’s Director of Sales, “And like all Gocator sensors, the 2880 is highly flexible and easy to configure through its built-in web interface.” The upgrade to Gocator Firmware from version 4.0 to 4.1 improves process optimization with the addition of rich filtering for removing noise and outliers from sensor data; material selection for achieving the best possible data on targets with challenging material surfaces; a new Countersunk Hole Tool to measure center position, depth, outside diameter, bevel angle; and improved visualization for displacement sensors including range and intensity data.
Feb. 19, 2015 – Vallée, the Québec manufacturer and designer of lift trucks and handing equipment, announced it is partnering with pmp Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in software solutions for the wood industry, to launch a system that tracks and analyzes lift truck operating and movement data for the purpose of enhancing operational productivity. This is a sector where logistics and handling have a direct impact on the profitability of operations, especially in the case of primary manufacturing plants, where handling operations abound. The complexity of the logistical chain can render optimizing these operations a difficult task given the sheer volume of data that would have to be analyzed — a logistical puzzle that could potentially bottleneck operations or lead to equipment being under or over utilized. Aware that some of its clients were experiencing this operational conundrum, Vallée approached François Léger, CEO of pmp Solutions, a firm widely reputed in the wood industry, so the two companies could join forces in creating a solution for Vallée’s clients. The solution is based on a data acquisition system whose program was developed by François Léger's team. Whereas applications currently on the market provide lift truck location and maintenance related information, Vallée’s solution makes it possible to link with the manufacturing system in order to track and analyze lift truck routes and handling operations so needs may be anticipated and coordinated in advance. It taps into a wide range of services tasked with improving handling productivity. Users can receive sets of statistics in real time for each piece of equipment. The solution also suggests alternative routes to help draft more productive configuration plans. Vallée can also assist with managing order books so you can plan the movement of material in advance. And ultimately, the productivity gains are directly culled from the equipment: Vallée uses the findings to modify the lift trucks’ parameters, optimize their performance, and generate maintenance and fuel consumption savings. Vallée can deliver responses tailored to the needs and areas of improvement detected by the system’s interface.
April 20, 2015 - MTS Sensors, a division of MTS Systems Corporation, has introduced a high performance magnetostrictive position sensor, using its innovative Temposonics technology. The ET sensor is very well suited to deployment in applications with high temperature environments. It can deliver up to 0.005mm resolution when used in combination with a suitable controller. Industrial facilities dedicated to pressboard production or the processing of steel/iron need instrumentation that provides maximum safety and reliability, regardless of difficult working conditions. The new ET product offering significantly extends the supported temperature range of the MTS E-Series, with the ability to precisely determine exact positions even at 105°C temperature levels. This small rod sensor can be integrated directly into a cylinder, with rod length options covering 50mm to 3000mm. It exhibits linearity deviation of less than 0.02 per cent (full scale). ET sensors have liquid ingress protection in accordance with IP68. Furthermore, ATEX certification for hazardous areas is available. These devices are equipped with a start/stop interface. They also have the capacity for sensor parameters to be automatically uploaded. A 316L stainless steel variant can be specified if needed. "The ET sensor is designed to be reliable and operationally effective in industry sectors where elevated temperatures are a major concern,” said Robert Luong, MTS Sensors’ industrial technical marketing manager. “The magnetostrictive technology it utilizes provides a wear-free sensing mechanism that has significant value in heavy industrial settings.” The proprietary Temposonics magnetostrictive sensing technology developed by MTS Sensors is designed to offer a non-contact method for accurately measuring position, which permits its implementation into the most demanding of application environments. Sensors based on this technology are highly resilient to shock, vibrations and extreme temperatures.
April 2, 2015 - Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced the completion of their merger on April 1, 2015.
March 24, 2015 - Globally traded hardwood chips for the manufacturing of pulp and wood-based panels have trended downward for much of the past three and a half years. However, this trend broke in late 2014 and early 2015 when prices slowly started to increase.
Feb. 27, 2015 – Lower OSB prices, a slower recovery of the U.S. housing market and higher overall unit costs contributed to weaker-than-expected fourth quarter and year end financial results for Ainsworth in 2014. Sales of $102.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 were $1.9 million lower than sales of $104.4 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 4% decrease in realized pricing. Sales volumes increased by 2% due to the ongoing ramp up of High Level notwithstanding downtime taken during the fourth quarter. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on realized pricing was moderated by factors including the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the fourth quarter of 2013 combined with stable export pricing in Japan. Sales were $444.0 million in 2014 compared to $488.0 million in 2013. The $44.0 million decrease was primarily related to a 17% decrease in realized pricing, partially offset by a 9% increase in sales volumes. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on realized pricing was again moderated by factors including the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to 2013 combined with stable export pricing in Japan. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by the downtime taken at the various mills to complete maintenance and other projects during the year. Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "North American OSB market conditions continued to drift throughout the year as the pace of demand growth did not materialize as expected. However, we remain optimistic that U.S. housing starts will return to more historical levels within the next several years, with various indicators pointing towards strong growth in 2015 versus 2014. "We maintained the strong performance we saw in 2013 in our key export market in Japan and also made progress in China as we began commercial shipments of our industrial core stock products. Additionally, we progressed in the ongoing ramp up of our High Level mill, including the completion of a number of strategic capital projects that will further position the mill to efficiently manufacture an enhanced range of products for North American and Asian customers." While the pace of improvement in U.S. housing starts in 2014 was more gradual than anticipated, Ainsworth expects that the U.S. housing recovery will gain further traction in 2015. The company remains optimistic that U.S. housing starts will return to more historical levels within the next several years. The restart of the High Level mill will allow them to meet the growing requirements of its existing customer base in North America and Asia as well as service new market segments. Ainsworth expects the merger with Norbord will allow the combined company to capitalize on the ongoing recovery in the U.S. housing market and growth opportunities in our traditional and emerging markets in Asia.
