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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

June/July 2015

On the Cover:
British Columbia has been slammed with forest fires this summer, with more than 200 wildfires burning around B.C. in mid-July. For an update on the current wildfire situation, please go to Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s website at (Photo of helicopter working on a controlled burn at the Cisco Rd. forest fire near Lytton, B.C. courtesy of BC Wildfire Service).

B.C. sawmill explosion, fire ruled accidental
A coroner’s jury has ruled the explosion and fire at the Lakeland Mills sawmill in Prince George, B.C. in 2012 as accidental, and it made a number of recommendations to help prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.

Business-minded logging
Long-time coastal logging contractor Ted Arkell of Dyer Logging has found the challenges of logging have changed over three decades in the business, with a need to be far more business-minded to make a return on your equipment investment these days.

A Re-start for Rough and Ready Lumber
A significant investment in the small log line at Oregon’s Rough and Ready Lumber has resulted in better aligning production to the local log supply—and delivered solid economic benefits to a hard-hit part of the state, with the re-started sawmill.

Successful move into log hauling for Valley Carriers
A long-established, family-owned B.C. trucking firm, Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers, has recently expanded into log hauling, and is finding their already established trucking base—and their focus on their customers—gives them an edge in this competitive business.

Building operator loyalty
Alberta logging contractor Ted Freake finds that when it comes to the people who run his equipment, it pays to take the time to train operators—sometimes from scratch—with the goal of building loyalty and long term employee relationships.

Avoiding logging equipment fires
Nate Burton, Technical & Safety Services Manager of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, on the top five causes of forest equipment fires, and how operators can avoid them.

Returning to logging
The ongoing recovery has seen some contractors returning to the forest industry—New Brunswick’s Greg Davis and Wade Regan have now returned to the industry, and moved from a chainsaw/cable skidder operation to mechanical harvesting and a harvester/forwarder set-up, to better ensure their success.

DEMO show is on the way
Planning for the largest live equipment logging show in North America next year—DEMO 2016, to be held at the UBC Research Forest near Vancouver—is well underway, with recent planning meetings firming up the details for DEMO.

Canada North Resources Expo: another winning show
The Canada North Resources Expo, held in Prince George, B.C. at the end of May, was a huge success, thanks to features like a 30 per cent boost in outdoor exhibition space and the show hosting the first Northern B.C. Safety Conference.

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.

The Last Word
Given the changes that have occurred in the Canadian forest industry—and what’s to come—Tony Kryzanowski says it’s time for the Canadian forest industry to refresh its research and development priorities.


Supplier newsline



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Oregon’s Rough and Ready LumberRough and Ready Lumber

A significant investment in the small log line at Oregon’s Rough and Ready Lumber has resulted in better aligning production to the local log supply—and delivered solid economic benefits to a hard-hit part of the state, with the re-started sawmill.

By Tony Kryzanowski

A $7 million investment has brought back a familiar sound to Josephine County, Oregon, located just north of the California border—the sound of trucks, mobile equipment and sawmill blades from the Rough & Ready Lumber mill, after nearly a year in mothballs.

Sawmill co-owner Link Phillippi says the investment was made possible from a partially forgivable $1 million loan from Oregon’s Strategic Reserve Fund due to their creation of more than 60 jobs, and $4 million to $6 million from both state and federal New Market Tax Credits meant for development in distressed areas. The reopening of the sawmill has put 70 people back to work in this area of high unemployment in Oregon.

“The retooling of the mill allows us to utilize a wide range of log diameters and species and lines us up with the local log supply better,” says Phillippi. “That has made all the difference.”

In an all-too-familiar story for southern Oregon, Phillippi says it wasn’t a lack of lumber sales that precipitated the sawmill’s closure in 2013—it was a lack of access to wood fibre within a reasonable distance to keep the third-generation sawmill owned by the Krauss family running. It was founded by the grandfather of Phillippi’s wife and business partner, Jennifer Krauss Phillippi, in 1922. Many of the sawmill’s customers have been with them since the business began and were eager for them to reopen.

The story of Rough & Ready Lumber’s closure reads like the story of a man dying from thirst while being surrounded by an abundance of drinking water. Located near the town of Cave Junction, Rough & Ready Lumber is within easy driving distance to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the Klamath National Forest, the Six Rivers National Forest, and the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management. About 70 per cent of the county is federal forest. However, severe restrictions on logging in these forests has decimated what was once a vibrant forest industry in the Cave Junction area.

At the time of its closure, Rough & Ready Lumber was the last operating sawmill in that region.

What’s different today—with the investment made primarily to the sawmill’s small log line and planer mill—is that the mill now has the right design to maximize product recovery from the size of commercial wood fibre available to the sawmill. Phillippi is now much more optimistic about the mill’s future. Also, he senses a change in the public’s perception of the role careful logging can play in the surrounding national forests, as questions are raised about the need to maintain the overall health of these forests and the potential for forest fires if some measure of forest management doesn’t occur.

“If there is one thing that the federal government needs to wake up and start doing quite a bit it is to start managing some of their forests by fireproofing them and starting to remove some of the excess fibre, caused by years of successful fire prevention,” says Phillippi.

