Eacom Timber AutologSawmill MUSCLE

EACOM Timber partnered with equipment supplier Autolog to optimize the company’s Val D’Or and Timmins sawmills, achieving value uplift at both operations, strengthening them and giving them more market resilience.

By Tony Kryzanowski

On the heels of a $27 million investment to rebuild its high-production dimension sawmill that was destroyed by fire in Timmins, Ontario, EACOM Timber Corporation continues to modernize its facilities, pursuing more value uplift, recovery and efficiency as part of an overall strategy to strengthen all its operations for better market resilience.

Continuous improvement is an important part of EACOM Timber’s philosophy, and with the investments at Timmins and Val D’Or sawmills, the company was specifically looking to capture more value and to make sure they were making good decisions with their scanners.EACOM installed a new Autolog transverse scanner modular frame at its Val D’Or stud mill, bringing the company’s total investments at this facility alone up to $6 million since 2013. Working with both Finnish sawmill breakdown technology supplier HewSaw and Autolog, the project has resulted in better scanning and optimization at the stud mill’s trimmer and sorter. The mill produces lumber from 2” X 2” to 2” X 4” up to 10’ lengths.

In 2015, the company spent an additional $5.7 million on two projects at its Val D’Or, Quebec stud mill and Timmins, Ontario dimension lumber mill, working with Blainville, Quebec-based Autolog Sawmill Optimization.

EACOM also installed a new Autolog ProGrader linear planer optimizer at its Timmins planer mill. The goal on this project was to work with Autolog to upgrade the entire planer mill control system, resulting in improved grade yields and higher lumber recovery. It features the latest computer technology to automatically grade the visual characteristics of finished lumber, and in addition to the Autolog ProGrader, EACOM also installed a new USNR fence and lug loader. This sawmill produces lumber from 2” X 4” to 2” X 10” up to 16’ lengths.

“These capital investment projects at the Timmins and Val D’Or sawmills build on EACOM’s previous investments in its Ontario and Quebec sawmills to increase our capacities in shifts, employment levels and production,” says Kevin Edgson, EACOM’s CEO. He adds that they contribute to the company’s overall goal of developing strong assets and to position the company better for future stability.

Eacom Timber AutologIn 2015, EACOM Timber spent $5.7 million on two projects at its Val D’Or, Quebec stud mill and Timmins, Ontario dimension lumber mill, working with Quebec-based Autolog Sawmill Optimization. The capital investment projects at the Timmins and Val D’Or sawmills build on EACOM’s previous investments in its Ontario and Quebec sawmills to increase its capacities in shifts, employment levels and production.

Headquartered in Montreal, privately-owned EACOM became an instant big player in Eastern Canada’s forest industry with its acquisition of Domtar’s Forest Products Division in 2010. It operates seven sawmills in total—five in Ontario and two in Quebec, with annual production of about 900 million board feet and 1000 employees. Three are dimension lumber mills and four are stud mills.

“We are always looking for ways to improve with both capital and non-capital projects,” says Orrin Greene, Corporate Projects and Controls Manager at EACOM. “Continuous improvement is an important part of our company philosophy. With these investments, we were specifically looking to capture more value and to make sure we were making good decisions with our scanners.”

By capturing more value, he says it follows automatically that you will also increase recovery and throughput, because better decisions are being made.

EACOM had some very specific needs when it began shopping for a top-of-the-line computerized replacement grading system for its Timmins planer mill. Greene says that what they wanted was a system that was very accurate on detection of such deficiencies as rot and white speck, adding that detecting rot seems to be a particular challenge with many systems currently available. They reviewed many systems for both the Timmins and Val D’Or sawmills, and also conducted board tests on each system.

“We felt that Autolog had the best product of the ones that we looked at,” says Greene. “We felt that their product did a better job of identifying the defects of the board. Both systems have worked well and they are doing what we had hoped they would do.”

He agreed that it can be difficult to make an apples to apples comparison from one computerized grading system to another because of how each system is configured. With a university degree in both logical engineering and electrical engineering, as well as a PhD in Engineering Management, and over a decade of experience in the wood industry, Greene brought considerable knowledge and experience to the challenge of evaluating different computerized grading systems.

“It’s tough because there are a lot of different features and the set-ups take a while to do,” he says. “If you aren’t careful, you could end up without having a good apples to apples comparison.”

Greene says when doing comparisons, the selection of material used to test each system is particularly important to reach an accurate comparison.

Price was only one of the criteria EACOM used to make its comparisons and ultimate selection. Other considerations included the number of units each supplier had in service and the experiences of other users. Greene says they were not just looking for a supplier for these important items, “but also a partner.”

