Recent upgrades at Breck County Hardwoods in Kentucky, included a Cleereman linear positioning tilt sawmill carriage, optimized by Nelson Bros. Engineering’s low cost 3-D carriage scanner.
Hardinsburg, Kentucky — Simplicity. There’s a lot to be saidfor it. It’s the reason we don’t use a riding mower to cut a 100-square-footlawn. (The riding mower would work well and it would be fast, but we would haveto store the machine — and maintain it.)
So itis that recently, when a mill in Kentucky began a search for a new scanning andoptimizing system for its Cleereman carriage, it put the emphasis on gettinggreat results in the most straightforward way possible. The mill got a keyrecommendation from a sister mill in a neighboring state.
Havingtapped Nelson Brothers Engineering to optimize its LandEast edger several yearsago, Salem Harwood Lumber Company had built up years of good experience with aNelson Bros. Engineering product. Consequently, when Gavin Freel, the generalmanager at Salem, had the opportunity to participate in the selection of ascanning and optimizing system for the Cleereman carriage at the mill of hissister company, Breck County Hardwoods in Kentucky, he suggested Nelson Bros.Engineering.
At theBreck County Hardwoods mill, a new Nelson Bros. Engineering low cost
3-D carriage scanner is being installed to optimize arecently acquired Cleereman LP42 linear positioning tilt sawmill carriage.Cleereman carriages are known in the industry for their extreme heavy-duty logpositioning capabilities, and have proven to be highly dependable, lowmaintenance
machinery, key in producing accurate boards and cants. Theoptimized carriage will be integrated with a McDonough Mfg. band headrig thatwas previously in use at the Breck County Hardwoods mill.
SalemHardwood Lumber Company, and Breck County Hardwoods, are part of ColdwaterVeneer Group, headquartered in Coldwater, Mich. Coldwater Veneer Group hasmills spread across several Midwestern states, including two in Indiana, two inKentucky and one in Missouri; it also has veneer mills in Michigan andVirginia.
Thefocus of the mill in Salem, Ind. is on hardwoods. “We manufacture hardwood kilndried lumber that is sold to both domestic and export markets,” said Freel.
Approximatelyfour years ago, the Salem facility added a scanning and optimization systemfrom Nelson Bros. Engineering to its LandEast edger. The mill got the resultsit expected – good gains in efficiency – and so began an enduring relationshipwith Nelson Bros. Engineering. Freel explained that a sister mill in Missouriwas actually the first to install an optimizing edger system.
“We’vehad very good luck working with them,” said Freel of Nelson Bros. Engineering.He noted that his company has also worked with other suppliers in regard toscanning and optimizing technology. “We’re running three different scanning[systems].”
NelsonBros. Engineering got the nod to supply a carriage scanning and optimizationsystem to the Breck County Hardwoods mill because its approach proved a goodfit for that operation. The mill in the Bluegrass State saws grade hardwoodsand it also produces crossties.
When wespoke to Freel in early May, the installation in Kentucky was scheduled tobegin in two weeks. He expected good results once everything was up andrunning, which will be approximately two weeks after the installation begins.
“I’vebeen in a mill where their [Nelson Bros. Engineering] carriage scanning [is inuse],” said Freel. “We’re hoping for around six to eight percent [increase in]yield and eight to 10 percent [increase] in production.”
Experiencewith the scanning and optimization on the edger in Salem has been good. Therehas been a “seven to 10 percent overall [increase in] efficiency of recovery,”said Freel. The Salem mill saws grade hardwoods.
NelsonBros. Engineering products have proven quite undemanding. “I don’t do theday-to-day maintenance,” said Freel. But he explained that he talks to thoserunning mill equipment and he receives good reports.
“We’revery satisfied with their [Nelson Bros. Engineering] work,” said Freel. One ofthe big plusses of their system is that “the components are off the shelf.”Similarly, the software is easy to use, integrating quickly with existingWindows software.
TheNelson Bros. Engineering sawmill optimization package that is going into theBreck County, Ky. mill will be supplied by Robert Cecil.
Bytraining, Cecil is an engineer. “I’ve been working in the sawmill industrysince the 1970s,” he said. He has been with Nelson Bros. Engineering since theyear 2000, a company which was established in 1992.
