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Millwide Insider ISSUE 35

Independent operators In this issue we relate stories about two independent companies that are each holding their own in the industry. In the midst of a trend toward consolidation, the people who own and run these mills are smar t, resilient, and proudly independent. The business decisions they make are crucial to maintaining their autonomy, and their continued success is proving that they can withstand the test of time.


WKO & MT. HOOD WKO & Mt. Hood Forest Products needed to modernize their grading lines. They selected the Lineal High Grader to meet their requirements for on-grade performance, improved control over their processes, and ongoing suppor t for the future. They achieved that, and more.

SUBSCRIPTIONS Tel.: 250.833.3028 EDITOR Colleen Schonheiter

USNR PARTS & SERVICE 7/24 Service: 800.BUY.USNR Tel.: 360.225.8267 Fax: 360.225.7146 Mon. - Fri. 5:00 am - 5:00 pm PT USNR LOCATIONS

LHG UPGRADES USNR prides itself on developing products that, in addition to great performance, offer longevity. Product upgrades and design enhancements play an impor tant role in a long life cycle, and provide upgrade paths that will afford customers a return on their investment for many years to come.


Woodland, WA


MONTROSE FOREST PRODUCTS Taking advantage of an ample supply of raw materials, Neiman Enterprises restar ted a Colorado mill under the name Montrose Forest Products. Then it proceeded to update the mill’s assets. It found, in USNR, a strong, reliable supplier with an abundance of designs to outfit this mill with the latest advancements in equipment and technology.

Headquar ters 360.225.8267 Parksville, BC

Eugene, OR



Plessisville, QC

Jacksonville, FL



Salmon Arm, BC

Painesville, OH



© 2015, U.S. Natural Resources, Inc. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to 1981 Schurman Way, Woodland, WA 98674. Canada Post: Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: USNR c/o Colleen Schonheiter,

STACKER TECHNOLOGY One of USNR’s strengths is its exper tise in a wide range of equipment for wood processing. The move to electronically actuated systems is revolutionizing how lumber is processed and handled. Our design teams offer stacking systems that apply the best technology available, and provide the most efficient machines the marketplace has to offer.


3550 - 45th Street Southeast, Salmon Arm, BC V1E 1X1

WKO & Mt. Hood Forest Products

Achieving satisfaction

A new LHG sensor frame on its slidebase is aligned with the feedworks from the previous vendor’s system that the mill chose to reuse.

LHG PROJECTS YIELD MORE ON-GRADE, LESS TRIM LOSS USNR continually strives to achieve customer satisfaction. Satisfaction not only for its approach to embracing and adapting new technology in its products, but equally important is its support once a project is complete, and ongoing throughout a product’s life cycle. Getting a customer is one thing, but keeping a customer is paramount. That is why USNR is so committed to continued progression of its products, utilizing the latest technology available, and providing an upgrade path for customers to maintain their competitive edge. | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider



The Wilkins family operates two mills in the Pacific Nor thwest region of the US, and wanted to modernize their grading lines. Dissatisfied with their existing grading systems, they scoured the industry for a solution. The result is a unique arrangement that is more than satisfying their requirements. The Wilkins family has been in the sawmill business for more than 50 years. It owns and operates two sawmills; Wilkins, Kaiser & Olsen (WKO) at Carson, WA and Mt. Hood at Hood River, OR. The mills produce and sell lumber under the brand name High Cascade. Bill Wilkins, his brother Brad, and their father, Bill Wilkins Sr.,


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own the business and are involved in the daily operations. Several years ago, WKO completed a major upgrade at its Carson facility, replacing a sharp chain and a slant carriage with a new USNR primary breakdown line. Then it turned its sights to refurbish its grading lines at both sites.

The Carson facility processes Douglas fir and white fir, hemlock and pine, to produce high quality, kiln-dried dimension lumber into 2x4 to 2x6, 2x10, 2x12 and export sizes of 45x90mm and 90x90mm. Mt. Hood processes green Douglas fir into 2x4 to 2x6, and some 1x4 and 1x6 as recovery items.

Grade projectors

Left: The check grader views the LHG’s grade and trim solutions which are projected onto the boards by the Grade Projectors, mounted above the flow. The grader can let each board pass with the LHG’s solutions, or he can upgrade, downgrade or change the trim locations. Above: Grades and trim locations are clearly visible, and track along with the board as it moves on the transfer.

We have removed one grader from each line at both mills, and that is a cost saving in labor.

Several years ago the company installed lineal grade scanners in both mills. At the time these systems were popular, but ongoing support for these systems proved to be a substantial issue at WKO and Mt. Hood. The vendor for these systems had a lack of upgrade path in technology as well as time zone differential, and continued technical service that were all factors that eventually caused the company to look elsewhere for automated grading solutions. Mike Engel, Vice President for the company, noted, “Supportability was a big issue with the old systems, and they were not up to par with what is available today. We looked at all the major suppliers of lineal grading systems but USNR’s LHG was the only one that provided the functionality we wanted.” He related that the company had confidence in USNR having done many previous projects together, and determined that the Lineal High Grader (LHG ®) would accomplish their goals.

The new systems The predominant species the LHG is required to grade at these mills is Douglas fir, making up 65% of the production at

Supportability was a big issue with the old systems, and they were not up to par with what is available today.

