Breaking it down
By Andrew Macklin
Achieving an increase in production and flexibility in its recovery were the primary goals for investing in a new optimized carriage line for Bégin & Bégin Inc. at Lots-Renversés, Quebec. The mill’s outdated line was not up to the task of meeting the company’s goals for higher production, and it knew it was losing out on both value and volume recovery. The company approached USNR to supply a new carriage line that would allow it to maintain its strong position in the market, and expand its product base to attract new business.
B&B has been in business since 1925 and plays a leading role in the industry in its region. The mill comprises 50,000 sq. ft. of production area where it operates four profit centres: a chips plant equipped with a USNR 96” chipper; a second line for sawing pre-cut pallet stock; a third for processing large-diameter and high value logs to supply the furniture and flooring market; and a cut-to-size plant for producing mouldings and millwork. Output includes a wide variety of hardwood products ranging from wood chips to flooring, moulding and millwork, to pallet stock and railway ties.
B&B selected USNR to supply the new carriage line based on past successful projects. In 2011 USNR installed a new 96” chipper, and prior to that a vertical resaw system that is located downstream and fed from the carriage.
The 3-knee carriage handles high value logs up to 36” diameter, with output processed by the USNR vertical resaw and a combination gang/edger. B&B’s old carriage system had front scanning only, and with outdated optimization the only solution available was based on minimum opening face (MOF). The new system with MillExpert optimization significantly expands this capability to include full log breakdown grade sawing solutions generated from dense 3D modelling via data collected from front and back side LASAR sensors. The MillExpert system generates not only the initial breakdown, but also utilizes logic from downstream processes to generate a solution that will be used to further break down the piece into boards.
For B&B, throughput was another issue with the old carriage system as the knee speed was slow (8-10” per second). The new USNR 42” carriage offers features that improve throughput, including 3 on-board hydraulic chain turners, 3 board ejectors, a new 100 hp electric drive, and knee speed of up to 20” per second. And the new ControlLogix PLC control system offers additional flexibility.
The MillExpert optimization platform utilizes data collected from USNR’s renowned LASAR sensors. LASAR’s unique and powerful design allows just 2 sensors to scan both the front and back sides of a log simultaneously, capturing data from up to 300 degrees of the log instantly, without moving it through a scan zone. And because there’s no guess work on the back side, you achieve proper taper, cant centering, and sweep. This adds up to more accurate log volumes, better solutions and higher profits.
The MillExpert optimization system at the carriage is capable to model downstream breakdown solutions to maximize value and volume recovery. Once the log is scanned, MillExpert fits cut blocks into the log according to the cutting scenarios defined by the carriage breakdown parameters. For each scenario, MillExpert then determines which combination of cuts from the faces and centre block would yield the highest value combination. The cut blocks will then be processed into boards downstream at the resaw and combination gang/edger.
B&B has realized several benefits from this investment, Bégin & Bégin general manager Frédéric Dubé. “With the old system we only had one breakdown option, and that was minimum opening face (MOF). With the new line we have added another option which is full log breakdown. This gives us a more optimum breakdown solution for the boards that are produced.” He also reiterated that he is pleased with the benefit that comes with both front and back side scanning. “We only had one scanner before so we had to scan it once, turn it and then scan for the second side. Now we scan the log once and we’re done.”
As part of the implementation of the new carriage line, a team from B&B travelled to USNR’s facility at Plessisville, Que., for training. Frédéric also gives credit to Jacques Beaulieu, mill manager, who worked closely with the USNR team during installation and commissioning.
This story was originally printed in USNR’s Millwide Insider. It has been edited for use in Canadian Forest Industries magazine by Andrew Macklin.