The proper separation of wood species at the various stages of log processing into lumber is a complex process which—if well done—may prove advantageous to sawmills. Consequently, the development of an automated technology to identify and separate wood species at the stages of primary and secondary sawing as well as edging, trimming, and sorting, would make it possible to extract greater value from each log processed, taking the species into account at time of processing.
With this in mind, FPInnovations recently signed a marketing agreement with the Autolog company to manufacture a real-time automated system for identifying and separating wood species based on existing technology using near infra-red (NIR) spectroscopy. According to the first results obtained, the technology would produce an efficiency rate of over 95%.
There are many advantages to the technology: it makes it possible, among other things, to reduce costs compared to manual classification, in addition to improving value, volume, and recovery during sawmilling operations. Drying costs would also be improved through a better separation of species presenting variations in drying schedules.
Both the design and technical evaluation in a controlled environment have been successfully carried out, mostly with Western species. Based on the results of a few tests conducted on Eastern species, the technology’s potential was demonstrated in planing operations; however, additional conditions must still be subject to more detailed validation (juvenile wood, moisture and temperature variation, multiple species, rough green lumber).
In the long run, the project should offer to sawmills in Eastern Canada sorting strategies both in the forest and at the mill, in order to facilitate the presence of a number of species at the same time, in addition to providing additional gains related to better management of the product. For more information, contact Serge Constantineau, Manager of the SM2 Initiative.