Autolog launched its new modular transverse scanner frame last fall to work in combination with its line of transverse scanners, promoting the concept of providing sawmills with the ability to easily and cost effectively replace an obsolete optimizer with a more current model.

Greene says that EACOM is impressed with the performance of the Autolog transverse scanner modular frame, which is equipped with transverse optimizing scanners installed in front of their trimmer and sorter in Val D’Or. They are also pleased with how the frame install went, given its location in a busy section of the production line. It was just a matter of cutting out the old scanner frame and installing each section of the Autolog frame on the same foundation mounts. In terms of performance, Greene adds that it is strong and not prone to vibration.

“Sometimes you are tempted to leave the old frame in and do a retrofit just to save installation time,” he says. “Using the Autolog modular frame was a good alternative path forward for us.”

Since it is a modular design, the EACOM construction crew was able to use its manpower to deliver the modular pieces to the install location without needing a crane or extra equipment to assemble the pieces. Staff were able to complete the installation over the Thanksgiving long weekend last October. Most of the work required on this project related to electrical contracting work, which was conducted by local electrical contractor, Moreau.

In terms of the installation of the Autolog ProGrader at EACOM’s Timmins planer mill, this is a replacement and upgrade to an existing computerized grading system that Greene says was installed years ago. This installation did require quite a lot of machine centre relocation in the planer mill because the new grader was not the same footprint as the old one, and new USNR equipment was being added to optimize performance. USNR managed the entire rebuild of the Timmins sawmill that was destroyed by fire. This capital project in the planer mill was accomplished last year between the Christmas and New Year’s break, with ramp up to full production by the middle of January. Contractors working on this project included Timmins-based Accurate Electric and Steelworks Inc., a specialist in structural steel fabrication and installation.

“The Timmins system provides us with more accurate grading, while the system in Val D’Or provides us with more trimming and sorting reliability,” says Greene. “They are new systems, so there are no obsolete parts. Everything is available. That wasn’t the case with our older systems. We had obsolete parts and if we had a failure, it was an issue for us to get up and running.”

A fair amount of training to use each system to its capabilities and to ‘dial in’ each wood product specifications into the scanning systems was required, but Greene says that Autolog provided good after-sales support throughout this process.


Logging and Sawmilling Journal
May/June 2016

On the Cover:
On the B.C. Coast, it’s about getting the wood to the water, but before it hits the water, it needs to be harvested in the woods. And this September will see the full range of harvesting equipment working at the DEMO 2016 show being held in Maple Ridge, B.C. Please see the preview story on DEMO, beginning on page 28 of this issue. (Photo of B.C. dryland sort by Paul MacDonald).

Beetle attack: but this time it’s the spruce beetle
As if the B.C. Interior has not been hit hard enough by the mountain pine beetle, there have been recent increases in the spruce beetle population in the Central Interior of B.C. Details on what is being done to fight/contain the latest scourge in the forests.

Sawmill muscle
EACOM Timber partnered with equipment supplier Autolog to optimize the company’s Val D’Or and Timmins sawmills, achieving value uplift at both operations, strengthening them and giving them more market resilience.

Logging partners in profit
An award-winning logging partnership between the Quatsino First Nation and Western Forest Products on the B.C. Coast is delivering efficiencies—and profits—to the two partners.

A (sawmill) offer you can’t refuse
Weyerhaeuser Canada made Alberta sawmill owner Guido Unger a (good) offer he couldn’t refuse: the purchase of a used USNR line that will allow his sawmill to ramp up production considerably.

Coming in September: DEMO 2016
Full details on the upcoming largest logging equipment show in Canada this year: DEMO 2016, being held in Maple Ridge, B.C. from Sept. 22-24, with all of the major logging equipment manufacturers represented.

Hands-on harvesting approach
Nova Scotia logger John Dorey has been recognized by the Canadian Woodlands Forum for his hands-on approach to meeting the needs of woodlands clients, and excelling at partial harvesting.

Getting more control over log hauling
Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie, Alberta timberlands operation is phasing in more tire pressure-controlled equipped log haul trucks, allowing them to increase their access on steep logging roads, even in bad weather.

Variable Tire Pressure Control 101: What are its benefits?

More chips to go...
New Brunswick’s Billy and Ronnie Gillespie are innovators when it comes to their chipping operation

Urban logging in Alberta
Alberta’s Shawn Moore has moved beyond the oil patch, and his tree removal business has now morphed into doing urban logging—and they’re diverting trees from the landfill.

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 and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
Winters aren’t what they used to be, and that simple fact is impacting the forest industry, says Jim Stirling.


Tech Update: Forwarders

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