Feb. 19, 2015 – River Bend Wood Products, a hardwood flooring business based in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, is shutting down due to a lack of locally-sourced hardwood. According to an article from The Chronicle Herald, the struggles are not new in the region. River Bend may be the newest company to go out of business due to the hardwood shortage, but it certainly isn’t the first and is not likely to be the last. Groupe Savoie, which operates a hardwood sawmill in nearby Westville, could be next due to a lack of available logs. It was expected that the hardwood consumed at the Nova Scotia Power biomass boiler would be low-value hardwood, leaving the higher value stems to companies like Groupe Savoie. However, to this point, that has yet to materialize. For more on this story, CLICK HERE
Feb. 3, 2015 - How would you feel about saving $1.57/m³ on your delivered wood costs? How about having access to better-defined cutblock boundary lines, a fully optimized road network or dealing with reduced mill-yard inventory? Sounds good, right? These appear to be just a few of the benefits related to the use of Enhanced Forest Inventory (EFI), yet not many companies seem interested in investing in EFI-allowing technologies such as aerial LiDAR. A formidable laser-based remote sensing technology, LiDAR measures distance by sending thousands of pulses of light with a laser from an aircraft and analyzing what reflects back (http://tinyurl.com/pe8ayfh). Only a handful of cases of documented cost/benefit analyses actually exist to guide the decision-making process when choosing from all the available technologies designed to significantly improve inventory knowledge. Hence, EFI technologies still remain a marginal practice among forestry technology and service providers. Confident in its capacity to transform the forest sector, FPInnovations set out to find out what EFI is really about. Partnering with Tembec and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) allowed researchers from FPInnovations’ Value Maximisation research program to evaluate the monetary impact of EFI on forest operations and primary wood products manufacturing. The results have turned out convincingly in favour of EFI: great return on investment, better knowledge of forest inventory, smaller road network, efficient harvesting operations and increased forest machine productivity. With smaller mill yard inventories of greater value, sawing cost can be reduced and lumber value increased, mostly due to the increased size of timber. The big question now is: why haven’t more companies picked up on the new generation of technologies designed to help them be more profitable? Innovation in the field of forest inventory is no science-fiction. Today, there are very real cost-competitive technologies that allow accurate data gathering about forest stand attributes. Using these tools, foresters can truly maximize the value of forest products by lowering production costs and increasing the value of processed forest products. However, one obvious barrier in justifying the investment relates to the complexity of validating the benefits. Testing EFI processes and technologies involves getting access to data collected along the entire forest sector value chain. Since FPInnovations is all about value chain integration, researchers were able to gather the relevant information to compare the volumes as well as the wood net value resulting from two inventory data sets (traditional vs LiDAR-EFI). Very promising advancesIn addition to being costly, traditional forest inventories are difficult to update. In terms of stands, they produce a lack of volume precision in the area of 20 to 40 per cent, often making it necessary to obtain additional data in order to make informed decisions. There is a lack of data on variability of dendrometric characteristics within forest stands which limits harvest-planning decisions. Accuracy of inventory data is very important since many decisions and actions are taken along the wood value chain based primarily on forestry inventory data. Inaccuracies result in costs for forest stakeholders at various levels and also mean that landowners run the risk of not maximizing benefits or value from resources (wood fibre, habitat, tourism, etc.). Aerial LiDAROne of the challenges met by the Enhanced Forest Inventory process is to provide foresters with precise and detailed information, both on a large and operational scale for each block to be processed. The arrival of aerial LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has allowed foresters to meet this challenge head on. The quality of the information can now exceed expectations and an entire forest can now be inventoried at resolution as high as 400 m2. Furthermore, major steps have been taken toward posting the internal attributes of the wood’s fibre on forest maps using the EvaluTree program (a joint collaboration by FPInnovations and the University of Northern British Columbia). Aerial LiDAR generates measurements in 3D space that provide a good description of the forest canopy and stand structure, which can be used to accurately predict tree crown dimensions, height, volume canopy density and biomass. Measurements made at the ground surface can be used to accurately map waterways (creeks, bogs, rivers, lakes) and topography across an entire forest (figure 1). While limited plot data are needed to calibrate LiDAR predictions, field sampling is no longer required for stand-, block-, and forest-level estimates. The wall-to-wall precision provided by LiDAR leads to better growth projections, product recovery models, taper models, biomass models, as well as silvicultural optimization and operational planning. Maps created with LiDAR also provide valuable information for road construction by identifying optimized log extraction routes. Block contours are also better defined, impacting the precision of performance calculations (m³/stem/ha). Furthermore, a more detailed knowledge of forest structure makes silvicultural prescriptions easier. Combined with FPInterface software, LiDAR obtained cartographic and georeferenced data allow better prediction of operational costs for harvesting, transportation, road construction and silviculture. Field testing EFI technologyBy comparing two inventory data sets (traditional versus LiDAR-EFI), FPInnovations researchers were able to estimate costs and benefits of each method. To ensure the accuracy of LiDAR inventories, actual volumes harvested (scaled) were compared to yield estimates derived from the traditional inventory (OMNR provincial inventory) and to the LiDAR-enhanced inventory. The study focused on 14 cutblocks from Tembec’s 2009 forest management plan. Ultimately, in this study, the cost of $0.10/m³ for the LiDAR-EFI was largely offset by reduced wood costs. FPInnovations observed a net gain of $1.57/m³ when compared with the actual harvest as planned from traditional forest inventory. Watch FPInnovations’ video on EFI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VmAy6rxt-U For more information, please contact Francis Charette at 514-782-4608 or
Jan. 28, 2015 - Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced that Norbord shareholders and Ainsworth shareholders and optionholders approved the previously announced proposed combination of Norbord and Ainsworth by way of a plan of arrangement. The transaction remains subject to customary conditions to closing, including approval of the plan of arrangement by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Subject to receipt of court approval and the satisfaction or waiver of all closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Norbord and Ainsworth also provided the following general update in connection with the transaction. While the transaction is not reportable under the U.S. Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act of 1976 or the Canadian Competition Act because Norbord and Ainsworth share a common controlling shareholder, the U.S. Department of Justice has requested information about the transaction and the companies, as it is entitled to do. Norbord and Ainsworth are providing the DOJ with the information it has requested and are working proactively with the DOJ to ensure an expedited review process. Norbord and Ainsworth are confident this review will have a satisfactory outcome and that it will not impact the companies' ability to close the transaction by the end of the first quarter of 2015.