Carson and 100% at Mt. Hood. At Mt. Hood the products are planed and graded green. Total production averages 480 mbf/day at Carson and 390 mbf/day at Mt. Hood on a one-shift basis. A unique aspect of these installations was the utilization of the existing feedworks. Mike explained that the feedworks were already in place and working, and they wanted to save the added cost of replacing that portion of the systems. The mills received new LHG sensor frames on slidebases, then new and old components were aligned to integrate together. A new ID printer, ID readers, Grade Projectors and Grade Mark Readers were also supplied. Both mills received complete trimmer/ sorter PLC upgrades, and both sites | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider




The ID reader identifies the board’s ID, and the Grade Projectors project the grade and trims on the board. The check grader passes the board or makes a mark on it to up/down grade or change trim locations, and the grade mark reader reads any marks the grader has made.

implemented USNR’s WinTally™ sorter management system.

How the grading line works The boards exit the planer onto an existing bridge and infeed, and pass through the LHG’s sensor unit. The first sensor technology employed is x-ray, where the source and detector are mounted directly above and below the flow. Then 4 laser profile sensors and 4 vision sensors mounted in true differential configuration, scan the top, bottom and both sides of the boards as they travel lineally through the scan zone (see diagram on page 8). As the boards exit the LHG they are sprayed with an invisible ID. A series of slowdown belts slow their speed before they are deposited onto a landing table. They are transported transversely to a Revolver lug loader where they are loaded into lugs. An ID reader identifies each board and the LHG’s grade and trim solution for that piece is projected down onto the board as it passes by the check grader. The check grader can see the optimizer’s grade solution as well as trim locations, and can pass the board or make a mark to up/down grade the


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piece, or adjust the trim locations. Next a grade mark reader reads any marks the check grader has made on the piece and sends that information to the optimizer to regenerate the solution. Then the PLC positions the fence paddle accordingly before the board is trimmed. Once trimmed the boards are dropped into sort bins according to their size and grade, and this is managed by the WinTally system.

Managing a mill’s products One major benefit for a mill is to have both WinTally and LHG, providing the capability for these systems to work in tandem to manage the products the mill wants to produce (also available with USNR’s Transverse High Grader). At WKO and Mt. Hood, the systems grade all products for the highest value grades possible from the raw material. An alternative process available with this combination, mill personnel can enter product specifications and quantities to the WinTally for products they need to fill orders. Then when the quantity of that product has been produced and the lumber is dropped into bins, the WinTally

communicates this to the LHG, and LHG will no longer call for grades or trims for those products. Instead it moves on to make the next most valuable products the mill has specified. These features are invaluable for mills like Carson where there are a lot of product variables to keep track of. Mike reiterated, “We make a large number of products in the planer mill; between narrows and wides, domestic and export, and 4 different species – sometimes all within one day. Our mill manager appreciates the ease this system provides for managing this variety of products.”

We make a large number of products – sometimes all within one day. Our mill manager appreciates the ease this system provides for managing this variety of products.

NEW GENERATION LHG SOFTWARE: COMMON GRADING PLATFORM Among the challenges with this project for USNR, this was the first installation for the LHG operating on a new software platform. Now it shares common defect analysis with other USNR grading optimization systems – Transverse High Grader (THG) for dry mill grading and sawmill BioVision for green mill grading. With the success we’ve achieved with the transverse applications we were confident it was the right time to transition the LHG software. Historically LHG operated on its own platform because at the time it was developed, grade scanning and vision technology were new to the industry. LHG’s use of x-ray technology for knot detection was not practical for transverse applications (THG and BioVision) so a new methodology was developed. When we applied this methodology to the LHG we discovered that, combined with the x-ray data it was even more powerful for knot sizing.

Nadim Karmali, USNR’s planer mill automated grading project manager, explains. “With the legacy LHG software we were reliant on x-ray data for knot assembly and pith location recognition. The new software was designed for transverse grade scanning. We developed a new pith model to help determine the connectivity of knot clusters, and this has proven to be very effective. With the new software release for the LHG we are using this same model in addition to the x-ray data that helps to identify knots by the density of the fiber. The combination of technologies we are using today, combined with the DataFusion concept, is extremely accurate as the systems at Carson and Mt. Hood are proving out.” Below is the new LHG user interface, with specific windows expanded for easier readability.

Left: New LHG user interface, now common among all USNR’s grade optimizers Below: Fence and saw data Below right: Defect list for specified boards Bottom: Defect color coding displayed on the current board. Current board is a 2x4, graded #1&Btr, with a value of $5.13 | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider



LHG firsts This is the first installation for the LHG under a newly released software platform (Carson), as well as the first installation grading green Douglas fir (Mt. Hood). The Carson installation was the first stage of the project, and was the proving ground for the LHG’s ability with this software, subsequently used at Mt. Hood as well (see page 7). Douglas fir is particularly challenging to grade because of the wide range of colors from heart wood, which can be quite brown, to sap wood, which is much lighter. As you can imagine, knots are much harder to detect in heart wood because their color is often very similar to the surrounding fiber. Add to that the requirement for the LHG to grade green lumber, where moisture in the wood can cause issues with x-ray and tracheid data. That’s where LHG’s DataFusion concept really performs and proves its value, by utilizing several technologies to compare and confirm the data. Mike Engel commented, “Product tuning was a challenge because we have the first system in a green Douglas fir mill (Mt. Hood), but we had the same issue at Carson because there we are grading green 4x4 lumber as well.” The installation at Carson took longer than originally scheduled, but the second installation at Mt. Hood went much more smoothly. Mike said, “Since we planned to do the projects back-to-back we were really well prepared for the first one, and even much better prepared for the second installation.”

