EACOM Timber’s Nairn Centre focuses on recovery gains to capture the most from improving markets.
QFIC unveiled a study at its recent annual meeting showing the province has the highest log costs in North America.
Having survived more than seven years of nasty markets, veteran sawmiller Real Arsenault, from Manning Diversified, is upgrading his small-log technology.
Both single-family and multifamily housing starts are expected to post double-digit gains over last year. However, headwinds continue to hold back even stronger.
Canadian Forest Industries looks at the options available to cut trees and process the logs.
What's Happening in our Forest?...
What's Happening in our Forest?
New VAB Lineal Grading Optimizer at Sexton Lumber...
New VAB Lineal Grading Optimizer at Sexton Lumber
Eltec harvester at work in the Quebec forest...
Eltec harvester at work in the Quebec forest
USNR log loader minds log gap, improves throughput...
USNR log loader minds log gap, improves throughput
MAY 23, 2013, Brantford, Ont. – Tigercat is continuing to develop and refine its skidder product line, its latest technology is the EHS drive system. Similar to the hydrostatic drive system that Tigercat developed and released in 1996 with the first 630 skidders, EHS consists of two variable displacement motors as inputs to the Tigercat transfer case. Front and rear output shafts are connected directly to the front and rear axles. The EHS is capable of providing the tractive effort of the deepest gear ratio offered in Tigercat's standard transfer case as well as the top speed of the shallowest gear ratio offered in the standard transfer case. This is accomplished with sophisticated computer logic and the ability to take one of the drive motors offline when high tractive effort is not required. In this case, all pump flow is directed to one hydraulic motor, increasing both travel speed and motor efficiency. When operating conditions demand high tractive effort, both hydrostatic motors are working. When tractive effort requirements are minimal, all of the pump flow is directed to one motor for higher travel speeds. Tigercat is offering EHS standard in the 610C and the new 615C and expects end users to see higher productivity and improved fuel efficiency in the majority of applications. For more information visit, www.tigercat.com.
May 22, 2013, Mich. – Morbark Inc. announced its redesigned 40/36 Whole Tree MicroChipper, its latest in design enhancements to make a better machine for micro-chip producers.The 40/36 Whole Tree Drum Chipper was first introduced in 2008 as a compact, affordable and productive biomass chipper. The model was improved by the addition of the Advantage 3 high performance-chipping drum in 2011, which improved chip quality.The latest model includes an enhanced drum set with 16 knives, a slide-in forestry grate system to reduce oversized chips and a mechanically driven chip accelerator to fully load vans with the micro-chips.The Morbark MicroChipper allows owners to reduce costs and maximize profits with its average fuel consumption of 2.25 tons of micro-chips produced per gallon of fuel used.
May 24, 2013, Que. – Jean Berube, president of VAB Solutions, announced the signing of two new contracts to benefit the Canadian sawmilling industry. One contract covers the sale and installation of a complete Planer Mill Lineal Grading Optimizer for Resolute Forest Products Mill in Senneterre, Que, and the other, covers the same equipment sale and installation for Carrier & Begin Lumber, also in Quebec. The Carrier & Begin planer mill is being rebuilt after a fire earlier this year.
