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Summary: Riverside Forest Products' $17-million upgrade in Williams Lake produced an immediate 12 per-cent gain in recovery. The company will spend another $8 million for further gains by year end.

By Jim Stirling
Copyright 1996 Contact publisher for permission to use

Change means making decisions. Riverside Forest Products Limited made a $17-million decision at its Williams Lake, BC division dimension sawmill, and the results are justifying the direction taken.

The first phase of a modernization program produced an impressive 12 per-cent recovery gain on an annual production of 165 million board ft. The second phase of projects totalling about $8 million are scheduled for completion at the end of 1996 and are expected to contribute a further six per-cent recovery improvement. Developing new markets and products in a wider range of lumber widths and thicknesses is also part of the overall project at the high-efficiency sawmill.

Riverside is a recent player in the forestry scene in BC's Cariboo coun-try. The company purchased the Jacobson Bros. Forest Products operation in 1994. But it's also no stranger to the southern interior, where it was founded 49 years ago and where it has eight diversified manufacturing facilities in four centres, a large seedling nursery and half ownership in a New Westminster, BC plywood plant. Riverside became a public com-pany in 1992 and reported sales totalling $376.9 million in 1995, a $73 million increase from 1994, reflecting changes in pricing and production.

The company sought ways of adding value to the available resource when it acquired the family-owned Jacobson mill. "We tried to take a good look at our wood basket. We did an analysis of trees from our future harvesting areas to see how we could best accommodate them with today's proven equipment," summarizes Spence Brigden, manager of the Williams Lake Division. Riverside made use of the Sawsim software program from

Halco in its analysis of potential lumber and product recovery. The results of the studies indicated about one-seventh of the mill's future annual lin-eal output would come from large-diameter wood. Riverside had a decision to make. "Although overall our mix of wood is getting smaller, we have this component of larger wood and we chose to upgrade the head rig facilties to handle those volumes ourselves," explains Brigden, "although it's sometimes difficult to keep the line full."

An alternative would have been trading the larger-diameter wood. Riverside has an AAC of about 580,000 m 3 . Company harvesting areas range from the SPF forests of the Likely-Horsefly region east of Williams Lake — where the volumes of larger timber originate — to the predominantly Lodgepole pine flats on the Chilcotin Plateau in the west where the wood can be marginal. Riverside also buys about 20 to 25 per cent of its timber requirements on the open market or through incentive licences like salvaging bug-killed wood.

The next challenge for Riverside was matching the wood supply to the log handling and processing stages to extract maximum value from the resource. The Jacobson mill had three lines each with a debarker, primary breakdown unit, edger and trimmer. But once a log was committed to a line it stayed there, and the same with lumber downstream. Riverside wanted an interchanging flexibility between the large-log head rig side and line two, the mid-size log line. The latter line typically handles wood from 5'' up to about a 10'' top. Line three, the twin circular saw scragg line, handles the 5'' and down tops that primarily originate in the Chilcotin harvesting areas. Carroll-Hatch (International) designed the log infeed and bucking system.

Logs are scanned full length with a Porter scanning and optimizing system feeding two cut-off saws. The 66'' Murray Pacific cut-off saws can handle up to a 30'' diameter log. The saws are programmed to utilize the geometry of each log for the cut, ensuring stability without the necessity of hold-down clamps. "They've worked reall y well," attests Brigden. The new log-handling and bucking system included installation of Linden quadrant feeder and required significant excavation, concrete and structural steel work.

A new debarking building houses a 21' ' Val one Kone machine from the original operation and a new 44'' Nicholson A2. Both debarkers are able to deliver wood to the head rig side and to line two as required. Enclosing the debarkers allowed the installation of overhead cranes for easier maintenance, a practical location for electrical panels and protection from the unkind winter weather of the Cariboo. Phase one modernization improvements included installation of a new Coe head-rig carriage and tracks on the large-log side. Downstream is a new McGehee 12'' double-arbor edger.

