Hardwood lumber and hardwood plywood producers have until January 13 to submit comments on the proposed Hardwood Checkoff program..
Yoder Lumber Co. utilizes state-of-the-art technology along with sustainable practices in the milling and manufacture of its dimension stock and wood components. Founded in 1944, Yoder has mills in Charm and Millersburg (Buckhorn), Ohio, with a capacity of approximately 11 million board feet a year. Yoder’s Berlin facility also has lumber processing as well as dimension manufacturing capabilities. The company has approximately 165 employees. Watch a video showcasing Yoder's sawmill operation Sustainable Manufacturing Environmental stewardship is important at Yoder, which utilizes its wood waste for the kilns and to heat the plant; green sawdust is sold. Appalachian hardwoods are predominantly used. Lumber is graded and sorted at the mills. Buckhorn’s millwork capabilities include surfacing, sanding, ripping, S4S, tongue-and-groove flooring and mouldings. Yoder recently added a Kentwood moulder and Timesavers planer/sander, which it uses along with Weinig moulders and rough mill equipment, Baker saws and Cantek sanders. Offices and the hardwood products manufacturing are at Berlin. Used at the plant are: four gluing stations utilizing Taylor clamps, Sandingmaster, Timesavers and Cantek widebelt sanders, two moulders, a Weinig Group chop first line and an optimizing rip-first line incorporating Progressive Systems and Eagle Machinery equipment. The company was one of eight woodworking facilities recently toured as part of the 2013 Wood Component Manufacturers Association's annual Conference and Plant Tour Event in September. Click here for more on Yoder Lumber.
The annual WCMA Fall Conference & Plant Tour Event takes place Sept. 15-17 in Canton, OH. Register by Aug. 19 for the event.
Although 2012 wood component sales “ended with a fizzle,” 2013 sales are projected to increase from 2 to 5 percent, according to the WCMA and the WPMA.
A tentative settlement was reached last week in the $20 million lawsuit brought by GreenStone Farm Credit Services, owner of Aacer Flooring and Wolf River Lumber, against Gary Ort et al, former proprietor of the Wisconsin-based companies.
Walnut Creek Planing has expanded the definition of lean manufacturing. The Millersburg, OH-based wood products manufacturer has literally removed the waste from its production process — and turned it into a profit-generating enterprise. Founded in 1998 by Dwight Kratzer, WCP produces a variety of hardwood components. Stair parts comprise approximately 60 percent of its sales, with dowels at 15 percent, mouldings 10 percent and door stiles 8 percent. The remaining 7 percent is through sales of its Eco-Brick briquettes, which the company produces from the approximately 30 tons of wood waste generated per day. “We felt it would be a great way to add value to our waste stream and go green at the same time as well as add a few extra jobs,” Vice President Kenric Kratzer said of the company’s decision to purchase the RUF 1100 briquetter. “We are able to produce a very dense product which makes great burn times and heat output. Our biggest hurdle to overcome was to educate the public about the product and its advantages, but for us the best way to sell product was to give out free samples and the ‘proof was in the pudding’.” Prior to the transition, WCP’s wood waste was sold for animal bedding, “so this was value-added,” Kratzer adds. Value-Added, Lean Manufacturing Adding value to its products, while improving profitability and sustainability, is nothing new for WCP. Verified as a sustainable manufacturer by Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., the company also is a long-time advocate of lean manufacturing. In addition, Kratzer says, “WCP has integrated a complete ERP software solution from Global Shop Solutions that has taken our lean manufacturing to a complete new level. We are able to keep real-time data and tracking of all orders as they go through the shop with exact costing — everything from cash flow management and payroll to lumber grading and inventory tracking. This has allowed us to improve quality on the smallest order to largest order, with improved on-time shipment as well as fill rates.” The addition of a state-of-the-art dry kiln facility in Winesburg, OH, in 2007 enabled WCP to vertically integrate its production process and improve turnaround time. Lumber is brought to the dry kiln facility and graded by the company’s NHLA-certified graders before being recorded to inventory using the Global Shop Solutions custom tally software. The