Dec. 8, 2014, Vancouver – Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced that they have signed a definitive agreement under which they will merge to create a leading global wood products company focused on oriented strand board across North America, Europe and Asia. The all-stock deal is valued at $762.6 million. “This transaction unites two complementary businesses behind a common vision of enhanced service to our customers and growth in North America, Europe and Asia,” said Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Norbord and Ainsworth are each low-cost producers in their respective regions, and with our complementary operations and a more diverse range of specialty products, we will be better able to serve our customers across the globe. Ainsworth has excellent mills, a proven track record of innovation in value-added product development, and we look forward to working together. The growth potential we see in the combined company also offers significant value to our shareholders.” Under the terms of the arrangement agreement announced today, Norbord has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth in an all-share transaction in which Ainsworth shareholders will receive 0.1321 of a Norbord share for each Ainsworth share pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the British Columbia Business Corporations Act. Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and its affiliated entities, which control approximately 55% and 52% of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth and Norbord respectively, have entered into a binding agreement in which they have committed to vote in favour of the transaction. Upon closing, the Brookfield entities will control approximately 53% of the outstanding common shares of the combined company. Said Jim Lake, Ainsworth’s President and Chief Executive Officer: “The combination of the two companies will mean tremendous opportunities for our people and our customers. By joining with Norbord we will be able to leverage its commitment to low-cost operational excellence to expand and improve our existing range of products and enhance our customer relationships. For our shareholders, this transaction offers significant potential for continued value creation as investors in a larger and better-capitalized company with ongoing participation in the current U.S. housing recovery. This is an exciting transaction for Ainsworth and its stakeholders.” On a pro forma basis, the combined company generated USD $1.63 billion in sales and USD $143 million in Adjusted EBITDA for the 12 months ended September 27, 2014. The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings and cash flow in the first year.
Nov. 25, 2014, Mississauga – Weston Forest Products Inc. has purchased an interest in Toronto-based Bramwood Forest Products, effective December 1, 2014. "Bramwood has been a strong competitor of ours for many years," said Ekstein. "They are an excellent company, with great remanufacturing capabilities, great people and a loyal customer base. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship." Bramwood owner and President Nir Meltzer will remain as a partner. He will continue as President – and will operate Bramwood as a fully independent entity. That means for customers, suppliers, and employees of both entities, it will be business as usual. "Weston recognizes that Bramwood's growth over the past 25 years has been based on our culture and our unique approach to business," said Meltzer. "We want to ensure that continues, which is why both businesses will continue to maintain independent operations, locations and brands." Weston Forest is one of North America's leading full service distributors and remanufacturers of softwood & hardwood lumber and specialty panel products. Weston maintains an extensive inventory of industrial and commodity lumber and panels to provide just-in-time service to the crating and industrial packaging industry, construction and infrastructure sector, and Lumber and Building Materials dealers, including MSR lumber for truss manufacturers. Weston also acts as an exclusive sales agent for a group of SPF sawmills in northern Ontario, producing mostly rough lumber in dimensions up to 12x12x32'. Weston Forest operates a distribution and remanufacturing facility at the head office in Mississauga, Ontario, and uses several distribution and remanufacturing facilities in Quebec, Ontario, Michigan, New York and Maryland. Bramwood Forest Products was established in 1990 by the Meltzer family and has grown to become one of Ontario's leading suppliers to the Industrial marketplace as well as several specialty markets. Bramwood remanufactures lumber & panels at their facility in Toronto providing a variety of value added products. Bramwood has also positioned itself as a major player in the Premium Strapping market, in addition to being a leading supplier of Framestock to furniture manufacturers as well as Lagging and Shoring to the construction industry.
Nov. 11, 2014 – After a six-year closure, the MDF plant in Pembroke, Ont. is once again producing particleboard. The re-opening of the mill means 160 full-time jobs in the plant with ripple effects throughout the region. A partnership of Chilean investers pruchased the plant, according to The Daily Observer. Inversiones Pathfinder Chile told the paper it had faith the market would bounce back after the housing market crash in 2008 so it maintained the facility through the closure. The company has plans to "branch into more value-added, sophisticated products for the market in months to come." For more information, go to http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/2014/11/03/a-relaunch-for-the-pembroke-fibreboard-plant
Oct. 30, 2014 - West Fraser Timber reported earnings of $70 million or $0.83 per share on sales of $1,030 million in the third quarter of 2014. Operational Results In the quarter our lumber operations generated operating earnings of $101 million (Q2 - $81 million) and EBITDA of $131 million (Q2- $106 million). The increased earnings were largely the result of reduced costs and certain manufacturing productivity improvements related to capital investments. Our panel segment generated operating earnings of $25 million (Q2 - $10 million) and EBITDA of $29 million (Q2 - $13 million), the result of substantially improved plywood prices. Our pulp and paper operations generated an operating loss of $2 million compared to operating earnings of $19 million in the previous quarter and EBITDA of $9 million (Q2 - $30 million). The loss was largely the result of scheduled maintenance downtime at our Hinton pulp mill followed by a difficult startup. Outlook We have seen gradual recovery in U.S. home construction and expect the recovery to continue. Log costs are expected to trend higher in Canada as competition for purchased wood increases in certain areas of B.C. and contractor costs increase. However, as we complete our capital projects, we expect productivity improvements and cost reductions to continue. "The largest capital program in our Company's history is currently underway and I expect combined capital expenditures for 2013 and 2014 to exceed $700 million," said Ted Seraphim, our President and CEO. "I'm excited about what these investments are doing to improve the competitiveness of the Company and how we are positioning our operations to succeed as U.S. housing continues its slow recovery."
