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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

December/January 2015

On the Cover:
Equipment manufacturer T-Mar Industries is addressing the increasing volumes of second-growth timber on steep slopes in B.C. with its new Log Champ 550 grapple yarder. The first Log Champ 550 is being used by new owners Southview Forest Services Ltd. on Redonda Island, on B.C.’s lower coast, yarding second-growth fir. (Cover photo and story photos courtesy of T-Mar Industries)

The forest industry worker gap—and becoming ‘cool’
The forest industry can no longer assume the huge workforces it has been used to in the past are still going to be there when it needs them. It now needs to capture the hearts and minds of its future workforce—in short, it needs to be considered a ‘cool’ and lucrative career choice.

Safety champion
Don Banasky, president of the Truck Loggers Association and vice-president of operations at fast-growing Tamihi Logging, is a champion of safety in B.C.’s coastal forest industry.

Winning the sawmill battle—and the war
Saskatchewan’s L & M Wood Products is winning the employee training battle, with a program that was actually designed for training people on the manufacturing line in World War II.

True multi-purpose head
B.C.’s Tolko Industries has been trying out the GP grapple processor head, produced by Pierce Pacific, and after six months the multi-purpose GP head has been able to prove its stuff successfully in two different types of trials in the B.C. Interior.

Canada’s newest sawmill revs upLakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C., is like no other sawmill built before it in terms of production, employing the very latest technology to attain the maximum recovery and value from its available wood fibre—but with a very strong focus on safety.

The New Lakeland Team

More stringent WorkSafeBC
investigation techniques being
introduced

Sinclar Group a PowerSmart leader

Lakeland’s—and the Sinclar
Group’s—rich community history

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.

New grapple yarder for British Columbia loggers
Working with its industry-leading design expertise—and with an industry heritage reaching back decades—T-Mar Industries recently introduced the Log Champ 550, its new steep slope grapple yarder designed to take on the increasing volumes of second-growth timber in B.C.

Going four-wheeling with Waratah’s new head
Waratah’s new 622C 4x4 multi-tree processing head with four roller drive is getting solid praise from the folks at McNeil and Sons Logging in the B.C. Interior, where it makes for a solid harvesting combo with a John Deere 2154D carrier.

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Lakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C.Canada’s newest sawmill revs up

Lakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C., is like no other sawmill built before it in terms of production, employing the very latest technology to attain the maximum recovery and value from its available wood fibre—but with a very strong focus on safety.

By Jim Stirling

Canada’s newest sawmill is like no other built before it.

Lakeland Mills Ltd.’s new plant in Prince George, British Columbia does have familiar objectives. It’s designed to attain the maximum recovery and value from its available wood fibre. And it employs sophisticated high speed log breakdown and conversion machinery to manufacture Lakeland’s premium stud lumber.

But what sets Lakeland’s new mill apart from other recent rebuilds is the integration of safety features throughout the sawmill’s design. The overall goal is sawdust mitigation, and the approach has been twofold: to capture and remove dust at source through an elaborate, mill-wide automated vacuum system and to reduce areas where dust can collect. The result is expected to be a sawmill with a dust control improvement factor more than seven times that of the mill it replaces.

Lakeland Mills’ preoccupation with sawdust mitigation became that of an entire continental sawmilling industry following the events at Lakeland on April 23, 2012. On that date, a catastrophic explosion and subsequent fire killed two Lakeland Mill workers and 22 other employees were injured. Three months earlier, a similar explosion and fire at the Babine Forest products sawmill near Burns Lake, B.C. had also killed two sawmill workers and injured 20 others. Detailed investigation into both incidents confirmed sawdust accumulations with their propensity to explode were a contributing factor to the incidents at both mills.

“We wish this tragedy had never happened but we are committed to learning from the experience,” said Greg Stewart, president of Sinclar Group Forest Products which owns Lakeland Mills. His comments were made when the decision to rebuild the mill was made public in July 2013. “Obviously the circumstances that led to this are not ideal and it continues to weigh heavily on our minds, our thoughts. It’s with that incident in mind that we put a lot of effort into this,” announced Stewart in December 2014 just prior to the new Lakeland Mills start-up. “We’re all committed to making sure we have a safe operation.”