The sawmill is a two-line mill processing ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and Douglas fir, currently operating on a one-shift basis. Phillippi hopes to bring on a second shift once the economics and wood supply issues align.

At present, the sawmill produces high volumes of shop and industrial, random width, pine lumber, in five quarter and six quarter thickness, typically in 16’ lengths sold primarily to remanufacturers, particularly window and door manufacturers. Their Douglas fir line is primarily structural dimension lumber and timbers.

The product ratio is about 75 per cent pine and 25 per cent Douglas fir. The sawmill processes 30 million board feet of logs annually on a single shift basis.

The large log line processes logs in the 24” and over diameter range, while the small log line processes logs from 6” to 30” diameter.

In terms of log supply, Rough & Ready Lumber received about 90 per cent of its wood supply from public forests until the mid-1990s, when the federal timber supply was severely curtailed. The reason for the curtailment was pressure from environmental groups and litigation. Without an affordable and dependable log supply, investment in the local forest industry essentially dried up.

“We had to downsize in 1995 and shift our focus so that we were about 90 per cent dependent on private wood supply,” says Phillippi. “That was quite a change, but the log supply dictated that we had to make an adjustment.”

Between the sawmill and planer mill at Rough and Ready Lumber, there is a Wellons wood-fired boiler, 12 double-track dry kilns, and a 1.5 megawatt cogen power plant.

That trend continues today, with supply coming from about a dozen large, industrial landowners in southern Oregon and northern California, within 160 to 220 kilometres from the sawmill. Given that it is the only pine sawmill on the west side of the Cascades mountain range, it has a niche in terms of sourcing its wood supply.

At its peak in the early 1990s when wood fibre from public lands was plentiful, the sawmill had over 200 employees operating both onsite mills on a two shift basis. That fell to about 145 employees once the public timber supply retracted, with a further reduction in shifts and employees to 85 by 2002, with a focus on operating the large log line almost exclusively.

“In 2013, we looked out on the horizon to see how far we were going out to keep a single shift of large logs, and we were going out 320 kilometres to find enough wood,” says Phillippi. “It got to be so that the transportation costs were too high, and we decided it was time to pull the plug.”

It was the uncertainty of the log supply that precipitated that decision.

With financial support from the state, the sawmill owners decided to invest in their small log line and reopen the mill because they realized that the diameter of local logs was becoming smaller and smaller.

“We just said that we needed to align our sawmill manufacturing more in line with the timber supply within 160 kilometres of our operation,” says Phillippi, “and that required us to invest in our small log mill, which has allowed us to saw logs more efficiently.” The result has been more production per hour, fewer employees, and a more competitive business.

Phillippi describes the large log line as a lower technology cutting mill with three dimensional scanning in front of the headrig. But the operator is still making all the decisions on when to turn the log, how deep to cut, and what products to manufacture from each log.

By contrast, he describes the refurbished small log line as a higher tech, optimized, higher speed mill, processing a lower quality of smaller log, but achieving high production per hour.

The sawmill reopened in September. The focus was to design the small log line so that it could process larger cants. Prior to the capital investment, logs on this line had to be broken down to 6” cants before they could be processed further through an edger on the outfeed.

Now, the small log line starts with a Nicholson A1 35” ring debarker, leading to an operator-controlled bucking system. Logs are conveyed to the Maxi Mill 24’ overhead system, with end dogging, with an existing 6’ Klamath Iron Works quad saw with chipper heads. Boards are processed through an existing Schurman 6” X 42” board edger. To allow the small log line to process larger cants, Rough & Ready lumber invested in a USNR optimized 12” double-arbor gang edger with optimization scanning provided by Baxley to process the cants. They replaced a single band resaw line with a Letson & Burpee 5’ twin resaw. Lumber from the edger, gang edger and resaw line all converge on a single landing table.

“This investment has allowed us to saw 6” to 30” logs pretty efficiently on our small log line, and we can also take some of the wood that we are running through our large log mill,” says Phillippi.

From the landing table, the lumber is processed through a Lucidyne grade mark reader, leading to a USNR Irvington, 24’ automatic trimmer and a Newnes 40 bin, J-bar sorter. After the sorter, there is a USNR Lunden 24’ sticker/stacker with all new PLC controls. Stacked lumber proceeds to the dry kilns. Between the sawmill and planer mill, there is a Wellons wood-fired boiler, 12 double-track dry kilns, and a 1.5 megawatt (MW) cogen power plant.

About $2 million was also invested in the planer mill to accommodate the higher production from the sawmill, including a new infeed and outfeed system, a higher speed, rebuilt Stetson-Ross 614 D1, 8” X 25” planer, a Lucidyne grade mark reader, a USNR Irvington trimmer, and a 17 bin, USNR Irvington sorter, leading to a Flow Tech stacker.

Both lines of the sawmill as well as the planer mill are now back into full production, and are delivering solid economic benefits to the region.

“We are in a poor, rural community in southern Oregon that has an abundance of federal public forests that can provide an awful lot of opportunity,” says Phillippi. “It’s a good thing to have this mill running, providing jobs and an economic lifeline for one of the poorest areas of the state.”

Phillippi estimates that with the sawmill operating, they are providing about 600 direct and indirect jobs.