Unique challenges Besides the requirement for the LHG to grade green lumber at Mt. Hood, an additional challenge was the way in which the mill manages its process. Mike Engel explained, “At Mt. Hood we go from 2x4 to 2x6 by shifting a sidehead at the planer; we do a changeover from one product to another in about 35 seconds. The LHG is tasked to changeover its product parameters from 2x4 to 2x6 in under 30 seconds.” Typically when a planer mill changes from processing one product to another, it means shutting down the whole line from


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LHG TECHNOLOGY CONFIGURATION The first sensor technology employed is x-ray, where the source and detector are mounted directly above and below the flow. Next, 4 laser profile sensors and 4 vision sensors mounted in true differential configuration, scan the top, bottom and both sides of the boards as they travel lineally through the scan zone.








the tilt hoist through to the stacker. This allows ample time for the LHG system to be reconfigured for the new product size. Because Mt. Hood does not dry its lumber the planer is located directly downstream of the sawmill. The 3 products the mill sorts before the planer – 2x4 shorts, 2x4 longs and 2x6 – exit the sawmill onto three long

The LHG is tasked to changeover its product parameters from 2x4 to 2x6 in under 30 seconds.

transfers where they are staged for planing. The planer operator must keep space ahead of each product on the transfers, so product size changeovers happen frequently during each shift. Because of this quick changeover requirement, USNR engineers coded an additional feature into the Mt. Hood system. It takes the planer man a little over 30 seconds to adjust the planer side heads, and he also has a switch on his console to tell the PLC and, in turn, the LHG, that he is switching product sizes. When the switch is activated the LHG computer automatically resets itself to the new product parameters, and the LHG actuates a linear positioner attached to one of the side vision sensor mounts to shift the

The improvements that we have seen, the ability to control what we are doing, and support for the system is unparalleled from what we had before.

sensor into the new position. The other side vision sensor, aligned with the linebar, remains fixed. This all takes place in under 30 seconds, and the LHG is ready to begin grading the new product.

More on-grade, less trim loss Mike shared some of the results the mills are achieving. “The improvements that we have seen, the ability to control what we are doing, and support for the system is unparalleled from what we had before.” He explained, “We improved our on-grade percentages and decreased our trim loss, and we have much better control over what our grading system is doing. We have been able to increase our scanning run speeds on some products that were finicky with our old system. He was also very pleased to note, “We have removed one grader from each line at both mills, and that is a cost saving in labor.”

and controls. Todd Slack, mill manager at Carson, was hands-on through the first installation and start-up ensuring the LHG was performing as expected. Robert Fletcher, mill manager at Mt. Hood was also hands-on through that mill’s project. The USNR project team included Nadim Karmali, project manager; Richard Herring, Ron Godin, Thomas Knotts and Bill Hilland, optimization technicians; Ken Lomness and Jared Plowman, controls technicians; Ray Winquist, John Schulte and Garth Turner, mechanical technicians. Mill electricians, millwrights and management all received training on the new systems, while one of their technicians received 5 days of direct one-on-one training instruction.

Looking ahead These projects have resolved the challenges that these mills faced and positioned the company for the next stage in its evolution. Now with the desired capacity available in the breakdown lines at Carson, and with the grading area at the planer mill resolved, the next area of focus is sorting and stacking the abundance of products in the sawmill. Shortly WKO will be starting its second sorter/stacker line at the sawmill to increase its capacity to over 200 LPM. And at Mt. Hood, now that the grading line isn’t a bottleneck the goal will be to increase throughput at the planer. USNR appreciates the opportunity to partner with customers like WKO and Mt. Hood to continue the evolution of our automated grading technology.

Mike also explained some of the issues that the mills had with the previous systems that were resolved with the implementation of the LHGs. “There were certain aspects of the old system, where it would not let the grader upgrade a board. If the scanner detected something that wasn’t really there, there was no way for the grader to correct the grade. Because of this we were forced to loosen our parameters and then ended up having to downgrade a lot of boards to be on grade. With the LHGs the check graders are able to downgrade or upgrade products at will.” Mike gives credit to the mills’ teams at Carson and Mt. Hood for the success of these projects. Paul Anderson managed the mechanical aspects of both projects, while Don Jarrell managed the electrical

Above: Boards exit the LHG utilizing the existing feedworks. | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider



Renew your system MECHANICAL UPGRADES THAT WILL IMPROVE PERFORMANCE In addition to a new release of software, USNR has developed mechanical upgrades for the LHG that will improve the performance for systems that have been in service for many years. With design improvements we've built into these upgrades your system can function better than when it was new.

„ „ Individual press roll cylinders with

independent suspension maintain better control of the full length of the board „ „ Two strong airbags support the jacking

tube assembly, ensuring it travels straight up and down during processing „ „ Improved design of jacking tube

assembly offers better-than-new operational capability, longlasting performance



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How it works The mechanical feedworks of your Lineal High Grader endures extreme stresses during high speed processing. Over time these mechanical components will wear. USNR has designed a retrofit to boost your system’s mechanical performance to betterthan-new operational capability. This will help to ensure your lumber grading system is up to the task you require.

