By Paul MacDonald
When you come down to it, the saw filing room is a key part to the competitive—and smooth—operation of any B.C. sawmill.
Which is why this year’s BC Saw Filer’s Association convention is expected to get solid support from the folks who work in those saw filing rooms—and why sawmills are more than happy to see their saw filers attend this important industry event.
These sawblade warriors are responsible for keeping operations running smoothly in sawmills big, small and medium-size throughout B.C.—and they’re pretty happy, too, to swap saw filing info and solutions with their colleagues from other sawmills. And do the equivalent of kicking the tires on new saw filing equipment that will be at the show, being held May 26-27, in Kamloops, B.C.
The membership of the BC Saw Filers Association (BCSFA) is made up of a dedicated and progressive group of filers that focus on cooperation and education. In a spirit of openness, their aim is to encourage sharing knowledge and resources for the benefit of all involved in the saw filing trade.
The association has been holding the convention for many years and during that time, the saw filing event has become a significant event on the forest industry calendar.
BCSFA secretary and Tolko Industries Lavington Division saw filer Matt Graves notes that in tight lumber markets—such as we’re seeing in 2023—it’s more important than ever for B.C. sawmills to be as efficient and competitive as possible. This is especially so since the industry faces high operating costs vs. other North American regions, such as the U.S. South.
“That’s the big challenge B.C. sawmills face,” says Graves. “We have to be the best we can be in all areas of the sawmills, including saw filing, to keep the mills running efficiently.”
Some issues, such as the high cost of logs and low lumber prices, are out of the control of any sawmill. But what they can control is how they operate, and cut logs and produce lumber—and at the heart of that is saw filing, and sawing equipment.
The 2022 show, the first in two years, was a success with the booths sold out at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, and attendance of about 150. Exhibitors more than went the distance at the show, displaying equipment despite the lingering supply chain challenges of the pandemic.
“We had a good turnout,” says Graves. “And I think the vendors did a good job—we had some major pieces of equipment on display at the conference centre, for our members to take a look at, and talk about, with suppliers.”
This year, Graves said, in addition to featuring the latest equipment, they are working on developing a theme, on the evolution of the sawmill, with exhibitors being asked to feature and display any historical material they might have, at their booths.
“We’re starting to get more younger guys in the sawfiling trade who might not know about the older pieces of equipment and the history of the industry,” he explained. “They’re used to working with all the high tech equipment that we have now in the saw filing room.” The goal is to show how saw filing got to where it is today, and the huge strides in modernization that have taken place over the last 50 years.
There is a lot of interest in the industry’s history, says Graves. Some of the vendors might be able to feature photos or videos of equipment, such as old head saws or circular saws, or a sash gang, for example.
There will also be a focus on the future, too. Graves said several of the major saw filing equipment suppliers have been approached about doing a presentation on what the future holds for saw filing, as well as illustrating how the industry got to where it is today.
“Overall, we want to showcase the most modern equipment, and what can help the guys in the filing room,” he said.
In terms of current equipment, there continues to be an evolution towards automation.
“A few years’ back, there was kind of a wait and see attitude towards some of the automation, to see how some of the new technologies worked out,” Graves explained. “But technologies have now been proven, and everyone is buying into it, and upgrading their equipment.” In some ways, what was cutting edge technology has now become mainstream—and necessary—technologies. That is seen most frequently in the form of automated benching systems for band saws, robotic grinding systems for round saws and automated tipping systems.
“The industry continues to evolve,” Graves noted. “The suppliers are always tweaking equipment, getter better controls and monitoring systems—and helping saw filers do a better job of troubleshooting equipment.”
One of the biggest parts of the show is the informal gatherings, when saw filers can get together over a coffee or a meal, and talk about how things are going in their respective saw filing rooms. There’s a lot of informal information exchanges that go on at forest industry shows, such as the BC Saw Filers.
“People can run into someone who might have the same piece of equipment as they have, and they’ll talk about issues they might have had—and solutions.”
These kind of takeaways, and contacts, from a trade show can be invaluable.
Graves said they are looking forward to another successful show in Kamloops.
As with previous shows, there will be a solid social aspect to the 2023 show, with a buffet dinner on the Friday night, with comedian Leland Klassen, and live music.
“We’re looking forward to another good show coming up, and seeing people in Kamloops.”
Attendee and exhibitor registration are both now open. Anyone interested in registering early can just email Graves at [email protected] and he will confirm their spot. Those interested in attending will also have the option to register at the event but Graves encourages them to sign up sooner.
“We’ve had cases where we have had to turn away vendors—the same could be potentially said for attendees. Having people pre-register also allows us to streamline registration and get a better idea of numbers which is particularly important for the dinner.”
As in past years, filers, mill managers and maintenance supervisors are encouraged to attend. Those interested in learning more about the industry may also want to consider attending as topical industry seminars will be featured throughout the Friday and Saturday.
On the Cover:
Jordie Wiens believes that his reading of today’s forest industry will strike a chord of potential with forest companies and logging contractors in British Columbia. He’s introducing a small—but proven—forwarder and a harvesting head honed by experience into the B.C. market. Read all about the equipment beginning on page 8 of this issue (Cover photo courtesy of Jordie Wiens).
Piloting a move to improve log quality
A pilot project now underway in B.C. would improve a log’s quality and grade—and help a regional forest industry meet a raft of major challenges.
A small, but proven, step forward for harvesting…
B.C.’s Jordie Wiens is introducing some new Scandinavian logging equipment, believing the timing is right for this small—but proven—forwarder, and harvester head.
Canada’s Top Lumber Producers!
Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s authoritative listing of Canada’s Top Lumber Producers, produced in association with leading forest industry consultants FEA, reflects the consolidation that took place in the industry in the last year—but West Fraser and Canfor remain the country’s top lumber producers.
An alternative approach to logging
Freya Logging is demonstrating an alternative logging approach in the B.C. Interior, including on a research project site involving different forest ecosystems.
Official Show Guide!
Logging and Sawmilling Journal is pleased to publish the Official Show Guide for the Canada North Resources Expo, being held May 26 to 27 in Prince George, B.C. The Official Show Guide has it all, from exhibitor listings to a show map to preview coverage of Resources Expo, the premier forest industry show in Canada this year.
BC Saw Filer’s coming up
The B.C. forest industry is facing challenges, with curtailments due to a drop in the lumber market and a shortage of fibre, but there remains a strong need for skilled workers in the industry, including saw filers, a topic sure to be discussed at the BC Saw Filer’s Convention being held May 26 to 27 in Kamloops, B.C.
Interior Logging Association gears up for show
B.C.’s Interior Logging Association is preparing for another successful show May 4 to 6 in Kamloops, with a broad variety of equipment to be on display at the PowWow Grounds, in Kamloops, B.C.
GP’s new Warrenton sawmill ramps up production
Georgia-Pacific is now working with a new state-of-the-art, high production sawmill in Warrenton, Georgia—and the BID Group was a big part of making that happen.
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 (CWFC) and FPInnovations.
The Last Word
A transition is underway in Canadian forestry, and it will result in a stronger and more resilient industry, says Tony Kryzanowski.