March 2006 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal
Local sawmill solution
Faced with a need for some customized sawmill equipment, two Quebec sawmills—Bois Daaquam and Arbotek— turned to a company in their own region, Tronco Machineries, for the solutions.
By Martine Frigon
When it comes to selecting sawmill equipment, the suppliers you deal with are often dictated by the type of equipment you need. And while many industry suppliers manufacture high quality standard equipment for sawmills, other companies have chosen to be more in the business of adapting, improving or designing customized equipment for sawmills.
As is the case elsewhere in the country, Quebec sawmills sometimes require customized equipment, rather than offthe- shelf items. That was the case recently for Bois Daaquam, a division of forestry giant Canfor, and Arbotek, an independent sawmill.
Bois Daaquam, which has been a Canfor division since 2003, employs 180 people and is located in St-Just-de Bretonnière, a small village near the Maine border. The sawmill operates a day shift and an evening shift, and produces 200,000 board feet of softwood lumber per shift.
Arbotek, which is in the same village, processes 35,000 board feet per hour, a total of 120 million board feet per year, and also operates on a two-shift basis.
To achieve better performance, both companies decided to have machinery adapted especially for them, or to modify equipment, depending on the layout of their existing production lines and available space. That’s where Quebec equipment manufacturer Tronco Machineries entered the picture for both sawmills.
“Sawmillers explain their needs to us and we work with them to design equipment to carry out the necessary work,” explains Jean Bernard, project manager at Tronco Machineries, which is based in suburban Quebec City, just an hour or so to the west of where the two sawmills are located. “An average project, from planning through to implementation, can take eight to 12 weeks.” Bernard, a mechanical engineering graduate from Université Laval, was a former project manager for Domtar.
Daaquam’s maintenance team includes lead mechanic Marc Buissières, who is in charge of 12 employees. Buissières, who has worked 20 years in the mill, was involved in a recent $4 million modernization project. During that shutdown, several pieces of equipment developed by Tronco Machineries were installed.
In 2002, the Daaquam team built a new planer mill, and they were subsequently looking for a versatile resaw for all their needs. Even though they looked at equipment available from a variety of manufacturers, they were not able to find anything on the market to do specifically what was required. Tronco, however, was able to develop an exclusive machine for them: a multiple band resaw with profiling capabilities.
“With all the possibilities the equipment offers, there is no other resaw like this on the market,” adds Bernard. “It allows us to maximize resources depending on market demand. For example, with a more than 48-inch long board, we can change a 2x8 piece into two pieces of 2x4 with rounded corners or boards of 1x4. So, if the market price is better for 2x4 than 2x8, we can split the pieces.”
The equipment also allows them to angle saw for cladding, and heads can be adapted to make grooved brackets. “We can make adjustments to maximize our production,” explains Bruno Couette, quality manager at Bois Daaquam.
Another innovative piece of equipment Tronco made for the sawmill was a slab recovery machine. It enables a slab to be processed and transformed into a board in a single operation. Any wood defects are transformed into chips and the equipment requires only a single edging and re-sawing operation. The edger has a capacity of four-inch thickness and a 200 horsepower motor combination.
Tronco also made a customized selection workstation, a complete system for manipulating and selecting material. The equipment is made up of a spiral roll conveyor, a board turner, a waste trap gate, a grade selection station, and a lug loader.
Independent sawmiller Arbotek had a major problem with its band resaw infeed—an important component of any sawmill—and needed to improve its quality because there were too many wood defects.
“We produce high end wood using mainly maple and wild cherry. We must not have any wood defects,” explains Réjean Bilodeau, lead mechanic at Arbotek. Bilodeau, who has more than 25 years experience as a mechanic, says that because the mill is working with such high value wood, there is a great emphasis on producing quality product.
Bilodeau notes that their wood—particularly maple—can be easily damaged. “As soon as we accidentally hit a log, a defect would appear. It is easy for this to happen by turning and re-turning a log in a resaw because the chains can mark it easily. Logs can also get damaged when they drop too high on the infeed rollcase. Unfortunately, the defects only become visible two weeks after the incident, after the wood is already delivered to the customer. We wanted to stop this from happening.”
It took Tronco Machineries only eight weeks to rethink the process, and design and build a preparation deck. “We had space limitations, because we had to deal with the setting already in the sawmill. So we optimized the available space,” says Bernard.
To avoid damage from the fall, rollers were installed higher than they were originally set up on the resaw. With a frequency of 15 logs per minute, logs are now placed flat on the rollcase.
“Wood is now handled in a much softer manner. Before, rollers were placed lower down and the boards fell by gravity. Now, they fall down flat, not on their sides, which helps avoid damage. Now the chains carry the rollers instead of gravity,” adds Bernard.
For Réjean Bilodeau, it was vital to solve the damaged wood problem.
“Some people prefer to focus on volume. For them, defective wood is a type of waste just like any other waste. I don’t agree with that. I definitely prefer quality. But to create that quality, we have to take care of all the details.”
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