Benefits with Evaluator (lumber strength prediction) This system is particularly beneficial when utilizing LHG’s Evaluator module for MSR lumber grading. The new assembly ensures continuous pressure is applied to the board from all 4 pressrolls as it is transported through the LHG’s scan zone. As each board passes, the laser profile sensors precisely measure the amount of physical vibration the board exhibits as it is transported by the pressrolls. This is called its vibration signature. The Evaluator module utilizes this vibration signature data to accurately predict its strength for MSR lumber grading.

Features and benefits

UPGRADE COMPONENTS Jacking tube guide assemblies Large airbags Jacking tube assembly

Pressrolls with small airbags, cylinders for independent suspension

Support frame for large airbag


Below: The new guide assemblies on each end of the jacking tube utilize concentric and eccentric cams for precise adjustment of the jacking tube alignment. The eccentric cams on the right shift to fill the gap with the shim plate. This affords a very tight tolerance, essentially zero gap. This allows only vertical movement of the jacking tube during processing, and ensures rolls and drive components remain in alignment. Shim plates

Eccentric cams

„ „ Replaces worn LHG components „ „ Relieves LHG frame fatigue „ „ Improves frame stability; reduces

racking and binding „ „ Smoother operation, less maintenance,

less downtime „ „ Fully adjustable guides

minimize clearance

Concentric cams

„ „ Can typically be installed over a

long weekend

Options Standardize on newer component designs: „ „ Pressrolls and bearings „ „ Pressroll frames „ „ Worn roll scrapers

To learn more please contact us at 800.BUY.USNR, +360.225.8267 or

LHG SIDE VIEW | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 11

LHG Upgrades

Each pressroll is fitted with its own cylinder which allows the rolls to move up and down independently. Previously a hard impact on any one roll could lift and skew the entire jacking tube assembly. Over time this amount of force could cause the mechanical components to wear. With independent pressroll suspension the force is cushioned by the airbags and cylinders, protecting the frame from undue stress.

Lineal High Grader On Grade. On Target. Hit your target. Lineal or transverse, USNR High Grader technology delivers.

Stand D25

LHG delivers accurate and repeatable grading decisions: ► Above grade reduction ► Below grade control ► Positive grade distribution shift ► No lug speed limits ► No elevation changes

ALSC recognized 3000 fpm auto-grading ► Integrated MSR/MEL ► Cut ‘N 2, 3 or 4 ► 50+ sold ► Global installations ► Graderless ► ►

Millwide. Worldwide.


Montrose Forest Products

Sawmill revival COLORADO MILL’S NEW HIGH SPEED LEASE ON LIFE A modern, high speed trimmer, sorter and stacker line at Montrose Forest Products has given this mill a new lease on life. With the latest technology matched to processing requirements and a sure, long-term supply of raw materials, this renewed operation is back in the game. | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 13


While there has been a move toward consolidation among lumber producers there are still many independent operators whose businesses are thriving. One such stalwar t is Neiman Enterprises headquar tered at Hulett, Wyoming. In 2012 it added a four th mill to its por tfolio of lumber operations when it acquired Intermountain Resources at Montrose, Colorado and restar ted it under the name Montrose Forest Products. Though the mill would require substantial investment to bring it up to modern standards, the new owners were up to the task. Neiman Enterprises Inc. is a leading producer of ponderosa pine boards, decking, and industrial or shop lumber. The company is a fourth-generation family business that started its first mill in 1936. Today the company operates three facilities in the Black Hills region in addition to its interests at Montrose; Devils Tower Forest Products at Hulett, WY; Rushmore Forest Products at Hill City, SD; and Spearfish Forest Products at Spearfish, SD.

Making oppor tunity count Montrose is strategically located near Colorado’s lodge pole pine forests, where the mountain pine beetle has devastated a


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large area. Much like what British Columbia, Canada experienced several years ago, the forests around Montrose have been dealt a hefty blow by these pervasive pests. The beetles kill the trees, but the wood is sound for producing lumber for several years before it deteriorates and becomes unusable for this purpose. Removing the dead and dying trees created an opportunity for Montrose by way of lumber supply, and is an essential service to protect the region from devastating forest fires. The Montrose mill had gone into receivership in 2010, with many people in the community at great concern for the future of their jobs. The acquisition by

Neiman in 2012 was met with much relief, and the mill was restarted in September 2012. Then the work really began to revitalize the mill with modern technology. The Montrose operation comprises a sawmill, planer mill and dry kilns. It is currently running a single shift with an annual capacity in the range of 70mmbf. The first order of business after the acquisition was to invest in new scanning and optimization for primary and secondary breakdown processes. In early 2013 orders were placed for USNR’s MillExpert log and carriage optimization with Smart TriCam and LASAR scanning respectively, and for MillExpert edger optimization with BioLuma

Above left: Once trimmed, the boards pass through an overhead pusher gate where boards can be diverted out for reman. This design is used in lieu of a drop out gate to maintain control of the boards for high speed applications. Above: Next the boards are even ended to lumber line before traveling up a lugged incline for feeding into the 32-bin pusher lug sorter. (Sorter infeed, previous page.) Above right: Montrose selected the MyMill™ mobile control system for its new sorter line, allowing full control of the sorter functions via mobile iPads and iPods from anywhere in the mill.

