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Debarker Delivers

Vancouver's Westcoast Cellufibre installed a new double-ring debarker and is already seeing benefits in increased small log processing.


By Bill Tyce
Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use.

With the recent installation of a new debarker, Westcoast Cellufibre, a Vancouver sawmill and chip producer, has more than doubled its small log processing on the chip line.

The move will help the mill increase chip supply to their parent company and main chip customer, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited, a kraft pulp and newsprint facility located on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast.

Westcoast Cellufibre and the Hruby family have a long history at their location on the Fraser River in South Vancouver One of the mill's original founders in 1969 was John Hruby Sr. In 1974, Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor), bought out the other partners, with the Hrubys maintaining a portion of the ownership. In 1986, Canfor became 100 per cent owners of Westcoast.

John Hruby

"Our future log supply looks like it is going to be decreasing in size so we needed to take action that would allow us to process a larger number of smaller-sized logs at a faster pace," says John Hruby, general manager of Westcoast Cellufiber

Westcoast's main customer, Howe Sound Pulp, is also owned by Canfor. In 1988 Canfor and Oji Paper Co. Ltd. of Japan became equal owners in Howe Sound and undertook a major upgrade, including the addition of a newsprint machine. A new company called Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited was formed with Westcoast Cellufibre becoming division of this new company.

Keeping Howe Sound supplied with wood chips is a major job, but the production side will certainly benefit from the new equipment. The new Valon Kone Brunette (VKB) Model MK IV-43R debarker replaced the mill's 60" Brunette single-ring debarker. With the new unit in place for the latter third of 1998, Westcoast has the capacity to provide Howe Sound with 500,000 GPU (Gravity Packed Units) of high-quality chips this year.

For 1999, with the new double-ring unit operating for the entire year, Westcoast will increase production capacity to approximately 600,000 GPU, most of which will be shipped to Howe Sound, with a small amount dedicated to spot custom chipping for other local mills.

John Hruby, son of one of the original founders of Westcoast and now general manager, says the main reason for installing the new barker was the size of logs the mill is receiving now, and what they expect to receive in the future.

"Our future log supply looks like it is going to be decreasing in size so we needed to take action that would allow us to process a larger number of smaller-sized logs at a faster pace," says Hruby.

According to Hruby, half of the logs that presently go through the mill are what they consider small logs, which is under 20" at the butt. Larger logs are from 20" to 40" with anything over 40" being split before going through the debarker. Only 10 per cent of the logs processed by Westcoast are over 40" in diameter at the butt.

"Whether we were processing a small log or a large log, it still moved through the debarker at the same speed, and with a lineal throughput of only 98' per minute, the old debarker was one of the main bottlenecks in the mill's chip line," says Hruby.

Hruby is quick to point out that large log production is also limited by the mill's screening capacity, which they don't intend to increase at this time.

The new VKB debarker, which was installed the last week of August and the first week of September, is already ramped up to 80 per cent of fall production."We are still doing some fine-tuning, but expect the new debarker to be running at full capacity of 220' per minute in the very near future," says Hruby, who is very pleased with the results they are already achieving.

"Our overall chip production is already up by 20 per cent," he adds. Hruby is also happy with the two-ring system, and says "what the first rotor doesn't get, the second one does."

Although the installation of the new debarker took almost two weeks, instead of the scheduled five days, crews were able to take full advantage of down time at Howe Sound Pulp and Paper.

"We did not want to disrupt the chip flow to Howe Sound so we moved up the debarker installation by three weeks so the work would coincide with an inventory shutdown that was only scheduled a couple of weeks in advance. The early installation did cause us a few problems, as not all of the parts were ready when we needed them. However, we were still up and running by the time Howe Sound started up again," says Hruby, who credits the successful installation to his crew, who did most of the work, with some help from outside labour and the manufacturer.

Planning for the project started in January 1997 with the budget of $1.75 million approved in late 1997.

The VKB MK IV-43R is the first of its kind and the largest debarker in overall size ever produced by the company. It can handle logs from 6" to 43" in diameter and from 8' long to tree length.

Logs are efficiently debarked by two 43" diameter rotors travelling in opposite directions, the first one counter clockwise and the second clockwise. Each rotor has six tool arms and is driven by 100-hp, 900-rpm motors. The rotors feature an advanced air-management system for soft tool arm opening and debarking pressure selection.

The debarker also features automatic, hydraulic rotor centering and log feedworks control by a PLC, with an operator manual override selection. A maintenance bypass mode allows either rotor to be lifted to a mezzanine floor for maintenance.

Hruby says that after extensive consultation with VKB, they elected to make some engineering changes from the original specifications.

"Instead of the alligator feed chains you normally see on debarkers, we had VKB install oversized feedrolls. The benefit of the rolls is less resistance and in turn, less wear on the equipment. In addition the feedrolls provide greater speed."

All top and bottom feedrolls are driven by Valmet Black Bruin hydraulic motors. The mill's old 60" Brunette debarker is being moved over to the sawmill side of the mill where this year they are budgeted to produce up to 38 million board feet of green lumber, mostly hemlock. Solid wood products produced by Westcoast include 4X4s for the Japanese traditional housing market, scantlings for Australia, and dimension lumber and landscape ties for the North American Market.


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