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Logging and Sawmilling Journal October/November 2011

October/november 2012

On the Cover:

Aspen Planers mill manager Surinder Momrath (right) with long time Aspen Planers employee Shalinder Wahid, who runs the mill’s LeTourneau equipment. Read all about how the LeTourneau equipment is helping Aspen Planers to efficiently manage their millyard, beginning on page 20.
(Cover photo by Paul MacDonald).

Dust audits for B.C. sawmills

Following two tragic mill explosions/fires earlier this year, British Columbia’s major forest companies are creating a third party-certified dust audit that is expected to cover areas such as the equipment used to reduce dust levels in mills, and what can be done to generally create a safer work environment.

Nice growth curve for Nic Pac

First Nations-owned Nic Pac Logging started out with a few pieces of equipment, but has grown over the years, and now has the latest in processing heads, with two 7000XT LogMax processor heads mounted on Deere and Hitachi carriers.

Managing the millyard in Merritt

Faced with limits on the space they have for log storage—and a good appetite for timber from their sawmill—Aspen Planers of Merritt, B.C. has found LeTourneau log stacking equipment to be a good ally in managing their millyard efficiently.

Top of The pack in plywood

The Columbia Forest Products plywood plant in St. Casimir, Quebec, may be the company’s smallest, but it certainly is near the top of the pack when it comes to being resourceful and productive, with a number of changes and upgrades in recent years.

The Edge

Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from FPInnovations, the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions, Natural Resources Canada, Alberta’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department and Universite Laval.

What was new…at DEMO 2012 and the Timber Processing & Energy Expo

Logging and Sawmilling Journal reviews what was new at these two recent major industry shows at opposite ends of the continent, DEMO 2012 in Quebec and the Timber Processing & Energy Expo in Portland, Oregon.

Buncher boost

The new Rapid Cycle System (RCS) boom on John Deere bunchers is delivering a productivity boost, generally simplifying and speeding up the feller bunching process.

Ready-made homes

An automated home building company in Alberta is helping to bring an end to on-site framing crews, and could open a new market for direct wood products sales for forest companies and sawmills.

Portland timber/energy show sees a solid turnout

Getting more ROI on your truck tires

Straightforward maintenance checks in tire-related areas such as air pressure and proper alignments can boost the Return on Investment on your truck tires.

The Last Word

The new Wood Innovation & Design Centre proposed for Prince George, B.C., could spur emerging wood use technologies, says Jim Stirling.




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New Wood Innovation & Design Centre in B.C. could spur emerging wood use technologies

By Jim Stirling

It’s not in the headlines every day, but the plans to build the Wood Innovation & Design Centre are percolating behind the scenes, assures Pat Bell, British Columbia’s Jobs, Tourism and Innovation minister.

The all-wood construction, multi-storey building proposed for downtown Prince George has been percolating behind the scenes for a long time. It was featured in at least three Liberal government throne speeches before the official announcement was made in Prince George in 2011.

That came with a fall 2014 construction completion target, which the government is sticking to. The project has shrunk, though. From 10 storeys to “a minimum six storey structure”.

When and if it is completed, it may become the tallest wood structure in Canada, and possibly North America. But the Norwegians appear to have one hand on the gold medal for the world’s tallest wood construction building. A housing cooperative plans a 14-storey wooden apartment building in Bergen. Plans call for it to be constructed with pre-fabricated wood modules reinforced with diagonal timber structures. That building is due for completion early in 2014. And there is a nine storey wooden building in England.

The Prince George building may have shrunk but cost estimates for its construction have not. The government is being coy—and advisably so, under the circumstances—about a firm cost estimate. Most regular government cost estimates contain more elastic than a bungee cord.

Minister Bell conceded in early summer that the construction budget has increased by about $25 million, including additional equipment costs. But Bell is a firm believer that non-residential wooden building construction represents a solid value-added opportunity for the province’s softwood lumber producers.

Building code changes and production capacity are a couple of areas that would first require attention. Clearly, contemplating construction of even a six-storey wooden building where it is not part of the traditional culture requires considerable planning and caution.

It’s not advisably planned at full speed. And that caution was duly noted by Bell: “The government is committed to the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, but it’s not an overnight process. Steps continue to be taken to ensure it’s beneficial to the city, as promised, creating economic development and assisting downtown revitalization.”

Another potential fly in the ointment of the Wood Innovation and Design Centre’s future is the provincial election slated for spring, 2013.

The Liberal government is languishing in the polls to the provincial NDP opposition. But predicting the art of how people vote is always dangerous ground. If contracts for the building’s construction are signed before the provincial election, and if there is a new government elected, that would signal more dangerous ground if the price tag and circumstances rankle with an incoming regime.

In some ways that would be unfortunate. Bell says the proposed design centre if built would house offices for provincial economic development and forest industry use along with academic and research programming from the University of Northern British Columbia, the principal campus of which sits atop Cranbrook Hill overlooking downtown Prince George and the proposed wood design centre.

The centre could also develop as a fulcrum for emerging wood use technologies. And there is no reason without a little foresight and planning that some of these wood technologies could be incorporated into parts of the building’s design or at least become a demonstration feature for analysis and study for new ideas and concepts. Many solid ideas out in the world of wood utilization just require partnerships to help develop their potential.

For example, there was a proposal a few years back from a house builder in Osoyoos, B.C. Brett Malcolm called it the Z-stud. It was a beam type structure manufactured by gluing strips of wood to a diagonally positioned section of oriented strand board. Malcolm reckoned his Z-studs method used less wood than dimension lumber and is lighter, stronger and straighter.

Pablo Korach has spent a lifetime working in the woods industries of several countries and lives in Chile. His innovation is the hollow beam. In simple terms, it emerged from the traditional sawmillers’ dilemma of manufacturing squared and rectangular products from logs nature made round.

“The hollow beam innovation gives more for less, better and cheaper,” summarizes Korach. He says the hollow beam construction system is cheaper and requires less construction labour than most green, ecological and sustainable environmental products. One of the other appealing aspects of Korach’s product is the hollow beam technology significantly increases the yield of lumber from a log.

“This increase means more tree volume will be left standing in the forest, therefore helping to decrease global warming, maintain water and trap carbon dioxide.”

Korach also notes that insulation values are much improved with the hollow beam system because of the air chamber it contains.”The possibility of auto construction and the fact that it produces no liquid or solid wastes means the cost of construction will be less expensive,” adds Korach.

These are the types of initiative the Wood Innovation and Design Centre could aggressively nurture and encourage. For it’s as close at it gets to a sure bet that construction competitors in the steel and cement industries won’t sit idly by while wood use makes competitive inroads into its traditional markets.