2900L scanning on the edger line. The edger line was also updated with USNR’s high speed, stud Maximizer infeed table to improve consistency and speed up the flow. At the same time the PLC controls were updated to the ControlLogix platform for those machine centers. Next the owners turned their focus to the latter half of the sawmill that was operating a manual green chain for sorting green, edged lumber. The plan was to implement an automated line with optimized trimmer, vertical bin sorter and a stacker. They realized they needed to reduce the manpower required to operate the mill to compete in the rising market. After considering proposals from several vendors the mill selected USNR for the supply. Tom Shaffer, COO for the four Neiman mills, commented, “All our optimization and controls at our other mills are with USNR. We have a long history, so we felt comfortable with USNR’s products and experience.” He went on to explain the objective for acquiring the best optimization available. “We cut a lot of dead wood and it

has a lot of cracks. Our scan densities need to be tighter than with dimension lumber because of all the defects in our wood.” Tom said that prior to the project, 70% of the sawmill’s production was dropped out before trimming, and was routed in that condition to the dry kiln and planer. “We had an old manual trim line where we would make 2x4’s and 2x6’s graded to a stud grade. All of the 8-9’ material was dropped out ahead of the trimmer and routed to a couple of stud stackers. It was tough to get that lumber through the planer because of the bad ends.”

We cut a lot of dead wood and it has a lot of cracks. Our scan densities need to be tighter than with dimension lumber because of all the defects in our wood. | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 15


Automating the flow The new line is highly efficient, and designed to operate at 180 lpm when processing 2x4’s. It begins with a radius back unscrambler feeding edged boards to the trimmer area. Speed up chains and a waterfall at the top of the unscrambler facilitate singulating the flow onto the angled ending rolls, where boards are ended to lumber line. Three backlog tables are monitored and controlled by USNR’s MillTrak™ lumber flow control system, with a MillTrak camera mounted above the flow. A Revolver lug loader feeds the boards into lugs prior to scanning. Once in lugs, an SCS moisture meter measures the moisture content of each board for downstream sorting. The Multi-Track Fence, noted to be the most accurate in the industry, utilizes 13 positioning paddles and features 12” of infinite positioning for precise trimming. The multi-saw trimmer is line shaft driven and designed to accommodate 17” saws. Once trimmed, the boards pass through an overhead pusher gate where boards can be diverted out for reman. This design is used in lieu of a drop out gate to maintain control of the boards for high speed applications. Next the boards are even ended to lumber line before traveling up a lugged incline for feeding into the 32-bin pusher lug sorter. Montrose selected the MyMill™ mobile control system for its new sorter line, allowing full control of the sorter functions via mobile iPads and iPods from anywhere in the mill. Once a bin of lumber is


Trimmer optimization The MyMill system allows a lot more flexibility for our operators to move around and handle different tasks. That’s really nice.

discharged, interchange rollcases transport the load to the stacker unscrambler. The radius back unscrambler is also fitted with speed up chains and waterfall ahead of a stacker surge table with live fence, to end the boards for stacking. A high speed all-electric stacker with pre-staging is designed to operate at 16-18 courses per minute. Electric actuation extends to the stacker’s main hoist, secondary hoist and boxing load forks. The stacker’s stick placing system is the fully automated slant hopper design. Sticks arrive in bunks from the planer and are fed to a stick unscrambler, then surge and backlog tables ahead of the stick allocator. The allocator feeds the sticks into lugs, and the lugged transfers transport the sticks to the stick placer’s nine slanted hoppers. The lugged transfers are designed to recirculate the sticks when not demanded by the hoppers. The sticks are placed on the tiers of lumber in automatic cycle with the stacker forks.  

The MillExpert trimmer optimizer receives highly dense scan data from the BioLuma 2900L laser profile sensors. This combination provides unparalleled control over trimming, superior recovery and accuracy over competitive systems. MillExpert’s wide array of features lets you configure and customize your system to maximize recovery. Configurable options include settings for exact saw locations, actual trim lengths, optimizer minimum product length allowed, compound wane rules, and more. BioLuma sensors feature 0.3” laser profile spacing at 2500 Hz scan rate, with true differential measurements for full coverage of each board, end to end.

Star ting it up Dallas Wright, plant superintendent for Montrose, explained that the installation of the new line began at the stacking line so as not to disrupt the existing production until absolutely necessary to tie in the new trim line and sorter. “We started putting everything together at the stacker and worked our way back to the trimmer so the manual line could continue as long as possible.” The start-up of the new line was done in two phases, with the stacker commissioning coinciding with the sorter and trimmer installations. With any project results are the true reflection of its success. Dallas commented that he was very happy with the upgrades at the edger line that are resulting in more consistent throughput, “It’s performing better than expected.” He explained that





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of the mill’s portion of the project. Tom commented that he was satisfied with the way the project came off. “I think we worked it out pretty well.” In addition to Dallas Wright who headed up the project for Montrose, Shawn Findley, sawmill supervisor was also directly involved in ensuring a successful result.

We trim a lot less at the planer, and combined with better drying we get better recovery on our finished lumber.

Looking ahead they chose the Multi-Track Fence because the beetle-kill lumber contains a lot of defect, and they wanted to be sure to get the most accurate trim. He said, “The MyMill system allows a lot more flexibility for our operators to move around and handle different tasks. That’s really nice. Most of these operators were working on the green chain before the upgrades, but they caught on to the technology pretty quickly.” Dallas explained that the focus was primarily on improving production and throughput consistency. “Now with the optimization we have at the trimmer we can produce nice square packages. That results in better air flow at the kilns which improves our drying. The planer production has improved even more so than the sawmill production. We trim a lot less at the planer, and combined with better drying we get better grade recovery on our finished lumber.”

