KDS Windsor a Leader in Lumber Drying Systems: Supplier Provides Leading Edge Technology, ‘Full Package’ for Lumber Producers 

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KDS Windsor, which has offices and manufacturing facilities in Hendersonville, North Carolina, remains strongly focused on supplying continuous dry kilns to the lumber industry.


Kiln Drying Systems and Components Inc., which trades as KDS Windsor, is marking its 25th year of being in business in 2017 along with accomplishments that have established it as a leading supplier of lumber dry kilns and lumber drying technology.

“With the quality of the equipment we produce, the engineering behind it, and our research and development, we are setting the pace in the forest products industry for lumber drying technology,” said Rob Girardi, a partner in the company and who holds the corporate title of president.

Rob has worked in the lumber dry kiln industry since 1979, beginning with other suppliers, after earning a bachelor’s degree in Wood Science and Technology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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He formed KDS with business partner Charles Moniotte, company vice president, in 1992. Charles is a certified public accountant with previous business management experience. “It’s been a good partnership,” said Rob, “a good combination of my technical expertise and his expertise in business operations.”

KDS formed a business relationship with Windsor Engineering Group in New Zealand in 2004. “We started our relationship with Windsor with the DryTrack® product line,” noted Rob. KDS was the Windsor representative in the Southeastern U.S. to sell and distribute DryTrack, a moisture content measuring and monitoring system for lumber drying kilns.

A few years later the two companies decided to partner together to offer continuous drying kilns (CDK). They are licensed to build CDKs by Andy Pollard, who first conceived of the innovative idea for drying lumber. Andy developed the first continuous dry kilns at Pollard Lumber in Georgia and obtained a patent for the concept.

“Once we did that, we have been partnering with them,” said Rob, and KDS subsequently began trading as KDS Windsor. “It’s been a great mutually beneficial business relationship,” said Rob, each company’s resources complementing the other. “We’ve been going full tilt since we entered into that arrangement.”

KDS Windsor, which has offices and manufacturing facilities in Hendersonville, North Carolina, remains strongly focused on supplying continuous dry kilns to the lumber industry. Andy actually used a different term for the concept, noted Rob. “We’ve branded ours as CDKs for Continuous Drying Kilns,” said Rob. “We were the first to use that name.”

Besides Continuous Drying Kilns, the KDS Windsor dry kiln product line includes high temperature batch kilns for drying Southern Yellow Pine (direct fired and indirect heated), conventional temperature package and track kilns, and all-aluminum kilns for drying hardwoods; it also recently developed kilns for drying and sterilizing firewood. The company also offers burner systems for sawdust and shavings, plus in-kiln moisture content measuring and monitoring systems, in-line moisture measuring systems for planer mills, and moisture content measuring and monitoring systems for wood fuel — sawdust and shavings. KDS Windsor supplies complete kiln components, equipment, controls, and services, including conversions of batch kilns to continuous drying kilns, kiln upgrades and refurbishing, and custom improvements.

“When it comes to drying lumber, we really have the full package that customers need,” said Rob, and can provide all the equipment and technology required.

“Our customer base ranges from the largest lumber producers in the world to the smaller, family-owned independent mill that may have just one dry kiln.”

KDS Windsor manufactures and provides all major equipment for its burners and kilns and purchases ancillary equipment, such as fuel transfer, material handling silos, and unloaders. KDS Windsor employees normally do installation work onsite at customer locations.

Continuous dry kiln technology has brought about a concept change in the industry, noted Rob. A very high percentage of companies with lumber drying operations have converted or are converting to continuous dry kilns to dry lumber. KDS Windsor has 37 CDKs operating in the U.S. and around the globe.

A continuous dry kiln is similar to a veneer dryer, noted Rob. Green lumber is loaded onto two tracks, and they are conveyed through the kiln in opposite directions, moving in increments at about 30 minutes. In the first chamber the lumber is preheated, in the middle chamber it is dried, and in the last chamber before exiting it is equalized and conditioned. The lumber goes in green at one end and comes out dry the other end. The drying process takes 30-40 hours, depending on the species and other factors.

“We provide a better quality of lumber coming out of the CDK with a tight standard deviation and really good surface quality for planing,” said Rob. “It produces much better quality kiln-dried lumber than a batch kiln. The lumber is flatter and straighter with a better surface for the planer.”

A continuous dry kiln is roughly 30 percent more energy efficient than a traditional batch kiln, according to Rob. Efficiency gains are realized through preheating incoming, green lumber using the residual heat from the dried lumber exiting the heated section. Quality gains result from the incoming, green lumber releasing moisture to condition the dried lumber as it progresses out of the CDK as well as keeping the moisture released from the drying lumber versus releasing it to atmosphere as is typical with batch kiln venting.

A KDS Windsor Continuous Dry Kiln has three distinct chambers or modules that correspond with the operations for preheating, drying, and equalizing/conditioning. The first is the energy recovery chamber (ER), where the lumber is preheated; it contains overhead fans and extensive baffling to reclaim and retain heat and energy from the hot, moist vapor of the main drying chamber.

The next zone, the main drying chamber (MD), effectively dries the lumber to the target moisture content; it contains fans, baffles, hot air ducts, a wet bulb control system and the DryTrack ECHO moisture measuring system.

The dried lumber then moves into a second energy recovery chamber (ER) where it is adjacent to an incoming stack of green lumber at ambient temperature. It is equalized, conditioned and cooled by the adjacent cold, wet lumber and the hot moist air from the MD chamber with the aid of overhead fans.

A continuous dry kiln is longer than a batch kiln — typically more than twice the length. When a batch kiln is converted to a continuous dry kiln, production increases up to 150 percent yet energy costs remain the same, noted Rob.

