Calm in Rough Seas
While the Wood Technology Clinic & Show in Portland, OR, was smaller than years past, and the crowds thinner, the event was far from the disaster some cynics had predicted. Despite tough markets, visitors stopped in, especially on the Thursday. Business was discussed, and CWP Magazine spoke to several independent sawmillers who will be doing expansion work while their mills are down. Reasons cited for this approach included taking advantage of suppliers who can give them their full attention, aggressive bidding by hungry suppliers, and getting the work done when downtime is not a bad idea anyway.
We exhibited at the event as always, and it proved well worth our time and investment. There were a few notable absences among the regular suppliers, most notable of all being Coe Newnes McGehee, who opted to stay home in 2008. On the other hand, there were some new players, with new ideas and who expect their own business to grow despite the market. Notable among these were small-log processing experts Inotech Fabrication from Quebec, and the original Ron McGehee himself, on hand with his new partners and son Clark to show off his latest innovation in linear edging.
Here’s just a smattering of some of the new gear we saw on display. Feel free to contact the suppliers for more info.
Seminar targets new control methods
Wagner Electronic Products hosted a drying QC seminar at Wood Technology 2008 that featured presentations from experts around the world, including Dr. Gavin Wallace of the Geologic and Nuclear Sciences Institute of New Zealand, Michael Milota of Oregon State University, and Catalin Ristea of UBC. The seminar included presentations on density-compensated moisture measurement (DCMM) technology and the use of a patented model for statistical process control on lognormal moisture data. Wagner expects DCMM to increase the accuracy of lumber moisture measurement when compared to the ASTM Ovendry Standard. It uses low-level gamma energy to measure the density of each piece and then uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate the true moisture content. Many attendees felt the industry is ready to move to a better, more accurate method for measuring lumber moisture content. For more info on the presentations, call Ron Smith at 1-800-944-7078, ext 125. www.moisturemeters.com.
Autolog back with HD linear auto grader
Gabriel Payant of Autolog was all smiles at this year’s event, and why not? The optimization and control experts had some very exciting news to share with attendees, creating the kind of buzz that makes trade shows worthwhile. For starters, the company that did the most to popularize linear grade geometric optimization in the past decade with its Linear Planer Optimizer (LPO) has added high definition colour scanning technology out of Germany to the mix. This 1575 dpi image creates an exact replica of the piece being graded, and in new units is mounted alongside the 3D geometric scanners on a retractable module for easy access and maintenance.
It can also be retrofitted to existing Autolog LPO’s, good news for the over 90 installs in the field that may be looking for grader-less solutions. And grader-less is exactly what it provides, Payant says. The first two units are being installed in Arbec Forest Products’ high-production SPF mills in Port Cartier and Peribonka, QC this spring, where they will detect blue stain, rot, white speck, heart stain and other biological defects. The mills’ lumber has already been tested for grader-less grading at Autolog’s own facility, where the supplier is also testing lumber from some BC Interior mills among others. The supplier is also offering an off-the-shelf X-ray module for detecting tough defects like blonde knots.
For those who prefer transverse solutions, Autolog was showing off some new colour scanning technology from Hermary Opto on its trimmer optimizer display. The system uses Hermary’s brand new DPS-824 dual profile board scanner with colour vision, and will go out in the near future to a beta site in New England. There it will cut its teeth looking for blonde knots alongside other biological defects that give B&W systems fits. www.autolog.com, www.hermaryopto.com.
McGehee back in style
If you wanted to find Ron McGehee’s latest addition to sawmill technology lore, you just had to look for the blocked aisle in front of his booth. There, sawmillers gathered to see a new design of linear edger that McGehee says allows saws to shift faster, reducing the required gap between pieces. The device comes from a new company called 2RS Inc. of Vancouver, WA, named after the three founding partners – Ron, Rory Mitchell, formerly of CNM, and Scott Bye, formerly of McGehee Equipment and CAE McGehee. Ron has also brought son Clark into the business (pictured). Advantages of the new design include an all-electric design with no hydraulics; a modular design that allows staff to swap out one arbour for another and fix problems off line without lost production; an over-lapping board feeder to reduce end gaps; no sawguides, saw lube, water or splined arbours; and single belt feedroll drives (no gearbox or serpentine drives). In brief, a simple, low maintenance, productive edger. Several models are already running, including at Sierra Pacific Industries’ mill in Chinese Camp, CA, and Troy Lumber in Troy, NC. sales@2RSinc.us.
