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The Recovery CURVE

By Jim Stirling
Copyright 1996. Contact publisher for permission to use.

Summary: A HewSaw R200 curve saw small log line anchors Repap's upgrade at its Smithers lumber mill.

Stability and viability. That’s what the installation and successful operation of a new HewSaw small log line has meant to Repap British Columbia Inc.’s Smithers lumber operation in central BC. “It’s very encouraging. We’re getting where we want to be with recovery and maintaining our target sizes ,” reports Everett Hall, Rep ap’s operations manager in Smithers.

Repap British Columbia Inc. is wholly owned by Montreal-based Repap Enterprises Inc. The HewSaw replaces a four-saw scragg as primary breakdown unit at the sawmill, acquired by Repap in 1987. Physical space was a consideration in selecting the Hew Saw. “It’s a very close - coupled machine. Most of the other options we looked at required more room,” recalls Hall. The HewSaw can surface chip, rip saw and edge wane boards all in a distance of about a metre.

“We were also impressed with the HewSaw when we saw it a forestry show in Vancouver and especially with its ability to curve saw. That ability we felt was very good in the timber we have. We process from a 25.4-cm butt size down.” The Smithers mill trades logs with other Rep ap operations in the region. As a general rule, Smithers gets the small logs, with medium-sized stems directed to the company’s Carnaby operation and the larger material to the Terrace mill.

Curve “It allows us to send the right log to the right mill for processing,” explains Hall. The right material entering the Smithers mill yard is converted to about 75,000 m3 of lumber annually and marketed in precise metric sizes in North America and throughout the Pacific Rim. The log infeed, cut-off saw and 27" Nicholson A5 debarker remain from the old four-saw scragg configuration. The outfeed has been extended behind the debarker. It accommodates logs ranging from 2.4 m to 6.1 m in length, which infeeds a log deck sort system, points out Pat Clark, processing superintendent and project manager for the HewSaw installation.

“All logs go up a Linden step feeder with four main steps to singulate and straighten the logs. They go up and out along a log sort conveyor where they are scanned by a Multimeg system along a single axis for diameter only,” says Clark. The small logs are in top diameters ra n gi n g from 8.89 cm to 24.13 cm. “Because the Multimeg is set up to scan and sort, we can put a variety of diameters together,” adds Clark. Logs are directed to one of 10 sorts after scanning. There are eight on-line sorts and one end sort for small logs. An outside live deck sort with another Linden step feeder is also programmed into the Multimeg’s sort pattern system.

Logs continue down an infeed belt toward the Hew Saw R200. They pass through a second Multimeg diameter scan-ner which sets the HewSaw for each particular log. The system can scan in selected zones down the log to better account for log taper and recover more fibre.

“Our HewSaw has the new North American style pre-feed rolls in front, which automatically turns the logs horns up and the machine curve saws,” explains Clark. “One of the key things with the HewSaw is that it cuts equally from the centre of the log out.” He says the four operating speeds are a function of log size, and the machine will operate at a speed based upon the size of the cant taken out of it. Lodgepole pine typically runs around 335 ft./min.; hem-lock at 295 ft./min.

Thin-saw kerfs in the .140 to .160 range are usual. Downstream, the existing re-saw and edger are still used, and the four-saw scragg remains as back-up breakdown centre. Concrete foundation work for the new installation was in place in September, 1995. “The main construction work started January 16, 1996. We started the machine up April 1 on time and on budget ,” says Clark. The winter was particularly cold and unco-operative, making the completion performance especially commendable.

Curve Clark says the key to that was the people involved. “We put together people who have worked well together recently. It was important for what we did to have a real cohesive group of people working on the project. We actually had fun building it,” he adds with a smile. Repap through Clark was its own general contractor, with B.I.D. Construction Ltd. of Vanderhoof responsible for overall construction, supply and installation in what was essentially a made-in-BC project.

The concrete work was sublet by Linden Fabricating Ltd. to another Prince George company, Central Interior Form works Ltd. The Gisborne Group in Burnaby contributed the mechanical and structural engineering expertise, and Milltron Electric Inc. of Prince George the electrical supply, installation and engineer-ing. ATS Automation Inc. of Richmond provided the computers and PLCs, and Gillespie Sales Co. Ltd. in Delta is the sales arm for the two Multimeg scanner systems installed.

The company is appreciative of the cooperation of its employees during the mill’s rejuvenation project. “The Christian Labor Association of Canada Local 44 is a good group to work with,” states manager Hall. “We were able to utilize the people laid off (by the HewSaw modernization) in a second shift in the planer mill. In that way, a net loss was probably a gain.”

The sawmill employs 90 people with an operation-wide payroll of $4.5 million annually. The direct and indirect employees of Rep ap ’s Smithers operation has a significant impact on the local economy. The town has a population of about 6,000 people. Sawmills are like attitudes and can always be improved. “Perhaps some more improvements to the front end, the log infeed decks and more diameter sort bins. And we’re looking at a back-end sorting system, a J-bar or whatever,” speculates Hall. “We’re not finished.”

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