Reducing variability in pine processing

October 2013

Radiata pine is inherently variable in its properties and subsequently, its response to processing. Scion’s wood processing scientists have worked together with Kaingaroa Processing Plant (KPP), Tui Technology, Falcon Engineering, and Automation and Electronics to improve efficiencies in, and outcomes from processing radiata pine.

A log segregation system has been devised and trialled at KPP. The system measures important log characteristics such as shape and pith location that should be able to predict the quality of the sawn lumber derived from each log. Sawmill trials in 2013-14 seek to validate that the segregation system can select logs with superior properties for structural and appearance grade products.

Our scientists have also confirmed that timber drying schedules can be optimised to reduce drying costs while maintaining product quality and throughput. Application of the kiln optimiser system in sawmills has shown that up to 11 per cent savings can be achieved in overall drying costs.

With about two million cubic metres of timber kiln dried annually in New Zealand at a cost of $50 per cubic metre (BERL Economic Impact of Wood Drying, 2004), application of the technology by only 30 per cent of the mills would equate to $3.3 million savings per year.