Thirty full-length sample trees from the B.C. Interior were selected for a study to determine whether external log characteristics can predict internal log quality. The sample trees were also used to create 3-dimensional log images for sawmill simulation purposes. "LogSaw", a simulation tool with internal log defect detection capabilities, was used to explore the extent to which internal and external log quality information can improve log breakdown optimization. A model of a hypothetical sawmill producing lumber for the standard North American dimension market was created to study how lumber value recovery depends on different sawing optimization scenarios.
Three sawing optimization scenarios using different levels of knowledge of internal log defects were compared to currently used sawing optimization technique:
Ideal sawing optimization - all defects within log interior are known.
Sawing optimization using only the knowledge of surface knots.
Sawing optimization using log rotation instructions based on zones of least external knot density.
Simulation results have shown that it is worthwhile to “look into the log”. When compared with the current optimization technique, the sawing optimization, including the full knowledge of log interior, has increased the value recovery by 6.2%. When only the surface knots were projected into the log interior and included in the optimization, the value recovery had increased by 4.3%. Even this 4.3% increase is still a big improvement because this sawing optimization could be implemented using currently available scanning technologies and optimization software enhanced to include log surface knots. The scenario of using log rotation instructions based on predicted zones of least internal knot density did not show value recovery improvement.
Including surface knots in the log breakdown optimization has considerably increased sawmill revenue; the hypothetical sawmill considered in this study, processing 400,000 m3 of log per year, has increased its revenue by $2.2 million.
A software, by which virtual 3-D subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa [Hook] Nutt) logs can be re-created, visualized, and theoretically sawn an infinite number of times, was developed. The software also facilitates obtaining data for determining quantitative variation of clear wood, wet-wood, and knot patterns within the tree stems.
Results based on the quantitative calculations showed that there are two general patterns of wet-wood within the sub-alpine fir stems. The first pattern is called wet-pocket and the second pattern is called wet-streak. Wet-streak patterns are generally confined to the medullary-inner heartwood regions in the outer heartwood and heartwood-sapwood transition zones of the tree stems, mostly associated with dead knots. Wet-pocket patterns consist of portions occurring in mid regions in close proximity to the base and regions mostly around partially dead knots of the tree stems. Both wet-wood patterns usually converge at the nodes and extend along the branch axes, forming a connection with the exterior boundary only around branches.
Numerical analysis of the results showed that the volume of both types is more prevalent in the lower-stem regions, becoming less prevalent towards the living crown. The radial extension of wet-wood types with radial distance from the tree centre was variable, with a maximum diameter of 22 cm. Both wet-wood volumes increased with increasing tree age and diameter class independent of age. However, the percentage of total wet-wood volume decreased with increasing DBH, increased stem height and showed no clear trend with age class. Total amounts of wet-wood ranged up to 27 per cent in individual stems. A weak relationship was found between dead knot-pattern and wet-streak pattern volumes, while a moderate high relationship was found between partially dead knot and wet-pocket volumes. A weak relationship was found between external tree characteristics and both wet-wood distributions.
As a result, some promising trends emerged for a better understanding of wet-wood and knot pattern variations as influenced by tree stem locations, DBH, and age. The developed software may offer a compelling technique for assisting subalpine fir log processing decisions. However, the destructive data collection method used in this study is “error-prone”. Therefore, an interesting alternative would be the use of more accurate non-destructive scanning techniques, such as CT-scanning, to verify the trends identified here through more deliberate sampling at other forest sites. A new study is already underway to meet this need.
Computer simulation was used to evaluate the performance of three scenarios of sawmill operation: 1) External Scanning at the bucking station, 2) X-ray Scanning with external plus partial internal knot scanning at the bucking station and 3) Perfect Scanning with external plus full internal knot scanning throughout the mill.
Forty sample stems were scanned and stem models developed to provide input for Forintek’s sawing simulation program, OPTITEK®. Input files of both sawmill machinery and their products were developed based upon the operation of a typical sawmill in the Interior of B.C. Optimized bucking solutions were generated, and sample stems were sawn accordingly. Lumber value and volume recovery data were obtained and enabled a comparison of the performance of the three operational scenarios.
The X-ray Scanner Scenario provided a 2% value recovery increase compared to that of External Scanner Scenario. The Perfect Scanner Scenario added an additional 5.5% to that of X-ray Scanner Scenario. This was due partly to improved scanning at the bucking station but more so to the internal defect detection at all machine centers in the mill.
Conclusions of the study should help sawmillers in their investment decisions regarding sawing optimization improvements.
VGrader, Veneer Grading Optimizer, was developed at Forintek to assist mills to optimize on-line veneer stress grading operations. So far, more than 10 copies of VGrader 1.0 software have been delivered to Forintek member mills. The software can recommend the optimum grading thresholds through analyzing the properties of veneer to help mills deal with “what-if” scenarios when veneer species, log source and diameter as well as final veneer products change. By tailoring veneer grades to the market requirements of LVL/plywood products, the software serves as a useful tool to characterize specific veneer for end use and help optimize veneer on-line stress grading and products lay-up options.
