April 25, 2017 - We are pleased and excited to announce that Metriguard is now part of Raute Oyj, headquartered in Nastola, Finland. Metriguard will continue to operate in Pullman, Wash., under the legal name Metriguard Technologies, Inc. We want to continue to be known as Metriguard. This joining force will strengthen both Metriguard and Raute's product lines, amalgamating the best practices of both businesses in the future.

Metriguard, established in 1972, is known for high speed strength grading technology for lumber and veneer. Metriguard sells and provides services for its equipment globally, with installations in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Metriguard’s products and technology are complementary to Raute’s current product offerings. Over the years, Metriguard’s products have been integrated into dozens of Raute’s deliveries. Metriguard’s business will continue by a newly established Raute’s subsidiary Metriguard Technologies, Inc.. Its financials will be reported as part of Raute’s wood products technology segment. The acquisition is deemed to have a positive effect on Raute’s net sales in 2017 and on its financial results starting from 2018.

“Metriguard's technology has evolved over more than four decades and has proven to provide veneer and lumber mills with significant benefits in terms of enabling capturing the highest possible value of the given raw material," says Raute’s president and CEO Tapani Kiiski. "Raute's strategy is to provide technology to our customers to help them run their business in a profitable way, but strength grading technology has been missing from our offering. With Metriguard's technology, and its solid and well recognized brand, we will be able to offer even more comprehensive solutions. We believe this acquisition will help Raute grow and open new opportunities for Metriguard."

President and founder of Metriguard Inc. James D. Logan says that this is a great opportunity for the future of Metriguard, its employees and customers. “We are really pleased to be working with Raute, a global company with a most excellent reputation for quality of products and service. Metriguard's customers can look forward to a continuing supply of outstanding production line and quality control test equipment as well new developments that will enhance performance of existing equipment and provide new functionality. The company will continue to operate in Pullman, Washington where its personnel provide equipment and services to the global market. Metriguard's proximity to two major universities provide an excellent environment for research and development.”

Metriguard will continue manufacturing production-line lumber and veneer grading equipment as well as quality control and laboratory testing equipment for the engineered wood products industry. Rest assured that Metriguard will provide ongoing support, repairs, parts and service for installed Metriguard equipment. The Metriguard team will stay intact, with the exception of Jim and Jean Logan, who will remain as consultants for a period of time to oversee the transition before stepping away from the business completely. The new president of Metriguard will be Jani Roivainen, who has successfully managed the Mecano Business Unit for Raute Corporation since their acquisition.
April 13, 2017 - Since acquiring all of Anthony-EACOM from Canfor in March 2017, EACOM’s newest addition is now operating as EACOM Sault Ste. Marie.

The engineered wood mill is a new type for EACOM, which could come in handy with the U.S. softwood lumber duties looming.

“This acquisition made sense for us because we’re very open to business, we’re serious about growing, we’re serious about performance,” says EACOM’s director of public affairs Christine Leduc.

Leduc says EACOM feels confident in its product base. She says it has been EACOM’s objective to maintain a  strong balance sheet and competitive position. “And we’ve done that by investing in the competitiveness of our mills,” she adds.

“The acquisition of EACOM Sault Ste. Marie can add to our resilience. Especially in light of softwood lumber, because engineered wood products are excluded from the dispute. So this will help strengthen our position.” 

Leduc says the company is aware of upcoming challenges the lumber dispute may yet bring, but adds that EACOM is preparing by continuing to develop a team philosophy that working together drives improvement.

EACOM owns five softwood lumber mills in Ontario and two in Quebec. It also owns a remanufacturing facility in Val-d’Or, Que.

Before the acquisition, Anthony-EACOM was operating as a 50/50 joint venture between EACOM and Canfor. The latter had purchased Anthony Forest Products (AFP) in September 2015. AFP is the company that originally owned half of Anthony-EACOM before Canfor entered the picture. After Canfor became EACOM’s partner, EACOM bought the Canfor shares and became the sole owner.

“The addition of EACOM Sault Ste. Marie is really interesting for us from a point of view of diversifying our asset base and our product offering because it does make an engineered wood product I-joist, which we are really pleased to add to our product offering,” Leduc says. 

I-joist is an engineered wood product that can be used as an alternative to dimension lumber joists for flooring and roofing applications.

EACOM Sault Ste. Marie currently has approximately 52 employees. That brings EACOM’s total employee count post-acquisition to about 1,100.