Planned improvements for the Montrose operation don’t end with the successful completion of this project. Tom said that they also plan to invest in a sprinkler system and air filtration system. Processing of beetle-kill lumber results in very fine dust which must be mitigated appropriately. They are also looking at projects in the dry mill, and considering expanding the operation to include a wood pellet facility on the site. Montrose Forest Products is shaping up to be a strong asset to Neiman’s holdings.

Watch the new line in action: http://vimeo. com/122690594

One of the challenges the company faced was they had a lot of projects on the go at the time with all the mills under the Neiman umbrella. This meant that resources were spread thin and Montrose depended on outside contractors to handle much

Top: The all-electric, high speed stacker and stick placer. Center: Sticks travel up the stick placer unscrambler and incline to the stick allocator.






Bottom: The stick allocator loads sticks into lugs to feed the stick hoppers.

MILLTRAK SENSING ZONE | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 17

High Speed Electric Stacker

The need for speed ALL-ELECTRIC DESIGN OFFERS EFFICIENT, HIGH SPEED OPERATION USNR’s high speed stacker offers a compact, nimble, all-electric design to handle your valuable products gently and efficiently. Our electric stacker is reliable day after day, shift after shift. Its efficient operation will get the job done with minimal energy and maintenance. Our stacker gives you the flexibility to stack what you want, when you want. And our stacker leads the pack with recipe control features you probably never imagined were possible – until now. USNR has been building stackers for decades, and we’ve stayed ahead of the pack by adapting our approach to embrace the reliable, efficient use of electronics combined with PLC controls innovations to power our designs.

„ „ Fast: 20+ cycles/min. (4’ packs)

„ „ Less noise: much quieter operation

„ „ Reliable: operates equally well in cold and

„ „ Minimum maintenance: belt driven with no

Our all-electric, high speed stacker offers these major features:

„ „ Clean, environmentally friendly: no


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warm environments „ „ Energy efficient: use of electronics for

precise actuation of all operations

leaky hydraulics

fittings, fluids, hoses, etc. „ „ Package sizes: 3’-10’ wide, 18” to full crib

load high „ „ Easy installation: comes pre-assembled and

pre-plumbed for plug-and-play operation


Optional pre-staging tiers gives the operator a look at each tier before it goes out onto the package. A power-assisted tier width adjustment allows flexibility to control tier widths for a variety of lumber products. An indexing photo eye ensures consistent stack heights whether stacking on the main or secondary hoist. Lumber infeed backlog and package outfeed are controlled electronically for steady, efficient material flow. The belted drive offers zero stretch, greatly reducing any need for maintenance.

A wide array of options lets you customize your stacker to meet your needs. „ „ Pre-staging allows an operator to view and

select/cull boards in each tier „ „ A cherry-pack option allows the operator to

selectively improve package appearance „ „ Boxing load mechanism spreads the tiers to

the full width of kiln sticks „ „ Air gapping also spreads tiers to kiln stick

„ „ Tier skewing stabilizes a pack for solid pack

stacking (no stick/lath) „ „ A secondary hoist allows continuous

stacking while discharging a pack „ „ End tampers ensure a square lumber line end

of each package, eliminates end press „ „ An automatic tier counter places lath at

correct intervals, allows automatic stacking „ „ Automatic package labelers (ticket systems)

are available at the stacker.

width, with even distribution of spaces for superior air flow at the kiln

In some applications, the use of aluminum in stacker forks improves speed and reduces power requirements. The high speed stacker is complemented by the use of our Slant Hopper Stick Placer or our moving lath placers. A recent new development for combination stick/lath placers is our new slide-out lath hoppers that make filling a breeze. The lath hoppers slide out onto the walkway platform for easy top filling, then slide back for lath placement actuation.

SECONDARY HOIST TIME-SAVER Have you thought about the changeover time it takes while your primary hoist indexes down to discharge a pack and raises up again into place before your stacker can begin the next cycle? It is

typically 30 seconds or more. When you add a secondary hoist to the process your changeover time reduces to an average of 6 seconds. Your stacking operation becomes nearly continuous. And with USNR’s high

speed stacker both primary and secondary hoists (and all other components) are electronically actuated for the most precise and efficient operation.

The secondary hoist utilizes an additional set of package support knees to accept tier stacking while the primary hoist is lowered to discharge the completed package onto the outfeed transfer chains. The primary hoist knees are raised back into position for tier stacking, and it takes over from the secondary hoist to finish stacking the new package. Above left: the primary hoist lowers its load to discharge the completed package, while the secondary hoist has been engaged for continued stacking. Center: the primary hoist raises back up after discharging its package. Right: the primary hoist is in position for stacking while the secondary hoist pulls back. | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 19