During the past year, the VGrader software has been upgraded to deal with either UPT-based (ultrasonic signal propagation time) veneer stress grading or E-based (modulus of elasticity) veneer stress grading or veneer visual grading. The software has also been upgraded to accommodate UPT data either from mills or laboratory testing of veneer samples. A direct linkage between laboratorial measurement span and desired wheel-span of the on-line grading system was also setup. The current version of the software is VGrader 3.0. To help mills optimize current on-line stress grading operations, the proper procedures to find the optimum UPT thresholds were established.
The proper procedures are as follows:
1) Sample veneer sheets representative of veneer population in the mill and perform stress wave testing for sampled sheets using a portable stress wave timer. Alternatively, full-size veneer sheets can be sampled right after the on-line grading system with UPT data being recorded for each veneer sheet;
2) Measure other relevant veneer properties such as thickness, density, moisture and knots;
3) Calibrate the stress wave time (or UPT) to find its zero offset value;
4) Store all measurement data into a VGrader compatible database;
5) Use the upgraded VGrader software to examine the distribution of veneer attributes/properties such as thickness, UPT, density and MOE;
6) Derive required veneer MOE based on the performance requirements of target veneer products;
7) Establish stress grading constraints and using VGrader 3.0 to perform computerized veneer stress grading through adjusting the UPT or E thresholds and examining the change of statistical veneer MOE, densities and volume breakdown per grade until all the grading constraints are satisfied;
8) Convert the optimum set of UPT or E thresholds from the VGrader software into those used for on-line veneer grading system to perform stress grading;
9) Make veneer products and test them to validate the grading results.
An example of establishing the above procedures was also demonstrated.
This report addresses issues about productivity, recovery and quality concerning veneer peeling in plywood mills. It was demonstrated that green veneer can be composed using a stitching technique. The maximum stitching speed was 50 ft/min which was slower than a current veneer composer. Stitched veneer did not have a significant effect on bending properties, but shear strength was slightly reduced which could be caused by the existence of stitching threads between the glueline.
The roller bar diameter size had a significant influence on veneer quality. In general, peeling veneer with a 1” diameter roller bar resulted in the smoothest veneer with the most uniform thickness. The veneer thickness and roughness between 1.0” and 2.56” diameter roller bars were significantly different, but the difference in veneer quality between 1.75” and 2.56” diameter roller bars was not significant. Further, the difference in veneer quality between 1.0” and 1.75” diameter roller bars was not significant except for veneer roughness.
Knife height also had a significant effect on veneer quality. Setting the knife at the spindle center proved to be the best. Veneer thickness at this setting was consistently closest to the target, and had the smoothest surfaces and smallest lathe checks. Average veneer thickness was lowest as well. While higher or lower settings created rougher veneer, higher settings were more forgiving than lower ones. For best results, the peeling knife should therefore be set at 0.0” to 0.015” above the spindle center.
Incisor teeth pattern affected veneer quality. Narrower teeth and a wider gap resulted in better veneer quality in terms of veneer curl-up (flatness) and green and dry veneer thickness variations. However, the effect of incisor teeth patterns on veneer roughness and lathe checks seemed to be negligible.
The validation tests revealed that an optimum lathe setting for the smooth roller bar was the following: pitch angle (PA) =89.50, vertical gap (VG)=0.425” and horizontal gap (HG) = 0.1”, and the optimum lathe setting for the incisor bar was the following: PA=90.50, VG=0.388” and HG=0.1” to 0.11” when peeling 1/8-inch veneer.
The peeling computer program VPeel® was successfully upgraded to allow users to define profiles of pitch angle and horizontal gap. This feature will help the veneer product industry to define optimum lathe settings.
A quality control system ensures that lumber is manufactured to the correct size and highest grade. The system currently used by most sawmills is labour intensive and as a result, limits the frequency of quality monitoring. Automatic in-line systems have been developed but found to be inaccurate and produce false alarms. UBC researchers have identified the problem with automatic systems to be faulty statistical assumptions and poor design and is developing a new statistical method and scanning system that is more reliable and accurate. Forintek Canada Corp. is developling a defect recognition system based on the new UBC system. The UBC system utilizes single point laser sensors that scan the surface of lumber along its length. This provides the potential for detecting eleven common machining and machinery related lumber defects. Washboarding, saw marks, roll marks, spike marks and scallop are repetitive defects that can potentially be detected by the system. Wane, taper, snipe, tear out and wedge are non-repetitive defects that may also be identifiable. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and other algorithms are being developed to detect repetitive defects. Each defect produces a FFT frequency spectrum that can be used as a fingerprint for identification. Development of algorithms to diagnose non-repetitive defects will begin in the near future.