“We’re normally up and running much faster than most,” he said. “As soon as we start up these CDKs, the customers are drying lumber. We deliver smooth, trouble-free start-ups and get our customers up and running quickly.”

“Fire safety design is important, too,” said Rob. “Our designs result in operations that are much less likely to promote a fire, and we have been very successful in that regard.”

The DryTrack® ECHO in-CDK moisture measurement system is the only in-kiln moisture measurement system that is able to measure moisture content in real time and — when paired with the kiln system controls via the KDS Windsor Dryspec CDK kiln management program — automatically adjust the push rate to control the drying rate of the lumber to a final target moisture content.

“The ECHO system is the only one on the market that successfully controls the lumber push rate in the CDK,” said Rob. “That is a major difference in our industry, to be able to offer that kind of control over the drying process.” KDS Windsor has more than 30 ECHO systems operating in customer Continuous Drying Kilns.

DryTrack is a robust, accurate, repeatable, and easy to use system for measuring and monitoring lumber moisture content during the drying process in batch kilns. It is a standalone system that can be used with any kiln, no matter what control system, to provide data for a kiln to be shut down manually. DryTrack eliminates the need for kiln shutdowns and re-starts in order to measure moisture content. It also uses real time moisture content to shut down softwood batch kilns automatically when integrated into the kiln’s control system.

“The DryTrack system is the leading technology in softwood lumber moisture measurement and control,” said Rob. “It eliminates any guess work in determining when a charge of lumber is dry and when the kiln should be shut down. It provides consistent drying from charge to charge, no matter who is running the kiln.”

DryTrack and DryTrack ECHO both enable kiln operators to produce more lumber of better quality — less wets and over-dry material; over-dry lumber leads to degrade, and cupped and twisted lumber can cause jamming at the planer and planer downtime. The DryTrack systems can increase production of No. 2 and BTR lumber by 2-3 percent or more. Return on investment is figured in months, not years.

“Along with our Continuous Drying Kilns, we’ve got the ability to provide green sawdust burners and dry shavings burners,” added Rob. “We are now the exclusive sales and manufacturer of the EBS dry shavings burner, which has been the standard for drying Southern Yellow Pine for more than two decades. It is the leader in performance, fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability.” KDS Windsor also can supply in-direct kiln heating systems, including steam or hot oil, as well.

KDS Windsor offers moisture measurement and monitoring systems to gauge moisture in wood fuel used for burners and boilers. The proprietary systems continuously measure the moisture content of green sawdust or dry shavings used for fuel. The control system uses the measurements to adjust burner settings, compensating for drier or wetter fuel in order to maximize control. It is also offered with fuel metering equipment to blend green and dry wood fuel together automatically to achieve a consistent, reliable moisture content.

“This has been a perennial problem for years and years for burners and boiler systems,” observed Rob. “Fuel moisture content can vary up or down, affecting performance of burners and boilers and causing a lot of problems.”

“Now, with KDS Windsor technology, dry kiln operators have the ability to control the moisture content of the fuel going to the burner or boiler — automatically. This has never been accomplished before in the industry.”

KDS Windsor is relatively new to the firewood industry, but it has developed kilns for sterilizing and drying firewood and already has supplied kilns for two applications, a business in Georgia and another in Kentucky.

“We are applying our many years of experience in high temperature drying to the design of our firewood kilns,” said Rob. They offer 3-4 times the production of a typical firewood kiln, he said, yet use 20 percent less energy than conventional drying methods. The kilns the company has supplied can sterilize firewood to U.S. Department of Agriculture specifications in less than 4 hours, and they can reduce the moisture content of green firewood to less than 20 percent in 24 hours or less.

“We are constantly striving to improve our equipment,” said Rob. “We are always making changes to improve and deliver more value for our customers.”

“We’ve invested a lot in research and development,” he continued. “For example, we use 3-D drafting and modeling technologies. Now we can model changes we are considering making, model them via computer and determine how it is going to affect a system before we go out and put it in the field.”

KDS Windsor has a policy of meeting or exceeding the expectations of customers. “We always deliver what we promise to do,” said Rob, “or we do better than we have promised.”

“Our burners in our CDK systems operate at higher levels,” said Rob, than their design rated level. “If we provide a burner rated for 35 million BTU, you will get at least 35 million if not higher…We guarantee lumber production of our CDKs, and our customers normally get the design rating, which is 10 percent higher.”

“We have had customers far exceeding their guaranteed production almost starting the first week of a new kiln. And with better lumber quality. In fact, we have had several mills go to the top of the food chain because of the improved lumber quality they have experienced with our kilns.”

“We have a very strict policy of taking care of our customers,” said Rob. If a customer experiences a problem, “our priority is to solve it for them…We consider our customers to be like business partners. I think that’s one of the things that differentiates us.”

KDS Windsor recently installed two very large CDKs with green sawdust burners for a company that produces Southern Yellow Pine lumber. “Right now we are in the process of building two systems for measuring wood fuel moisture content and blending wood fuels,” said Rob.

“We have accomplished a lot of firsts in the industry,” said Rob. “KDS Windsor was the first to build a steam-heated Continuous Drying Kiln. We were the first to do a conventional temperature CDK for high quality lumber. We were the first to develop the use of real-time moisture content measuring and monitoring to control the push rate of lumber through a continuous dry kiln, as well as many others.”

For more information on KDS Windsor of its products, visit the company’s website at www.KDSkilns.com or call (800) 274-5456.

To contact Rob or other company officials via email, use the following email addresses: Rob Girardi – rgirardi@kdskilns.com; Dan Young – dan.young@windsortechnology.biz; Keith Robertson – keith.robertson@windsor.co.nz