May 22, 2013 – Focus on recovery, and the remaining problems solve themselves. That's how EACOM Timber Corp.'s Mel Lemky summarizes the spate of recent projects and investments at the company's Ontario sawmill operations (see a primer on its integrated Ontario operations here). Lemky, a graduate of the B.C. Interior sawmilling school of hard knocks, is EACOM's vice-president of operations for Ontario. Originally part of the Domtar pulp & paper empire, EACOM purchased its wood products division in 2010, with eight sawmills in Quebec and Ontario. Since that time, the emphasis has been on improving such standard sawmill performance indicators as unit cost and recovery. Lemky says the work his team has been doing at the company's Nairn Centre sawmilling complex reflects that new focus. "We've been working on some targeted upgrades and focusing on some key areas to take a mill that has been underperforming and make it a respectable sawmill again. Basically we've given the team the tools they need to significantly increase recovery." The timing couldn't be better, as a steady recovery in the U.S. housing market and expected supply-side constraints in the lumber market have made recovery gains a worthy goal again. At Nairn Centre both the sawmill and planer mill have seen investments worth more than $7 million as part of a larger initiative that also includes non-capital improvement projects. Adding an edge One of the first steps was to replace a 1980s vintage Esterer board edger with a new USNR optimized edger with Miltrak camera-controlled infeed to maximize both recovery and throughput. Not only did this move solve some obsolescence issues and boost recovery by double digits over the old model, but the enhanced production allows EACOM to target the markets with the highest return rather than being limited by edger throughput. "The old edger topped out at 4,500 to 5,000 boards per shift (employees work four nine-hour and one eight-hour shifts), so we had to be careful of our product mix to avoid a bottleneck," Lemky says. "The new USNR edger has been tested at 40 pieces per minute with no issues, although we have no need for that speed. We can get 11,000 boards per shift without pushing it at all, which opens up a lot of options for us." For example, the mill runs some export products for the U.K., a market it would like to keep to maintain some diversity. The challenge was that the product essentially meant making a single target piece and sending the rest of the material to the edger. That run no longer stresses the board edger. The edger has a three-saw top arbour and reman head to help handle the export products more efficiently, and a combination of mill-flow controllers, speed-up chains and positive chargers to maximize throughput without creating jack-pots. Another change made last year was upgrading the optimization system on the mill's single breakdown line to brand new Porter technology. EACOM runs an Optimil double-length infeed with four sided canter and twin bands. This is followed by a McGehee (USNR) gang. It has been a reliable producer, notes Lemky, but the scanning and optimization was a little dated. "With the Porter system we essentially went from 1993 technology to cutting edge. I get a chuckle explaining it sometimes – I'll ask people what was their computer like back in 1993? Think of the changes in computing power and performance in the past 20 years, and then imagine what that means for log scanning and optimization. The improvements have been dramatic." The mill runs two basic sorts to the single line (large and small), handling a log diet that ranges from a 4-in top to 20-in butt. Lumber from the main line and the edger converge on a Comact optimized trimmer followed by a Gemofor/Carbotech 50-bin sorter. Stacking is on a Gemofor double-fork stacker, which Lemky says does the job but with its fair share of maintenance. The mill also added some extra drying capacity last year, with the addition of an FEI-Wellons138-ft double-track kiln. Overall the mill has two direct-fired natural gas kilns and two wood-fuelled kilns with a Konus hot oil system. Automated grading Nairn Centre dries and dresses all its own production, as well as that from the nearby Gogama stud mill, where dual HewSaws produce 100 million bdft. Add that to the 150 million bdft produced at Nairn Centre, and the planer mill has its work cut out. Currently the mill runs two planer lines: stud and random length. Both have been converted to optimized grading using VAB Solutions systems. The stud line was converted in 2010, and after the project exceeded expectations, the random line was upgraded in 2012. The stud line runs graderless, while at the time of Canadian Wood Products' visit in March, graders on the random line had been dropped from three per shift to a single grade checker. Lemky admits that with all the big players in the auto-grading sector, going with a smaller group like VAB may seem odd. Still, he notes that the system is doing exactly what they bought it for, adding that the other systems they looked at were considerably more expensive. "We know what to expect from VAB, we know the principals, and we know they invest in R&D. Regardless of what you buy, that last point is key. Auto-grading technology is evolving so quickly that you're looking at major upgrades every few years." With more consistent grading and a reduction in graders from six to one per shift, he concludes that once you look at the numbers it's hard not to make the investment. And given the expected difficulty in staffing operations, eliminating hard-to-train occupations is a bonus (see more on EACOM's staffing challenges here). More than metal The new and upgraded equipment is great for morale, Lemky admits, and opens up a lot of potential for the mill (see a list of possible future improvements here). Still, he notes that adding equipment is only half the battle. The rest is training the staff and working with them to capture the technology's full potential. "Once the technology is installed, it's a case of making the mill run. As soon as you make significant upgrades, it changes everything and you have to get everyone properly trained and upgrade skills where required. And you have to look at the whole flow and see how the new technology can be used to its fullest." The new board edger is a perfect example. Installed in the summer of 2012, it took some training and attention to key details to get the most from this investment. Following that and a tune-up in January 2013, Lemky says they noticed significant improvements.
