HEARST, ON, – A precision-quality hardwood plywood core peeling line has been installed at Columbia Forest Products plant in Hearst, ON. Crews of engineers, electrical technicians, installation laborers and technicians from Japan collaborated on installing what is Columbia Forest Products newest Meinan lathe line – this time at Columbia’s plant in Hearst, Ontario.
Columbia’s interest in finding the hardwood plywood core peeling system that delivers the world’s absolutely best quality peel, thickness tolerances and recovery available took Columbia engineers and executives halfway around the world to Japan, where Meinan peeling systems are engineered and fabricated.
Andy Frei, lead engineer and project manager for the Hearst installation, noted, “The attention to detail on this system is so high that the entire 200 ft. long lathe line was assembled, tested and disassembled in Japan prior to shipping to Canada.”
Once disassembled, 36 containers holding the lathe, stackers and ancillary equipment were shipped to Vancouver, BC. From there, the Meinan system travelled across Canada via rail, was unloaded in Toronto and then transported to Hearst on 30 trucks.
“Finally, we now have our Meinan system in the plant,” Columbia Forest Products’ Canadian general manager Gilles Levesque commented. “As a follow-up to the more than $5 million investment in innovative capital projects at the facility over the past seven years, this $15 million crowning investment provides more than 200 employees in Hearst an integral piece of capital innovation that will enable us to compete well into the future – regardless of the exchange rate or foreign competition.”
“Without doubt, this is a great event for our employees – and it will also positively impact hundreds of other loggers, truckers, and associated industry workers in Ontario,” Mike Fournier, the Hearst plant’s production manager, observed.
The Hearst facility has been in steady production since 1961 when brothers Hervé and Yvon Levesque built the plant. Columbia Forest Products purchased the plant in 1996 and oversaw its transition from producing industrial aspen-based panels to premium-grade hardwood veneer surfaced panel production in the subsequent years.
Commenting on the most recent developments, Columbia’s president and CEO Brad Thompson stated, “Four years ago I challenged the Hearst team to show our board of directors that the facility was worthy of this significant investment. They rose to the occasion in the days and weeks that followed. With the Meinan equipment in place now, the workforce in Hearst is positioned to be the best in the world at what they do. I’m very proud of the accomplishments at Hearst and look forward to our team there delivering the best quality hardwood panels available to customers in Canada and the United States.”
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