Equipment
July 27, 2017 - Tolko has ordered two pocket batch feeders to upgrade its OSB line at its re-opened High Prairie, Alta., mill.

The OSB mill was restarted in June 2017. It had been closed since 2008 prior to that when the North American housing market fell and forced the mill to shut down.

Production is expected to resume in the first quarter of 2018.

“We are confident that current improvements in market conditions are sustainable and that customer demand for Tolko oriented strand board products will remain strong,” said Tolko president and chief executive officer Brad Thorlakson in a release. 

Tolko has ordered the pocket batch feeders from Surrey, B.C.-based equipment manufacturer Kadant Carmanah Design. 

“We’re very happy to see this mill resume operation and to be awarded the order for critical equipment for the OSB line upgrade, said Kadant Carmanah president Michael Colwell. “Tolko and Kadant Carmanah share a long history of partnering to make the best solutions possible.”

Once fully operational, the mill is expected to directly employ approximately 175 people.
Jan. 3, 2017 - German supplier Siempelkamp Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH increases its stake in Pallmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG to 75 per cent.

In the range of services offered by the Siempelkamp Group, Pallmann plays an important role as the specialist for size-reduction technology and preparation systems. For plant operators from the wood-based materials industry, size-reduction equipment and preparation systems belong to the in-demand scope of supply. The main benefit for the customers: precision technology for the production of higher quality strands, flakes, and fibrous materials and the expertise in the ever more important area of recycling.

The Krefeld machine and plant engineering specialist therefore decided to continue the integration of the company from Zweibrücken. The 45-per cent increase in shareholding in Pallmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG and Ludwig Pallmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, last recorded in the beginning of 2016, was increased by Siempelkamp as of Dec. 15, 2016 to 75 per cent.

The taking over of a majority holding by the Siempelkamp Group was followed by a reorganization of the management of Pallmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG.

Dipl.-Kfm. Stefan Wissing, to date spokesman of the management of Siempelkamp Maschinen und Anlagenbau GmbH, was appointed spokesman of the management of Pallmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG with effect from Dec. 15, 2016.

At the same time, as the spokesman of the worldwide operating Siempelkamp Logistics & Service GmbH, Mr. Wissing is responsible for the entire service business of the Siempelkamp Group.

At the end of 2016, Dr.-Ing. Hans Fechner and Dr. Claus Maack are stepping down from the management of Pallmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG.

For 2017 many challenges are on the Pallmann agenda. We will focus on the process of fiberizing raw materials to fibers used in MDF production, the milling of raw materials to strands and flakes for particleboard and OSB production as well as the agglomeration process used in the production of insulation material. Thus, wood-plastic-composites made of wood flour and plastics or fiber-plastic-composites containing natural fibers from hemp or cork are produced. Under the heading “end of life tire”, the company furthermore will focus on the recycling of old tires.

Zweibrücken is home to 120 size reduction machines in the in-house research and development center. With this equipment the team focuses on process improvements, further development of our machines, and testing new developments. Customers from all over the world use the Pallman center to carry out tests with our process engineers to develop innovations for their industries.


The Siempelkamp Group is a supplier of technological equipment, and its three business units, Machine and Plant Engineering, Foundry Technology, and Engineering and Service, are oriented towards international markets. Siempelkamp Machine and Plant Engineering is a system supplier of press lines and complete plants for the wood-based materials industry, the metal forming industry, and the composites and rubber industry. Siempelkamp Foundry, one of the largest hand-molding foundries in the world, manufactures large cast components from cast iron with nodular graphite, with unit weights of up to 320 metric tons. Siempelkamp Engineering and Service specializes in the dismantling of nuclear facilities, and supplies transport and storage cask for radioactive waste. www.siempelkamp.com
Nov. 28, 2016 - A new massive plywood building panel developed by an Oregon company and tested at Oregon State University may be the largest such product ever manufactured.

Builders are familiar with standard plywood sheets that measure 4-feet wide, 8-feet long and between a quarter-inch and more than one-inch thick. The new panels made by the Freres Lumber Company of Lyons, Oregon, can be as much 12-feet wide, 48-feet long and 2-feet thick.

The company announced its new panels in October, capping more than a year of development and performance testing at Oregon State’s Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. “The results look very promising,” said Ari Sinha, assistant professor in OSU’s College of Forestry, who oversaw the tests. “This is a unique product with the potential for creating jobs in rural Oregon.”

