January February, 2004

 

 

 

 

 Why Are Mills Choosing Polyester Strapping?

Q&A With Steve Wilson of Samuel  Strapping Systems

By Carl Clayton

The VK-30 strapping head can be retrofitted to equipment formerly dedicated to steel strapping for a low cost conversion to polyester.

Increasing competition and economic challenges in the lumber industry are forcing sawmills to look for innovative ways to both cut costs and increase productivity in order to compete in todayís international marketplace. Because even small modifications in a production plantís day-to-day operation can have significant impact on financial performance, firms are looking to fine tune in every area of the mill.

To be more competitive, many Northwest mills are changing from steel to polyester strapping. To find out why mills are making the switch, TimberWest recently spoke with Steve Wilson. Steve is the Northwest sales manager for Samuel Strapping Systems.  Samul is one of the major players in the strapping marketplace as well as a firm that's done, according to Steve, hundreds of steel to polyester retrofits in recent years.

Polyester strapping, according to Steve Wilson, is easier to handle due to reduced weight, results in less potential for injury in a mill, and can be significantly less expensive than steel.

TW:
Why are sawmills switching from steel to polyester strapping?

Wilson:
The cost of steel strapping became a significant factor for many mills when tems. Samuel is one of the major play-the U.S. imposed tariffs on steel imports ers in the strapping marketplace as a couple of years ago. Many began to well as a firm thatís done, according to consider making the switch then. Steve, hundreds of steel to polyester retrofits in recent years.

TW:
So the cost of steel is the driver?

Wilson:
It was at first, but companies soon found cost was only one compelling factor in making the decision. Firms changing from steel to polyester found plastic brings a whole range of benefits to the table. Safety is a big issue in sawmills, and mills Samuel Strapping retrofitted saw big reductions in the number of cuts employees were experiencing. Polyester is also non-staining. It doesnít leave marks on the lumber as steel does, especially in the Northwest. The lighter weight results in reduced wear on equipment. Jumbo coils of polyester strapping also reduce changeover times and are easier to use. There are more subtle benefits as well. Strapping requires less dunnage so the time and labor savings translate to cost savings and production enhancements. Shipping weight is reduced. That might not seem like much until you begin to consider that some mills ship hundreds of thousands of bundles a year. All of these things add up, over time, to an impressive package of savings and productivity increases in a mill.

TW:
How much equipment has to be purchased to make the changeover and how much down time is a mill looking at when it decides to make the change?

Wilson:
Existing equipment can be retrofitted when companies decide to switch. That saves a lot of money. I can only speak for Samuel Strapping but, in our case, we simply install our VK-30 strapping head onto the machine the mill already has in place. The whole process is generally completed in two days and conversions can be done on almost any existing system regardless of the original manufacturer. Because weíve done so many VK-30 retrofits we have some very experienced and well-prepared teams to put on the job. In most areas of North America, Samuel Strapping Systemís service is readily available, as are our experienced, well-prepared retrofit teams. We make every effort to make the conversion trouble free for the customer.

TW:
Are there down sides to the change?

Wilson:
Early on, a number of mills had poor experiences when they tried 5/8-inch polyester strapping. With new high tension strapping heads like our VK-30 and high strength polyester strapping, those mills are now running it successfully. Because of the cost and safety advantages, this is a great time to revisit the polyester strapping program if you tried 5/8-inch strapping in the past without success. The nice thing about the newer strapping heads are that they can run either 5/8 or, for more demanding applications, the head can be easily adjusted to run 1/2-inch polyester.

TW:
How much can a mill really expect to save if they switch to polyester strapping?

Wilson:
 The savings generated by converting to polyester can amount to well over 35 percent on the strapping alone. That doesnít count the other tangible, yet difficult to measure savings generated by such benefits as lower shipping weights or reduced lost time from injuries.

TW

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004