“We’re very proud of this acquisition and we’re going to continue to focus on performance no matter what happens,” Leduc says.

RELATED | EACOM announces complete acquisition of Anthony-EACOM
April 13, 2017 - FraserWood opened its doors to Canadian Forest Industries to show us how they turn cants into strong and beautiful timber products in the heart of Squamish, B.C.
April 12, 2017 - Canadian Forest Industries is highlighting innovations in the filing room, from new processes and techniques to new technologies, during File Week 2017 from May 1 to May 5!

Our File Week coverage will serve as a hub for saw filers and sawmillers to learn best practices and find the latest information on advancements in saw filing technology.

We will post cutting edge content from our archives as well as brand-new stories and product news from the BC Saw Filers convention that is taking place April 28-29 in Kamloops, B.C.

We will highlight:
  • stories from the filing room
  • technical articles on saw filing automation
  • equipment spotlights on the latest saw filing gear
  • columns from BC Saw Filers Association’s Trevor Shpeley and Modern Engineering’s Udo Jahn
  • strategies for employing the next generation of filers, and more!
Stay tuned to our website and social media #FileWeek2017 for more information as we get closer to File Week 2017 from May 1 to May 5!  

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Sponsored by Grasche_logo.jpg

April 11, 2017 - Seats are filling up for the must-attend sawmilling forum – OptiSaw West. The full agenda for the event on April 25 in Richmond, B.C., is now out.
April 4, 2017- Europe is in the forefront of innovation in almost every industry, and the forest sector is no exception.
April 3, 2017 - EACOM Timber Corporation is pleased to announce that it has completed the purchase of Anthony-EACOM shares from Canfor Corporation.

Anthony-EACOM, which manufactures and distributes Power Joist — a high quality solid flange I-joist, had previously been a 50/50 joint venture between Canfor and EACOM. Aptly named Power Joists, these engineered wood I-joists provide a high performance alternative to dimension lumber joists for floor and roof applications. The engineered wood mill is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where EACOM also owns five softwood lumber mills.

''We have had great partnerships with Anthony Forest Products and later Canfor to operate Anthony-EACOM," said Kevin Edgson, president and CEO of EACOM. "It's now important for EACOM to secure assets that will contribute to the company's resilience and this acquisition is part of EACOM's growth strategy."

The change in ownership will result in the transfer of over 50 employees to the management of EACOM.

''We proudly welcome Anthony-EACOM and its employees to our asset base,'' added Edgson. "Power Joists will add to the variety of quality wood products offered to our customers.''
March 31, 2017 - When many people think of Vancouver and coastal British Columbia, they think of bright blue waters on a backdrop of mountains, where the weather enjoys four complete seasons and everyone seems genuinely happy. Stepping onto the wood yard at Terminal Forest Products in Richmond, B.C., a stone’s throw from the heart of Vancouver, you get exactly that.
March 31, 2017 - It wasn’t that long ago that the BC Saw Filers Association was struggling to keep its membership. To be honest, things were looking bleak. But over the past six years, the organization has been in a rebuilding process and things have improved significantly; thanks largely to the hard work of a small but diligent group of filers.
March 31, 2017 - Everyone has good days and bad days. The other day was a bad one for me. No, I’m not ill, but I received some very bad news from a friend. He’s not ill either, but he told me there’s soon going to be a lot of upset people in local sawmill communities. There are rumours going around that a few mills may be closing. I don’t know where they’re located, but I know it will be unpleasant. The question we must always ask ourselves when faced with a failing business is, “Why?”
March 28, 2017 - WHAT: OptiSaw Mill Optimization & Automation Forum

WHEN: April 25, 2017 from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, Richmond, B.C.

WHY: OptiSaw is a time-effective and affordable learning and networking opportunity for those driving the future of sawmilling in your operation. The focus is on the future of optimization and automation in our industry, including challenges and opportunities on the cutting edge of this side of the industry. 

March 27, 2017 - USNR has developed a new log split detection system in partnership with Lakeland Mills in Prince George, B.C., and is now ready to take the equipment to market.
March 22, 2017 - A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That proverb is the main recruiting philosophy at EACOM’s Elk Lake sawmill. Here, hiring is based on values, not just skill-set.

“It's like a secret club, you have to be taught the secret handshake and you have to be the right type of person. It’s all about the outcome, whatever it takes,” mill manager Mark Everard explains.