Versatility is one of the benefits of the product known as a Mass Plywood Panel (MPP). “These panels can be customized for different applications. Because they have very good compression qualities, they could be used for columns as well as panels,” said Sinha.

The veneer manufacturing process enables manufacturers to orient wood grain and to distribute the defects found in smaller trees, such as knots, in a way that maintains the strength of the final product, Sinha added.

Tests in Sinha’s lab focused on the panels’ structural and physical properties such as density, adhesive bonding and resistance to the kinds of vertical and horizontal stresses experienced in an earthquake. Additional tests are planned after the first of the year.

Mass Plywood Panels can achieve the performance characteristics of a similar product known as Cross Laminated Timber panels with 20 to 30 per cent less wood.

“The market is wide enough that this product can compete in niche applications,” said Sinha. “MPP can be made to order.”

Sinha’s lab conducts wood-product testing year-around for companies in Oregon, Washington and other states. He evaluates connections between building components as well as component stresses stemming from wind, earthquakes and other forces.

With support from businesses, Oregon BEST and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the new National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design will continue to conduct tests on Mass Plywood Panels and on Cross Laminated Timber panels manufactured by companies in the Northwest and elsewhere. Housed at the OSU College of Forestry, the center is a collaboration between the college, the OSU College of Engineering and the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts.
Nov. 9, 2016 - USNR has acquired the business of Ventek, Inc., the industry leader in veneer scanning, grading, and handling systems for the plywood industry.
June 4, 2015 - MTS Sensors, a division of MTS Systems Corporation, has further expanded its R-Series of robust, high performance magnetostrictive position sensors with a new device which has the capacity to deliver reliability and industry-leading accuracy in even the most demanding work environments. Utilizing the company’s proprietary Temposonics technology, the RT4 is a linear position measurement solution that features two independent sensor elements - each of which has a measuring length of 50 mm to 2540 mm (2” to 100”). 

Targeted at use in lumber mills, steel processing plants and power generation sites, this fully redundant position sensing product employs a Synchronous Serial Interface (SSI), which means that data transfer is less susceptible to the presence of electro-magnetic interference. In addition, the IP68-rated enclosure protects against the threat of liquid ingress. The RT4’s detached electronics can be mounted up to 600 mm (23.6”) away from the sensing environment allowing the electronics to be kept further from sources of potential harm. A temperature range that reaches up to 100˚C (212˚F) is supported for the sensor rod and interconnection cables.

“Thanks to the combination of detached electronics and redundancy function, the RT4 sets itself apart from conventional position sensing hardware,” states Matt Hankinson, Technical Marketing Manager at MTS Sensors. ”This unit is optimized to function in extremely challenging application surroundings while maintaining high performance.”

Through MTS Sensor’s ground-breaking Temposonics magnetostrictive sensor technology, precise, non-contact position measurement data can be acquired. Temposonics-based devices can deal with the exacting mechanical stresses found in modern industrial settings without being subject to wear and tear.

April 20, 2015 - MTS Sensors, a division of MTS Systems Corporation, has introduced a high performance magnetostrictive position sensor, using its innovative Temposonics technology. The ET sensor is very well suited to deployment in applications with high temperature environments. It can deliver up to 0.005mm resolution when used in combination with a suitable controller.

Industrial facilities dedicated to pressboard production or the processing of steel/iron need instrumentation that provides maximum safety and reliability, regardless of difficult working conditions. The new ET product offering significantly extends the supported temperature range of the MTS E-Series, with the ability to precisely determine exact positions even at 105°C temperature levels. This small rod sensor can be integrated directly into a cylinder, with rod length options covering 50mm to 3000mm. It exhibits linearity deviation of less than 0.02 per cent (full scale).

ET sensors have liquid ingress protection in accordance with IP68. Furthermore, ATEX certification for hazardous areas is available. These devices are equipped with a start/stop interface. They also have the capacity for sensor parameters to be automatically uploaded. A 316L stainless steel variant can be specified if needed.

"The ET sensor is designed to be reliable and operationally effective in industry sectors where elevated temperatures are a major concern,” said Robert Luong, MTS Sensors’ industrial technical marketing manager. “The magnetostrictive technology it utilizes provides a wear-free sensing mechanism that has significant value in heavy industrial settings.”