Oct. 29, 2014, Edmonton – The Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) commends the City of Calgary for being the first city in Canada to adopt the 2015 National Building Code recommendation to allow buildings of up to 6 storeys to be constructed from wood. Calgary's leadership role facilitates better affordability of housing and increased opportunities for densification. "This is a win-win for the City and for the forest industry," said AFPA President and CEO Paul Whittaker. "Midrise buildings framed with wood are less expensive to construct, have a much lower carbon footprint, and make use of Alberta's only renewable building material. Using wood also benefits the thousands of Albertans who work in the forest industry and the 50 communities where the industry is a major social and economic contributor. Congratulations to Mayor Nenshi and the city for their leadership." In Alberta, wood-framed buildings are currently limited to 9 metres (3 or 4 storeys depending on building design). British Columbia permits wood buildings of up to 6 storeys, with a potential for taller buildings to be approved through a special permit process. Ontario has amended their legislation to allow 6 storey wood buildings as of January 1, 2015. The lower costs associated with wood mid-rise buildings allow for increased densification of urban spaces and additional flexibility for developers. The Alberta Forest Products Association is advocating for 6 storey wood buildings to be permitted throughout Alberta. For more information on the City of Calgary's announcement, please visit tinyurl.com/mw44f58 . The Alberta Forest Products Association is a private, non-profit industry organization, representing forest products companies operating in Alberta. For more information about the Association or Alberta's forest products industry, please visit www.albertaforestproducts.ca.
March 26, 2015 — Stella-Jones Inc. (TSX:SJ) ("Stella-Jones" or the "Company") today announced financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2014.
Feb. 24, 2015 – The UCS Forest Group of Companies (UCS) announced that they have reached an agreement to acquire the assets and ongoing business activities of the British Columbia business unit of White-Wood Distributors Ltd. UCS does business in Canada as Upper Canada Forest Products Ltd. “We are delighted with the opportunity to service the customers and support the suppliers that have been dealing with White-Wood throughout British Columbia,” stated Warren Spitz, President & CEO of UCS. “I would like to offer my thanks to Mark Yusishen for choosing us as White-Wood’s successor in this market. Our corporate strategy to grow in key markets continues across North America and we are very excited about this most recent opportunity.” “Our decision to complete this transaction with Upper Canada was based in part on our shared values and commitment to excellence in customer service’” commented Mark Yusishen, President & CEO of White-Wood. “We are confident that our valued customers in B.C. will continue to be well-served.” This is the third acquisition in the past 10 months for the UCS Forest Group, which recently acquired Reimer Hardwoods operations in Alberta and the Atlas Lumber Company in Los Angeles, California. Upper Canada Forest Products has serviced the British Columbia market for over 20 years and operates from an 80,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Burnaby and a second facility in Kelowna. In a timely manner, White-Wood’s operations will be integrated into Upper Canada’s facilities.
Nov. 13, 2014, Woodstock, NB – Garant GP, a leading Canadian manufacturer of snow removal and gardening tools, has modernized its value-added mill to help increase yield from the wood supply and improve the plant's efficiency, thanks to support from the Government of Canada. The Woodstock operation has been manufacturing handles for Garant GP's specialty lawn, garden and snow removal tools since its opening in 1961 and was later acquired by the company in 1968. Mike Allen, Member of Parliament for Tobique-Mactaquac, on behalf of the Honourable Rob Moore, Regional Minister for New Brunswick and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), joined Garant GP officials at the sawmill to tour the facility. "With the current market conditions, the Canadian manufacturing industry is more than ever challenged to maintain a high efficiency level to remain competitive in the North American marketplace. With ACOA's involvement in the funding of this project, this will enable Garant GP and its employees to maintain employment in New Brunswick. Having been part of the Woodstock community for over 50 years, carrying out this project will help to ensure the continuity of our operations for many years to come," says Jean Gaudreault, President, Garant GP. The project involved a building expansion and the installation of advanced technology to improve the plant's productivity. An obsolete circular saw and carriage were replaced with a new high efficiency band saw and carriage. A new scanner technology system was also added to improve wood usage. These upgrades will increase the profitability of the various lines of wooden dowels that are manufactured at the Garant GP sawmill, and help the plant remain competitive. "Our Government is pleased to work with businesses like Garant GP to help strengthen the economy of our region. The expansion and new equipment at Garant's Woodstock sawmill will increase productivity and improve overall efficiency and will boost the sustainability and competitive edge of this business," says Mike Allen, Member of Parliament for Tobique-Mactaquac, on behalf of the Honourable Rob Moore, Regional Minister for New Brunswick and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency). The Government of Canada is investing $473,300 in the project, through ACOA's Business Development Program. Garant GP is a national leader in the manufacturing of non-motorized winter snow removal and summer gardening tools, thanks to its continuous investment in new technologies and the development of a highly skilled and experienced workforce. Founded in 1895 in Saint-François, Quebec, Garant GP was originally a small family operation that offered hand fashioned and forged tools.
Nov. 7, 2014, Hannover, Germany - Under the slogan "Surprisingly versatile," machine tool manufacturers at LIGNA (11–14 May, Hannover) are showcasing their machines' potential for uses beyond conventional wood processing. Established machine tool manufacturers are increasingly developing products for everything from metalworking to high-tech processing for companies in the automotive, facade, yacht building and aerospace industries. Interest is high wherever machining, sawing, drilling and sanding is needed. Solutions for processing plastic and composite materials are particularly widespread, with their rising popularity driven by today's highly developed CNC 5-axis machining technology. Today's woodworking machines can do everything that is required of modern manufacturing in other sectors, and very efficiently. These days nearly every market leader offers industrial solutions for processing plastics and composite materials. The product spectrum ranges from preconfigured machines for various applications all the way to customized solutions. Machine manufacturers have their own teams of specialists for both wood composites and solid wood. The resulting manufacturing technologies offer outstanding potential for processing plastics and composites as well as other materials: Heavy stands that absorb vibrations guarantee the necessary precision in handling workpieces. High quality table coatings – initially developed to withstand abrasive materials – prevent more delicate materials from being scratched. Manufacturers of woodworking machines can bring to bear extensive experience and skill with suction systems to remove dust and fumes. Innovative 5-axis technology with rotation and swivel axes make it possible to work at any angle and position – including freeform parts. Applications range from filigree milling and high-frequency machining to optimized interleaving and fine engraving. Facilities with vertical ranges of 50 meters or more are required for manufacturing very large components such as wind turbine blades or boat hulls. All processes can be carried out in a single workflow. Rapid tool-change systems minimize setup times. Individualized clamping devices provide the perfect fit for every individual requirement. High performance, efficiency and cost-effectiveness are ensured right down to single-unit batches with these CNC processing systems. The leading providers also offer the invaluable advantage of expertise across the manufacturing process, including in particular blank cutting, along with CNC processing. Today's panel saws process plastic materials just as precisely. Add to this a comprehensive portfolio of ancillary machines and automation systems, and the wide range of highly specialized machines, tools and services that plastic-working operations often need for manufacturing can usually be provided by a single supplier. Lastly, networking these different machines significantly boosts productivity and efficiency. When processing solid wood, it is chiefly automated planers and profilers that form the basis of innovative solutions – and they also offer excellent performance with plastics and foams. Undercuts such as dovetails and T-grooves are often needed when processing these types of materials. Universal spindles combined with a compact fast-turning hollow shank taper provide the ideal solution for processing during manufacturing. Tool manufacturers play a central role as system partners. One trend stands out in particular: saw blades, mills and drills are increasingly being adapted to machines, applications and materials, which delivers significant benefits to the final industrial solutions. Optimized cutting shapes and innovative coatings result in break-resistant drills and saws that offer excellent service life. Whether plastics, composite materials or non-ferrous metals, modern woodworking machines and tools can master any material without any major adjustments. Existing 5-axis technology offers full processing in shorter times and with fewer work steps, because a reduced number of processing assemblies carry out the production task and eliminate setup periods. And there is almost no limit to the possible shapes and sizes. Reason enough to take a look at the bigger picture – at LIGNA 2015, the flagship fair for machines and systems for woodworking and wood processing, which offers a lot of added reasons to be in Hannover from 11 to 15 May.