Stacker Technology

Efficient operation

Stacker Technology


TAKING CONTROL USNR’s all-electric stacker combined with our WinTally™ sorter control system affords you the ultimate “recipe control” over your sorting and stacking process. From the time a bin is discharged at the sorter until the completed pack is placed onto the stacker outfeed chains and transported to the packaging area, you can now automate the process. You can track each bin load through the process, with the PLC system seamlessly making customized adjustments at each step to most efficiently handle, stack, and transport that pack for speed and performance. Through USNR’s recipe control innovations you can actuate the lift skids on the unscrambler, control the pre-stage location, turn on/off stick and lath hoppers and tier tampers, turn on tier skewing (for solid packs), control the speed and thrust of the stacker forks, place sticks/lath and fill the hoppers, index the primary hoist down, and actuate the secondary hoist. All these features can be configured through your PLC for each product you make and each package you stack. Once you configure your system for a specific product or package, the configuration is repeatable until you decide to change it. USNR’s WinTally system combined with stacker recipe control gives you access to these features:

„ „ Select which bins to dump, and in what order „ „ Actuate sorter discharge decks and

interchange rolls to transport a bin load to the stacker unscrambler area „ „ Actuate and control the height of the

unscrambler lift skids „ „ Control the speed of the stacker transfer

chains and position of the pre-stage mechanism „ „ Control ramp up and lift of the forks to match

product sizes (eliminate boards bundling up) „ „ Adjust the fork stroke distance for a variety of

package widths, increase stacking cycle rate „ „ Control the stick/lath pattern and tier tamper

locations for a variety of package lengths „ „ Place sticks/lath, and fill stick hoppers „ „ Automatic handoff from the primary to

secondary hoist, and vice versa

Auto bin dumping (above) frees up the stacker operator to queue up specific bins to dump in a specific order, or set up full automatic mode where bins are dumped automatically as they fill. The advantage of queueing up bins is the capability to successively stack several packs of the same product. This can significantly improve efficiency and speed at the stacker.

„ „ Optional package tracking downstream of

the stacker actuates stacker outfeed chains and controls transport of each pack to the packaging area Package tracking (right) allows the packaging operators to view details about each package that is coming. Package queue data is displayed on the HMI interface screen. An operator can click on a package and the load number, package description, number of pieces in the pack and their lengths are all displayed.











Millwide Insider | ISSUE 35 | STICK INFEED CHAINS





USNR has developed a stacker conversion that can economically improve the production and functionality of your existing bellcrank stacker, and transform it into a high speed, electric unit. The bellcrank mechanism is replaced with servo motor drives to actuate the carriage travel and raise/lower the forks. The existing hoist and stacker fork carriage can be reused. This conversion transforms the bellcrank stacker into an electric servo-controlled machine that can be programmed and customized to suit each product size. Variable fork speed throughout the cycle allows full control of the stacking process. Fork velocity and raise/lower positioning is configurable and variable by product. The end result is higher production levels and much increased capability from an existing stacker. The added advantage is that the upgrade can be done in place, significantly reducing the cost and disruption of installing a new stacker.

Stacker Technology

STACKER CONVERSIONS IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTION Conversion benefits „ „ Increases stacking speed to +20 cycles/min. „ „ Full stacking control: motion control of fork

lift rollers (raise/lower) is independent of the fork drive (forward/back) „ „ Forks controlled by electric servo drive for


forward/back indexing, and lineal cylinder or Exlar for raise/lower motion „ „ Power assisted tier width adjustment allows

for a variety of product and package widths „ „ Short stroke capability accommodates

multiple package widths

To learn about your options for improving your stacking operation, please contact us at 800.BUY.USNR, +360.225.8267 or


Images at right, and illustration below: 1. Exlar motion control cylinder actuates up and down movement of the forks. 2. New polyurethane fork drive belt is mounted on the fork mount tube. 3. Servo motor actuates backward and forward movement of the forks.








2 3

1 STACKER LINEAR FORK DRIVE | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 21

New Projects A new chip breaker assembly and top head motor driveline assembly have also been ordered. These upgrades will allow manual jointing as well as improved performance and accuracy from the machine.

Idaho Timber – Kiln Boss Idaho Timber has ordered a Kiln Boss computer control system to control 2 steam-powered dry kilns at its Coushatta, LA mill.

Jordan Forest Products Counter-Flow Kiln Jordan Forest Products at Barnesville, GA is investing in a new Counter-Flow, direct fired kiln, heated with natural gas. The kiln will be 33’ x 244’ long, and designed to accommodate 515 mbf of 2” material. The Kiln Boss system will also be installed to control the new kiln.

Collums Lumber Curve Sawing Gang retrofit The Collums Lumber operation at Allendale, SC is retrofitting its Newnes curve sawing gang system that was installed in 2001. The Collums team recently toured the Jordan Lumber, Barnesville operation to see the recent retrofit at that site, and determined the conical chip head solution would be a good option for their mill. (See the article in Millwide Insider #34, page 11 – The order includes a new centering infeed table and conical shape chipper heads upstream of the saw box. The existing QuickScan scan frame will be outfitted with new LPLe sensors. At the same time the PLC control system will be updated to the ControlLogix platform.

Griffin Lumber – Curve Sawing Gang optimization upgrade Griffin Lumber at Cordele, GA is updating its curve sawing gang system with the latest MillExpert optimization release and expanding its lineal scanning system to include an additional scan zone. The scanning system utilizes Smart TriCam sensors, and 4 new sensors will be


Millwide Insider | ISSUE 35 |

mounted to create an additional scan zone. The PLC control system will also be updated to the ControlLogix platform.

