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February 2005  - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal


Top Lumber Producer

Roseburg Forest Products’ Dillard mill has completed a $24 million modernization that will establish it as among the largest production mills in the United States.

By Alan Froome

Bill Weist, Dillard mill manager, on their production approach: “Log prices in Douglas county are among the highest in the entire US, so the new mill has to achieve the highest possible recovery to be successful.”

Roseburg Forest Products’ (RFP) Dillard division is a huge complex, with a sawmill, planer mill, plywood plant, particleboard and melamine plant all on the same site. “The late Kenneth Ford built the original sawmill back in the 1940s and it was upgraded in 1977 and again in 1998, so this is our fourth major rebuild,” explains Bill Weist, Dillard’s sawmill superintendent. “The chipper is almost the only thing left from the old 1977 mill.” Allyn Ford, Kenneth’s son, is president and CEO of the company today, which has just completed a major upgrade and change of direction at the Dillard mill.

The big change this time is the concentration on stud production instead of the eight- to 24-foot lumber produced before. An ambitious production target has been set by RFP management for the expanded sawmill. Lindsay Crawford, vice-president of manufacturing, has set 400 million board feet as the target figure for 2005. To put this into perspective, Roseburg’s production in 2002 was 202 million board feet and last year the top US sawmill (Hampton Affiliates) produced 385 million board feet. The increased production will elevate the Dillard mill to top position or close to it.

Dillard is RFP’s largest wood products division, but the company also has a particleboard plant at Missoula, Montana, a plywood plant at Coquille, Oregon, and a plywood and engineered wood products plant at Riddle, Oregon. The road to the Dillard plant is only two lanes, but Bill Weist notes that 75 per cent of the lumber produced at Dillard is shipped out by rail, supplying many of the big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Surprisingly, a lot of the wood chips produced on site are shipped all the way to Japan. Three to four shiploads of Douglas fir chips from Dillard leave the port of North Bend each month. A lot of new ideas in sawmill automation were incorporated in the new Dillard sawmill, with Roseburg engineers and their suppliers pushing the design envelope in their quest for higher recovery and efficiency.

A visual (manually controlled) bucking system, with saws supplied by Linden Fabricating, was installed in late 2002 and is used to make decisions on log length for either the sawmill or plywood plant

The plan was to make the expanded mill nothing less than the most efficient and highest production stud mill in the USA, producing eight-, nine- and 10-foot studs. The new mill is designed to run on a three-shift basis, running 120 hours each week, to achieve its output. “The motivation behind the choice of advanced technology chosen was the fact that log prices in Douglas county are among the highest in the entire United States, so the new mill has to achieve the highest recovery possible to be successful,” says Weist. Under the leadership of Bill Randles, vice-president of engineering at RFP, the design project got under way in 2002. It was decided at the outset that the heart of the new mill would be a dual carriage end-dogger incorporating many of Roseburg’s own ideas. It was also decided that the next major machine centre downstream would be a vertical arbor shape-sawing cant gang.

Supplier selection came next on the list, and Ted Foster of Resource Saver Industries (RSI) of Gig Harbor, Washington, was hired as design consultant for the new end-dogger. Porter Engineering of Richmond, BC, received the contract for the scanning and optimization system on the end-dogger and Micha Richardson of Roseburg’s own electronics department, took on responsibility for the machine sequencing controls, with help from Warren Myrfield of Procon. Ryan Champion of RFP was given the task of being project manager and he worked with Stolberg Engineering of Richmond, BC, and Bradford Conrad Crow Engineering of Portland, Oregon, on the design of the new mill. Ryan also designed the tilted separator outfeed from the end-dogger, which separates sideboards from cants. Cants are then conveyed directly downstream to a vertical shape-sawing cant gang, which was supplied by Coe Newnes/McGehee, with scanning and optimization from Porter Engineering.

The curve gang is unique in that the whole machine and its feedworks is tipped over at 10 degrees to the vertical, to match the similarly tilted 120-foot long outfeed chain from the end-dogger. This is to keep the cants upright against a fence and ensure they do not fall over in transit between machine centres. It also avoids the need for a multitude of side press rolls. Logs up to 40 feet long arrive at the mill by truck and rail. Species are Douglas fir, white fir, hemlock and lodgepole pine. “A total of 1,000 log trucks a day is required to feed all the mills in our area and only 700 are available locally, so 300 have to come long distance from other areas,” says Weist. “About 50 per cent of the logs come from our own timber lands and the rest from private owners.”

