By Jim Stirling
Good signs are always welcome. It’s a really good sign, for example, when a forest industry association’s trade show component—and a barometer of its importance—is sold out. But when the emails and texts requesting space keep on arriving, you don’t want to disappoint them.
That was the good news/bad news scenario facing the B.C. Saw Filer’s Association trade show, well ahead of the event’s April 28-29 date.
The Saw Filer’s annual general meeting and trade show is scheduled for the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Convention Centre and it will accommodate as many exhibitors that wish to take advantage of the opportunity offered as it possibly can, assures Bryan Glaister, vice-president of the BC Saw Filer’s Association. At least 42 exhibitors were confirmed attendees.
The association is an independent, grass roots fraternity which aims to encourage the sharing of knowledge and resources for the benefit of all those involved in the sawfiling trade.
The sawfiler’s 2017 trade show is scheduled to be open for seven hours on Friday, April 28.The trade show provides an uninterrupted opportunity for delegates to renew old acquaintances and strike new ones while learning about and examining the latest technology available to the sawfiling trade.
“Among the exhibitors we have saw and arbour manufacturers, grinding equipment, chemicals and guide dressers,” points out Glaister. Also on hand will be manufacturers of complete saw systems like Optimil, he adds. As well, Western Forest Products is expected to host a recruitment booth during the trade show, he says. When the trade show wraps up, a dinner and entertainment will take centre stage.
The group’s annual general meeting is the business feature Saturday, April 29. Among the scheduled presenters are WorkSafeBC, which will explore the past achievements and developments in sawmill safety programs and present current strategies. A session to be led by Tolko Forest Products will discuss the present challenges and prospects for the B.C. forest industry. Other more technical sessions are expected to examine subjects including reducing band saw deviation, sawdust mitigation strategies and the latest developments in saw knife technology.
They’re called sawmills for a good reason. The saws at the heart of the industrial plants have always been the focus for creating squared boards from the round logs delivered to them.
The early saws were unwieldy creatures at best and with their crocodile teeth, heavy handed on the wood fibre. Today’s mill saws are all about thin kerf, high speed precision with minimal deviation that significantly help produce greater lumber recovery and less sawdust.
The sawfilers and benchmen are charged with maintaining and enhancing that accuracy in a wood diet that varies in diameter and species along with fibre types from the beetle-killed super dry to green wood. The sawfiler’s objective remains constant.
“But I think in the best mills, the sawfilers work together as a team with the electricians and the millwrights,” points out Bryan Glaister, vice-president of the B.C. Saw Filer’s Association.
The filer cares for and prepares the best saws required at each machine centre; the millwright is responsible for the precise installation necessary for saw performance while the electricians install the optimized magic to allow the whole machine system to do the job for which it’s designed.
Glaister is a benchman with Gorman Brothers Lumber based at Westbank near Kelowna, B.C. Gorman Bros is a specialist sawmill producing all one-inch products for a range of repeat international customers. One of the issues facing the sawfiling fraternity right now is not so much one of attracting new entrants into the profession as it is certifying those already participating in it, outlines Glaister. The origins of the issue date back to the recession of 2008/9 when the bottom fell out of the U.S. lumber market and much of the developed world descended into an economic tailspin. Sawmill closures were one of the devastating casualties for the forest industry. Qualified workers in many sawmill professions found themselves out of work. A ripple effect from that was a decline in the numbers of new entrants into the industry. That, in turn, meant training institutions—it was the B.C. Institute of Technology at the time—had no demand for their classes and had no choice but to drop them.
As the industry began its gradual recovery from the recession, the need for industrial ticket training began to regenerate. The BC Saw Filers’s trade school, the only one on the province, switched to Thompson Rivers University’s (TRU) Williams Lake campus. It teaches all aspects of operating, repairing and adjusting saws and sharpening equipment. TRU offers sawfilers two courses toward certification but there was no course instructor for the benchman endorsement, says Glaister. And that is cause of a bottleneck for would be ticket holders until the situation changes.
Automation in the sawmilling sector has undoubtedly cost some workers their jobs. New technologies are being perfected daily including the increasing use of robotics in sawmills. Naturally, sawmill workers like their counterparts in other industries undergoing similar transformations, are anxious about the implications for their future job security. “In our area, we still have to have the skilled workers,” believes Glaister. He cites the emergence of auto levelling technology within the sawfiling discipline as an example of an innovation that was predicted by some to cause job loss. “It’s been helpful, yes, but it’s just another tool. A filing room still needs the experience of manual labour.”
Glaister has been working around filing rooms since 1980 and that was a lot of innovations ago. He followed his dad’s example as a professional sawfiler starting on the B.C. coast before moving to the interior. Old attitudes, however, can remain relevant even with the latest in technology. “A wise old sawfiler once said ‘take care of the details, the rest will take care of itself,’” recalls Glaister. “And that still makes a lot of sense today.”
On the Cover:
When Munden Ventures Ltd. of Kamloops, B.C. moved into logging, they made some well-thought out equipment purchases, and established solid supplier relationships with the B.C. John Deere dealer, Brandt Tractor, and Woodland Equipment, the Hyundai dealership. Munden Ventures sub-contacts out its processing (pictured on the cover) to Randy Janzen who is a Hyundai/Waratah guy (Cover photo courtesy of Randy Janzen).
Spotlight – More taxes for the forest industry?
Alberta has recently rolled out a carbon tax, and the federal government has proposed a national minimum price on carbon. How will these additional costs impact the Alberta and Canadian forest industries, considering all parts of the industry, from logging right through to the sawmill, are significant energy users?
Solid business move into logging
Munden Ventures of Kamloops, B.C. got involved in logging more by accident than by design, but it’s turned out to be a solid business decision.
Flying high in steep slopes with the Falcon
B.C.’s Hyde Creek Logging has found the Falcon Winch Assist system from New Zealand-based DC Equipment to be a great fit with the logging it does on steep slopes on northern Vancouver Island.
B.C. Saw Filer’s Preview:
The upcoming B.C. Saw Filer’s Association AGM and trade show remains a solid venue to share knowledge and resources for all those involved in the trade.
West Fraser takes over top lumber producers spot from Canfor
WOOD MARKETS’ annual survey of top Canadian lumber producers highlights the ongoing healthy market conditions coupled with mill expansions—and a change in the country’s top lumber producer, with West Fraser coming out on top, beating out Canfor.
From hobby sawmill to workhorse
The Kanigan Family in B.C. may have started Gold Island Forest Products as a hobby sawmill, but these days the mill has been ramped up considerably—with numerous upgrades—and now specializes in producing high quality custom cut cedar/fir lumber and timber products.
Canada North Resources Expo show coming up in May!
If you’re looking for equipment, machinery, products or technology in the forest and resource sector, the Canada North Resources Expo show—being held May 26-27 at the CN Centre in Prince George, B.C.—is the place to be, and Logging and Sawmilling Journal will there front and centre, as the Official Show Guide.
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, FPInnovations and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
The Last Word
Canada should focus on EU markets with the new Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) deal, while we wait for Trump’s take on softwood lumber, says Tony Kryzanowski.
Mulchers and mulching heads