In British Columbia, due to the decline of lodgepole pine, mills should expect higher volumes of sub-alpine fir in their species mix. The impact on drying is significant. For example, drying times for green SPF (spruce, pine, sub-alpine fir) vary from 24 to 36 hours whereas drying times for sub-alpine fir can easily exceed 70 hours. In addition to longer drying times, the drying of species such as sub-alpine fir using current procedures often results in wet lumber and value loss can be higher than $100 per Mfbm. The potential annual impact for a typical BC mill is estimated to be in the range $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
Along the years, sawmills have invested millions of dollars in drying technology (conventional drying and green sorting systems) which, for the most part are efficient and relatively low cost. Thus, under the circumstances outlined above, sawmills urgently need to find ways to minimize the problems associated with the drying of sub-alpine fir that is, new procedures or combination of methods, to ensure maximum grade recovery at the end of drying and reduce drying times (increase productivity and lower processing costs). In addition, the pressure exerted by typical longer drying times for sub-alpine fir will impact the drying of spruce and pine. Thus, strategies to speed the drying for those two species are needed to maintain annual production targets.
The main objective of this project is to evaluate several strategies using existing technology so that sawmills can readily implement them throughout their drying operations dealing with larger volumes of sub-alpine fir and for mills with kiln capacity constraints which could compromise their production targets.