A visual (manually controlled) bucking system, with saws supplied by Linden Fabricating was installed at Christmas 2002 and is used to decide on log length for either sawmill or plywood plant. Two Nicholson debarkers, a 27-inch A-7 and a 35-inch A-8, peel off the bark and send the logs to a sorting system, left over from the old mill layout. Logs directed to the sawmill range from five to 24 inches in diameter and the average processed by the new end-dogger is 8.8 inches. The centre cants are re-scanned by another Porter real shape laser scanner, as they are conveyed (still on edge) to the new 15 saw Coe VSS Gang, which is said to be the first vertical curve gang with skew control.

Porter also supplied the Allen Bradley ControlLogix PLC controls for the VSSG. Logs over 16 inches diameter and most of the crooked logs are sent to the old (1998) side of the building, to be broken down by a Sharp Chain five-foot twin bandmill system with twin canter heads and Coe scanning and optimization. As a side note, the canter heads throughout the mill were all supplied by Iggesund. The Sharp Chain system uses a pair of new Iggesund design “solid” heads and the end-dogger has three chip heads, the more familiar conical type heads on the two sides and a drum type head on the bottom. The VSS Gang also has drum type heads. Sideboards are edged by two saw edgers: a new Coe/ Newnes lineal fed machine and an older Coe transverse fed unit.

Downstream of the edgers and the new VSS Gang is a Coe 9 saw Trimmer with Coe Detec scanning and optimization, followed by a new Coe/Newnes 31-bin automatic lumber sorter. This is running parallel with an older manually controlled 21-bin USNR sorter. After stacking, the lumber leaves the building and is transferred to the drying department, which has a total of 34 kiln tracks available. The planer mill was built with Newnes material handling equipment in 1999 and operates two Stetson-Ross planers, one running at 1,500 fpm and the other at 600 to 800 fpm.

Very much at the heart of the new sawmill, is the new end-dogger, which warrants a more detailed description. The complicated system has two side-by-side carriages to process up to 20 eight foot logs a minute. The basic machine structure was purchased from the Bean Lumber company and completely redesigned by RSI . “This machine is unique compared to other end-doggers in the fact that the logs can be completely rotated plus or minus 180 degrees to the optimum position,” says Ted Foster of RSI. “The recovery figure is confidential, but I can say that we have achieved more than the project was budgeted for.” No less than 85 separate axes of linear control positioners are involved in making the system work. The sequence starts when logs are fed into the indexer, which grabs the log at each end and swings it through an arc, where the four-bar Porter scanner scans it.

The scanner uses Hermary Laser Range Sensors (LRS), with 19 sensors at six-inch spacing on each bar, plus two more at each end to measure length. The indexer is independent at each end and can slew, skew, lift, shift and rotate the log under computer control, before it is transferred to the charger. The charger then transfers the log in its optimum position to one of the two overlapping carriages, traveling at speeds up to 600 fpm, which carry the log through the three canter heads (bottom and two sides).

At this point the carriage undogs the log and the three-sided cant is transferred to the linebar section, using side press rolls to feed a USNR (Letson & Burpee-style) six-foot air strain quad bandmill. The tilted separator outfeed separates side boards from cants and the cants travel on edge (at 10 degrees) straight on to the new VSS cant gang. Each carriage has a 250 hp DC electric drive mounted on the overhead structure and pantographs carry hydraulic, air and electrical control lines to each carriage. The sequencing control system on the end-dogger is based on a PC based Delta Tau UMAC system, instead of a conventional programmable logic controller. The new end-dogger components were built by Columbia Machine of New Westminster, BC and Con-Vey Keystone of Roseburg, Oregon, under the supervision of Ted Foster of RSI.

Another interesting feature of the new mill is the numerous “SizeCheck” systems used throughout for quality control. Large wall-mount LED displays are used to show the dimensions of the last piece each machine centre produces. If displayed in green, it’s good, if it’s displayed in orange, it’s off limits, to alert the QC personnel. SizeCheck was supplied by E B Associates of Enumclaw, Washington. When discussing RFP’s part in the project, Weist points out that the concrete foundations and some of the fabrication and installation work was carried out by Roseburg’s own crew.

Mechanical contractors were BMI and O & S Contractors, with electrical work carried out by Olsson Industrial Electric. To sum up the new RFP mill design, it has certainly pushed the limits of sawmill technology and performance to a new level, a level the late Kenneth Ford would be very proud of.

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