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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

March/april 2015

On the Cover:
A Cat 522B feller buncher was the most recent equipment purchase for logging contractor Mid-Boundary Contracting, which is based in the rugged B.C. Southern Interior. Read all about how the new Cat buncher is performing for Mid-Boundary in this issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journa. (Photo of Cat 522B buncher courtesy of Mid-Boundary Contracting)

The clock is ticking on the Softwood Lumber Agreement
There is a united front on the part of Canada’s lumber producing provinces for extending the Softwood Lumber Agreement, but the U.S. government—and the U.S. lumber industry—have yet to say where they stand, even though the agreement expires this October.

Upping lumber recovery at Lakeview
Tolko Industries’ Lakeview Lumber Division in Williams Lake, B.C., has recently seen some significant upgrades that are already delivering results in lumber productivity and recovery.

Safety in B.C.’s logging industry: a work in progress
Safety has always been a priority for logging contractor Reid Hedlund, of Mid-Boundary Contracting—who is also chair of the Interior Logging Association—and though the industry has seen success at reducing the number of accidents, it continues to take ongoing effort, he notes.

Top Lumber Producers – Who’s on Top?
Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s annual listing of Canada’s Top Lumber Producers, produced in co-operation with industry consultants, International WOOD MARKETS Group.

Canada North Resources Expo
Visitors to the upcoming Canada North Resources Expo, being held in Prince George, B.C. May 29 -30, will enjoy an extensive range of displays, an excavator rodeo, sawmill and wood processing equipment demos—and perhaps even a grapple skidder show.

Upgrades bring efficiency—and green power
Alberta’s Manning Diversified Forest Products has invested $30 million in sawmill upgrades, new equipment that delivers higher production and more efficiency—and green power.

Cat—through and through
B.C.’s Kineshanko Logging recently celebrated its 40th year in logging, and all through that time their equipment has only been one colour: Cat yellow.

Careful logging in Algonquin Park
A careful approach to logging by contractors such as Jessup Bros. Forest Products is yielding jobs, good quality timber and an ample wood supply from Ontario’s well-known Algonquin Provincial Park—timber that also helps to sustain jobs at local sawmills.

Focus on Filing
The upcoming B.C. Saw Filer’s Association conference in Kamloops, B.C., features a solid line-up of speakers—and the opportunity to see the latest in saw filing equipment from equipment manufacturers.

Plywood going up - literally
B.C.’s Thompson River Veneer Products Ltd is benefiting from the general upturn in the economy, and sees demand for its plywood growing with building codes now allowing an increase in wood structure heights.

The Edge
Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and FPInnovations.

The Last Word
Tony Kryzanowski says a lack of joint ventures may be stunting the growth of the forest industry.

 

 

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The upcoming B.C. Saw Filer’s Association conference in Kamloops, B.C., features a solid line-up of speakersFocus on filing

British Columbia Saw Filers Association

The upcoming B.C. Saw Filer’s Association conference in Kamloops, B.C., features a solid line-up of speakers—and the opportunity to see the latest in saw filing equipment from equipment manufacturers.

By Paul MacDonald

It presents the opportunity for the key people in the filing rooms who really make it happen at sawmills to get together, and it’s coming up soon—the B.C. Saw Filer’s Association will be holding their upcoming conference in Kamloops April 24-25 at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Center.

The trade show portion of the event begins at noon and ends at 7 pm on the 24th and is open to all filers, mill managers and maintenance supervisors.

The keynote speaker this year is Troy Connolly, general manager for B.C. Lumber of Tolko Industries.

Also speaking will be Vito Vallese from Pro Mac Manufacturing on the history and evolution of saw splines, Udo Jahn from Modern Engineering on guides, Dave Smith from Fuchs Lubricants on saw and guide lubrication and Pat Robson on wheel grinding.

In addition to the speakers, a highlight is the showcase of exhibitors. Last year, the conference had 40 exhibitors offering a look at the latest in filing technology, products and services, and organizers are expecting this section of the show to be sold out again.

“Along with the forest industry, we’ve seen some success in the past few years,” says Bryan Glaister, the association’s president. “The importance of a conference such as ours is not only that it allows us to renew old acquaintances and make new ones, but it also brings together new technology and ideas for us to learn and remain competitive in the future.”

The companies will include displays on new equipment and technology. “We’ve got quite a bit of equipment coming this year,” said Glaister. This includes bandsaw auto-levelers, guide dressers, circular saw top and facers, auto tippers and lubrication systems. An important part of the convention is the trade show, where filers can meet one on one with the equipment suppliers.

