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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

December/January 2016

On the Cover:
Getting the timber out to the dryland sorts and the sawmills economically has always been a top priority for the industry. In this issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal we take a look at how a few different loggers do just that, including very different logging operations in B.C. and Alberta. (Vancouver Island log sort photo by Paul MacDonald)

Logging contractors being left behind in the recovery?
While the forest industry has recovered from the downturn—though the recovery still seems tentative, at times—the logging contractor sector seems to have been left behind when it comes to improved logging rates. What gives?

Changing gears in B.C. coastal logging
B.C. coastal logger Bob Lee has had to change gears with his logging operations in recent years, and this involved some big time changes, with a move to second growth wood, and purchasing and operating bunchers and processors.

Deere delivers with new 748L skidder
The new John Deere 748L skidder is helping Alberta logging operation Forest Trotter Contracting be more productive, especially on hilly ground—and offers more operator comfort, to boot.

Cutting lumber drying costs
B.C.’s Southcoast Reman, a large custom lumber remanufacturer and kiln drying operation, is making use of an advanced new kiln control system that is delivering impressive savings on their power costs—in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 per cent.

Getting past the hurdles of harvesting on Haida Gwaii
Constraints are a fact of life with forestry operations on Haida Gwaii, off the north coast of B.C., but Haida-owned Taan Forest has an initiative underway that would see primary manufacturing of logs from its FSC certified forest operations.

Inside/out sawmilling
B.C.’s McLeod Lake Indian Band is now involved in sawmilling, through Duz Cho Forest Products, and it has taken an interesting approach with an “inside/out” design for its cant mill, which is creating higher valued products from raw material that other potential users don’t want—or can’t economically use.

The Edge
Included in this edition of 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.

Diversifying the industry’s workforce—
with more women

Registered Professional Forester Melinda Morben has had a successful career in the forest industry—having started out operating logging equipment in the B.C. Interior—and she is now encouraging more women to look at working in the forest industry.

The Last Word
Tony Kryzanowski says it’s time to compensate logging contractors on what it costs to run a business in 2015—not in 2008.

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Diversifying the industry’s workforce —with more women

Registered Professional Forester Melinda Morben has had a successful career in the forest industry—having started out operating logging equipment in the B.C. Interior—and she is now encouraging more women to look at working in the forest industry.

By Paul MacDonald

Melinda Morben knows all about saying “yes” to opportunity in the forest industry—and she is encouraging other women to look at employment opportunities in Canada’s forest industry.

This past January, Morben made a presentation at the Truck Loggers Association convention in Victoria, where she spoke on the topic of the industry employing more women, as a way of expanding the workforce.

Based on her own positive experiences, she is encouraging more women to look at working in the forest industry.

“I think the industry has been accepting of women,” she says. “People have been respectful and I’ve had really supportive people that have helped me.”

The perception about the forest industry is that it’s a logger’s world—and that logger is a big, burly guy. But to some degree, that is a stereotype, and it’s changing. When it comes down to it, if you can do the job, you can have a go at it, says Morben.

“You always have to prove yourself in the forest industry—that’s just the way it is,” says Morben. “People don’t care if you’re a man or woman—it’s all about whether you can do the job.

“If you want to work with a solid group of people who are honest and fair and hardworking, I’d say you should get in this industry,” she added.

Morben is currently manager of operational logistics at Island Timberlands on Vancouver Island, but she started out in the industry processing logs in the B.C. Interior.

“I started running logging equipment pretty much right out of high school,” says Morben, who is originally from the B.C. Interior.

When Morben completed high school, a family member who owned a shop suggested she come down and help out. A logger came in to the shop, needing some equipment repairs, and impressed by Morben’s initiative and work ethic, the logger, Stewart Perron, offered her a job logging. She processed timber for Perron’s operation, with a New Holland carrier with a Log Max head.

Morben later worked for another contractor, Chad Welychko, the owner of Jamestown Contracting Ltd. in Fort St. James, who did processor phase contracting. Welychko was just introducing Waratah processors into his equipment line-up, so in addition to running processors herself, Morben also trained new employees on the Waratah equipment. And she thrived on the work. “Operating a processor can be dynamic work—you’re challenging yourself to do the sorts properly, and do more logs and volume every day,” she says.

Welychko had two processors, and everyone pitched in on maintenance, including Morben.

“Someone told me that you were not a true equipment operator until you could mechanic and wrench on your own machine, and not need help unless it was a major repair,” she says. Morben was out there changing oil and hoses. “I was right in there.”

Her favourite piece of equipment: a Madill 1800. “I just loved that machine—it had a Waratah 622 head on it.” Another favourite was a Volvo 294 with a Waratah 624 head.

In her last year of logging, her work coincided with studies at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George.

“All along, I learned never to say no to opportunity,” she says. “I liked logging, but I also wanted to make sure I took the opportunity to get an education.”