lumber is air dried and stored in sheds until it is kiln dried in one of six Nova dry kilns, which have a capacity of 300,000 board feet. “We are able to dry with the care we need to get quality second to none,” Kratzer says. “This also allows us to purchase our lumber when the price is right. We can buy in large lots and handle and store the lumber with the care it needs to maintain top quality.” Inside the 90,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility, the kiln dried lumber is run through the rough mill. The lumber is planed on a self-centering Timesavers TBOK 25 and then optimized for width and defects before being ripped on the Eagle Ripmaster, Kratzer explains. “We then run it through a WoodEye scanner, feeding two Grecon 350 optimizing chop saws. The lengths and widths are then sorted and stacked and placed on inventory for immediate or future use.” For the manufacture of the stair treads, the component blanks are glued and clamped on one of three Taylor glue clamps, including a Taylor 80 section glue clamp, and then moulded on a (Stiles Machinery) Kentwood HS612 moulder before being sanded “to perfection” on one of four Timesavers top and bottom sanding lines. Blanks for balusters are cut to length on one of the company’s double-end tenoners before being moulded on one of four Weinig moulders. Blanks for the handrails are fingerjointed using a Western Pneumatics high-speed line or the customized Industrial fingerjointer, capable of joining 6- to 12-foot pieces together. The parts are then glued and moulded, Kratzer says. Machining for the handrail fittings is done on an SCM Routech R-200 XM Robot 5-axis CNC router. “This gives us the option to run anything from standard style fittings to custom parts with great ease and accuracy,” Kratzer adds. Kratzer says WCP prides itself on its fast turnaround and attention to quality. Also distinguishing it, he adds, is “our ability to adapt to our customers needs and wishes, as well as running lean and being competitive with our price.” Waste Not In addition to its hardwood components, Walnut Creek Planing offers Eco-Bricks, an additive-free pressed briquette made from kiln-dried hardwood sawdust. Using a RUF 1100 briquetter to compress sawdust with 24,000 pounds of pressure, the bricks are twice as dense as cordwood while emitting 52 percent less particulate matter in the air, according to WCP. The company says the bricks are an environmentally friendly alternative to fuel oil and coal and can be used in wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, etc. For information, visit EcoBrick.net.
The quest to remain competitive is what drives Northland Forest Products Inc. to continuously improve its manufacturing operation. Founded in 1979 by Dick and Shari Pyle, the Shakopee, MN-based hardwood moulding and dimension lumber manufacturer has invested more than $1.4 million in new technology over the past 30 months to grow its productivity and profitability. The strategy has paid off. According to President Dick Pyle, Northland Forest Products’ profits have continued to grow despite the economic downturn — and without any layoffs of full-time employees. New technology also has helped the company to significantly reduce its turnaround time on lineal mouldings — by 70 percent — from 10 days down to three. In recognition of its efforts, Northland Forest Products recently was awarded a 2012 WMIA Wooden Globe for “Commitment to Excellence through Technology and Innovation.” Inherent in its commitment to product excellence and competitiveness was Northland Forest Products’ revamping of its manufacturing process. Pyle says this was a direct response to the shifting paradigm of the marketplace. “To survive, you have to look at changing. We were sitting with all this high production equipment ready to go, but large production runs were no longer in demand by our primary customers [cabinet manufacturers and retail lumberyards],” Pyle says. “In order to keep going, we realized we had to approach the market differently.” Shorter, custom runs was the answer. Pyle says the company used its capital and “retooled to play into these smaller runs. We’re ready to take on business as it comes back.” Pyle notes moulding sales now comprise 60 percent of his business, while sales of S4S hardwood dimension lumber are 40 percent of Northland Forest Products’ revenues. “Before the downturn it was flipped,” he says. Primary species offered by the company include: red oak, poplar, maple, cherry, alder and hickory. Northland Forest Products is also a distributor for red grandis. There are no minimum quantities on