The value yield of wood can be improved by 10 to 30 per cent
The products and productivity of the sawmill industry can be improved through
advanced measuring technologies, control systems and self-learning systems. In
the SisuPUU project, VTT developed production systems enabling more efficient
and flexible methods of using diverse wood raw materials to produce special
timber with specific properties. By adding services to their products,
sawmills can better service to wood processing companies and enhance the
efficiency of the wood conversion chain.
In the SisuPUU project, VTT created detailed models of the wood processing and
delivery chain from forest to timber. These models were used to calculate,
evaluate and develop process options. Modelling and simulation software can be
used to determine exactly how the wood raw material can convert from trees to
timber and wooden components in the most economical way. Wooden components are
special timber, i.e. timber with precisely specified properties. For example,
a piece of wood used for such a purpose must be completely knotless, or have a
knot incidence within specified limits. Also, wooden components are usually
much smaller than pieces of timber; there are also specifications for knot
structure in ordinary timber.
The project results show that
there is scope for considerably better exploitation of the wood material and
its quality properties in production. Product quality could also be improved,
and special products could be manufactured instead of standard ones. Process
re-engineering can yield a considerably improved financial performance. In
fact, the value yield of wood could be improved by 10 to 30 per cent with
modern production methods.
An advanced production process
requires careful measuring of the properties of wood, for example ‘X-rays’,
the efficient collection of measurement data and their conversion into
information that can be used for business management. Measurement data enable
the allocation of incoming timber to a suitable production process at an early
Professor Arto Usenius declares that the Finnish
sawmill industry is a world leader in its field. “Nevertheless, we must be
prepared for a shift towards the manufacture of components with a higher
degree of processing. Special products can command prices many times greater
than those of bulk products,” Usenius says.
could serve wood processing companies better by adding services to their
products. For instance, they could issue their customers instructions as to
how and for what purpose a particular delivery should be used. An even more
advanced service would be to measure the properties of the outgoing timber in
detail at the sawmill, for instance the precise positions of knots or the
grain pattern of the wood. The wood processing company could then use this
information in its own production process as it cuts the timber up into wooden
components. In other words, the wood processing company would not need to
measure the timber all over again, as the producer would have tagged the
timber with RFID tags, for instance, and provided the customer with a chart of
the properties of the batch.
This technology improves
production flexibility, as production lines can be reallocated from bulk
products to special products and back again, as the market situation dictates.
that improve production efficiency can generally be implemented at a
relatively low cost. Indeed, optimisation of timber sorting and sawing
patterns could be introduced immediately in existing processes, without any
substantial new investments. The WoodCIM modelling system developed by VTT is
already in use in the industry, and several new features have been added to it
in the course of the SisuPUU project. New sawing methods, such as efficient
through sawing, could be introduced when investments are made in new sawmill
production lines. Precise measuring of the inner quality of wood still
requires further research.
The participants of the
SisuPUU project coordinated by VTT and conducted between 2006 and 2009 were
Stora Enso Timber, Metsäliitto Finnforest, Koskisen Oy, Heinolan Sahakoneet
Oy, John Deere Forestry Oy, Mikropuu Oy, Savcor Forest Oy and WSAB Oy. The
project was funded by Tekes, VTT and the participating companies.