Sawdust is a natural byproduct of sawmilling, albeit an insidious one with an ability to accumulate in a multitude of unwanted places. The fine, dry sawdust created by processing mountain pine beetle killed timber—as Lakeland has to do—can be especially challenging to repel. But Lakeland has made it difficult for the stuff to accumulate. The new mill’s interior contains fewer flat surfaces. Beams are rotated 45 degrees on the diagonal to help prevent dust accumulating. Process centres are enclosed and have direct dust removal and peaked roofs, making Lakeland’s the first mill floor with an alpine theme.

Lakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C.Most of the breakdown equipment on the single production line is from USNR. Lakeland’s configuration of features from the USNR equipment was tailored specifically to the mill’s requirements.

Control rooms have been designed floor to ceiling to help prevent dust accumulations. Shedder plates have been added to horizontal beams and dust resistant cable trays have been installed.

Greg Stewart (centre), President of Sinclar Group Forest Products, which owns the Lakeland sawmill, is proud of the rebuilt sawmill, and the many safety features built into the mill. With him is Marc Witte (right), plant manager of Lakeland, and Bruce McLean, senior woodlands manager for Sinclar.Greg Stewart (centre), President of Sinclar Group Forest Products, which owns the Lakeland sawmill, is proud of the rebuilt sawmill, and the many safety features built into the mill. With him is Marc Witte (right), plant manager of Lakeland, and Bruce McLean, senior woodlands manager for Sinclar.

Other safety initiatives include positive pressure and the isolation of machine and electrical rooms from the process environment; a sparking detection and control system; sprinkler system; low energy lighting and methane monitoring. The latter factor is a precautionary safety first factor. It’s believed long before it was a sawmill site, the area or part of it, was used as a landfill. The new system draws air from the surroundings through wells and any methane identified is piped out and discharged.

Several of the dust control features incorporated into the new mill came directly from the people who spend their working day there. “We have regular meetings with our employees and we have incorporated their ideas into the mill design,” said Marc Witte, Lakeland’s plant manager.

Lakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C.The mill’s new interior roof is a further eye-catching feature with a safety angle. The roof is constructed of Cross-Laminated Timbers (CLT) from Structurlam Products of Okanagan Falls, B.C. Witte noted steel will buckle in a fire before laminated beams burn. The same type of laminated product was used in construction of the six-storey Wood Innovation and Design Centre in downtown Prince George, the tallest wooden structure in Canada, which opened in October. The building is connected to the Prince George District Energy System which begins at Lakeland. The system uses surplus capacity from Lakeland’s wood fired energy system to deliver “green” renewable energy to buildings in the downtown core. Lakeland also has an agreement with the University of Northern British Columbia to supply wood fibre for its Nexterra gasification system, currently undergoing expansion to service other campus buildings.

The new Lakeland mill will have 110 workers, down from the approximately 160 prior to the explosion and fire. Most of the employees are returnees, said Witte. All participated in a comprehensive orientation and training session on the new mill and its equipment. Production capacity in the new mill is 200 million board feet/year on a two eight-hour shift basis five days a week (down from about 225 million board feet/year on three shifts). Products include Lakeland’s blue-end studs in 2 x 4, 2 x 6 and 2 x 3 dimensions along with 1 x 3 and 1 x 4 board stock. The new mill has the capacity to manufacture in metric sizes as well as American Lumber Standard products. Indeed, expanding product range and market potentials is second only to safety in the new Lakeland mill’s design.

Production capacity in the new mill is 200 million board feet/year on a two eight-hour shift basis, five days a week. Products include Lakeland’s blue-end studs in 2 x 4, 2 x 6 and 2 x 3 dimensions along with 1 x 3 and 1 x 4 board stock.

Room to expand has been built into and throughout the mill layout. The timing of expansion into nine and 10 foot product manufacture will depend on market conditions.

Wood fibre to support the new Lakeland sawmill will be harvested from the sprawling Prince George Timber Supply Area. The Sinclar Group holds three forest licences, two in the name of Lakeland Mills totalling about 750,000 cubic metres, said Bruce McLean, Sinclar Group’s senior wood lands manager and operations
manager. The short term wood supply appears secure but there are no such guarantees beyond that, added McLean “We’re anticipating a cut in the Prince George AAC,” he said as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.”We’re anticipating we’ll be purchasing wood like other mills by 2018.”

