Cracking down on Quality

Hello everyone! I can’t believe it’s August! Warmer weather means harvesting is up and running here in Blue Ridge. In the last few weeks I got to go out with a couple of our operations supervisors to check out the quality of logs being harvested. This summer, I’ve been focusing on helping to ensure high quality logs are continuously being brought into the mill. So along with my Quality Control supervisor, we headed out to the contractors’ sites to check out what has been cut down so far.

One of the main issues we see in the saw mill is sweep and crooks. Sweep is when the log curves lengthwise. Crook is when the log becomes offset at some point along the length of the log. Both of these issues can have multiple impacts when they are brought into the mill. First off, serious cases won’t even be able to make it into the mill since the step feeders will have troubles bringing them up to the transfer belts. For other cases, if they are brought into the mill, the chances that they will be able to make it through all the machine centres is very slim. They will often cause jams in the systems, or even worse, they can damage the machine centre. To avoid this, operators will have to sling and lift these logs out if they happen to make it into the mill. This increases safety risks, since the logs have to be lifted out and hand sawn into pieces to be cleaned up and sent to the chipper. The logs that have sweep or crook, but aren’t in such bad conditions to cause process upsets, cause a decrease to the mills’ lumber recovery factor. These logs have to be chipped in order to create a straight piece, or trimmed length wise so we can create a straight board. As LRF is the amount of lumber produced from the log volume in cubic metres coming in, crooks and sweep are a huge hit to our LRF. This is because we end up chipping more of the log than what we produce from it.


Log with crook

Log with sweep

Before harvesting started, we had the various contractors logging this summer come into the mill to see how it runs. I did a quick presentation beforehand showing all the different quality issues that we’ve been experiencing in the mill. I was so nervous! We had four tours come through, and we showed them how all the different machine centres work. We wanted to help give the contractors an idea of what kinds of logs will cause process upsets.

A forked log

On top of sweep and crook, some other issues that will cause process upsets include: rotten tops, forks (tree that splits causing more than one top), pistol grip (where one end deviates off from the straight log), and saw plunge. All of these issues will also cause our LRF to go down, as we need to rid the log of these defects.

As the season goes on, I hope the focus on log quality continues. High quality logs help the mill by decreasing downtime, which in turn keeps the flow of the mill working better. We produce more and better lumber when our logs are of high quality.

Thanks for reading blog #5! Next blog, I’ll be talking about the Whitecourt area!



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