BRAMPTON, Ontario - “Our mission is to exceed customer’s expectations with high-quality products and on-time deliveries,” says Mike Vigneux, general manager of Pro-Ply Custom Plywood in Brampton, Ontario.
 
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“We’ve been able to do this by investing in technology.” Pro-Ply’s investment is demonstrated by a team of 4 robots that are strategically deployed to do the heavy lifting and material handling for the company’s other state-of-the-art equipment including laser-equipped veneer guillotines, splicers and presses and automated sanding equipment, edgebanders, panel saws and machining centers.

 
Pro-Ply was founded in 1993 in Mississauga by Albert LaVigne and his son Vaughn.  
 
“Back then we started with one press, a longitudinal splicer, and a guillotine,” said Vaughn LaVigne, owner/CEO of the company.
 
Today the company employs 54 in its 83,000 sq. ft. facility in Brampton where it has been for the last five years.  Pro-Ply specializes in hardwood, softwood and custom plywood.   They work with a variety of veneer species including birch, mahogany, beech, ash, cherry, chestnut, hickory, maple, rosewood, teak and zebrawood.  
 

 
According to Chief Operating Officer, Phil Hanna, their most common species are maple, red oak, and cherry followed by walnut.  “We rotary slice, plain slice, book match, slip match, reverse diamond, sunburst match, herringbone, random match our veneers to take advantage of the utmost quality of the wood grain. Veneers are sourced from several vendors to accommodate our clients' needs and expectations," said Hanna.
 
“We are also adept at working with rare species,” said Hanna.  The company also manufactures cut-to-size panels and thermofoil doors.
 
“Our primary focus is customer satisfaction,” said Vigneux.  Their typical customers manufacture high-end cabinetry, fine furniture, architectural millwork and store fixtures. “Our ability to service the industry with a fast turn-around, higher grades, service and quality positions Pro-Ply as one of the top producers in North America,” he said.
 
60 to 65 percent of Pro-Ply’s deliveries are to the U.S. with the remainder for domestic consumption. Their approximate annual sales in 2016 totaled $22 million CAD.
 
Commitment to automation
Vigneux also considers his plant to be the most modern facility of its kind in North America.  Pro-Ply’s first robot line launched three years ago when they put a Nachi robot to work off-loading, trimming and stacking panels coming out of a veneer press.
 
Early this year Pro-Ply added three Kuka Material handling robots to a line that feeds two Heesemann sanders that can sand up to 1000 panels a day.  The Heesemann sanders were added three years ago. According to Hanna it was relatively easy to incorporate the robots.  “Once the programs were established for all the different types of panels we fabricate, things ran smoothly,” said Hanna.
Another workhorse in Pro-Ply’s automation is a Homag Ambition 2492 Edgebander. The machine can be used for gluing edges, finish processing, and profiling.  It has a feed rate of up to 82 feet per minute. Hanna says the machine is ideal for extra long workpieces.
 
“The Homag edgebander was pretty much plug and play, our best integration into our plant. We did not edge band panels in the past. This is all new to Pro-Ply,” said Hanna.
 
A Holzma HPL 33 panel saw facilitates Pro-Ply’s cut-to-size program.  Pro-ply’s new kitchen cabinet door program will be spearheaded by a Weeke CNC machining center. 
Pro-Ply’s three veneer presses include an Italpresse single opening press, a Kuper double opening press, and an Italpresse five opening press.
 

"The main objective of our investments is to keep us at the leading edge of the industry," said Hanna. "It allows us to have a more consistent product and keeps us competitive at the same time. The only way to be a leader in any industry is to invest heavily in new technology which is what Pro-Ply has been doing."
 
FSC Certification
Pro-Ply has also made a strong environmental commitment.  Pro-Ply has been certified against the Forest Stewardship Council Standard for Chain of Custody by the Rainforest Alliance. ProPly has been approved by the State of California Air Resources Board (CARB) as a ULEF (ultra low-emitting formaldehyde resin) and NAF (no added formaldehyde based resin) manufacturer of hardwood plywood.
 
WMS 2017 Plant Tour
Attendees of WMS 2017,  November 2-4 at the International Centre in Mississauga, will have the opportunity to participate in a tour of  Pro-Ply.  The tour is slated for the afternoon of November 2 at approximately 3 p.m.  Click here for more information.