Hankins Lumber Double Track Dry Kiln The Hankins Lumber mill at Ripley, MS is expanding its drying capacity with a new direct-fired dry kiln. The kiln will be 33’ wide x 68’ long, fueled by natural gas. The order includes a Kiln Boss control system.

HG Toler – Edger infeed, outfeed, computer upgrades The H.G. Toler mill at Leola, AR is upgrading its edger line. The existing Maximizer infeed table will be retrofitted with 4 pop-up style positioners to enhance the efficiency of board positioning at the table. A Flying-Vee Tailer will be installed at the outfeed to more efficiently handle edged boards and tailings. And the existing Edger BioVision grade optimization system will be upgraded with new computer hardware.

HG Toler – Planer upgrades The H.G. Toler mill is also investing in upgrades to its existing planer. The project includes new top and bottom cutterhead lineal bearing jointers for its Yates planer.

Lampe & Malphrus – Dry Kiln The Lampe & Malphrus mill at Smithfield, NC is investing in a new steam-heated double-track dry kiln. The order includes the Kiln Boss control system.

Maple Rapids Lumber Carriage Optimizer Upgrade The Maple Rapids Lumber hardwood operation at Saint Johns, MI has ordered a software upgrade to its carriage optimizer. The existing YieldMaster software system will be transitioned to the MillExpert platform. The existing scanning system will be retained.

Sierra Forest Trimmer Optimizer Upgrade Sierra Forest Products at Terra Bella, CA is upgrading its existing Newnes Sawmill Suite Trimmer optimizer to the latest version. The new release is based on the Windows 7 platform, and offers improved performance as well as positioning the system for future vision scanning capability.

Stimson Lumber – MillExper t LASAR Carriage Optimization

Timber Products Veneer Dryer

Yakama Forest – Kiln Boss, SCS Moisture Control

Stimson Lumber is investing in new carriage optimization systems at several of its sites including Clatskanie, WA (2 systems), and at St. Maries and Priest River, both in Idaho. Each line will feature MillExpert optimization paired with LASAR front-side scanning. The PLC controls for the systems will also be upgraded to the ControlLogix platform.

Timber Products is investing in a new 6-deck, 12-section veneer dryer for its plywood operation at Medford, Oregon. The new drying system will feature Automatic Dryer Efficiency Control (ADEC) and Cooler Pressure Balance Control systems. Included in the order are veneer dryer feeding and unloading systems.

The Yakama Forest Products mill at White Swan, WA is investing in Kiln Boss and SCS Moisture Control systems to control 7 of its kilns at its large log operation.

Stimson Lumber – BioLuma Edger and Gang upgrades Stimson Lumber at Gaston, OR has ordered new optimization systems for its board edger and gang lines. The new systems will be based on the MillExpert platform. The board edger scanning system will feature BioLuma 2900L sensors; the gang scanning system will utilize BioLuma 2900XL sensors. The BioLuma sensors feature 0.30” laser profile density at 2500 Hz scan rate. Both lines will also receive ControlLogix PLC control upgrades.

Timber Products processes a variety of hardwood and softwood species into high value plywood and wood panels, and operates nine manufacturing facilities in the US.

The Kiln Boss controller integrated with the SCS moisture sensing system advances the drying schedule automatically from fiber saturation through conditioning, and turns off the kiln at the final desired average moisture content target. With the SCS system, wireless sensors are included for 6 measuring points per kiln track.

Winston Plywood Lathe & Dryer Retrofits Winston Plywood is rebuilding its plywood manufacturing facility at Louisville, MS after a devastating tornado of April 2014 destroyed its operation. The new plant will feature major retrofits to both lathe lines, a new 6-deck, 20-section veneer dryer as well as upgrades to existing veneer dryers. Included in the order are green and dry veneer handling machinery, stacking equipment, controls, and dryer feeding and unloading systems. The Winston plant will process high value specialty plywood products.

COMPLIMENTARY SUBSCRIPTION For your complimentary subscription to USNR’s Millwide Insider magazine e-mail or go to | ISSUE 35 | Millwide Insider 23

PO Box 310 Woodland, WA 98674

Millwide Insider is printed on recycled paper.

Profile Nadim Karmali is a Project Manager with USNR, based at Salmon Arm. Nadim brings a background in biology and electronic engineering to his role as manager for planer mill optimization projects. He came to USNR in 2004, having studied Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology at the University of Calgary and then Electronic Engineering Technology at Devry University, also in Calgary, Alberta. His first role was with the field service group where he was a member of the team that developed vision technology for LHG.


In his current role he manages all aspects of planer mill grading projects. He says, “I enjoy meeting customers, understanding their needs and working with our developers to design features to meet those needs in a timely and cost effective manner.” In addition to pushing the current limits on processing speeds in the future, he commented, “I see strength and visual characteristics of lumber becoming more significant to the final grade.” With his family, Nadim also enjoys the outdoors with snowshoeing, snowboarding, hockey and soccer, as well as photography.

APR. 8–9 COFI Conference

APR. 23–24 NELMA

APR. 24–25 Sawfilers’ Convention

Prince George, BC

Boston, MA

Kamloops, BC

MAY 7 Global Softwood Conf. Vancouver, BC

MAY 11–15 Ligna

JUNE 10–12 SFPA Expo

Hannover, Germany

Atlanta, GA

Millwide Insider #35  

In this issue we relate stories about two independent companies that are each holding their own in the industry. In the midst of a trend tow...