Dedication to the job is the reason why Everard says new hires will never be recruited on a whim at Elk Lake, despite a town population of just a few hundred, and a consequent need to find people from nearby areas in the Timiskaming District of northeastern Ontario.

“We can teach anyone how to run a canter, we can teach a lot of people how to maintain a canter. We can't teach the attitude of staff getting a call that, ‘It's nine o'clock at night, we're in trouble here; I don't know what happened here but every log is jamming,’ and the reply is,  ‘Hmm, well I'll put the kids in bed and I'll be in in a half an hour to help out,’” Everard illustrates.

Everard says. “We have a pretty good group here. We have several vacancies but we are not in a hurry to fill them. We will wait until we get what we want.”

Some potential employees can on occasion be lost to other sectors like the mining industry when they are doing well. Still, Everard says the sawmill will never settle for less than what it’s looking for in a new recruit.

“There have always been good people here and we're helping to direct those energies in a productive and focused way,” he says.

As important as work values are to Everard, he also places some weight on the kinds of values that would make a person appreciate a northern lifestyle. Those are the hires that tend to stick.

“[If you ask the canter operators], they'll talk about Lake Trout fishing last week and how good it was… and the Speckles were biting too! That's the type of lifestyle people enjoy here, hunting and fishing. If you like that, this is paradise,” Everard says with a laugh.

He says chances are high that once someone gets through the initial evaluation period, they won’t be quick to change jobs again.

“People come for the money and stay for the people and lifestyle.”
March 14, 2017 - While $13 million invested in new technology since 2012 has helped bring EACOM’s Elk Lake mill up to respectable efficiency levels, mill manager Mark Everard explains that ongoing work on culture and performance management have been just as important.

“You pour a bunch of money into a mill, that’s the easiest part; it’s only the beginning,” Everard says from outside the mill on a crisp February morning. “The real challenge is getting everybody up to speed on how to get the most out of that equipment, and the most value out of our fibre. And that’s what we’re right in the middle of.”

This push to create a culture of continual improvement may only date back a couple of years, but the equipment upgrades themselves began back in 2012 with the addition of two single-pass sawlines. “In 2012, the company elected to refit the sawmill canter lines and they bought Comact DDM 12 and DDM 6 lines at an auction and then refurbished them. They also added a new USNR board edger and a new chipper,” Everard explains. “We kept the same debarkers, we’ve got two 18 inch D-Tec Cambio style and a 22-inch, single ring Nicholson A5A, which is adequate.”

Lumber flows from the canters to a Comact trimmer optimizer and trimmer and a 44-bin sling sorter. The final piece is an older Comact single-fork stacker, which Everard says exemplifies what they are trying to accomplish at Elk Lake.

“You might go ‘Gee whiz, that's an old stacker.’ Then again, if you maintain them, a single-fork stacker should be able to get 12 cycles a minute dependably and smoothly. People will claim you can get more, but day-in day-out, real life, if you're getting 15 you're really doing something special. This stacker will be able to keep up to about 56,000 fbm/hour so we are fine for now. It goes back to that continuous improvement mindset we’re trying to build that not only includes the iron but the people and the philosophy. So when we talk about the stacker — we’re not going to ask for a new stacker until we get 100 per cent of what this one is capable of.”

Where it makes sense though, the mill is happy to invest in ongoing training, as is the case with the two Comact DDM lines. A few years back EACOM felt they should be getting more production through those lines, and so in addition to setting clear targets and establishing accountability, they have invested in significant training from the supplier. The difference in production has been significant Everard explains.

“Part of why the DDMs are running so well is because every three months we have a Comact guy come in and he stays for a week, and he goes over it with our operators, with our maintenance group, and with our leadership group again and again and again. We're now in our second year of this ongoing training. Initial visits precipitated large amounts of work to be done on the canters, now, when Comact concludes a visit they have largely been tuning and training we rarely have issues.”

Overall, through continual tweaking of existing gear, including both operations and maintenance, the sawmill is now producing around 25 per cent more than it did 2.5 years ago. In hard numbers, that means producing about 150 million bdft/year with a wood supply that is 75 per cent 6-in in diameter and below.

Drying better

That same process has been used to extract significantly more from the mill’s existing dry kilns. While the mill plans to produce 150 million bdft in 2017, a number Everard feels they can exceed depending on log diet, until recently the kilns had been struggling to dry 125 million bdft.