Nov. 7, 2014, Montreal - Stella-Jones Inc. is reporting positive financial results for its third quarter ended September 30, 2014. Sales reached $357.3 million, up 25.2% from $285.3 million in the same period last year. The operating assets acquired from The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies ("PWP") on November 15, 2013 and from Boatright Railroad Products, Inc. ("Boatright") on May 22, 2014 contributed sales of $11.2 million and $12.0 million, respectively. The conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar, Stella-Jones' reporting currency, versus the U.S. dollar, increased the value of U.S.-dollar denominated sales by about $8.9 million when compared with the previous year. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $39.9 million, or 14.0%. "We are pleased with Stella-Jones' solid sales growth in the third quarter, which reflects our expanding presence in our core markets and healthy industry demand. While margins remained affected by higher year-over-year costs for untreated railway ties, we have initiated certain selling price adjustments permitted in the majority of our multi-year contracts. Our focus on operating efficiency led to further growth in operating income, while a solid cash flow generation allowed Stella-Jones to substantially reduce its long-term debt," said Brian McManus, President and Chief Executive Officer. Railway tie sales amounted to $148.8 million, up 49.7% from $99.4 million a year earlier. Excluding sales from acquired assets and the conversion effect, railway tie sales rose approximately 34.7%. Further adjusting for the approximately $15.0 million negative effect on last year's third-quarter railway tie sales as a result of the transition of a Class 1 railroad customer from a "treating services only" program to a "black-tie" program, year-over-year sales increased $19.5 million, or 17.0%. This increase reflects solid market demand for tie replacement programs as well as increased pricing. Sales of utility poles reached $127.6 million, up from $112.8 million last year. Excluding sales from acquisitions and the conversion effect, utility pole sales increased $4.0 million, or 3.5%, as a result of higher sales of distribution poles stemming from increased demand from replacement programs, partially offset by slightly lower sales of transmission poles due to the timing of certain special projects. Sales in the residential lumber category totalled $43.5 million, up 10.6% from $39.3 million a year ago, mainly reflecting solid demand in Western Canada and the United States. Industrial product sales reached $29.7 million, versus $16.5 million last year due to the contribution from acquisitions and increased sales of rail-related products. Finally, non-pole-quality log sales amounted to $7.7 million, down from $17.2 million a year ago, as a result of the timing of timber harvesting. Operating income stood at $45.5 million, or 12.7% of sales, versus $38.6 million, or 13.5% of sales, last year. The decrease as a percentage of sales is mainly due to higher year-over-year costs for untreated railway ties, partially offset by greater efficiencies throughout the Company's plant network. As the Company is gradually able to adjust its selling prices, as per provisions in most of its multi-year contracts, the year-over-year negative variation of operating income as a percentage of sales due to higher costs was less in the third quarter of 2014 than in the previous quarter. Net income for the third quarter of 2014 increased 6.8% to $29.5 million or $0.43 per share, fully diluted, compared with $27.7 million or $0.40 per share, fully diluted, in the third quarter of 2013. NINE-MONTH RESULTS For the nine-month period ended September 30, 2014, sales amounted to $959.6 million, versus $788.8 million for the same period in 2013. Acquisitions accounted for total sales of $52.0 million, while the conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar had a positive year-over-year impact of $43.2 million on the value of U.S. dollar denominated sales. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $75.6 million, or 9.6%. Operating income was $121.8 million, or 12.7% of sales, up from $109.2 million, or 13.8% of sales, last year. Net income reached $80.9 million, or $1.17 per share, fully diluted, compared with $72.8 million, or $1.05 per share, fully diluted, a year ago. FINANCIAL POSITION As at September 30, 2014, the Company's long-term debt, including the current portion, stood at $433.6 million down from $456.8 million three months earlier. The reduction reflects the repayment of approximately $44.0 million in long-term debt during the quarter, driven by a strong cash flow generation, partially offset by the effect of currency conversion on U.S.-dollar denominated debt. As at September 30, 2014, an amount of $365.9 million had been drawn against the Company's committed revolving credit facility of $450.0 million. As a result of this lower debt, Stella-Jones' total debt to total capitalization ratio was 0.40:1 as at September 30, 2014, down from 0.43:1 three months earlier. OUTLOOK "Driven by continuing economic growth and sound fundamentals, we expect demand for Stella-Jones' core products to remain healthy for the remainder of 2014 and through 2015. For this reason, our established reputation as a reliable provider of high-quality treated wood products should allow the Company to gain further momentum in its core markets across North America. In the short-term, we continue to adjust selling prices in response to higher untreated railway tie costs and we are pleased with the progress achieved so far. Over the longer term, a continuous focus on enhancing efficiency and productivity across our continental network should allow Stella-Jones to sustain profitability and cash flow growth to the benefit of its shareholders," concluded Mr. McManus.
