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Load 'er up!
Every efficient sawmill needs a fleet of high performing millyard wheel loaders and the Fornebu Lumber operation in New Brunswick is finding its Hyundai equipment—which includes the big daddy of the fleet, a Hyundai 770 with 300 horsepower—fits the bill very nicely.
By George Fullerton
Napoleon Bonaparte once observed that an army marches on its stomach. If the army is not fed and supplied, the military campaign suffers and eventually fails. You could also apply this to wood processing in a somewhat different way: sawmills operate on their loader fleet.
Having a fleet of top performing loaders in the millyard is critical to an efficient and profitable operation. From unloading logs and infeeding to the mill, through to handling lumber in the drying and planing phases, and finally loading finished products on truck or rail on the way to customers, the service and reliability of mobile loaders are critical to mill productivity.
Add in other tasks including snow removal and yard and facility clean up, and it just confirms that wheel loaders, especially, provide versatile and efficient services. Selecting the properly spec’ed loader, along with a comprehensive service package, is critical to operate a mill efficiently
Michel Doiron manages the kiln operations for the Fornebu Lumber mill located south of Bathurst in northeast New Brunswick, and he knows the importance of having the right equipment to get the job done.
Doiron joined Fornebu Lumber in 2010, after a 16-year career as an operator on mechanical harvesting equipment. Doiron says his harvesting background provided him with an in-depth understanding of the importance of good design and engineering in equipment, the critical importance of dedicated dealer support in addition to operator training and a solid equipment maintenance and service program to get the best out of mechanical equipment.
Doiron is convinced that Fornebu’s investment over the past four years in a fleet of Hyundai wheel loaders has been a wise and strategic move that has helped increase productivity of the mill.
ALPA Equipment Ltd. delivered a HL757-9 and a HL760-9 to Fornebu Lumber in January 2012. In March 2013, a HL740-9 joined the fleet, and in December of the same year, a HL770-9A arrived to fill out Fornebu’s wheel loader contingent.
Kevin Jewitt, President and CEO of Fornebu, explained that the decision to go with Hyundai loaders was based in large part on their reputation for performance, adding to that a solid dealer relationship.
“We recognized good value in Hyundai, as well as a strong local supplier who provides us with very good support,” said Jewitt. “The previous fleet was aged and from mixed sources, which made maintenance difficult. We came to the decision on the specific Hyundai models through consultation with ALPA Equipment.”
Fornebu Lumber Company is a subsidiary of the Umoe family of companies based in Norway. In addition to forestry and milling operations in New Brunswick, Umoe has global interests in bioenergy, property management, restaurant chains, shipping and energy, as well as ship design and construction.
Umoe purchased the assets of the UPM mills based in Miramichi, New Brunswick in 2009, initially with plans to establish a solar panel manufacturing industry. The UPM assets included the Bathurst studwood sawmill and a shuttered long lumber sawmill at Blackville. UPM had previously terminated operations and proceeded with decommissioning and dismantling ground wood, sulphite pulp and paper mills at Miramichi. With the Bathurst operation, Umoe became a New Brunswick Crown licensee and owners of a mill that is a critical economic engine for the northeast of the province.
ALPA Equipment Ltd. was established as a forestry equipment dealer in 1976 at Balmoral, New Brunswick, about 100 kilometres west of Bathurst. Armand Landry was one of the original founding partners of the business and remains actively involved and shares management responsibilities with his son, Serge, and daughter Linda.
ALPA serves the Atlantic Provinces and the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, with sales and service in forestry and heavy construction equipment. It boasts one of the most extensive and comprehensive parts supplies in the region, along with a highly talented service department that grew with a focus on providing 24/7 service for their forestry contractor clients.
ALPA has sold and serviced several forestry equipment lines and their shop developed an enviable reputation for producing excavator conversions for forestry applications. In 1999, the Landry family added manufacturing equipment to their enterprise, establishing A. Landry Fabrication Ltd., and manufacturing the Landrich tracked forestry harvester.
Fornebu’s Hyundai wheel loaders came with the Hyundai Construction equipment standard warranty: three years and 3000 hours. In addition, an ALPA technician goes on site for a day with each delivery, to go over the machine with Fornebu staff.
According to Yann Savoie, general sales manager with ALPA Equipment, the Hyundai warranty leads the industry.
“Hyundai’s parent, Hyundai Heavy Industries, invests billions of dollars in research and development, and the technological development and advancement is passed on to their different sectors,” explained Savoie. He believes Hyundai has the most advanced wheel loaders in the industry based on a number of different measures.
