Latest upgrade at Iowa hardwood mill is TMT Edger with Inovec scanning and optimization controls
EDGEWOOD, Iowa — Kendrick Forest Products is not your typical hardwood saw mill for several reasons. First, it is the only sawmill business in Iowa that staffs its own log crews, trucking, mill and dry kilns, according to the company. Second, it has some of the most sophisticated optimization equipment in the sawmill industry. In addition, Kendrick likely is different in the respect that its co-owner and sales manager is a woman.
Kendrick Forest Products observed its 20th anniversary in 2003. The company is building new offices, upgraded its sawmill, and held a week-long open house to mark the occasion. The sawmill was upgraded with a new Timber Machine Technologies (TMT) edger with Inovec WaneMaster optimization controls. (In 2002 the company added a new McDonough slant head rig and carriage with Inovec StereoScan™ controls.)
“The mill modernization coincided with our 20th anniversary but is really the result of our long-term strategic planning for the future,” said Rhonda Kendrick, who owns the company along with her husband, Tim.
Rhonda described the benefits the company has realized with the new machinery and Inovec optimization, “Some of the new equipment has only been running a short time, so it’s a bit early to talk about payback in terms of production and recovery. But we are already seeing a lumber value improvement of around $100 per 1,000 board feet on red oak and hard maple from the new head rig and StereoScan system and another $100 per 1,000 from the new edger and Inovec optimizer. From a production standpoint, when I compare overrun figures (scaled volume versus actual ) before and after the upgrades, it’s still too early to say how much we’ve gained from the edger-optimizer, but the head rig with StereoScan is giving us an improvement in volume.”
Although the company was not able to put firm numbers on the gains in recovery yet, it has experienced a significant improvement in this area based on its reduction of wood fiber that winds up as chips and hog fuel. “We don’t have the numbers yet, but overall recovery has obviously improved,” said plant manager Kevin Funk. “We ship out only one and three-quarter truck-loads of chips and hog fuel a day compared to three loads before the upgrade.”
Kendrick Forest Products is a family owned company. “Tim and I work well together,” said Rhonda. “We have our individual responsibilities, and both of us really enjoy working at the company.”
Their daughter, Kerra, is the first of the third generation of the family to work at Kendrick Forest Products. A computer specialist, Kerra is in charge of the company’s information management systems. Two other daughters, Andrea, 15, and Morgan 13, plus a son, Kirby, 8, also help out and show signs of real interest in the sawmill.
Tim and Rhonda Kendrick became owners of the mill in 1983 when they were both only 24. It was hard slogging in the early days as the young couple learned the business the hard way.
The company was formerly owned by Tim and his brother, Don Jr., who bought it from a company based in Minnesota;
the Minnesota business had purchased it from Tim’s father, Don Kendrick Sr., in 1976. Don Jr. left the company in 1983, and Rhonda started working at the mill shortly after.
In 1983 Kendrick employed 13 workers. Nearly two-thirds of the mill’s 33 acres was swamp, but they gradually filled in the swamp and expanded the mill. The mill buildings now are nearly five times larger than the 1983 sawmill, and Kendrick Forest Products has 50 employees.
Although Rhonda’s background is in marketing and she holds the title of sales manager, she oversees much of the day-to-day running of the mill, scheduling and other duties. Tim is out of the office most of the time, buying standing timber and supervising Kendrick’s logging division. Kevin oversees the plant to keep the machinery running, including the cabinet shop and dry kilns.
Being a full service sawmill is an important aspect of the approach of Tim and Rhonda to conducting business. “Our mission is to control the whole process, from logging through sawmilling, kiln drying and finishing,” she explained. “We are the only mill in Iowa that does it all, and we feel this allows us to take better care of our customers’ needs.”
The company’s mission statement also includes a commitment to conservation. Kendrick Forest Products aims to practice sustainable forestry in an environmentally responsible manner, to reduce waste and process the entire tree in order to ensure maximum value and yield.
Kendrick supplies hardwood lumber to domestic and foreign markets. The foreign markets include China, Japan, Malaysia, France, Italy and Germany.
Kendrick Forest Products processes a full range of hardwood species, such as ash, basswood, cherry, elm, hickory, oak, walnut, hard and soft maple, hackberry, cottonwood and butternut. Red oak is the most abundant species in the region.
