Cooper Machine Upgrades Aid Pine Mill for Sims Forest Products

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TUSCUMBIA, Alabama — Sims Forest Products turned to Cooper Machine to make some upgrades to its pine sawmill operations last year.

Sims Forest Products operates several manufacturing facilities and has two sawmills operating in Alabama and another in Georgia that currently is idle. The company specializes in cutting industrial lumber products such as pallet stock, railroad ties, and timbers for crane mats. It also manufactures pallets and crane mats.

The company’s pine sawmill is located in Tuscumbia in northwest Alabama, adjacent to Muscle Shoals, where Sims Forest Products has its corporate headquarters.

The Tuscumbia plant is comprised of four buildings with a combined 30,000 square feet. Forty employees produce 1.4 million board feet of finished lumber products per month. Cutting all low-grade logs, the mill manufactures pallet parts, fence pickets, and it also has operations to produce fence posts.

The mill can cut “whatever a customer wants” for pallet stock, said assistant mill manager Jeff Lindsey, from 7/16-inch deck boards to 3-inch stringers with lengths ranging from 36 to 72 inches. Most stringers coming out of the plant already are notched for four-way pallets.

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The mill actually was set up to cut primarily hardwood, but the company quickly transitioned to pine as low-grade hardwood logs became increasingly difficult to obtain. Pine is much more abundant and has made it easier to keep the mill supplied with logs, and many pallet manufacturers have been transitioning their customers to pallets made of softwood lumber.

Sims Forest Products upgraded the Tuscumbia mill with two new machine centers from Georgia-based Cooper Machine. The upgrades included a Cooper log merchandising system in the log yard and a Cooper auto edger.

The standard Cooper Machine treelength cut-up system is equipped with a 76- inch saw and infeed-outfeed trough. Ultrasound technology or a PLC measures log diameter, and the logs are bucked to predetermined lengths. The bucked logs continue along the outfeed trough, and length stops and kickers (push or rotary) automatically collect the logs into bins. Systems can be customized by Cooper.

Sims Forest Products added the Cooper cut-up system so the company could merchandise logs that are processed into fence posts. The mill’s operations for fence posts produce perfectly cylindrical poles with no taper, and 90 percent of logs bucked by the Cooper system are for this product. Treelength logs are fed directly to the company’s two scragg mill systems.

For Sims Forest Products, the Cooper cut-up system is set up to buck the logs to lengths of 6, 7, or 8 feet. A front-end loader collects logs from the bins and feeds them to the pole milling operations.

In the mill, one production line begins with a Baker Products sharp chain scragg. The twin circular saw blades remove two sides of the log, and the two-sided cant is turned on its side 90 degrees in preparation for edging. In the past the mill had an old edger that required a worker to manually feed the material into the machine.

The new Cooper 6-inch auto edger eliminates the need for a worker to manually feed the material. It clamps the twosided cant, the piece is measured, and the two saws of the edger are adjusted automatically to cut off the remaining two sides and produce a four-sided cant.

“It has worked out well,” said Jeff.

Although the cut-up system and auto edger are the first two Cooper machines at the Tuscumbia mill, Sims Forest Products has been no stranger when it comes to turning to the machinery manufacturer for equipment. Cooper has supplied machine centers to the company’s other Alabama mill, including an overhead scragg, an MIT 4-inch vertical band head rig, and a 3-inch edger.

Cooper Machine, in Wadley, Georgia, manufactures a wide range of machinery and equipment for the sawmill industry and also is a distributor of some lines of sawmill machinery.

For more information, visit www.coopermachine.com or call (478) 252-5885.