As a leading developer and provider of continuous lumber dry kilns, Valutec has delivered more than 1,500 continuous kilns to sawmills around the world.
Valutec commissioned North America’s first TC continuous kiln at Pleasant River Lumber’s Moose River mill in Jackman, Maine, in October 2019. The feedback from Pleasant River Lumber has been positive.
“It does a great job in a lot less time than we’re used to and puts out a much better product,” said Fred Haigis, the mill’s lumber yard supervisor.
“The installation process was smooth without any major issues,” said Jason Brochu, owner of Pleasant River Lumber. “And when we saw one of the kilns in our mill for the first time, we knew we made the right decision.”
“Valutec has made over 4,000 kilns, so we knew we were dealing with the real deal,” said Chris Brochu, owner of Pleasant River Sawmill Group.
A Valutec TC continuous kiln comes with distinguishing features such as high flexibility and superior capacity. It gives the operator the possibility to create the ultimate drying process with unlimited freedom to mix dimensions, minimal moisture content variation, and reduced risk of checking. Annual capacity can reach 150 million board feet with target moisture contents down to around 8-19 percent.
The principle of a continuous kiln is based on the timber package being fed lengthwise through zones in which the air circulates laterally across the drying channel. This enables the separate regulation of the climate in different zones according to a schedule that comes very close to the ideal schedule of a batch kiln.
Very simplified, a 10-zone TC continuous kiln like the one at Pleasant River Lumber can be viewed as 10 batch kilns joined together by the side walls, but with a feeder track straight through. All Valutec kilns are constructed with stainless steel, resistant to thermal expansion and fatigue, and require minimal maintenance.
“The leap in technology has fundamentally changed the way of working at many sawmills,” said Ingo Wallocha, managing director of Valutec Wood Dryers Inc. “Higher flexibility creates significant advantages, particularly when it comes to planning. Competition is extremely tough in the sawmill business, where margins are tight. So customers in this sector rely on high efficiency and quality.”
Valutec commissioned its second North American TC continuous kiln at Pleasant River’s mill in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, in April this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioning was done remotely.
“The coronavirus has forced us to challenge ourselves and find new ways of working,” said Wallocha. “Since the outbreak of the virus, we’ve successfully commissioned kilns remotely in North America, Russia and Europe. This has been possible because we have proven solutions with well functioning components.”
The start-up of the Valutec TC continuous kiln at the Moose River mill has not gone unnoticed. Before the coronavirus pandemic, representatives of several other lumber producers visited the sawmill to take a closer look at the Valutec TC-kiln, and the response has been overwhelming.
“I can honestly say that whoever sees the Valutec TC continuous kiln at Moose River probably won’t buy another type of kiln again,” said Wallocha. “Whenever I talk to the guys at Moose River or Dover-Foxcroft, I’m really proud to hear that they’ve had the best experience with our kilns.”
New Control System
Valutec recently released the control system Valmatics 4.0. It allows sawmills around the world to automate and optimize drying in all types of lumber kilns. High process quality is guaranteed by simulators programmed with data from hundreds of thousands of measurements that enable the calculation of drying processes with unbeatable accuracy from beginning to end.
Valmatics 4.0 is the only control system on the market that combines simulator technology with adaptive control. It enables optimization based on capacity, quality and energy consumption — simultaneously.
The technology of Valmatics 4.0 means modern TC continuous kiln functions can be put to full use. All the kiln operator needs to know is the incoming and desired outcoming moisture content – the system does the rest. This frees up time for more important operations, such as saw planning, quality control, and sampling.