The company supplies both kiln dried and green lumber, surfaced or rough, from 6 feet to 16 feet long, molding, custom cabinets, and pallet cut stock. A separate plant houses the cabinet division, known as Forever Cabinets; it uses company-produced lumber and molding to produce quality kitchen cabinets. The company’s hardwood lumber is sold to markets to be used in the manufacture of furniture, windows and flooring. The mill, which operates an eight hour shift, averages daily production of 40,000 board feet, and annual production approaches 10 million board feet.
Kendrick Forest Products is located
in Edgewood, a town in northeast Iowa some 45 miles west of Dubuque, which is near the juncture of Iowa, Wisconsin
and Illinois. The company employs about 50 people, which includes loggers and truck drivers.
The Kendrick logging divisions has three Timberjack feller-bunchers: a model 460, a model 240, and a model 360. Logs are hauled to the mill with three Freightliner trucks.
“We feel we can serve our customers’ select timber needs better by doing some of the logging ourselves,” said Rhonda. Kendrick owns nearly 1,000 acres of timber land and also buys standing timber within 100 miles of the sawmill. The company also buys about half its logs from independent contractors.
Kendrick Forest Products modernized its mill last fall with the installation of the McDonough slant carriage and bandmill with Inovec StereoScan optimization. This spring it added the TMT edger system with Inovec WaneMaster optimization.
Logs are sorted by species, quality and length when they arrive at the yard. When they are ready to be processed, bark is removed by a Morbark 640 rosser-head debarking machine. The debarker is a 1999 machine that the company purchased in used condition. The Morbark 640 has the standard drive, 100 hp on the cutter head and 50 hp on the hydraulic power pack. However, Kendrick modified the cutter head from the usual spiral tooth design to a rounder, less aggressive, carbide tooth style. “We feel there is less fiber loss now,” said Kevin, “but the debarking performance is just as fast.”
“We have found Morbark to be good to deal with, and any parts we need are delivered in a timely fashion,” he added.
A conveyor system carries the debarked logs to the primary breakdown area. The head rig consists of a McDonough 7-foot slant bandmill with a McDonough E series linear positioning tong dog carriage. The bandmill and carriage, which are on a 17-degree slant, replaced a circular head saw and carriage.
The McDonough bandmill, with 7-foot diameter cast iron wheels, features
air strain and has a belt table take-away conveyor in its throat. It runs 0.124-inch kerf blades.
The McDonough carriage is a three-knee, 42-inch opening with features such as Brownsville turners, UHMW cant kickers, automatic lubrication system, long-wear polymer flat wheels, and a 100 hp
AC vector drive. Dual cables pull the carriage along the track, and an air tensioning system takes up any slack. McDonough also supplied a new track and rail and sawyer’s cab.
Scanning and optimization at the head rig is accomplished by the Inovec StereoScan 3-D scanner with Dynavision L-4 laser-camera heads and the Inovec YieldMaster™ optimization and control system. The Inovec YieldMaster controls the breakdown of each log. As the carriage travels toward the bandmill, the front
and top of the log is scanned by a series of laser lines. The laser-camera heads scan the log 60 times per second in order to produce a high density digital profile of the log. The control system then positions the log on the carriage for the best opening face and to saw the most valuable boards and cants. The process is monitored by the sawyer, who looks for grade and timber grain plus defects that could affect lumber recovery.
The squared cants are conveyed to another bandmill, a McDonough 6-foot air strain linebar resaw that saws the cants into boards. The bandmill has a setting linebar with linear positioners.
The boards are transferred to the TMT edger, which is optimized with Inovec scanning, using LMI DynaVision M-6 laser scan heads, and the Inovec WaneMaster control system. The optimized edger produces the highest value board sizes from each flitch, minimizing waste and maximizing profits.
The Inovec WaneMaster control system has a ‘strip save’ feature that allows the mill to make an edging solution for two boards even though the TMT edger has only two saws. It also has a ‘grade override’ feature that allows the operator to override and set the edge wane and grade width parameters. The WaneMaster also has the new VisualPoint™ PLC controls, based on Allen Bradley ControlLogix and RSView programs, to provide comprehensive diagnostics and user-friendly touch-screen graphics.
Kendrick was very satisfied with the installation and performance of the new machinery and Inovec optimization systems. The head rig and Inovec StereoScan and the edger and Inovec WaneMaster were installed off-line, so there was little disruption to daily mill operations. “The mill only lost three days of production during the changeover, and that was due to making the new electrical connections,” said Kevin. (The mill’s electrical work is performed by a contractor, he noted.)
The company kept the old circle saw head rig running while the new equipment and control systems were installed.
“The first day we ran the new head rig-carriage with the Inovec StereoScan system, we also ran the circle saw line, just in case,” said Kevin. “There were no issues to deal with, so we shut down the old line the very next day.”
