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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

May 2015

On the Cover:
B.C.’s Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers Ltd has hauled a lot of different materials in its decades of operation—but the company has now expanded its operations to hauling logs in the B.C. Interior, and it is working for several forest companies operating in the region. Watch for the story on Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers in the next issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal (Photo courtesy of Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers).

Prince George: a century
of sawmilling

The City of Prince George—home to the Canada North Resources Expo—is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2015, and it has a rich sawmilling heritage over that century.

Seizing the moment —in logging
Log Commander Enterprises, owned by the Webster Brothers—Ryan and Curtis—of Quesnel, B.C. has chosen to seize the moment in the logging upturn, expanding their fleet of logging equipment by a factor of four in the last 18 months.

Back to the future—with phase logging
Forest company Tolko Industries is revisiting the past with its Innovative Phase Logging program in the B.C. Interior, and it is delivering detailed—and valuable—information on logging equipment performance and production.

Recipe for recovery
A major planer upgrade at Tolko’s Soda Creek Division stud mill operation in Williams Lake, B.C. is going to help expand its range of products and improve grades and recovery at the mill, a solid recipe for improved competitiveness.

The latest in logging tools
Northeastern B.C. logging company Hi-Sky Enterprises has introduced some new Komatsu machines into its logging equipment line-up to provide their employees with the latest in logging tools, and make sure they are able to keep moving wood efficiently to meet the needs of their customer, lumber giant Canfor.

Going full tilt
New logging operation Full Tilt Contracting is looking forward to doing exactly that—going full tilt—in the not too distant future, helped along by solid logging equipment and an experienced crew.

Cranking out the lumber at Idaho Forest Group
Attendees at the recent Small Log Conference got a first-hand look at Idaho Forest Group’s new Lewiston, Idaho upgrade and its focus on a HewSaw SL250 3.4 installation that is already cranking out six million board feet a week—with room for more production.

Energy—but with a green footprint
A new wood-fired district energy system in the B.C. Interior is delivering multiple benefits, including solving the issue of residue disposal from a local sawmill using a Bandit 1390 XP 15 inch drum chipper, and in the process delivering energy that has a greener footprint.

Taking charge on the marketing side
Having had success manufacturing and marketing red pine product, Ontario’s Heideman sawmill recently made some acquisitions, and has now taken charge of marketing its finished white pine product.

The EDGE

CLICK HERE for the Canada North Resources Expo Showguide

DEPARTMENTS

Tech Update: Skidders

Supplier newsline

The Last Word

 

 CLICK to download a pdf of this article

Tolko's Soda Creek Division Stud MillRecipe for recovery

A major planer upgrade at Tolko’s Soda Creek Division stud mill operation in Williams Lake, B.C. is going to help expand its range of products and improve grades and recovery at the mill, a solid recipe for improved competitiveness.

By Jim Stirling

Much has changed, from the new building overhead to the robot wrapping finished lumber packages underneath.

Tolko Industries Ltd., has crafted a major transformation of the planer operation at its Soda Creek Division stud mill in Williams Lake, British Columbia. The investment is paying early dividends through a faster and more efficient operation beginning at the planer outfeed and slow down table. The improvements also help deliver the ability to expand the range of products and improve grades and recovery, a heady cocktail for improved competitiveness.

“We had three main objectives for proceeding with the upgrade,” explains Mike Yonkman, finishing end superintendent at the Soda Creek planer. “We can now improve fibre and grade recovery with a new automated grading system, and we now have the sorting capacity to pull out requested product and grade items.”

The third major reason for the upgrades was the mill’s old lumber stacking system. It had a hard time keeping up, and was very labour intensive. “We had two stackers and also hand-piled on a dry chain.”

Under the new system there’s a single stacker, a bander and an autowrapper.

Mike Yonkman“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work with this project and I’m extremely pleased, especially considering its scope and magnitude,” says Mike Yonkman, finishing end superintendent at the Soda Creek planer. “It’s always a challenge building something from the ground up.”

The target production through the revitalized planing system is around a million board feet a day. That production was already being achieved on a regular basis, as long as the mill wasn’t heavily into running 2 x 3s. By outrunning the sawmill (about 850,000 board feet a day), the additional capacity is available for specialty products with higher grades and values, explains Yonkman.

The principal equipment suppliers contributing to the planers’ new efficiencies include Comact with its GradExpert autograder system and Carbotech International for the new trimmer, sorter, stacker and all the other lumber handling functions. Wolftek Industries, as the Western Canadian distributor for Carbotech, supplied the Carbotech equipment, mechanically installed all components and completed the new sorter building erection. Wolftek worked as a liaison between Carbotech and Tolko to keep the project on schedule and budget.

Samuel supplied the mill’s new bander and D02 the autowrapping robot.

Known unofficially around the mill’s finishing end as Thomas, the robot can wrap and staple a 392 piece package every 90 seconds. It could maintain that pace without stopping if there was the wood to keep up with Thomas and enough wraps and staples for the robot to work with. D02—Dolbeau Oxygene—is a company based in Dolbeau-Mistassini, in north central Quebec.

Tolko's Soda Creek Division Stud MillMajor sawmill improvement projects like Soda Creek require the co-operation and co-ordination of all involved to create a successful venture. Having good contractors and consultants—along with the equipment—is a major part of that success.

The Soda Creek project also benefitted with help from the local community. “Doug Fraser Contracting from Williams Lake was the primary mechanical installation contractor and he and his crews did an excellent job keeping costs in line and the mechanical install on schedule,” credits Yonkman.

Most of the Soda Creek stud mill’s raw material is in the form of beetle killed lodgepole pine. About 85 per cent of that volume ends up in 2 x 4s, 10 per cent in 2 x 6 and the balance in 2 x 3s. Principal markets for the finished lumber are in China—especially with the 10 foot lengths—and in the U.S. and domestic sales. “Our 36 bin sorter can now pull 25 different products, up from seven, which gives us a big improvement in what we can do and get from our fibre,” points out Yonkman.

Physical construction work for the planer upgrade project began late in 2013.

“We thought we were going to excavate to four feet for our extended building,” recalls Yonkman. But there were pockets of material requiring excavation to 11 feet before further work on the 11,000 square foot extension could proceed. But after that, most of the rest of the project proceeded well without any major surprises.

Tolko's Soda Creek Division Stud MillThe improvements at Tolko Soda Creek help deliver the ability to expand the range of products and improve grades and recovery, a heady cocktail for improved competitiveness. One of the principal equipment suppliers contributing to the efficiencies was Comact, with its GradExpert autograder system.

The high level of automation introduced into the mill’s production process did lead to a reduction in the numbers of staff required, concedes Yonkman. “But Tolko has been successful in accommodating them elsewhere,” he added. “The whole project represents a significant capital investment and show’s Tolko’s commitment to Williams Lake.”

When the Logging & Sawmilling Journal visited, the operation was performing very well but remained a work in progress.

“There are lots of bugs to be worked out still. You’re always troubleshooting for the first little while and maintenance and operating staff have to learn about the new equipment,” he says. “The start-up curve is about training—that’s what you do.”

Yonkman reckons a factor that’s really helped the new style operation gather momentum as well as it has is thanks to the people working in the planer. “They’re good people to get along with here at the planer and top notch for attitude,” he adds.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work with this project and I’m extremely pleased with just about everything, especially considering its scope and magnitude. It’s always a challenge building something from the ground up,” concludes Yonkman.