Savoie says advanced technology has resulted in highly fuel efficient engines, in addition to a well-earned reputation for engine reliability.
His confidence in Hyundai engine reliability comes, in part, through ALPA’s experience in converting Hyundai excavators for forestry harvesting and processing applications.
“An average construction excavator will typically see utilization in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 hours per year,” explained Savoie. “With the forest harvester conversions, they can easily see utilization in the range of 4,000 to 5,000 hours per year. We have seen those Hyundai engines still giving excellent service even after 20,000 to 25,000 hours of operation.” Hyundai engines have proven very reliable and highly fuel efficient in very heavy duty applications, he added.
Savoie also points to Hyundai’s Hi-Mate remote management system as another example of Hyundai technology. The Hi-Mate system allows equipment managers to remotely access service and diagnostic information for their Hyundai machines. The system is a GPS-based technology which tracks, traces and monitors Hyundai machines, any time and in any location.
Through GPS and GIS technologies, users can pinpoint the exact location of equipment and retrieve data from the machine, including fuel consumption, coolant temperature, pump pressure and more. Technicians can also make online diagnosis on machines. The system can even shut down a machine in case of theft.
“Service personnel can use the Hi-Mate online portal to get the data they need to keep the machines performing,” explained Savoie. “The system saves time and money by promoting greater preventative maintenance and reducing machine downtime. Managers can also check operator driving habits though the Hi-Mate system.”
Sawmill owner Umoe has steadily and strategically made investments in their Fornebu mill including the installation of a HewSaw system in 2010, as well as updating and increasing kiln capacity.
At the front end of the mill, two Nicholson debarkers take eight and nine foot logs into the mill where a Prologic+ scanner assesses each log and assigns logs to one of seven sort bins. Fornebu processes timber through the HewSaw with seven saw patterns.
Annual wood consumption is 400,000 cubic metres and the wood supply comes from Fornebu freehold land, Crown allocations, private woodlot suppliers and other industrial suppliers. The mill operates with 86 hourly staff, 13 supervisory staff and 23 people in woodlands.
“We have many contractors, ranging in size from single machine operations to full stump to roadside operations,” says Jewettt. He pointed out that Fornebu also gets a sizable amount of log supply from private woodlots, and they have seen that supply increase over the past few years.
About 80 per cent of Fornebu’s lumber production is marketed through a broker to the U.S., and about 80 per cent of their total production ships out of the mill by rail.
In terms of production, the mill went through a normal start-up and they have worked their way to the point where they plan to operate around 200,000 board feet/shift or 400,000 board feet/day, based on a two-shift operation, says Michael Godin, general manager of the Fornebu mill.
The HewSaw set-up has also allowed Fornebu to set noteworthy records. Godin pointed out they achieved 301,000 board feet in an eight-hour work shift and also achieved a log count record of 19,000 logs processed in an eight-hour shift.
More recently, Fornebu has invested in a VAB scanning and grading system in their planer operation, as well as building their wheel loader fleet.
The VAB system scans and identifies each stick with an inked code. The mill produces #2 and better, so there are few sorts, with two to three persons on the floor to pull off-grade while the bulk of production moves directly to the auto stacker.
Speaking about the VAB system, Jewett explained: “It was installed in October 2012, the total cost was just over $1 million including other modifications in the trim system. The main gains have been in consistent grading, decreased low grade and decreased trim. Our satisfaction is very high, and we have not been off-grade, due to deficiencies in the VAB, since day one.”
Since taking over management of the mill, Fornebu has invested in MEC kiln technology, building their annual kiln capacity to 120 million board feet which comfortably handles the mill’s current annual 92 million board feet lumber production.
While the smaller Hyundai units are kept busy for the most part handling lumber bundles from the sawmill through to drying, planing and loading trailers and rail cars, the Hyundai 770—the big daddy of the fleet—gets the heavy duty assignments. The 770 has an operating weight of 23,500 kgs and boasts a 300 horsepower engine. With ample power and capacity, the machine ably handles the chip bucket, which has a 2,000 kg capacity. With the big bucket and a nicely paved yard, the 770 can load a rail car in just twenty minutes.
Hyundai 770 operator Raiche Hermel has been very impressed with the big loader, pointing out it was spec’ed correctly for the big chip bucket. “The machine is very comfortable to operate. It has a very comfortable cab, with great visibility. All the control functions are very nice to work with, and the machine really works well—and it gets a lot of
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