An Inovec technician was on site, and the installation of the new scanners was trouble-free, Kevin reported.
The TMT edger is a top arbor, two-saw machine with a 4-inch by 36-inch inside opening. “The Kendrick machine is unusual in that the saws are collar mounted directly on to the motor shaft,” explained TMT chief engineer Wayne Guernsey. “Each saw is driven by a 100 hp motor that sets with the saw, using a linear positioner, and is moving on ball bushing roundways. This makes for a very smooth and accurate action.”
The edger is fed by a TMT infeed table. Boards are loaded onto the center feed chain using ‘fetchers’ that pull the board over against cushioning arms at high speed, using linear positioners. Final board positioning on the center chain is controlled by the Inovec scanner and WaneMaster optimization software.
“With this machine,” said Wayne, “the good board stays on the center chain and the edgings drop straight down each side and go to the chipper. The machine is designed to cut boards down to Kendrick’s minimum rip size of 3 inches wide and up to to a maximum of 32 inches wide. The Edger produces sizes from 1×3 by 6 feet long up to 4×32 by 16 feet long.”
The TMT machine has 24-inch diameter unguided saws with 0.237-inch kerf, running at 1,800 rpm. The feed chain runs at a fixed speed of 350 fpm, and the edger has one infeed top press roll and one outfeed press roll. Both press rolls are smooth surfaced and are not driven on the TMT machine. Feed drive is provided entirely by the sharp top center chain that is driven through a gearbox by a 20 hp electric motor. The machine center runs automatically to a large degree but like the carriage system is monitored by the operator for any defects that could adversely affect grade or recovery.
The edged boards pass through a grading station where they are manually sorted by species and quality. Graders decide which boards will be kiln dried or sold green. Lumber headed to the dry kilns is stacked by a shop-built stacker and stick placer. Kendrick has three kilns with individual capacity of 50,000 board feet and two with 35,000 board feet. The kilns, supplied by American Wood Dryer, are fired using a sawdust burner. Lumber is dried to customer specification, and the spacer sticks are removed and the dried lumber is re-stacked.
In the cabinet shop, a Pinneiro planer and a Weinig five-head molding line are used to finish the selected dried lumber and produce a variety of moldings.
Principal Upgrade Suppliers
Timber Machine Technologies was founded in 1993 by engineers who previously worked for some of the leading
companies in the sawmill machinery business. Based in Tualatin, Oregon, the company is led by Greg Smith, president and general manager.
TMT specializes in secondary breakdown machine designs and usually contracts with other suppliers for scanning and optimized control systems. In Wayne’s words, “This allows us to work with anybody and be more flexible. As a company, we aim to be at the very top end of the technology in machine design.”
More and more TMT machines are being used in the hardwood industry although the company first started selling
to softwood mills. “We see no reason
why more high tech systems, including curve sawing, cannot be used in hardwood mills,” said Wayne. “In fact, this trend
is already happening with things like bandmills replacing circular saws and
scanning replacing manual systems, like
Inovec, based in Eugene, Ore., was founded in 1979 and is a subsidiary of InVision Technologies of Newark, California. Inovec specializes in high recovery scanning and optimization systems.
The YieldMaster and StereoScan head rig-carriage system installed at Kendrick Forest Products is one of more than 600 primary log breakdown systems supplied by the company since 1979. It is one of Inovec’s best selling systems, but Inovec also supplies control systems for optimized canters, curve sawing, edgers and trimmers. The payback on these systems is realized from gains in production, lumber recovery, and lumber value.
McDonough, based in Eau Clare, Wis., is one of the oldest companies in the sawmill machinery business. Founded in 1888 by Frank McDonough, the company is a leading supplier of industrial bandmills, carriages and resaws. In recent years, the McDonough line of equipment has been widely adopted for primary log breakdown in both the softwood and hardwood industries.
Matt Tietz, vice president of McDonough, said about Kendrick’s, “They are a great company to work with and good customers of ours. They have made a lot of very smart investments in their operation, making them one of the premier mills in the Midwest.”
Morbark Inc. has been in business since 1957 when sawmill operator Norval Morey obtained a patent for a portable pulpwood debarker. He started with this one product and two employees. Morbark now employs around 700 people, and the company has a 1.5 million square foot manufacturing plant in Winn, Michigan. Besides debarkers, Morbark is a leading manufacturer of wood hogs and grinders with portable, self propelled and stationary models. The company has an extensive network of dealers nationwide and in Canada and Puerto Rico.