McLean added that Lakeland’s present wood profile is characterized by more than 70 per cent in dead lodgepole pine with stems less than 22 inches in diameter.

Lakeland’s logging contractors and haulers will deliver to the millyard lengths of 33 feet, 24 foot 10 inches and 16 foot 7 inches.

Plant manager Witte described some of the major steps taken to transform logs into quality studs. The mill has installed four Price Log Pro Merchandisers. McLean noted that they are well-built, proven machines (including dealing with southern yellow pine in the U.S.) and incorporate standard parts regularly available. Witte said the merchandisers are designed to run at 16 cycles/minute and do not require a dedicated operator. The equipment comes with a 98 per cent stem singulation guarantee.

 

As evident throughout the new Lakeland, there’s an ability to add a future scan. Other features include a built-in surge capacity, even stem ending with a butt pusher and there’s rotary positioner assembly prior to cutting. A smart tipple assembly directs the flow of blocks to one of two fixed belts. The two identical Nicholson 22 inch A8 Tandem ring debarkers are fully certified for use under the Hazardous Location Designation, Class II, Div 2 (Group G) category. It means the debarkers fully meet all existing safety standards.

The two tandem debarkers at Lakeland are the first Class II, Div 2 (Group G) certified debarkers produced by Nicholson, and are also the first hydraulic roll control machines sold in Canada. Nicholson had previously sold A8’s in Europe and the U.S. with the optional hydraulic roll control system, but Lakeland is the first in Canada. This system provides enhanced feed roll positioning with very smooth log feeding and provides the user with significant energy savings benefits over the long term compared to the standard pneumatic system, says Nicholson

The Lakeland mill has installed four Price LogPro Merchandisers. Mill management liked the fact that the merchandisers incorporate standard parts regularly available. The merchandisers are designed to run at 16 cycles/minute and do not require a dedicated operator.

Most of the breakdown equipment on the single production line is from USNR. Lakeland’s configuration of features is tailored specifically to the mill’s requirements. Among the features Lakeland chose are: auto rotation optimizing with log geometric scanning; log surface vision scanning; lead and tail end vision scanning; split detection and automatic turn error connection on the fly. The line also features a reciprocating quad roll log turner; SQI Scanner to verify rotation angle and log positioning prior to chipping.

There are top, bottom and side chipping heads with Andritz Iggesund knives; side profile chip heads and quad arbour circular saws. Top and bottom profiler chip heads and a six inch straight sawing vertical double arbour gang are included in the system. USNR and Lakeland staffers collaborated with the design of dust capturing heads for the equipment.

 

Secondary breakdown equipment includes a WaneShear edger, contributing single board solutions at 50 pieces/min and double board solutions at 35 pieces/min. The line also features electric positioning robots and Microtec Goldeneye 900 scanners.

Throughput is important and the USNR line is designed to deliver anticipated feed speeds of about 600 feet/min on the chipping cant line; 500 ft/min on material between nine inches and 13 inches and about 395 feet/min for material greater than 13 inches. Lakeland’s line features one of USNR’s new ElectraTong lug loaders, which offers all electric board control at high speeds including boards of random thickness. The 35-bin, 240 lugs/minute bin sorter is from Mill Tech Industries with the moisture scanner and lumber scanning systems by Microtec.

Sawdust is a natural byproduct of sawmilling, but Lakeland has made it difficult for sawdust to accumulate. The new mill’s interior contains fewer flat surfaces.Beams are rotated 45 degrees on the diagonal to help prevent dust accumulating.

The Lakeland Mill has two GradExpert systems that were installed in 2007. During the mill shutdown, they took the opportunity to upgrade their grading optimizers to get the benefits from Comact’s constant development in technologies to meet the highest standards in the industry. With the latest generation of equipment, their GradExpert systems are now like new, says Comact.

Allied Blower designed Lakeland’s dust control/collection system. The 4.5 inch vacuum system can support two, three-inch diameter suction hoses or three two-inch diameter hoses. The sawmill has three baghouses at 60,000 cfm capacity each while the hog building has one baghouse at 25,000 cfm. A 50,000 cfm baghouse will be installed at the planer, which escaped the fate of the sawmill during the horrors of the 2012 explosion and fire.

Now the major pieces are in place, it’s a matter of Lakeland’s people getting used to their new sawmill, and delivering on the potential of a safer environment so they can move forward with confidence.