What’s New and What’s in the Works
By Treena Hein
Like other aspects of the sawmill and planer mill, trimming is evolving, with improvements to optimization, fences and saws leading to increased lumber value and volume through greater precision and production speed. Improved optimization translates into better detection of defects, more accurate cuts, and can also include enhanced communication with the rest of the mill for higher overall value recovery. Newer fences are providing more accurate positioning and in some cases, more positioning options. Simpler fence designs are making it easier to run, repair and maintain trimmers, and to more easily retrofit them into existing mills. Trimmers themselves are holding more saws while providing better-quality cuts, with designs that also allow for easier maintenance access. Canadian Wood Products magazine checked in with various companies to see what’s now available, and what will be released later this year.
|InoTech’s newest trimmer.|
This spring, Inotech will roll out a new, more versatile trimmer that allows any trimming length setup with as many saws as needed in either the sawmill or planer mill. “This new trimmer has been designed to allow mills to produce special high-value products to expand their markets,” notes president Yves Lévesque. “With it, mills can now produce special lengths, for which the selling price is generally much higher than standard lengths. The entire trimming pattern can be changed in a very short amount of time. In this new system, the electric trimming modules are mounted on sliding shafts on two axes all along the trimmer frame,” says Lévesque. They are connected to a screw system that will allow easy and quick change of position for each module. The trimmer transfer has a chain raise also mounted on sliding shafts. Lévesque says the fact that the trimming pattern can be changed many times during a day is especially useful for hardwood mills. “Our new trimmer can be installed alone or with our full optimized trimming and sorting line,” he explains. “This new trimmer and a full Inotech optimized trimming line will be installed this spring at Industries TLT in Sainte-Monique, Quebec.”
Carbotech, which works closely with optimization tech-providers, offers trimmers and fences for both sawmills and planer mills. Its latest trimmer is a merging of their two established trimmer designs – a narrow line shaft trimmer that can be easily fitted into existing mills, and its multi-motor design, which has a separate motor for each saw. The new compact unit “has a line shaft, with saws every foot on one side,” says company engineer Louis Beaudet, “and a multi-motor unit with fixed and adjustable saws on the other, allowing mills to do most lengths imaginable with only one block conveyor and dust-collection system. Ease of maintenance was key in the design process and saw changes are a breeze.”
Carbotech’s trimmers have many modular components such as bolt-on arbour assemblies and drive belts with air tensioners, which can be quickly replaced. The company’s patented board stabilization system carefully controls each board in high-speed mills, eliminating fly-out of debris and reducing the number of chain runners required; it is incorporated into some competitors’ machines under licence.
Carbotech’s latest fence model is a patented Swedish design that precisely locates each paddle on the return side of the chain and locks it into place. “When the paddle emerges on top, the board has the whole length of the machine to come in contact with it, with slow movement and no bounce-back,” says Beaudet. “It uses one or two servo-motors depending on mill speed, with accuracy within 1/8-in.” Later this year, the company will release a fully electric improved unit that can be easily retrofitted in existing mills, and runs over 240 lugs per minute (LPM).
|A 20-ft. optimized green pine trimmer from TS Manufacturing.|
TS Manufacturing integrates optimizers from other firms with its trimmer lines. In terms of its newer new trimmer developments, sales manager Riley Smith says, “Our quadrature drive scanning transfer is specifically designed to provide low cord action and smooth transition of the board across the scanning zones, while minimizing the obstruction of the scanner heads.”
The design also allows for minimum chain speed through the scan zone to ensure maximum face-scanning accuracy in high-speed mills. TS Manufacturing’s fence system has a trailing arm design available in single, double and up to six-stage positioning, which Smith says minimizes bounce-back and reduces the space required for the trimmer fence. “These fences are available in high-speed hydraulic, shock-rated electric linear screw, or the more recent offering of linear motor positioning,” he notes. “The linear motor offers extremely high-speed positioning without the need for hydraulics or the maintenance concerns of electric screws.”
The company’s line shaft trimmer systems have a completely enclosed trimming zone. “This means the turbulent trim blocks are contained and don’t cause any unpredicted maintenance due to things like dislocated belts or cylinder hoses,” says Smith. “In addition, our tensioned hold-downs ensure that every piece is held consistently during trimming, further reducing turbulence.”