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
Aug. 13, 2014 - A wave of demand is coming and so are higher prices, concludes Peter Butzelaar the Vice President of International Wood Markets Group in his U.S. Clear Pine Lumber and Moulding Market Outlook: 2014-2018. After enduring four years of declining demand of epic proportions, underlying demand is beginning to re-emerge. "Although not the strong start the industry was anticipating for 2014, the results in the second half of this year should build on the demand gains made in 2013," comments co-author Russell Taylor. WOOD MARKETS is projecting U.S. housing starts to surpass 1 million starts in 2014 followed by an additional 125,000 starts in 2015. As the labour market and income levels improves, housing demand will see accelerating growth as will residential repair and remodelling (R&R) - the two main drivers of moulding demand. However, due to mill closures, supply chain consolidation, and limited supplies of domestic clear pine fiber, traditional moulding supply in North America is forecast to struggle to keep up with demand. For more information on the report, go to www.woodmarkets.com.
Aug. 11, 2014, Montreal - Stella-Jones announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2014. Sales reached $344.8 million, up 22.7% from $280.9 million in the same period last year. "Solid industry demand for Stella-Jones' core products and the contribution from recent acquisitions led to a strong sales growth in the second quarter of 2014. As railway tie and utility pole replacement programs continue to gain momentum, our proven ability to respond to product and service requirements enables us to further penetrate our markets. As anticipated, higher costs for untreated railway ties had a negative effect on profitability. However, strong sales growth and our continued focus on optimizing our plant network resulted in a year-over-year increase in net income," said Brian McManus, President and Chief Executive Officer. SECOND QUARTER RESULTS Sales reached $344.8 million, up 22.7% from $280.9 million in the same period last year. The operating assets acquired from The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies ("PWP") on November 15, 2013 and from Boatright Railroad Products, Inc. ("Boatright") on May 22, 2014 contributed sales of $12.0 million and $3.7 million, respectively. The conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar, Stella-Jones' reporting currency, versus the U.S. dollar, increased the value of U.S.-dollar denominated sales by about $18.0 million when compared with the previous year. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $30.2 million, or 10.8%. Railway tie sales amounted to $141.5 million, up 18.1% from $119.8 million a year earlier. Excluding sales from the PWP and Boatright assets, as well as the conversion effect, railway tie sales rose approximately $7.7 million, or 6.4%, reflecting solid market demand from replacement programs. Sales of utility poles reached $121.6 million, up from $95.1 million last year. Excluding sales from the PWP assets and the conversion effect, utility pole sales increased $14.0 million, or 14.7%, as a result of larger customer orders for distribution and transmission poles stemming from increased demand from replacement programs and certain special projects. Sales in the residential lumber category totalled $49.4 million, versus $41.3 million a year ago, mainly reflecting solid demand in Western Canada and the United States. Industrial product sales reached $25.1 million, up from $17.0 million last year due to the contribution of the PWP and Boatright assets as well as increased sales of rail-related products. Finally, non-pole-quality log sales amounted to $7.2 million, versus $7.7 million a year ago, as a result of the timing of timber harvesting. Operating income stood at $41.6 million, or 12.1% of sales, versus $41.0 million, or 14.6% of sales, last year. The decrease as a percentage of sales is mainly due to higher year-over-year costs for untreated railway ties, partially offset by greater efficiencies throughout the company's plant network. Results for the second quarter of 2014 also include a $1.6 million write-off of certain property, plant and equipment in the United States and acquisition-related costs of $616,000 in connection with the Boatright transaction. Net income for the second quarter of 2014 increased 9.1% to $28.8 million or $0.42 per share, fully diluted, compared with $26.4 million or $0.38 per share, fully diluted, in the second quarter of 2013. SIX-MONTH RESULTSFor the six-month period ended June 30, 2014, sales amounted to $602.3 million, versus $503.5 million for the same period in 2013. Acquisitions accounted for total sales of $28.9 million, while the conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar had a positive year-over-year impact of $34.3 million on the value of U.S. dollar denominated sales. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $35.7 million, or 7.1%. Operating income was $76.4 million, or 12.7% of sales, up from $70.6 million, or 14.0% of sales, last year. Net income reached $51.3 million, or $0.74 per share, fully diluted, compared with $45.2 million, or $0.65 per share, fully diluted, a year ago. FINANCIAL POSITIONAs at June 30, 2014, the company's long-term debt, including the current portion, stood at $456.8 million compared with $407.0 million three months earlier. The variation essentially reflects working capital requirements and the acquisition of Boatright. To partially finance this acquisition, the company's committed revolving credit facility was increased from $400.0 million to $450.0 million. As at June 30, 2014, an amount of $391.7 million had been drawn against this facility. As a result of this higher debt, Stella-Jones' total debt to total capitalization ratio was 0.43:1 as at June 30, 2014, versus 0.40:1 three months earlier. OUTLOOK"We expect healthy demand for our core products for the remainder of the year driven by a better economy and sound fundamentals in our main sectors of activity. With regards to higher cost for untreated railway ties, margins will be impacted in the short term, until we are able to adjust selling prices as per provisions in most of Stella-Jones' multi-year contracts. Further profitability improvements will also be driven by sustained initiatives to optimize efficiency across our expanded North American network following recent acquisitions," concluded Mr. McManus.
July 16, 2014, Edmonton – Since its 1999 start in Calgary, under the leadership of Jeff Floyd (Alberta Division Manager) Upper Canada Forest Products has continually grown its market presence and scope in Alberta. In 2007 it acquired Cambium Forest Products, doubled the size of its Calgary warehouse in 2013, acquired Reimer Hardwoods of Alberta earlier this year, and now has opened of a new LEED certified warehouse facility in NW Edmonton. Edmonton has a vibrant and established millwork and cabinet industry and is a growing metropolis of almost 1.2 million people. Edmonton is also the stepping off point to many northern Alberta communities. UCS Forest Group is North America's premier importer, exporter, and distributor of specialty products serving discerning customers in the architectural woodworking, commercial and residential furniture, and cabinet-making industries. UCS does business as Sierra Forest Products in the United States, Upper Canada Forest Products in Canada, UCS Global internationally and A&M Wood Specialty.
