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Tried and true practices: Leveraging tech investments

April 25, 2024  By Dave Purinton

Layout Dye helps monitor wear. Photos courtesy of Burton Mill Solutions.

Yes, technology is wonderful. But tried and true practices still have their place!

Okay, so maybe your employer has invested in some of the latest and most innovative cutting tool reconditioning equipment available to our industry. Your filing room may now have automated benching tools, CNC sharpening tools, maybe even robotic, lights-out operation of those CNC sharpeners, and your automatic tip saw tipping machines. I suggest you to ask yourself, are you providing the essential foundation to leverage those technology investments?

Even if your filing room has even a small percentage of the latest equipment, today’s filer is in a much better position than the folks who came earlier. Many companies are properly focused on safety, minimizing repetitive motion injuries, and creating a rewarding work environment.

So then, the question comes back to you, what are you doing to help your employer, your sawmill, be efficient, profitable, and highly competitive? Because efficient, profitable, and highly competitive sawmills are the ones that survive the difficult times and provide a steady, rewarding employment.


No one has carts like this, do they?

At Burton Mill Solutions Technical Training Center, we get great satisfaction working with both seasoned filers and those new to the trade alike. Yes, we have wonderful and advanced equipment, but our instructors also focus on utilizing saved time to find areas for improvement. One of the key elements of our training is to encourage students to work with their mill management to ‘get out of the filing room’. No, we are not talking about transferring to the millwright or QC departments, but we are talking about being a key element in helping to build positive communication and professional relationships with your fellow employees in other departments. Get involved in safety committees, see what you can learn from your QC professionals about the performance of the tools you put up. Interact with the millwrights to know what is on their schedule and how it may impact the performance of your cutting tools. Awareness, and the knowledge it brings, is power.

As sawmills invest in sawfiler training and equipment automation, it is quite reasonable for them to expect saw filing professionals to utilize time saved to participate in activities in the mill to increase productivity, safety, product quality, and fiber savings at a minimum. Automation can also give you the opportunity to enhance your filing room’s performance on the basics, the blocking and tackling.

Do you have a program to track the useful life of the mill’s saw blades? Sure, this can be done with automated scanners and computer systems. But you can also achieve useful results with notebooks and steel punches. Track how many times an individual blade has been involved in an unscheduled saw change. Document it. And if it is a bad apple, you will have the records required to document and support your recommendation to scrap that blade. Another simple tool you can use to monitor the performance of your circle gang saws is to treat your guide pads with layout dye/fluids. Observe the guide pads for wear patterns when they come into your shop.  Celebrate when guide pads come into your shop with the layout dye intact.

So yes, investigate the new technologies being brought to your profession. They can help you better perform your tasks and prevent injuries. But also make time to embrace the fundamentals of professional cutting tool maintenance. Use all your senses, keep eyes and ears open and do not look away when you discover a situation needing attention. It might not only prevent an injury but might help your mill be one of the most competitive in the market, and be a source of a long and rewarding career. 

 Dave Purinton is the vice-president for marketing and the director of Saw Filer Training Center at Burton Mill Solutions.

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