These improvements, coupled with the saw-spacing flexibility of a line shaft system, allow a green sawmill operation to achieve maximum optimization at speeds exceeding 150 lpm. “Depending on the species requirements, we offer adjustable near-end saws to allow adjustable board lengths from the same machine centre,” says Smith. “For planer mills applications, we offer either ‘flying saws’ or double-trimmer options ensuring PET lumber is achieved.”
Comact’s TrimExpert optimization system for sawmills now features “Real Time Sampling,” (RTS) which saves the scan of every board. “This enables complete traceability, and helps operators with troubleshooting and better parameter adjustments,” says Comact Equipment’s operation manager Stéphane Desjardins. “For both hardwood and softwood, we combine a colour vision system with a geometrical analysis to improve defects detection such as knots (sound, black ringed and decayed), sap/core wood, bark, decay, wane, holes, skip and warp.”
In planer mills, the company’s optimization product ‘GradExpert’ now includes RTS as well as its new “Full Scan Color Vision” system, the first high-speed colour vision system to be offered with no chain obstruction. It works on any dimensions at high speed and the first system will be installed in June. In terms of other new developments with Comact trimmers, Desjardins says prototype end cameras are being tested at Collum Lumber, in Allendale, S.C. “They provide improved pith location, density detection and split detection (especially in timber),” he notes. “It’s a great addition to our standard dual camera system where each of the four faces of a board is seen twice at different angles for a more detailed shake and split detection.”
|AutoLog’s ProTrimmer for sawmills.|
In 2007, Autolog began developing a new optimization software package and user interface called the ProTrimmer, for sawmills. “It features high-resolution/density 3-D sensors (1/4 in. at 3000 scans/sec) from Hemary (DPS 824 SI),” says sales manager Gabriel Payant. “The sensors are mounted at a 45-degree angle to improve edge accuracy and reduce cleaning schedule.” The 3-D sensors and optimizer system are upgradable to a full colour-vision system that can operate without direct human input, says Payant, and will also grade lumber. Autolog’s 3-D systems have been installed at J. A. Fontaine in Woburns, Que., and at Tolko in High Level, Alta. A full-colour system is in operation at Pleasant River Lumber in Maine.
Some of ProTrimmer’s features include an N-Tier modular design, making it faster and easier to make changes to production based on customer requests. ProTrimmer also offers a simulation tool with extensive filters. “Our new simulation software gives the mill manager flexibility in that he can see potential results based on various factors such as thickness, length, width, wane, price, mechanical changes and more,” says Payant.
The optimizer and the controls on ProTrimmer also share the same parameters, which reduces the time to program the sorting tables and the risks of making costly mistakes. “Production and simulation data and reports are centralized in a secure server,” notes Payant, “and each user can configure his own working display and view each application performance.”
ProTrimmer also features a Wi-Fi interface for remote parameter adjustment and calibration.
|USNR’s new Model 11 Trimmer.|
Over the past three years USNR has offered the BioLuma™ 2900 series transverse sensors for optimized trimming in the sawmill. “They provide the fastest scan rate available at 2500 Hz, with profile spacing of 0.3-in.,” says Colleen Schonheiter, senior marketing associate at USNR. “This capability, called BioVision, is available with purchase of a complete new optimization system,” she says, “or as an upgrade to an existing MillExpert or Newnes system.” In the planer mill, USNR has automated grade scanning ahead of the trimmer with their “Lineal High Grader” and “Transverse High Grader,” which incorporates the BioLuma 2900LVG+ sensor. “They are designed for the minute visual inspection required for planer mill grade scanning, with 0.01-in. resolution,” says Schonheiter.
Since its mid-2010 launch, USNR’s Multi-Track Fence has seen nearly 40 installations in both sawmills and planer mills. It accommodates high-speed applications requiring 0.1-in. (0.25-cm) positioning resolution, with less critical timing than other rotary fence models, Schonheiter says. USNR’s new Model 11 Trimmer features a clamshell top, with the same standard components as the Lineshaft Trimmer, and is easily installed into existing lines. It also features unique pivoting floors made of grip strut safety grating, which provides a stable, safe platform for maintenance and saw changes.
Treena Hein is a freelance journalist based in Pembroke, Ont. She produced this article for Canadian Wood Products.