NelsonBros. Engineering has an interesting website (http://millsmart.com) thatprofiles the principals at the company and offers descriptions of the productsthe company offers.
Inaddition to the board edger optimizer and the carriage optimizer, Nelson Bros.Engineering offers a curve gang optimizer, log optimizer, trimmer optimizer,JS-20 scan head and log-bucking optimizer. The company credits [Cecil] withtaking the initiative to put scan heads on the carriage to enable measurementof the backside of logs.
Findingways to make scanners (and other devices) in the simplest way possible is achallenge Cecil and all the others associated with Nelson Bros. Engineeringenjoy. For one, it speaks to efficiency, and efficiency is something akin tocatnip to an engineer. In addition, streamlining typically improvescost-effectiveness. With fewer components, there are fewer cost centers.
Toaccommodate the needs of the Kentucky mill, Cecil made some changes to thebasic carriage scanning system, for instance. “The main difference is we’vespread the number of laser lights out over a longer distance,” he said.
Cecilelaborated on the perspective of Nelson Bros. Engineering. It begins withunderstanding the goal of the mill. “We aim to understand the generalphilosophy of that mill in terms of breakdown. Then, we begin to develop asuitable package for whichever part of the breakdown line the mill wants totarget.”
NelsonBros. Engineering has done installations throughout the United States, as wellas in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Cecil has had the opportunity to visitNew Zealand, which offers a unique setting in terms of logs. “New Zealand,years ago, overcut their forests,” he said. “So now there are tree farms. Veryuniform species of pine [come from the farms].”
Beingpart of the startup process is something that Nelson Bros. Engineeringassociates take seriously. That encompasses going onsite. “I actually do that[go on site] most of the time,” said Cecil. “We have to train the operator andtrain the maintenance [personnel].”
Involvementwith customers puts down a foundation on which a relationship can grow. Thegood experience that first the Missouri mill (edger optimization) and then theSalem, Ind. mill (edger optimization) had with Nelson Bros. Engineering was acrucial piece of information as the Breck County Hardwoods mill began toconsider a vendor for its carriage optimization.
NelsonBros. Engineering offers a tool at its Millsmart.com website to assist millowners as they select a cant optimizer. But the tool, which begins with threequestions, helps when considering optimization at any juncture through in aprimary breakdown or secondary breakdown line. Just turn the questions around –to answers.
WhatNelson Bros. Engineering emphasizes, is that the purchaser of an optimizationsystem should figure out, before anything else, what is to be accomplished.Then, the purchaser must determine how the system will be maintained. Finally,knowing the goal and the time that will be required to maintain the system, decidewhether the system will be a good fit for the size of the operation.
Efficiencysometimes begins with doing as much as possible with less. One does not need ariding mower to keep a small lawn trim, but one does need a reliable andstrong-performer in a mower.
Choicesmust be made in a way that balances need with possibilities. Nelson Bros.Engineering focuses on serving clients that want to scan and optimize and do sowith company-appropriate adoptions of technology — those that fit theiroperation.
To getthe Kentucky mill online, Nelson Bros. Engineering devised a way to combine thegoals of the mill with the scanning technology that would serve it best. Thatrequired slight modification of a basic carriage system. “The main differenceis we’ve spread the number of laser lights out over only a slightly longerdistance, but we have reduced the price by 30%” said Cecil. Fitting systems tothe needs of customers is always the priority.
ColwaterVeneer Group, the large company that owns the Salem and Breck County Hardwoodmills, employs 350. The company incorporated in 1992. It has added mills acrossthe years since then. The Coldwater home of the company is the seat of BranchCounty in south-central Michigan; the town has 9,200 residents.
Themill at Salem, Ind. has been operating for 11 years. Freel has been there sincethe inception of which he was a part in the capacity of an owner.
“Ouridea is to just keep improving our quality, yield, production,” said Freel.Nelson Bros. Engineering is one of the dependable companies that helps make itpossible.
“I grewup in [the industry] – the timber procurement side,” said Freel. It’s anindustry that brings many rewards, especially “the relationships I’ve developedwith different people.”
Freetime is a bit scarce right now, said Freel. But he is enjoying all that hedoes.