The infeed has manual settings — no optimization — but the operator has the ability to set the cant out from the line bar, points out Brigden. Saw kerfs were dramatically reduced to 120 thousands of an inch from 220, allowing precision cut ti ng and improved recovery. As part of phase two, installation of a USNR head-rig scanner and control system was completed in February, 1996.

"It will further increase our recovery and our grades somewhat through more balanced cutting," anticipates Brigden. "It is essen-tial to give us the best opening face and for turning the log back again." Line two has undergone a major retrofit spread through the two modernization phases. An Optimil double-length infeed, four-sided canter and 6' twin band are controlled by an optimizer using a Porter system.

The new equipment replaces a two-sided canter and a twin band saw. By June, a Coe edger scanning/optimizing infeed system is scheduled for installation ahead of the 10'' McGehee edger. An optimized Newnes trimmer with 24'-length capability in front of the 70-bin sorter replaces three trimmers, one of each of the mill's original lines. Phase two will be completed with a planned $5 million to $6 million investment in line three, the small log line, and the chip-handling sys-tem. Equipment decisions were not finalized at press time.

Relocating an existing edger and installing a re-man saw facility gives the operation some increased export market capabilities. Most of the production from the 24' mill in 1x4 to 2x12 dimensions has typically been marketed in North America. But shipments to the demanding Japanese market have been slowly increasing, notes Brigden.

Late in 1995,the Riverside division received notice its JAS certification process for its quality assurance program had been approved by the Japanese. Brigden says startup of the new equipment went smoothly, especially considering the scope of the modernization phases. He credits the maintenance, engineering and production staff under sawmill superintendent Richard Crowell for their work in getting the new system up and performing well.

But the management and staff at Riverside hasn't finished yet. "Today, you can't really stop," admits Brigden. "There may not be the major investments as we've had on a year-by-year basis, but we have to continue to deal with smaller logs and improve chip recovery, planer capability and look at things like MSR in the future." He says the company's planer is primarily a manual system with limited sorting capability. It leaves room for improvements, efficiencies and grade selection.

Those and other opportunities for improved efficiency and competitiveness mean a continuing sequence of change and decisions seems assured at Riverside 's Williams Lake Division.

April 1996 articles - Forest Expo Show Guide

  • New Deere Buncher
    Eastern and western contractors assess the new 653E.
  • Riverside Forest Products
    A $17 million upgrade produces a 12-percent recovery gain
  • OSB Fast Track
    Ainsworth opens its second OSB plant in as many years.
  • Caribou-Friendly Harvesting
    A look at a working study in BC's Chilcotin region.
  • Eye on the Orient
    With a confusing Timber West/Fletcher Challenge ownership behind it, the Elk Falls lumber mill invests $16 million to retool for Asian markets.
  • Unmasking the Eco-Myths
    Ex-Greenpeace activist Patrick works these days to counter the forestry myths and misinformation put forth by radical environmentalists. Most don't have a clue what they are talking about, says Moore.
  • Ancient Enterprise Still Thriving
    The oak forests and processing industry of France predate the Romans. LSJ's peripatetic editor Reg Barclay takes us inside a highly efficient plant in Burgundy, France.
  • Diploma Mill with a Difference
    A Crestbrook Forest Industries program that combines on-site industrial training with high school completion courses is well-accepted by employees.
  • Marketplace: Supplier NewsLine
    Equipment information including the Implemax Equipment skid steer grapple, the Dynaweld detachable trailer model, the Imac PowerSwivel, the Morbark Model 1300 Tub Grinder, and more.
    This month: Kiln controls including Drystar Computer Kiln Controller, Winkiln Control System, Custom Dry Kiln PLC and more.
  • New Era in Bush Communications
    Forest companies working in remote locations will welcome TMI Communications' new mobile satellite communications network.

Last modified 6/10/96

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