July 2, 2014 - While the Stella-Jones pole processing plants in Prince George and Galloway, British Columbia both report to North America's leading provider of utility poles and railway ties, each facility is responsible for managing its own operation independently. When it came to choosing a replacement for their aging log-handling equipment, the two site managers, working 500 miles apart, came to the same conclusion. Today, the Prince George and Galloway facilities are both running new purpose-built SENNEBOGEN 830 M-T material handlers. Bob Stewart was the Plant Manager in Prince George when the purchase of their 830 M-T was proposed to head office. "We looked at 3 or 4 different makes of machines last year, made our decision on Sennebogen and put together the business plan to acquire it." In Galloway, meanwhile, Richard Harkies was also shopping for new equipment. "We had already looked at the other two big names in material handlers," he recalls. "Then Tom Truman (from the Sennebogen dealer, Great West Equipment) came by and took us to see a Sennebogen demonstration in Lavington. We hadn't actually heard of Sennebogen before then!" Before the year was out, Galloway had become a Stella-Jones operation and the purchase of the machine went ahead. Great West Equipment delivered the first one of its 830 M-T's to Prince George in January, and the second was delivered to the Galloway Mill in June. The 830 M-T is a purpose-built material handler for trailer pulling. It has an undercarriage and transmission configuration that's specially built to pull over 100,000 lb. log trailers. The two material handlers were then fitted with Rotobec log grapples. They were also customized to widen out the tines and the tips to minimize damage to the wood. Each was then equipped with a live heel. While the two sites differ in some ways in their specific application, their managers are equally satisfied that the 830 M-T was the right way to go. The Prince George plant processes both utility poles and railway ties, so its log handler has to manage moving and loading square timber as well as round wood. "We stack the ties in packs of 25 for air seasoning," says Bob Stewart. "Then we load the bundles onto gondolas for delivery. The 830 M-T pulls a tridem trailer loaded up to 75,000 lbs. It could be a larger sized machine than we really need, but we wanted to be prepared for future demands, too. We anticipate that we'll get 10 to 15 years of service from this unit." "It has a lot of hydraulic power," he continues. "It takes a fine touch to grab a large load without damaging the wood. These controls are very user-friendly and the hydraulics are very responsive. We also find that the stance of the machine, with its wide wheelbase, is much better for getting around even in soft ground than what we experienced before." Richard Harkies also cites improvements in mobility among the advantages of the 830 M-T. "We have to drive a half-a-mile from one end of the yard to the other. With a separate transmission on each axle, it pulls smoother and it doesn't shift as hard and it's more stable." Harkies notes that the extra stability is especially helpful when the operator's cab is elevated. "The high-lift cab is way better for loading rail cars, because you can see the top of the load. The operators can set it at the best height, for comfort, for whatever they are doing. In the spring, after the snow, you can get potholes, which can make it a little rough up there! The wide stance and pneumatic tires smooth out the ride for them." Stewart and Harkies are both confident that their concerns about the future reliability of their equipment have been answered. Sennebogen's 100,000 sq. ft. headquarters near Charlotte, NC maintains the largest inventory of material handling parts in North America. Great West Equipment, their Sennebogen distributor, also keeps a large stock of off-the-shelf parts for their customers. And Stewart acknowledges the importance of Great West's experience in the industry. "We have been dealing with (Great West representative) Dillon Healey for 8 or 9 years. We always feel that we get a good deal and they're always very helpful making sure that our equipment is perfectly suited to our application." The stability and smooth pulling power of the 830 M-T is well suited to the 1/2 mile circuits in the log yard.
June 16, 2014 - In rural New Brunswick, a couple hours north of Moncton, a former logging contractor has sold his forest machines to invest in a green technology that will give local wood products the durability to compete with exotic hardwoods. The technology was developed in Finland where wood product manufacturers have found that simply heating lumber at very high temperatures changes the chemical composition of the wood to make it rot resistant. Pierre Friolet worked in the forest for 20 years, but in 2008 he decided to give up the forest side as it became harder for the contractor to make a good wage. “It’s all about how fast you’re cutting it now and the technology that’s coming out is just to cut faster and faster.” As wood prices go up, the sawmills are recouping more of the costs but the logging contractors aren’t benefiting from the market improvement, Friolet explains. “I always loved the wood; we don’t add enough value to our resources.” Finding more value in the woodsValue is what Friolet and his partner, Robert Lennon, are now adding to the lumber they’re treating at Thermalwood Canada. Building on experience in the local wood products industry, they have carved out a niche to complement rather than compete with other local wood manufacturers. The method they use, thermal modification, can be used on any species, but Thermalwood Canada is narrowing in on hardwoods such as ash and maple. “We’re going to help to bring more value to the private woodlot owners in the area,” explains Friolet. “We’ve gone down the road of hardwoods, which nobody else has really done - it has allowed us to open up a bunch of other niche markets.” How the process worksExperimental research on thermal modification of wood was carried out in the 1940s and 50s in the U.S. and Germany, but the industrial application of the process was developed in the 1980s. Research and development on industrial uses has resulted in the development of many thermal modification treatments including: Perdure (Canada), ThermoWood (Finland), Retification (France), Thermoholz (Austria), Intemporis (Switzerland), Iwotech (Denmark), and others. The kiln Lennon and Friolet use was built by Valutec (which uses the technology developed by ThermoWood) completely out of stainless steel to resist the stress caused by high temperatures, acids and other compounds that evaporate from the wood. Using only heat, steam and water, the wood temperature is raised quickly to around 100 degrees Celsius. Once the wood’s moisture content is reduced to nearly zero, the actual thermal modification stage begins by bringing the temperature up to a level of 185 to 215 degrees Celsius depending on the wood species. The wood is kept at this temperature for a couple of hours in low oxygen and steam to prevent the wood from burning and to initiate chemical changes. The temperature of the wood is then reduced using water to cool it and return some moisture to the lumber, for a moisture content between four to six per cent. The whole process takes about 65 hours in the kiln and doesn’t allow for any shortcuts. If shortcuts are taken and the thermal modification process is initiated before the wood has been completely dried, any moisture that is not removed in the first step of the process would become trapped within the wood’s core as the lumber is heated from the outside in. As the