I-Mark leaves mark on attendees
Matthews Marking Products Division showed off its new I-Mark C84 Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printer, featuring a self-cleaning print head cartridge and large touch screen for fast, reliable small-character coding of up to four lines of text. It all starts by putting your specs into the large, easy-to-read, colour, icon-based touch screen. This, and the single-button controls for jet start-up and shutdown make it simple to run, create, and change messages. “We think the C84 has the easiest operator interface of any CIJ on the market,” says Antonio Cortes del Valle, product manager. “And because of its longer throwing distance, it can be placed further from the wood surface than other technologies, while still producing better resolution, sharper marking.” Matthews adds that the C84 only requires maintenance after 2,500 operating hours. It is suited for marking the narrow edges of wood or OSB.
CWP also had a chat with Casey Clausen, Matthews sales rep, about some recent installs in western Canada of the supplier’s nail and pattern marking technology at an Alberta OSB mill, as well as a new printing system for CE marking of lumber destined for Europe at an Alberta dimension lumber mill. Look to CWP for further info on these applications www.matthewsmarking.com.
Raute’s robot does the work
Walk through a typical plywood plant, and you’ll see a lot of automation right to the back end, where an army of workers can sometimes be seen patching up plywood sheets like mad. That messy process may change, as Raute has a robotic plywood panel repair line that takes its orders from a visual defect analyzer based on the proven Mecano veneer system. The system combines intelligent VDA camera grading that recognizes a slew of defects (knots/knot holes, cracks/splits, resin pockets, surface roughness, etc…) with a proven, rugged industrial robotic arm. The result is an automatic panel repair and polypatch application line that always uses the right amount of material, and doesn’t know the difference between day and night, or the Monday morning shift from Friday afternoon near quitting time. www.raute.com.
Options aplenty from ScanMeg
This Canadian supplier of high-tech scanning solutions has a range of options to suit just about any application, from single-point solutions to complex multi-board scanning in real-time size control. Solutions include the Type S scanner, a laser sensor designed to give maximum scanning data on waney-edged boards. It uses two cameras to measure steep wane or square-edged flitches, and even includes a built-in wane detection feature for PLC control of board turners. ScanMeg also has the Type TS true-shape scanner for measuring the full profile of any object. The sensor takes 150 to 300 readings per second with an accuracy of 0.010" to 0.015". With a density of 10 to 50 points per inch along the laser line, the TS keeps a complete set of data in memory for a log or board, and will send this 3D shape data with a simple TCP/IP request. www.scanmeg.com.
Make less sludge, use less fuel
Petro-Canada was on hand to give advice on two Canadian specialties – Hockey and high-end lubricants. Wood Technology guests could test the accuracy of their wrist shot with an on-site hockey target net, or try to solve some lube challenges by talking about the supplier’s latest offerings, like the HYDREX line of hydraulic oils. There are HYDREX products for both fixed mill and mobile yard equipment. HYDREX AW is specifically designed to resist sludge build up in plant equipment hydraulic systems, thus avoiding serious problems with pump failure and downtime, while extending change out periods and maintenance costs. For the extreme range of temperatures facing Canadian mill yard gear, HYDREX XV All Season is suited to run from -40 to 75ºC, allowing you to use one product. This reduces the chance of misapplication and the need to change out oil before its time just to suit the weather. In testing, Petrocan also found that maintaining optimum viscosity in all conditions allows systems to run more efficiently, thus saving significant amounts of fuel in the process. www.lubricants.petro-canada.ca.
Optimized edging and more from Inotech
This Quebec-based supplier has created a loyal following in eastern Canada despite tough markets, in everything from slab recovery lines and small-log processing, to hardwood edging and simple, customized solutions to mill challenges. Inotech Fabrication also has some gear working in BC, and used the Portland show to gauge interest in its solutions among other western US and Canadian sawmillers. Front and centre was promotion of its optimized edging line, a complete set-up designed for slabs up to 30 inches wide and 8 inches thick (hence the interest out west). It includes a geometric optimizer and all-electric edger infeed table with either chain feed for production softwood, or a soft-touch version for hardwoods, white pine, or other high-value species. It also offers a unique profiling “planer-edger” module that allows a wide array of cutting patterns. Several such systems are already operating in a variety of species. www.inotechfabrication.com.