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Ten steps to successful drying draws solid crowd

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 editor Andrew Macklin.


March 26, 2015
By Andrew Snook


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Garrahan’s 10 steps covered everything from tips to improving operational efficiencies to options for technology upgrades.

“I think they all have a significant impact on the bottom line of the drying operation,” he told the crowd.

Here are a few of Garrahan’s comments from his presentation along with the 10 steps:

Step 1 – Enabling the kiln operator to operate in a holistic manner
“Involve and inform the kiln operator on developments in each area.” 

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Step 2 – Know your wood
“There are technologies available to assist in this, such as species detectors, green MC measurements and density detectors.”

Step 3 – Choose the right equipment for the job
“Know the characteristics of each of your kilns in order to direct each charge to the most appropriate kiln.” 

“The benefits of knowing your equipment include more predictable results in drying times, lumber quality and productivity; and no surplus capacity.” 

Step 4 – Use plastic strapping
“A typical strap has a 1,600 lb. breaking strength, elongation up to 13 per cent, and costs about $0.30 to $0.45/Mbf.” 

“The benefits include reductions in material loss and breakage in the yard, improved efficiency of loaders and reduced drying degrade due to restraint and better package quality.” 

Step 5 – Kiln charge preparation
“Knowing your load makes the kiln operator better prepared.” 

“Neat, well constructed loads result in better kiln performance.”

Step 6 – Create a uniform drying environment
“Creating a uniform drying environment is the only way to take advantage of all the efforts to produce uniform loads.” 

“Many tools are available at low costs, like temperature data loggers, thermocouple wires and sensors, and airflow meters.”

Step 7 – Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all regular activities 
“Examples of activities that could benefit from SOPs include piling, kiln loading, hot checks in the kiln, follow-up MC checks in the yard or planer mill, grade checks and kiln tune-ups.”

“Benefits of SOPs include minimizing the impact of the human element and the ability to make relevant statistical analyses.”

Step 8 – Develop a library of drying schedules
“Drying operations should be measured by how much the drying time varies rather than by how consistent it is.”

Step 9 – Utilize in-line moisture meters at the planer mill
“In-line meters offer the only way to get complete and accurate information on the final MC of the material you have dried.” 

“In-line meters offer opportunities to refine the drying operations.” 

Step 10 – Warp and grade analysis at the planer mill
“Warp is a real cost of drying.” 

At the end of the presentation, Garrahan gave the crowd a final message to take home.

“Success in drying is a result of applying a consistent methodological approach,” he said. “Data and information is great, but only if we use them wisely.”

Next webinar

The next CFI webinar is “Resource Roads I – Cost Effective Grading,” presented by Glen Legere, and will take place on April 22, 2015.

This webinar will discuss road surface distress and failure modes, cost-benefits of LCCA and tools for planning, monitoring and managing resource road maintenance.


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