The DEAL processor chipping plant has been very effective for BC's Jaco Enterprises.
By Jim Stirling
Jack Keep can look out his office window and see the chipping system of the future working in his yard. "I feel these are the coming style of machines. Maybe not for sawmills where wood of similar size is processed, but it will take over debarking for the pulp industry where wood can be anything from five centimetres to 50 centimetres in diameter."
The object of his confidence is a standalone modular chip-producing machine, incorporating a rotary debarking system that's proving highly effective on material down to five centimetre tops. The DEAL processor chipping plant was designed and built by Dingwell Machinery & Supply Ltd of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Keep says it was a matter of the company telling Dingwell the chip quality they wanted so it could be customized for their requirements. Keep owns Jaco Enterprises Ltd in Williams Lake, British Columbia, a company that came into the chipping business via a circuitous route.
Keep started logging about 20 years ago. He then switched gears to run a sort yard for three years. The prices were good when he started but the market took a tumble. From the bush and sort yard perspectives, Keep was well aware that not all wood was being utilized. Chipping unwanted and waste wood became an intuitive prospect. The business had about a three year gestation period but Jaco Enterprises started up its chip plant in 1998. "I could see the fibre was here in Williams Lake," he recalls. The trick was finding a customer who needed additional volumes. The company's first contract was for a tenuous three months. "But since then, we've never looked back," he says.
Jaco used a contracted Peterson 5000 portable chipper for its first production machine. It performed well and continued working for about 18 months. Jaco took delivery of its new Dingwell chipping plant in July, 2000. "When I started this, I was looking for something that could debark a five centimetre log and do it fast enough to make it feasible," explains Keep. He says he never considered a drum type debarker which can't chip adequately in winter without the addition of expensive steamers. The key to the Dingwell machine is its rotary debarking system. The nine-metre-long debarking section utilizes three rollers, with the rollers rotating progressively faster. "If one was turning at 40 rpm, the next one would be 50 and the third at 60 rpm," he says. "It makes the wood tumble and turns and rotates the whole pile."
The logs are scored during the process and dislodged bark falls underneath to a conveyor for disposal. Hog fuel is shipped to Northwest Energy, a co-generation plant in Williams Lake. The debarked logs proceed to the chipping section. "We're down to one per cent bark in winter and 0.5 per cent and less in summer. It works really well for what we're doing," he adds. Fibre for Jaco's chipping operation is predominantly spruce and pine in log form ranging from three to 15 metre lengths. It varies, but lately close to 40 per cent is bug killed dry wood. The western Cariboo is one of the interior BC regions severely afflicted with the province's worst mountain pine beetle epidemic. It covers about six million hectares and is expanding exponentially.
The balance of Jaco's fibre typically contains cat faces and other defects-definitely not sawlog quality. The ability to efficiently debark down to five centimetre tops means less of that type and other "waste" material has to be piled and burned, notes Keep. That's a cost saving for forest companies. Jaco has acquired wood from all the licensees in Williams Lake at one time or another. "Every mill has been supportive," he adds. The company operates its own scale and also purchases wood through small business and private sales. Jaco's bargaining position was improved early in 2001 with the award of a two-year, 21,000 cubic metre timber sale licence in the 100 Mile House Timber Supply Area. In 2000, Jaco processed 135,000 cubic metres and this year anticipates a 150,000 cubic metre volume, says Keep.
The company has also chipped surplus trim blocks and mill yard waste. Jaco needs about 17 logging truck loads a day to keep its operation going. ACat 325 butt n' top unloads the incoming trucks and decks their loads in the yard. It's a compact site, only about five hectares, at the location of the old stockyards in downtown Williams Lake. But it has a BC Rail siding, critical to Jaco for shipping its chips. Jaco employs a Cat 330 with power grapple to feed the debarking section of the chipper with lengths of material cut to an optimum 3.6 metres. Keep says he's worked closely with Rob Bell, Dingwell's president, with their new DEAL processor chipping plant. "We've had some growing pains, which is to be expected, but it hasn't broken down.
It's simple in design and about as maintenance- free as you're going to get," he says. Jaco designed the chipping plant to be portable and it can be dismantled into nine metre sections. Keep opted for incorporating turn knives in the unit's chipping section. He says the 12 knives per set are switched about every eight hours and last an average 30 hours. The operation runs two, eight-hour shifts daily. He figures the throw-away knives perform well and make financial sense. Otherwise you'd need someone to sharpen and babitt them and a knife grinder, he explains. Chips are loaded into rail cars with one of the operation's two Cat 966Cs. Ten rail cars a day are loaded for dispatch to Howe Sound Pulp & Paper down on BC's southwest coast, representing about 50,000 bone dry units/year. By all accounts, Jaco Enterprises and Howe Sound Pulp & Paper have developed a solid working relationship.
"They've treated us just excellent," says Keep. "If every customer treated us as well, we couldn't have reason to complain. They've been right behind us." It's been a two way street; Howe Sound has been happy with Jaco's product. "They've never complained about our chip quality," says Keep. "We complain more about it than they do." Business is good and Jaco's 15 employees are keeping busy, which means system expansions and improvements are on Keep's mind. He plans adding a second Dingwell nine metre rotary debarking unit identical to the first. "We've got the fibre to support it and it will allow us to pick up our chip volumes by about 50 per cent," says Keep. "But it will also cut chipping time down and give us a better debarked log."
Keep is also contemplating adding an infeed deck to the debarking units, which could be serviced by a wheeled loader. The deck will include bucking saws to cut logs to optimum lengths for debarking. The installation would lead to one less machine working in the yard. Other improvements include landscaping the site and eventually adding a conveyor or blow system to load chips into rail cars. "We're the only outside contractor aggressively going after chipping contracts with this machine." Keep says pulp mill wood rooms with drum debarkers and higher labour costs can't run as cheaply as Jaco. Timing was a key element when Keep launched his Williams Lake operation. He's hoping the same will hold true in Alberta. They are looking at a job there and putting another Dingwell unit in what they hope will also lead to a permanent installation, he says.
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