Hardwood Of Michigan A Champion Of Industry

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Advanced Recycling Equipment grinder used at hardwood sawmill to process slabs into hog fuel, mulch.

CLINTON, Mich. — Hardwoods of Michigan Inc. is serious about producing a consistent product. So much so that the company uses only western Great Lakes hardwoods, which are harvested almost exclusively in Michigan.

The idea is simple: the more homogeneous trees and their growth patterns, the better the lumber. Scanners and optimization equipment can be calibrated for species with similar growth patterns, making their precision even better.

Richard Service owns Hardwoods of Michigan, which has been in business for 29 years. The company operates a large mill, employs 170 people, and has annual sales of around $50 million. It was recently featured in the ‘Champions of Industry’ series that airs on The Discovery Channel.

Hardwoods of Michigan produces saw logs, veneer and blocking for pallets and low-grade dimensional lumber. Eighty percent of the hardwoods milled are oak, hickory or cherry, according to Paul Kane, purchasing manager and byproducts manager for Hardwoods of Michigan. The company also cuts 10 species of hardwoods to specification for proprietary customers. For grinding residual material, Hardwoods of Michigan uses Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc.’s Challenger® CG500 dual-drive hopper grinder. Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc. is based in St. Marys, Pa. The Challenger® CG500 was purchased in 1999.

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Because of the two hats he wears at Hardwoods of Michigan — purchasing and byproducts manager — Paul is the person who took responsibility for gauging the capabilities of different grinders and evaluating them. “We looked at about four different ones,” he said. “This one seemed like about the best of the four.”

The Challenger® CG500 grinder “runs about five hours per day, absolutely at capacity,” said Paul. Some of the output is used as boiler fuel to heat the company’s dry kilns and produce steam to generate power. In warmer months, boilers generate so much power that some of it is sold back to the village. By changing screens on the Challenger® CG500 hopper grinder, the machine is made ready to grind wood for mulch. Hardwoods of Michigan sells mulch retail and did a volume of 16,000 cubic yards in 2002.

One of the features he liked immediately about the Challenger® CG500 was the dual electric drive, said Paul. There is “less maintenance with electric,” he said. The hopper grinder sits on a pad for added leveling and stability, and it has a large off-loading conveyor to keep up with the pace of production, explained Paul.

Material fed to the Challenger® CG500 comes from two sources. Most of the material is in the form of slabs coming off a McDonough band mill. Contract truckers deliver logs to the mill, and they go through a Rens metal detector and then a Rosser-style debarking system. In addition to the McDonough band mill, the sawmill is equipped with a USNR head rig, Cleereman 48-inch carriage with Jacobsen 250 hp carriage drive, Silva-Tech scanners, a McDonough line bar resaw and double end trimmer, and a Cornell grade edger. A Speech Secretary voice grade and tally system and a Husky package end tally system round out the main equipment.

Hardwoods of Michigan dries about 1.8 million board feet of lumber each month, according to Paul. Finished lumber is sold to markets for furniture and cabinet manufacturers in the U. S. and abroad. Hardwoods of Michigan is precisely the sort of outcome that Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc. strives for with the design of its equipment. Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc. offers combustion systems to be deployed in conjunction with its trademarked Challenger® grinder series. The systems add value to the waste stream by producing warm air, hot water, steam and co-generation.

BioMass Energy Concepts is a
subsidiary of Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc.. It provides turnkey biomass-fueled cogeneration energy systems. Recently, BioMass Energy Concepts installed a wood fuel energy system at a facility in Japan.

The system put in place at the mill in Japan illustrates the capabilities of tying grinder and thermal-combustion equipment together. The steam produced is used to heat the main plant, to the glue drying operation and to the dry kilns. The raw material for the system is a combination of sawdust, dust from sanders and shavings. Heat recovery from the system registers 80% efficiency. The thermal combustion systems produced in conjunction with the trademarked Challenger® name can also be used in the combustion of a variety of other organic products. Bark, cardboard, switch grass, animal waste and general waste with a moisture content as high as 50% can also be used as fuel. Units of various sizes are designed to produce thermal energy from 750,000 BTU per hour to 30,000,000 BTU per hour.

The equipment line at Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc. includes hopper, horizontal, slab, pallet, plastics, gravity fed and diesel-powered grinders. The company provides on-site start-up help from its technical staff.

All grinders manufactured by Advanced Recycling Equipment Inc. get the same heavy-duty components. Gearbox, bearings, hydraulics and motors are all engineered for durability and longevity. The grinders are sized to meet customer needs based on volume and type of material.

Hardwoods of Michigan is located in Clinton, Mich., which is about 30 miles northwest of Toledo, Ohio. Clinton is the namesake of DeWitt Clinton, who originated the Erie Canal in New York State. Many settlers arrived in southeast Michigan via the Erie Canal.

Clinton is about 30 miles due west from the western-most shore of Lake Erie. The location gives Hardwoods of Michigan many options for shipping its lumber products. Clinton is located on Interstate 94. But besides trucking, the company uses water, rail and piggyback means
of shipping.

The hardwood species available in Michigan include a rich mix of ash, beech, birch, buckeye and walnut in addition to the species that Hardwoods of Michigan mills on a regular basis. Aspen, basswood and poplar are also abundant. Many of the same species also are found around the town of St. Marys, where Advanced Recycling Equipment
Inc. designs and manufactures its equipment. St. Marys, a city of about 14,000 people, is located in northwest Pennsylvania on the western edge of the Allegheny Mountains.

Paul has been with Hardwoods of Michigan for 16 years. He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in forest products. He enjoys working in the wood products industry because of “the atmosphere,” which is always engaging thanks to varied activities. He also likes the “indoor-outdoor” aspects of the forest products industry.

For those who missed seeing the segment devoted to Hardwoods of Michigan in the ‘Champions of Industry’ series, there is another opportunity to get a closer look at the company. Some video clips are available at the company web site, www.hmilumber.com.