runs. Real-Time Vision Unique to Northland Forest Products’ manufacturing process is its use of the MillVision Pro 2.0 software system to track production — at anytime — from anywhere that has cellular phone/internet access. Available from Michael Weinig Inc., MillVision Pro 2.0 seamlessly networks and tracks each area of the 60,000-square-foot plant via laptops at each machine station. The software system also provides the company with a variety of other capabilities including creation of cut bills, and offers real-time status updates of work in process. “Using an iPad or cell phone from anyplace, I can find out what the plant is doing,” Pyle says. The MillVision Pro 2.0 system is part of the Weinig Lineal Moulding Cell at Northland Forest Products. An integrated manufacturing management system, the cell includes: two Powermat 1000 moulders with HSK technology and the PowerLock tool system for fast setup of standard and custom mouldings, a Rondamat 960 grinder and two Raimann ripsaw lines, a Valu Rip KM and the Valu Rip KR movable arbor gang ripsaw line, the latter of which is equipped with an inkjet printer for identification of every board output from the ripsaw, says Dave Remund, plant manager. Newly added to the KR line is Ultimizer’s Ulti-Vision four-sided scanning system. Installed last September, the Ulti-Vision scanner features two color cameras and two black-and-white cameras, plus four lasers for complete viewing. The defecting cameras and lasers check the profiles and geometry of the wood, as well as defects, such as knots or pitch, Pyle says. The color cameras also provide workers with a detailed working image of the board, plus information on stains, colors and splits. “Prior to the scanning system, we had to have 12 people on the ripsaw line. Now we have six,” Pyle says. The company also bar codes dimension parts for accurate tracking and shipment of products, Remund adds. Other machines in the plant include a Grecon fingerjointing line, which allows Northland Forest Products to minimize waste and maximize lumber supply, a Dimter optimizing chop line, Ultimizer’s width recognition high resolution camera with inkjet printing, a Friulmac end matcher, Taylor clamp system, Baker resaw, Cantek and SawStop saws, and three Cresswood grinders. Another recent investment for Northland Forest Products is Timesavers 52-inch sanders with three heads. The new sanders offer faster production while increasing its capabilities, Pyle says. Cutting Time in the Toolroom Northland Forest Products’ quest for continuous improvement also has led to changes in the toolroom. Investments in new equipment have significantly reduced grinding time while improving accuracy. Using Weinig PowerCom grinding room software in conjunction with the Opti-Control system and a Rondamat 960 grinder, the company has the capability to manufacture its own tools with an accuracy of ±0.0005 inch, Remund says. An identification on each tool provides an easy reference for operators and ensures the correct cutter is used. “It removes any chance of operator error,” he adds. Knives are also quickly and accurately machined on the new Flow Waterjet Pro, which runs at approximately 60,000 psi and shoots garnet-bearing water through a ruby orifice. According to Remund and Pyle, the Waterjet has cut knife roughout from 1.5 hours down to 4 minutes. Biomass Management A sustainable manufacturer, Northland Forest Products has three dust collectors to separate its wood waste for sale to the dairy, poultry and equine industries. Unique to the company is the setup, in place since 2003, that enables Northland Forest Products to efficiently manage its waste for transport. Two pipes of varying lengths feed into the trailer and wood dust from the collector moves through the longer pipe first, filling the front portion. A sensor signals when the trailer is half full and the system automatically switches to the smaller pipe to feed wood waste to the back half. Another sensor signals when the trailer is full, and triggers an alert light. Integral to this process is a microwave system with a camera mount that counts the dust particles as they flow through the pipes and past the camera eye. According to Pyle, numerous trials were undertaken to determine the particle count for each shaving type needed to fill a trailer. “This eliminates human error in the filling process, and allows us to maximize our waste removal.” “You have to have a good team on board to embrace all these changes,” Pyle adds. “Our people are the strength of Northland.” Click here for a virtual tour of Northland Forest Products' innovative plant.