The mill runs an older Hemco (USNR) kiln and two newer Cathilds off a Konus hot oil system that until recently was also used to heat the mill. For starters they added a few hot air furnaces to heat the mill, allowing them to isolate the glycol system for lumber drying alone for a 25 per cent gain in drying energy. Then they looked at each step in the process to maximize efficiency.

“We didn’t spend any capital, but instead put a lot of attention on our kiln schedules, repaired the kilns top to bottom, the baffles etc… We also had to re-tube the Konus system. In the end we’ve been drying at 30 per cent over previous capacity for the past six months, so we are comfortable that can dry our current production now.”

The planer mill

Elk Lake’s sawmill isn’t the only area reaping the benefits of upgrades and performance management. Its planer mill, which burned down in 2005 and was rebuilt the following year, is also a big part. As Everard explains, it’s a well-built line that just required some tweaking.

“As the mill cranked up, it caused the need for the planer to crank up, and the planer is really answering the call well. It's a standard horseshoe configuration, with mainly Carbotech iron, but I’ve got to hand it to the guy that dreamed this up, he did a nice job — really nice tilt hoist, really good infeed to the pineapples,” Everard says. “We're going to do some automation in there, but it's a nice set up. Gilbert planer, which is a really nice planer.”

“The back end is basically Carbotech with a PLC lug loader. We did new Autolog controls with the new Prograder which helped as Autolog has some good code people.  After the lugloader we have a real nice Carbotech, dual-trim saw setup.  We've got a standard Carbotech fence with the standard trim saw and then a second PET fence with a second PET trim saw,” Everard says. “The second fence and saw set was never commissioned so we're in the process of re-commissioning that so we can get that extra value. There's a fair amount of value extraction capability in this line and we're going to realize its full potential.”

The most recent upgrade is the replacement of the original Autolog geometric planer optimizer with the supplier’s latest Pro Grader planer optimization scanning system that adds a wide array of visual defect detection. It was only two weeks old when CFI was on site, but Everard said the retrofit was going well.

“We want it all done yesterday,” Everard says, laughing. “In all honesty it's going well; we're on schedule with our proforma but it's got more and we're going to be several months dialing this thing to get all that it’s got.”

The Pro Grader adds functionalities like knot detection and measurement, slope of grain, stain and rot, but Everard says solving the latter might be easier said than done. “I'm not convinced we're going to completely solve the rot detection problem. But the slope of grain, knot measurement, and sap stain will be a huge impact on our grade recovery; enormous.”

The new unit is designed to sit in the same footprint as the original Pro Grader, which helped simplify the retrofit, Everard notes. While the mill looked at the full gamut of planer optimizers on the market for the project, they felt the Autolog unit gave the best value for dollar in their application.

The planer team has been through a similar process as that in the sawmill, with similar gains. Everard says productivity is up 25 per cent in that same 2.5 year period, with better grade upturns. The latter is expected to improve further still with the new optimizer installed.

‘A good place’

Everard says all the hard work over the past few years is paying off in markedly improved productivity. There is still work to be done, he adds, to turn the mill into an above-average performer. Still, he feels the roughest part is now in the rear-view mirror.

“We're a work in progress; we're about halfway to where we want to be, but we're in the fun part now. The real heavy lifting has been done and now it's becoming easier and easier. Once you get people aligned with the philosophy, adopt it, adjust to it, and then they start winning — the entire site is running at levels it’s never seen before — everyone starts having fun, and that's a good place.”

VIDEO | Exploring EACOM's Elk Lake sawmill
March 14, 2017 - West Fraser announced Monday that Larry Hughes will retire as vice‑president of finance and CFO at the end of March 2017.

President and CEO Ted Seraphim said, "Larry has contributed greatly to West Fraser during his 10 years as part of our senior executive team.  Before joining West Fraser he was our outside legal counsel and served on our Board from 2002 to 2005. Larry has played a pivotal role in the growth of West Fraser and we have all benefitted from his practical approach and thoughtful advice."

West Fraser is pleased to announce that Chris Virostek will become vice‑president of finance and CFO upon Mr. Hughes' retirement. Chris is a Chartered Professional Accountant, CA and has held a number of senior financial roles at Masonite International Corporation since 2002, most recently as senior vice‑president of strategy and corporate development.

Mr. Hughes will remain with the company until the end of June 2017 to assist with the transition process and thereafter may provide advisory services to West Fraser's management.

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