temperatures increase and heat penetrates the wood, the moisture can result in stress and damages to the wood. But cracks might not be immediately apparent. “If you sold it to somebody in a rough form, then they get it and they want to split it in half, the issues will start to show up then.” If thermal modification is done properly, however, the heat changes the molecular structure of the wood, improving the dimentional stability, improving its resistance to fungal decay and changing the colour of the wood throughout. Heating the wood to these temperatures results in the degradation of hemicellulose with water-binding properties and lignin reticulation indicating the formation of molecular chemical bonds. The end product can last as decking for over 25 years and as a siding for over 50 years. Unlike pressure-treated lumber, nothing is added to the wood and the product can be made from local wood rather than imported exotic hardwoods. The end product, however, is less resistant to impact and abrasion, and the chemical changes in the wood accelerates discoloration when exposed to UV radiation or rain. Research in Finland has also found that thermal modified wood remains vulnerable to termites. Developing a nicheThermally modified wood requires no stains to protect it from the elements, though it will turn grey without it. If thermal modification is done slowly and carefully, there is very little shrinkage or warping during the treatment and the process blends any visual flaws that might have made the wood less desirable before modification. “We’ve taken a product, like pine, that if you left it outside, you might get five to 10 years out of it and through this process, you’ll get 25 plus. I have used this product for raised garden beds and three years later I pulled it out and washed it just to see how it was. It was just like it was brand spanking new,” says Lennon. Lennon explains his decision not to compete against pressure-treated lumber, which is much cheaper to make than thermal modification. Because of the price, “people are going to pick the pressure-treated lumber versus the thermally modified right away,” says Lennon. “So we focus more on the hardwoods to be able to compete with the exotic hardwoods, like the mahogany and stuff like that that people are using for decks. Now we can offer white ash or maple for exterior decking whereas people would never have used it before.” Focusing on underutilized wood, Thermalwood Canada buys bird’s-eye maple that has mineral stains that would reduce the wood’s value for any other application. Instead, after the wood has been thermally modified, it has been darkened and the stains are subtle. The wood that would have previously been used to make pallets is now a premium piece of siding, decking or can be used for interior finishes. Space to shareAt the Canadian Woodlands Forum Spring Meeting in April, Elizabeth Beale, President and CEO of the Atlantic Provinces Economic council told attendees that the forest industry in New Brunswick shrunk by over 40 per cent since 2004. But since April 2013, export growth to the U.S. of Atlantic forest products has been up 20 per cent. Thermalwood Canada is setting itself up to take advantage of the improving economic conditions and support others who want to do the same by sharing warehouse space and wood-processing equipment. “Our business model has evolved so that we’re building partnerships with people who want to manufacture a product using our wood,” says Lennon. “And if we can set them up here within our facility, it removes a lot of the waste of transporting that material. Once we’ve set up these different companies within our facility, we work together as a cooperative or a cluster format.” To this end, Lennon and Friolet have bought some conventional kilns and dehumidifiers from a failed sawmill to provide some local drying systems. Using underutilized hardwoods and local species is the company’s aim but they’ve had to go far and wide to get the supply of wood that’s in demand in their markets. Rather than continuing to import from Maine or New York State, the company is making an investment to make it easier to buy directly from a neighbourhood supply. “If you’re a private woodlot owner, and you’ve got all this wood that you’d love to saw and sell, you can’t because you can’t kiln dry it,” says Lennon. “And their only option today if they want to make some money with the wood on their land is to send it down to Miramichi to get it chipped up for OSB.” The company currently has partnerships in place with two companies and is in discussions with a third to move it into the warehouse and make use of both the wood and the equipment Thermalwood has on site. Increased interestCarl Tremblay, a researcher at FPInnovations, has been researching thermal modification for years and wrote an article on the various technologies of thermal modification available in Canada (www.woodbusiness.ca/sawmilling/burn-it-good). He is quick to correct the common misconception that the wood takes on inert properties after thermal modification. “Thermally modified wood is not a dead material, there is still water adsorption, swelling and shrinkage [that] can still be observed with variation of the climatic conditions. The higher the temperature of treatment, the more stable the material will be.” According to his research, there are currently four variations of thermal modification in use in industrial application in Canada with six kilns in production and a fifth kiln manufacturer in Ontario that has closed temporarily. But Tremblay has had enough inquiries into the technique to keep a list up to date so he can send it off quickly and easily when curious investors come calling. “In the last six months, there has been a new wave of interest,” said Tremblay. The manufacturers process different species for different markets, many of which are exporting to Europe. But despite increased interest, the kilns are not currently running at full capacity. Forming partnerships and educating architects is working for Friolet and Lennon, however. “We just got a purchase order for nine thousand square feet of maple siding for a building in Newfoundland. So we’re very happy we got that.”
May 23, 2014, Montreal - Stella-Jones has completed the acquisition of the wood treating facilities of Boatright Railroad Products located in Montevallo and Clanton, Alabama. These facilities manufacture, sell and distribute creosote and borate-treated crossties as well as switch ties, tie plugs and bridge timbers to railroads and railroad contractors. Sales for the 12-month period ended December 31, 2013 reached US$73.5 million. The purchase price was approximately US$60.0 million, plus the sellers' inventory at closing, estimated at US$9.0 million, subject to post-closing adjustments. Stella-Jones has financed the transaction through a combination of its existing committed revolving credit facility, which has been increased to $450.0 million, and a five-year unsecured promissory note of US$15.0 million. An amount of US$20.0 million is being held in escrow pending the formal title transfer of the Montevallo assets, which shall occur concurrently with the issue to Stella-Jones, of certain governmental permits relating to the facility. "The acquisition of these facilities further enhances our range of treated wood products and services to the North American railroad industry. We expect this transaction to yield synergies and to be immediately accretive to earnings, as we continue to optimize the overall efficiency of our continental network," said Brian McManus, President and Chief Executive Officer of Stella-Jones.
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