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September 2005  - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

 

ENGINEERED WOOD

MORE LVL PRODUCTION

Quebec now has additional laminated veneer lumber (LVL) production facilities, with Temlam’s new $130 million LVL plant in the northwestern part of the province.

By Martine Frigon

In 1972, a large multinational company shut down its pulp mill in Témiscaming, Quebec. The following year, the mill’s former unionized employees, as well as residents of the small town located in Quebec’s northwestern Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, entrepreneurs, and governments banded together to buy the mill. This was Tembec’s first location.

Flash forward to more than 30 years later. Tembec now employs about 10,000 people and operates 55 locations that specialize in solid wood products, pulp, paper, paperboard, chemical products and engineered wood products.

Tembec’s Forest Products Group operates over 30 production facilities across Canada, the United States, Europe and South America, including Temlam laminated veneer lumber (LVL) plants.

Temlam, created in 2001 with the mandate to develop the engineered wood products business, is a 50/50 joint venture between Tembec and SGF Rexfor. SGF Rexfor is a subsidiary of the Société générale de financement du Québec, which carries out economic development projects in collaboration with business partners.

Temlam is operating a recently completed LVL plant in Amos, located in the same region where Tembec was founded. According to company executives, LVL has a bright future with strong markets and a high demand, which is great news for this small town of 15,000 inhabitants— the plant will be a major employer.

The new Temlam LVL plant (background, above) in this aerial shot of Amos, Quebec. The plant has provided a major boost to this town of 15,000. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the plant will employ 160 people.

Up to 250 people have been working on the construction site since May 2004, mostly hired by local subcontractors including Liard Mécanique, Moreau Industries, Breton et Fortin, Promec Construction and Soudure Blais Abitibi Inc. The $130 million operation will have annual production capacity of 4.6 million cubic feet, and employ up to 160 people. And in what is a rarity today, company executives say the project came in
right on budget.

While the LVL manufacturing process is technically challenging, it has many similarities with plywood. The major difference in the LVL process is that the sheets are thinner than plywood. All the veneer sheets are laid with the wood grain oriented in the same direction, and continuous lengths of up to 25 metres can be produced. An interesting point is that Temlam is the only North American company that makes LVL from aspen and white birch.

Temlam already owns and operates an LVL plant in Ville-Marie, 230 km southwest of Amos, as well as three locations under the name Jager Building Systems specializing in engineered wood I-joists in Calgary (Alberta), Bolton (Ontario), and Blainville (Quebec). It distributes its engineered wood products mainly in Canada and the United States. “We need another plant because of the demand,” says Jean-Guy Côté, general manager of the new LVL plant.

Laminated veneer lumber is light, structurally superior and can be produced in large sizes. The Ville Marie and Amos LVL plants produce a 1.8E and 2.0E LVL under the Selectem brand name; their products are fully compliant with all applicable construction codes and standards in Canada and the US. It can be sawn, glued, nailed, bolted, stapled and worked in a variety of ways.

The two Quebec LVL plants are located near Quebec Timber Supply and Forest Management Agreement lands, which are commonly referred to by the French acronym CAAF, and to other private timber suppliers.

Wood supply is critical considering the size of the new facility. “This new plant will be five times bigger than our Ville-Marie plant. We will take 364,000 cubic metres of aspen per year and produce 4.6 million cubic feet, operating seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” says Côte.

Although there are 160 jobs available in this new plant, hiring will not be a big challenge. “The company received over 1,200 résumés from across the province, he adds.

In terms of the production process, three hot ponds, heated by a GTS Energy thermal system that runs with hogged bark and dry wood residues, will hold logs for a period of 16 hours. “Logs will be more easy to process,” says Côté of the new set-up.

The plant has a Nicholson A8 high speed debarker—the heaviest Nicholson debarker going. One of the most important features of the A8 is its rugged Uniblock frame. Full height, solid threeinch thick steel plates carry the primary operating loads and the 35-inch single ring A8 weighs in at 113,600 pounds, ready to run.

All log handling gear, conveyors and decks were built by local supplier, DMC Soudure.

“The equipment is state-of-the-art, but no machines were really customized for our specific needs,” says Randy Fournier, vice-president of Temlam LVL.

“All the equipment we bought is standard.”

“For instance, we have a peeling machine that operates at a rate of eight to 10 logs per minute, and that can handle eight-foot logs,” adds Côté.

Raute Wood supplied much of the major machinery for the plant. The Raute peeling machine has a XY scanner/charger and block optimization. Other features include: a triple spindle lathe that brings volume efficiencies for the operation according to Côté; hydraulically powered roller nose bar; veneer tenderizer; digitally- positioned powered back-up rolls; digital pitch angle control; a hydraulic or electric knife carriage feed; an automatic round-up control and clipping trash gate; high-speed rotary veneer clipper; stackers for full-sized and random veneer sheets; an automatic and synchronized veneer reeler; and a management information system (MIS) for production control.

Two Raute dryer systems that contain six decks have been installed. “It will take seven to eight minutes to dry 6x8 feet sheets,” says Côté. A Metriguard noncontact system checks the strength grading for the three automatic Raute stackers, and veneer is re-directed to a stacker depending on the strength characteristics, G1, G2 or G3. Resin is supplied by Tembec’s Resin Group and Borden Chemicals.

A veneer jointer treats the swatches to create sheets of 6x8 feet. The LVL veneer handling is also done using Raute equipment. An automatic camera link to the equipment grades the veneer.

The production increases are clear in the numbers. “At the Ville-Marie plant, we produce 4x4 sheets. In Amos, we can make 6x8 sheets in the same period of time.” says Côté. Everything will be used.

In the yard, a mobile slasher will be installed to recover peelers, and the rest of the material will be shipped to the two nearest Norbord OSB mills, located at Val d’Or and La Sarre, a one-hour drive from the LVL plant.

Beside the plant, there is a separate building for finishing—such as packaging and rip sawing—with custom equipment from Doucet Machinery, a well-known machinery designer/manufacturer for the secondary wood processing industry, from Daveluyville, Québec.

While Temlam and LVL products have a bright future, the same can’t be said for some other parts of Tembec, which are struggling. In its 2004 annual report, the company announced a $30 million reorganization plan. And in May 2005, Tembec announced its plan to restructure its Eastern Canadian operations, resulting in the closure of four of its manufacturing plants.

“After making considerable efforts to stem the significant losses of these mills and find appropriate solutions to the challenges that they are facing, the company came to the conclusion that it had no choice but to shut down these operations,” Tembec president and CEO Frank Dottori said, when announcing the closures.

Randy Fournier (above), vice-president of Temlam LVL and Jean-Guy Côté, manager of the new plant in Amos, Quebec. “This new plant will be five times bigger than our Ville-Marie plant,” notes Côté.

In late May, Tembec’s Saint-Raymond mill in Saint-Léonard-de-Portneuf, Quebec, ceased operations, affecting 165 employees. The mill produced 68,000 tonnes of Hi-Brite paper annually. The company also gradually ceased operations at the Tembec Davidson sawmill in Mansfield-et-Pontefract, Quebec, laying off 209 employees. It produced 55 million board feet of pine and hardwood lumber annually. In addition, the company shut down sawing operations at the TKL sawmill in Témiscaming in July 2005,
affecting 29 employees. The sawmill produced 15 million board feet of pine and hardwood lumber annually. However, chip plant operations there continue.

Contrasting these developments, however, is the new LVL plant in Amos, which has growing markets and an ambitious start-up ahead of it. “We are starting an all brand new location, which is quite a great challenge,” says Côté.

 

 

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