“Technology continues to evolve,” Glaister added. “Everything used to be leveled by hand. While we have auto-levelers now, they are only tools to help filers. You still need to have a skilled sawfiler to recognize what needs to be done to a saw to make it perform.” So while the new automated equipment is being incorporated, and older equipment replaced, the saw filer is not going anywhere—they run the show, and help make sure the mill is getting the most out of each and every log, and in a safe way.

The saws used in mills need careful maintenance for safe operation. Repairs of damaged saws requires a high degree of skill, and it takes many years of full-time saw filing to become proficient in the trade.

Another important part of the convention is the informal get-togethers among the saw filers themselves. “Guys love to talk shop,” says Glaister. “And everybody does things just a little different, and that is the beauty of sawmilling. There is more than one way to achieve results.

“Sawfiling is a lot of troubleshooting and problem solving, and coming up with a better solution—and the proof is in the final results,” he added.

After years of being in the doldrums, the Canadian forest industry has been ramping up operations the last several years. As a result, there has been increasing demand for mill workers, especially on the sawfiling side of the mill. And the shortage of qualified and experienced sawfilers is acute, to say the least.

“It’s a huge issue right now,” says Glaister. “Whether it’s in the B.C. Interior or on the Coast, everyone on the mill side is looking for filers. There is a real shortage. We’re not training people fast enough to replace the people who are retiring.”

Saw Filers AssociationThere are several reasons for the shortage. During the industry downturn, when sawmills were shut down, some people simply left the industry, and headed to other industries, such as construction and the oil patch.

“There really wasn’t a demand for saw filers then,” says Glaister. “But now the lumber market has turned around, and the mills are putting on third shifts, and the demand for people is there. And with the demand for lumber from the mills, there is money to be made.

“But it’s coinciding with guys retiring—so it’s kind of like a perfect storm. We’re really up against it right now.”

Not surprisingly, due to a lack of demand, saw filing training, which is now offered at the Williams Lake campus of Thompson Rivers University, went through a lull as well, during the downturn. “But those classes are now full,” says Glaister.

The ideal would have been to have had a steady number of apprentices going through the program, even through the downturn, but that is not realistic in an up and down industry like forestry.

The Williams Lake campus of Thompson Rivers University is the only training institution in B.C. that offers technical training for the three trades that make up the saw trades: saw fitting, circular saw filer, and benchperson. The saw filer apprentice program at TRU provides the knowledge and skills required to become both a provincially and inter-provincially certified trades person. Full information on the program is available at: www.tru.ca/williamslake/programs/trades/sawfiler.html

As anyone who works at a sawmill knows, sawfilers are a key part of what make a mill work. “The mills now are looking to cut to fairly tight tolerances, and having skilled filers to help achieve that is definitely an asset,” says Glaister.

The preference is to hire skilled saw filers that can get up to speed quickly with a mill’s filing program, rather than apprentices, who naturally face a learning curve.

Unlike a lot of traditional trades apprentice programs, which can involve a lot of classroom work up front, apprentices in the sawfiling program need to do their training in a mill. “There are classroom hours, but you need to get the on the job hours and you need to do that within a sawmill,” explained Glaister.

Saw Filer's Association

Looking at the demand, new sawfilers have very attractive job prospects. “Everyone I talk to is looking for filers,” said Glaister. “One head filer I talked to recently said they needed four saw filers.”

Some mills are in such need of saw filers that they are willing to contract sawfiling services, and pay top dollar.

Glaister said the forest companies have woken up to the need for sawfilers—some companies are even looking to set up their own training programs.

Glaister entered the business through his father, who started filing at the former Whonnock Industries sawmill in Ruskin, in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. “My Dad had a saw shop and I learned from there. My first mill job was with Terminal Forest Products where my dad was employed at the time.”

Glaister said the best sawfiling candidates tend to be people who are very detail-oriented. “We’re measuring in thousandths of an inch—sometimes we’re talking about thousandths of an inch the way other people would talk about feet—but it’s all about details like that.

“The mills today are looking at using as much of the log as possible. The less saw deviation we have, the lower our target sizes, the more money they can make.”

Like every other facet of the forest industry, doing something “just good enough” does not cut it anymore.

An overall focus for the Sawfilers Convention will continue to be on the evolving equipment and filing methods—and the skills of the people that oversee all this equipment.


Clinton GrayComedian Clinton Gray

In the theatre room of the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Center after the B.C. Saw Filers Association trade show on Friday April 24, there will be a full buffet dinner followed by entertainment featuring Comedian Clinton Gray. Tickets are $25.00, a good value for an excellent meal and a few laughs.

The association’s Annual General Meeting will be held on the Saturday. Membership dues for Filers and Associates will again be $20.00 this year. Registration is available on site Friday and Saturday, however, the association is planning a early registration option where dinner tickets may also be purchased. Further information about registration is available at the B.C, Sawfilers website at http://www.bcsawfilers.com