The proprietary Temposonics magnetostrictive sensing technology developed by MTS Sensors is designed to offer a non-contact method for accurately measuring position, which permits its implementation into the most demanding of application environments. Sensors based on this technology are highly resilient to shock, vibrations and extreme temperatures.

April 2, 2015 - Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced the completion of their merger on April 1, 2015. 

March 24, 2015 - Globally traded hardwood chips for the manufacturing of pulp and wood-based panels have trended downward for much of the past three and a half years. However, this trend broke in late 2014 and early 2015 when prices slowly started to increase.

Feb. 27, 2015 – Lower OSB prices, a slower recovery of the U.S. housing market and higher overall unit costs contributed to weaker-than-expected fourth quarter and year end financial results for Ainsworth in 2014.

Sales of $102.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 were $1.9 million lower than sales of $104.4 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 4% decrease in realized pricing. Sales volumes increased by 2% due to the ongoing ramp up of High Level notwithstanding downtime taken during the fourth quarter. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on realized pricing was moderated by factors including the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the fourth quarter of 2013 combined with stable export pricing in Japan.

Sales were $444.0 million in 2014 compared to $488.0 million in 2013. The $44.0 million decrease was primarily related to a 17% decrease in realized pricing, partially offset by a 9% increase in sales volumes. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on realized pricing was again moderated by factors including the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to 2013 combined with stable export pricing in Japan. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by the downtime taken at the various mills to complete maintenance and other projects during the year.

Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "North American OSB market conditions continued to drift throughout the year as the pace of demand growth did not materialize as expected. However, we remain optimistic that U.S. housing starts will return to more historical levels within the next several years, with various indicators pointing towards strong growth in 2015 versus 2014.

"We maintained the strong performance we saw in 2013 in our key export market in Japan and also made progress in China as we began commercial shipments of our industrial core stock products. Additionally, we progressed in the ongoing ramp up of our High Level mill, including the completion of a number of strategic capital projects that will further position the mill to efficiently manufacture an enhanced range of products for North American and Asian customers."

While the pace of improvement in U.S. housing starts in 2014 was more gradual than anticipated, Ainsworth expects that the U.S. housing recovery will gain further traction in 2015. The company remains optimistic that U.S. housing starts will return to more historical levels within the next several years. The restart of the High Level mill will allow them to meet the growing requirements of its existing customer base in North America and Asia as well as service new market segments. Ainsworth expects the merger with Norbord will allow the combined company to capitalize on the ongoing recovery in the U.S. housing market and growth opportunities in our traditional and emerging markets in Asia.

Feb. 19, 2015 – River Bend Wood Products, a hardwood flooring business based in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, is shutting down due to a lack of locally-sourced hardwood.

According to an article from The Chronicle Herald, the struggles are not new in the region. River Bend may be the newest company to go out of business due to the hardwood shortage, but it certainly isn’t the first and is not likely to be the last. Groupe Savoie, which operates a hardwood sawmill in nearby Westville, could be next due to a lack of available logs.

It was expected that the hardwood consumed at the Nova Scotia Power biomass boiler would be low-value hardwood, leaving the higher value stems to companies like Groupe Savoie. However, to this point, that has yet to materialize.

For more on this story, CLICK HERE

Jan. 28, 2015 - Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced that Norbord shareholders and Ainsworth shareholders and optionholders approved the previously announced proposed combination of Norbord and Ainsworth by way of a plan of arrangement.

The transaction remains subject to customary conditions to closing, including approval of the plan of arrangement by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Subject to receipt of court approval and the satisfaction or waiver of all closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Norbord and Ainsworth also provided the following general update in connection with the transaction. While the transaction is not reportable under the U.S. Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act of 1976 or the Canadian Competition Act because Norbord and Ainsworth share a common controlling shareholder, the U.S. Department of Justice has requested information about the transaction and the companies, as it is entitled to do. Norbord and Ainsworth are providing the DOJ with the information it has requested and are working proactively with the DOJ to ensure an expedited review process. Norbord and Ainsworth are confident this review will have a satisfactory outcome and that it will not impact the companies' ability to close the transaction by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Dec. 8, 2014, Vancouver – Norbord Inc. and Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced that they have signed a definitive agreement under which they will merge to create a leading global wood products company focused on oriented strand board across North America, Europe and Asia. The all-stock deal is valued at $762.6 million.