May 23, 2013 – Eacom Timber Corporation reported 18 per cent increased sales from its first quarter results for 2013, and produced 129 million board feet of lumber. During the first quarter of 2013, housing starts in the U.S. averaged 969,000 units, up seven per cent from the previous quarter and 36 per cent from the first quarter of 2012. In Canada, housing starts are averaging 178,000 units, down 13 per cent from both the previous quarter and the first quarter of 2012.Highlights• Recorded net earnings attributable to shareholders of $1.6 million in the first quarter of 2013.• Recorded a negative adjusted EBITDA of $0.9 million in the first quarter of 2013.• Concluded the negotiation of a global settlement with its insurer for the fire at its Timmins mill.The improvement in the U.S. housing activity had a positive impact on lumber consumption and contributed to a strong pricing environment and higher mill realizations for the Eacom.Eacom recorded sales of $70 million for the quarter, up 18 per cent against sales of $60 million in the previous quarter and sales of almost $60 million in the corresponding quarter of 2012.For the full release visit, www.eacom.ca.
May 23, Washington – Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 2.3 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units in April, according to the HUD and U.S. Census Bureau. "Builders are reporting an active spring buying season as consumers become more confident about going forward with a new-home purchase along with steadily firming prices in local markets," said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "While the cost of constructing homes is rising due to tightened supplies of materials, lots and labor, to some extent, this may be creating greater urgency among potential buyers." "Today's report is further evidence of the gradual, consistent improvement we have been seeing in housing market conditions over the past year," said Robert Denk, NAHB Senior Economist. "We're now about half-way back to what could be considered a full recovery, and we do expect to see continual, solid gains in both starts and sales of new homes going forward." On a regional basis, new-home sales rose three per cent in the South and 10.8 per cent in the West, but fell 4.8 per cent in the Midwest and 16.7 per cent in the Northeast in April. The inventory of new homes for sale edged up to a still-thin 156,000 units in April. This is a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
Morbark Inc. is demonstrating several new product innovations for the forestry and recycling markets at the company's first few days of its annual Demo Days in Michigan. These innovations will help Morbark users streamline their processes and reduce costs. The highlight of the event will be the equipment demonstrations, which will showcase innovative machines for biomass production, including the new configuration of the 40/36 Whole Tree Drum Chipper to produce superior microchips for use by pellet mills and as supplemental fuel for cogeneration at coal facilities. Another new product to be demonstrated will be the 3200 Wood Hog horizontal grinder, created to fill the gap between Morbark’s 2600 and 3800 Wood Hogs for the recycling market and mulch producers. Completing the demonstration lineup are: the Beever M20R Forestry chipper, the 30/36 NCL and 50/48 WCL Track Whole Tree Drum Chipper, the 23 WCL Chiparvestor, the 4600XL and 6600 Wood Hog horizontal grinders, and the 1600 Tub Grinder. Morbark has scheduled a second Demo Days event on October 10-11 of this year.
Despite cantankerous exits by key ENGOs and the public targeting of one of its members and a founding signatory, FPAC remains committed to the CBFA.
A wireless grapple scale improves wood recovery program at Norbord OSB mill.
The recovering U.S. housing market has pushed profit margins up to stratospheric heights for oriented strand board (OSB) producers, whose engineered wood panels are outperforming lumber in the red-hot forest products sector.
Truckloads of raw lumber arrive daily at the Turuss (Canada) Industry Co. Ltd. facility in Chesley, Ont., which opened last summer as part of the China-based hardwood floor manufacturer.
The increasing use of robotics in the manufacturing sector is now being incorporated into the wood products industry.