Morben was talking to the career counselors at the College of New Caledonia about further forestry-related education opportunities while she was on her way to becoming a Registered Forest Technologist (RFT). There were pending changes allowing RFTs to become RPFs, and Morben again said yes. “I wanted to do the degree,” she says. She eventually transferred to UBC, and graduated in forestry, and is now an RPF.

After UBC, Morben did some contract work in the industry, and looking for the right fit, was thinking about going for an MBA. “I thought it would be a good combination, being an RPF with an MBA.”

But she also applied for a quality control supervisor position at Island Timberlands—and got the job.

Morben has now been at Island Timberlands for five years.

While she had been considering getting that MBA at one point, she is probably now getting the equivalent of an MBA in timberlands management at Island Timberlands. “I’m really excited to be in timber production,” she says. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount.”

At Island Timberlands, Morben has mostly worked in quality control, and managed the company’s Northwest Bay dryland sort. These days, she is manager of operational logistics, and works with a cross-functional team, that takes in several areas of the Island Timberlands business.

“With my experience in quality control, I’m able to bring knowledge about sorts and manufacturing specifications and a lot of our timber types and distribution hubs all over the company’s land on Vancouver Island.”

The team works to manage the customer process for the company, specifically helping to schedule the harvest, fully utilizing logging equipment, the capacity the company has, and what they can harvest each year in each area, she explains.

“And we are looking at how we can be more efficient,” she added. “We’re looking at our dryland sorts closer and making sure we are supplying them with the capacity to manage what they are handling as efficiently as possible.”

To backtrack a bit, Island Timberlands was formed in 2005. Industry icon MacMillan Bloedel had been purchased by Weyerhaeuser Company in 1999, and in 2005, Weyerhaeuser sold all of their B.C. coastal assets. Island Timberlands was formed as a result of the purchase of the B.C. coastal private timberlands. It owns 258,000 hectares of timber land, most of it on Vancouver Island, and is the second-largest private landowner in the province.

Island Timberlands supplies both domestic and international customers with timber, which drives their harvesting and sort operations, explains Morben.

“Because our business changes so quickly with our customer demand and our customer mix, we really have to be on our toes making changes. We do really well with our logging to be able to change quickly with the equipment and the company/contractor mix that we have.”

Of the approximately two million cubic metres that is harvested each year, about 1.5 million cubic metres is done by contractors, and 500,000 by company crews. The contractors closely co-ordinate what they are doing in terms of equipment purchases with what is coming up with any timber type changes for Island Timberlands.

The new initiative that Morben is part of helps the contract managers for the seven Island Timberlands geographical business units schedule and flow their wood efficiently. “We are doing that on an ongoing basis, balancing our wood and what our boom out-turns are going to look like.

“It gives us a broader equipment perspective so we can use our contractors and home crew, and equipment, more efficiently,” says Morben. “We want to be making good business decisions with the equipment we have, and where we distribute it. Overall, the goal is more efficient timberlands management.”

That also involves looking at the future, and what timber types and sizes Island Timberlands is going to have down the road.

“For our home crew, we’re looking to buy the right equipment size for that timber type,” explains Morben.

This has already resulted in some equipment changes. The operation as a whole has now switched over to Southstar processing heads.

“We have three new Southstars—and we’re liking them,” says Morben. “We did a lot of analysis—it was a good change for us.”

With her background on the logging equipment side, Morben was part of the team that made the decision to switch heads. For Morben, it has also meant re-connecting with Marcel Payeur, whom she first met during her time processing in the B.C. Interior. She says Payeur and his group at Southstar are delivering top notch service. “Of course the equipment itself is important to us, but in terms of service, you call the Southstar people, and they are here.”

Uptime and ease of service are important to Island Timberlands, as is the accuracy of the processing their heads must do, day-in, day-out.

“We have some pretty intensive manufacturing practices and specifications,” says Morben. “We can process anywhere from seven to 11 sorts out of a timber pile. We are really keyed into some unique timber markets.”

There can be a large number of sorts at the dryland sort; they could easily have over 100 open log booms, which means 100 timber sort codes. “A sort can be running 150 open booms, and we can be scaling 55 to 70 different sorts daily. We want to be very, very accurate with what comes in from the woods and the sorting.”

The Southstar heads have a well-established, user-friendly measuring system, says Morben, but the company provided more. “Southstar came in and designed a complete system for us that is very easy to use. They hear what we’re saying when we’re asking for something, and they’re giving us the service we need.”

Morben says their production guys are excited about using the new Southstar equipment.

In terms of the carriers, Morben says they have stayed with the Cat 325 machines.

All of the work, Morben stresses, is done with safety in mind. In 2014, the operation went 100 per cent accident-free.

From the safety side to the equipment purchases, Morben feels her past experience in the woods has been instrumental in furthering her career. And she is going to continue to focus on the opportunities—and encourages other women to look at the forest industry. “It’s a great industry to work in,” she says.