“This transaction unites two complementary businesses behind a common vision of enhanced service to our customers and growth in North America, Europe and Asia,” said Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Norbord and Ainsworth are each low-cost producers in their respective regions, and with our complementary operations and a more diverse range of specialty products, we will be better able to serve our customers across the globe. Ainsworth has excellent mills, a proven track record of innovation in value-added product development, and we look forward to working together. The growth potential we see in the combined company also offers significant value to our shareholders.”

Under the terms of the arrangement agreement announced today, Norbord has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth in an all-share transaction in which Ainsworth shareholders will receive 0.1321 of a Norbord share for each Ainsworth share pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the British Columbia Business Corporations Act.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and its affiliated entities, which control approximately 55% and 52% of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth and Norbord respectively, have entered into a binding agreement in which they have committed to vote in favour of the transaction. Upon closing, the Brookfield entities will control approximately 53% of the outstanding common shares of the combined company.

Said Jim Lake, Ainsworth’s President and Chief Executive Officer: “The combination of the two companies will mean tremendous opportunities for our people and our customers. By joining with Norbord we will be able to leverage its commitment to low-cost operational excellence to expand and improve our existing range of products and enhance our customer relationships. For our shareholders, this transaction offers significant potential for continued value creation as investors in a larger and better-capitalized company with ongoing participation in the current U.S. housing recovery. This is an exciting transaction for Ainsworth and its stakeholders.”

On a pro forma basis, the combined company generated USD $1.63 billion in sales and USD $143 million in Adjusted EBITDA for the 12 months ended September 27, 2014. The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings and cash flow in the first year.

May 2, 2014, Vancouver - Ainsworth Lumber announced a 60 per cent improvement in safety results quarter over quarter in its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014. The company also said it generated adjusted EBITDA of $10.2 million notwithstanding logistical issues and weaker North American markets.

Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "Ainsworth had a challenging quarter as transportation issues and extreme weather impacted OSB shipments and demand. North American OSB prices were nearly 50% or U.S.$200/msf lower than the first quarter of 2013. Despite the recent weaker pricing, we believe that the outlook remains positive with further anticipated recovery of the U.S. housing market in 2014 as we move past the worst of the weather issues. We continue to see steady growth in our well-established export market of Japan as well as other markets such as China. From an operational perspective, I am pleased to report a significant improvement in our safety performance this quarter."

LP Acquisition of Ainsworth

On September 4, 2013, the company entered into an agreement with Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) under which LP will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth for $1.94 in cash plus 0.114 LP common shares per each Ainsworth common share, on a fully pro-rated basis. The transaction remains subject to obtaining regulatory approvals and the satisfaction or waiver of other conditions pursuant to the Arrangement Agreement. On April 18, 2014, the outside date for completion of the transaction was extended to June 2, 2014. The Arrangement Agreement permits either party to further extend the outside date for an additional 45-day period if required to obtain certain regulatory approvals. Both Ainsworth and LP continue to work with the Canadian Competition Bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice as they conduct their regulatory reviews of the transaction.

Further information about the Arrangement Agreement is set out in Ainsworth's management proxy circular dated September 24, 2013, which is available under Ainsworth's profile on www.sedar.com.

Financial Results

Sales of $107.8 million in the first quarter of 2014 were $34.0 million lower than sales of $141.8 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 25.3% decrease in realized pricing. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on our realized pricing was moderated by the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the first quarter of 2013 and stable export pricing, combined with a 1.8% increase in sales volumes due to additional production from High Level. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by transportation issues during the first quarter of 2014.

Adjusted EBITDA was $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2014 compared to $62.5 million in the same period of 2013, largely as a result of lower realized pricing. Net loss from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2014 was $14.5 million compared to net income of $36.5 million in the first quarter of 2013. The $51.0 million decrease was due to a reduction in gross profit and increased selling and administration expense, combined with fluctuations in non-cash accounting gains and losses and income tax expense.

Margins

Adjusted EBITDA margin on sales was 9.5% compared to 44.1% in the same period of 2013. The decrease was largely related to the decrease in gross profit.

Benchmark OSB pricing was down significantly from the same period last year, with North Central and Western Canadian pricing for 7/16" OSB both averaging U.S.$219 per msf (a decrease of 47% and 48%, respectively). Sequentially, the North Central benchmark price decreased 11% versus the prior quarter, while the Western Canadian benchmark price was flat.

