Pacific Wood Preserving Continues Its Legacy: New USNR Pole Kiln Quadruples Drying Capacity

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Pacific Wood Preserving fixes treatment bottleneck with new USNR kiln, quadruples drying capacity.

An entrepreneurial spirit is what drives many independent business owners and is, arguably, one of the strongest characteristics that sets them apart from the crowd. Dick Jackson of The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies, who passed away in March 2012, was one such man. He saw greater potential in one of his treated wood processing operations that faced a drying capacity bottleneck. The company overcame that hurdle with a new, custom-designed kiln and new Kiln Boss controls system to operate both new and old drying systems.

The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies (PWP) is the culmination of the vision by Dick Jackson, who founded the business in 1978 at Bakersfield, Calif. Since then, the company has grown to include operations in Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Oregon. PWP produces an assortment of treated wood products, including utility poles, railroad ties, preservative treated lumber and plywood, landscape ties, crane mats, agricultural products, and much more. PWP markets its products throughout North America and internationally.

Sheridan Site

The PWP operation at Sheridan, Ore. was acquired in 2002 (formerly Taylor Lumber and Treating). In addition to products for other industries, this site produces and treats transmission and distribution poles for the power industry. The poles are purchased on the open market. The operation has two pole buyers that mark (identify) the candidate poles in the forest, and then the raw stock is trucked to the Sheridan site for processing. Its debarking operation runs two shifts every day of the week, including weekends, to keep up with demand.

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The Douglas fir poles are sized in the range of 6” to 30” diameter in lengths from 20’ to 135’. Values can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for each pole, so preserving the quality of the raw product bears a major concern.

While some of the poles are sent to PWP’s site in Nevada for air drying, the Sheridan operation also has a 30-year-old cement tunnel with a single track that it had been using to dry the remainder of its poles. When PWP ownership decided it needed to invest in a new kiln to expand its capacity it investigated the offerings of several vendors, and ultimately chose USNR because of its expertise in kiln technology, and its strong aftermarket support capability.

USNR’s record for dry kiln expertise and ongoing customer support won the order for this new pole kiln installation. The improvement in capacity and quality it provides will help preserve the legacy of the visionary who founded this thriving enterprise.

New Kiln

The new kiln USNR designed is 35’ wide x 165’ long, with double tracks to accommodate a large quantity of poles in one charge. It is constructed with a steel frame and pre-fabricated aluminum panels. One unusual aspect of this kiln is the addition of a temporary wall that can be closed across the middle of the kiln. This creates two sealed drying chambers, allowing the plant the flexibility of two separate charges at one time. Though this is not common, USNR has provided this feature previously at another installation.

The new kiln has the capacity to dry 16,000 cubic feet (of poles) per charge, and a kiln load of poles will dry in 4.5 days – down from 8 days with the old drying unit. Dan Winkle, plant manager, commented, “We are able to dry 3.5 times the amount in half the time.”

The kiln is fueled by a 300hp natural gas boiler producing steam heat. The steam produces condensate that is collected in an in-ground condensate tank and then pumped back into the boiler in a closed-loop process.

PWP dries their poles prior to treating, because when the poles are green the preservative will not properly penetrate the wood. Drying Douglas fir lumber is significantly different from drying poles. Typically, Douglas fir stud or dimension lumber dries in the range of 24 to 48 hours at a maximum temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In the case of poles, only the outer sap of the pole is dried – typically 2-3 inches deep, at a maximum temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The pole’s sap is treated after the poles are dried.

Controlling the Process

Two other features of this new kiln are Kiln Boss controls and SCS moisture sensing system. The Kiln Boss system provides expert control of all the drying variables. The Kiln Boss system is configured to control eight heat zones with the heat source, venting and fans, and works in tandem with the SCS in-kiln moisture sensing system. The SCS system has eight measuring points; the moisture readings are fed to the Kiln Boss system to control the drying schedule and shut-down the kiln at the end of the cycle. A Kiln Boss system equipped with moisture sensing input allows the plant to use time- or moisture-based scheduling. The Kiln Boss system monitors energy usage to ensure the most efficient operation and management of the kiln system.

The new kiln has the capacity to dry 16,000 cubic feet (of poles) per charge. “We are able to dry 3.5 times the amount in half the time,” said Winkle.

The Kiln Boss system also controls the old kiln with a single heat zone and includes a steam pressure sensing unit for steam management. It closes selected control valves when the pressure in the steam main falls below a predetermined level. An additional four SCS moisture sensors will measure the core temperature of the poles in this drying chamber.

The moisture readings are fed to the Kiln Boss system to control the drying schedule and shut-down the kiln at the end of the cycle.

The Kiln Boss and SCS systems are accessed through a single computer displaying the operator interface for the system. The SCS moisture sensing system helps to improve grade recovery (when drying lumber) and eliminate over-drying. It is fully integrated with the Kiln Boss system to automatically measure and chart the moisture content of the poles as they dry from multiple sensing points in the charge. Utilizing these measurements, the Kiln Boss system targets the optimum point to shut down each kiln run.

“Compared to our tunnel dryer we have a lot more control (with Kiln Boss),” said Winkle.

Kiln Boss Benefits

• Reduced energy usage by more precisely controlling the process and drying schedule time.

• Accepts any drying schedule and works equally well with any kiln configuration.

• Run on full automatic to let Kiln Boss optimize fan control, or set to manual mode.

• Fully expandable and flexible to meet changing site requirements.

• Remote access via VPN (virtual private network) for USNR trouble shooting and support.

• Customizable alarm conditions.

• Manual backup control.

• Multiple built-in security levels.

Winkle was complimentary about the improvement in drying capability with the new kiln system. “Compared to our tunnel dryer we have a lot more control,” he said adding that the products coming out of the new kiln were of better quality than those dried with the old kiln system.

Members of the PWP team involved in this project included Dan Winkle, plant manager; Al Anderson, maintenance superintendent; and Brian Winkle, dry kiln manager.

Legacy Lives On

Not only has this new kiln significantly increased the plant’s drying capacity and improved the quality of its products, it has reduced the need and expense to ship products to other sites for drying. Sadly, Dick Jackson who started the ball rolling on this improvement to the Sheridan operation, passed away not long after the new kiln system was commissioned. His legacy and vision live on in the thriving business he created, along with his family, and the many employees and customers who depend on PWP for their success.

Tribute to Pacific Wood Preserving Companies Founder – Dick Jackson

Dick Jackson passed away on March 15, 2012 at the age of 74, after living for more than three years with inoperable pancreatic cancer. His wife Elaina Jackson, his sons Alan and Ryan Jackson, and his granddaughter Morgan Jackson, survive him.

Dick is remembered as a successful and innovative businessman, having built a large chain of wood preservation plants in five states, employing over 200 individuals (The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies). He was a big believer in education and studied business at the University of Utah. He earned a master’s degree in marketing from California State University East Bay.

Elaina Jackson fondly remembered her husband and said, “I think if you look up the word ‘entrepreneur’ in the dictionary it would have a picture of Dick. That’s what he was. He loved making deals and was good at it. If you knew Dick, you knew he was one of the smartest guys you have ever met. He was a risk taker. He was an innovator. He thrived at looking at creative ways to do what others would say are impossible. And he did it again and again.”