Liquidity

At March 31, 2014, Ainsworth's available liquidity, consisting of cash and cash equivalents, was $115.5 million, a reduction of $21.9 million since December 31, 2013 resulting from our seasonal log inventory build and capital expenditures.

Outlook

"Despite a weaker quarter for OSB pricing, we are optimistic about the outlook as U.S. housing indicators continue to show overall improvement. Additionally, we continue to experience growth and stable pricing in our traditional export market of Japan. We are also continuing to advance our opportunities in export markets such as China for industrial applications of OSB. The restart of our High Level mill will allow us to meet the growing requirements of our existing North American and export customers as well as service new market segments over the longer term."

April 7, 2014 - Process and conveyor belting solutions providers Ammeraal Beltech, working with and for the panel board and broader wood processing industry, have created an infeed belt for conti-presses that improves efficiency, is easy to install, and offers an extended service life. The company's ZipLink belt system has progressed from concept to proven global solution in just two years, with installations on every continent. 

Greater efficiency, easier installation

ZipLink belts are designed to solve a major issue with traditional continuous belts in panel board industry. Normally constructed from PVC or PU, and installed on site with the aid of a welding press, traditional belts withstand only 110ºC, are difficult to splice, and have a short lifetime. The available alternative, an endless woven belt, takes around eight hours to change when necessary, and a team of four to five people. Ammeraal Beltech's ZipLink belts feature a specially designed spiral link made of high quality polyester monofilament with a Silam silicone impregnation. They are continuous and seamless, and the innovative quick splicing method allows the installation of a seamless belt without the need to disassemble the processing machine. They can be installed from start to finish by just two people within two hours. The belt can handle high temp applications above 200ºC. The belt itself remains often cooler and is resistant to 180ºC; and it is designed to handle an 8mm nosebar. If an accident happens on the processing line, ZipLink belts can also be repaired. In all, ZipLink belts' construction delivers real benefits, particularly in terms of increased production time and saved costs.

Contact Richard Duijn for further details on Ammeraal Beltech's products for the wood industry at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit the website at www.ammeraalbeltech.com.

Mar. 28, 2014, Edmonton – Values of lumber, pulp and paper, and panelboard manufactured by Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) members totaled approximately $2.7 billion for 2013. The value of production was up $335 million or 14% from 2012. Part of the increase can be attributed to new members who joined the AFPA in 2013.

"A recovering global economy and stronger prices for our products have led to an excellent year for AFPA members," said AFPA Chairman Craig Armstrong. "We have invested these revenues back into our communities in the form of wages, facility improvements, and locally sourced purchases." Armstrong also noted that between 2011 and 2015, the forest industry will have invested well over $1.5 billion in capital into facilities throughout Alberta.

Alberta's forest industry has operated on the landscape for several generations. Strategic investments in reforestation and forest management have ensured the industry's sustainability. Predictable access to the forest resource stimulates economic activity in 50 communities and allows Alberta's forest sector to compete internationally.

LUMBER
AFPA-member companies produced 3.2 billion board feet of lumber in 2013 with a value of $1.2 billion. Part of this production came from the secondary manufacturing sector. Total production volumes increased 227 million board feet or 7.6% from 2012, while values increased $264 million or 29%.

For the 4th quarter of 2013, production totaled 771 million board feet with a value of $298 million. Compared to the 4th quarter of 2012, lumber production was up 25 million board feet or 3.4% and values increased $56 million or 23.3%. Compared to the 3rd quarter of 2013, production volume dropped by 84 million board feet, but stronger prices caused values to increase by $8 million or 2.7%.

PANELBOARD
AFPA-member panelboard operators produced 1.1 billion square feet of 7/16 inch equivalent product in 2013 valued at $362 million. Production increased from 2012 by 18 million square feet (1.6%), and values were up $21 million or 6.3%.

For the 4th quarter of 2013, panelboard production was 283 million square feet with a value of $85 million. Compared to the 4th quarter of 2012, production was up 5.6 million square feet (5.6%), but values declined by $5 million (5.9%). In comparison to the 3rd quarter of 2013, production increased by 6 million square feet or 2% and values were up by $2 million or 1.8%.

More information can be found at albertaforestproducts.ca.

The Alberta Forest Products Association is a private, non-profit industry organization, representing lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper, and secondary manufacturing wood products companies operating in Alberta. AFPA member companies are active participants in sustainability advancements that contribute economic, environmental, and social benefits for Albertans.

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