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Kronospan accelerates expansion in Belarus
Austrian headquartered Kronospan Holdings East Ltd is considering accelerating expansion in the Belarus OSB and MDF markets during the next several years, reports our Russia correspondent Eugene Gerden.
Russian MDF market on the verge of serious crisis
The Russian MDF market is on the verge of a serious crisis, due to a significant increase in imports in recent months, associated with the country’s recent WTO accession, reports our Russia correspondent Eugene Gerden.
Tackling wear inside cyclones
Kingfisher Industrial of the UK has provided a long-term ceramic wear-resistant lining solution to a German oem maker of drying cyclones used by specialist producers of particleboard, OSB and MDF.
Euphoria will subside but recovery will continue!
Bernard Fuller of Cambridge Forest Products Associates looks at recent developments in the North American wood products markets and finds that, unlike in Europe, things are definitely improving.
Committed to OSB
Norbord, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, is the world’s third largest producer of OSB and the only North American company to have OSB manufacturing facilities in Europe. Mike Botting visited Norbord’s mill in Scotland to bring this report.
Positive trend persists
The markets in 2012 in Western Europe continued the positive trend of the previous three years, but this time there appears to have been more success in achieving price increases that do more than just cover increased costs. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe continues to dominate in new capacity and Latin America made good progress.
Between the drought and the flood
With the US housing market now trending more firmly upwards, higher demand and prices for OSB have prompted several producers to commit to re-opening shuttered mills in 2013-14. No mills reopened in 2012, but OSB production still reached its highest level since 2008.
PUR’s role in surfaces
Klebchemie MG Becker GmbH & Co KG was founded in 1948 and is the producer of Kleiberit Adhesives. It is a family owned company located in Weingarten, Germany (near Heidelberg) producing polyurethane (PUR) adhesives for the international market.
Saving weight without risk
GreCon of Alfeld, near Hanover, Germany, has produced a new mat optimiser for high-precision monitoring of weight and material distribution, for use immediately after the press.
Software to improve your hardware
German saw maker Holzma has some new software systems to offer its customers, aimed at increasing the efficiency of their sawing systems.
Save & prosper
Imal srl of Modena says that its major target today is to cut production costs for panel manufacturers as far as possible. It says two of its latest technologies offer guaranteed savings on resin addition rates; and increased production capacity
A message through art
European wood industry associations jointly organised a second exhibition in the European Parliament building, in December 2012. We bring this report on a major event to promote wood as an environmentally sound raw material.
It’s all about energy
Nearly everyone knows that wood shrinks and swells, but very few understand why it does so. If I place a dry piece of wood in a sealed chamber that also contains a beaker of water, the moisture content of the wood will increase and it will swell. Do you know why the water molecules travel from the beaker to the wood? If not, then read on.
Wood specialist adds panel line
A company called NHR Investments is Swaziland’s largest independentlyowned timber merchant, with four sawmills and its own tree plantations. In September 2012, NHR also started up its first particleboard factory
Chasing profit in wood
Dr Leonard Guss, president of LGA Inc Forest Products Marketing Research, offers some advice to readers of WBPI on how to increase their profits
China’s panel markets face up to the future
One year ago, Bernard Fuller of Cambridge Forest Products Associates (CFPA) forecast that China’s economic growth would slow more than the consensus suggested and, in this new forecast, he suggests that prediction largely came true
Laminate flooring in all its beauty
With member companies accounting for 55% of the global market and some 80% of the European market, the Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring is the ideal platform for the exchange of ideas and experience between producers of laminate flooring and their supplier industries
Kronospan considering OSB in Bashkortostan
Kronospan Holdings East Ltd says it is considering investing up to six billion roubles (USD$180m) in the establishment of a plant for the production of OSB in Russia’s Bashkortostan region. Our Russia correspondent, Eugene Gerden, reports.
Tomlesdrev plans second particleboard plant
Tomlesdrev, with one of Russia’s largest wood processing plants, plans to start construction of a second plant for the production of particleboard in early 2013, according to Anton Nachkebia, chairman of the company, reports WBPI’s Russian correspondent, Eugene Gerden.
Future proofing at Egger
Since its major investment in a new particleboard line in Hexham in 2007, Egger UK has continued to put considerable sums of money into upgrading and ‘future-proofing’ all its UK operations. Mike Botting paid a visit to Hexham.
A workshop for dialogue
With the IPPS (International Panel Products Symposium) event having become biennial, September this year saw the second IPPS Master Class held in Bangor, North Wales. Mike Botting was there to bring this report The first IPPS Master Class was held in 2010 and this new, biennial, format, to alternate with the more conventional IPPS conference format, proved a success, so it was repeated in September 2012.
Custom made as part of the service
Schelling is a manufacturer of tailor-made cut-to-size systems for the panel and furniture industries, which it produces at its factory in Schwarzach The Austrian headquarters of Schelling Anlagenbau GmbH is located at the eastern end of Lake Constance in Schwarzach, close to the Swiss border, where the company manufactures all its panel sawing systems, which are sold worldwide.
Helping things to run smoothly
A global company, headquartered in Munich, supplies a vital, liquid, component that is essential in many areas of the panel production line, but especially continuous presses, as Mike Botting discovered Oil and grease. Simple, right? Absolutely not, as I found out when I visited the Munich headquarters of Klüber Lubrication München SE & Co KG and had my eyes opened to the incredible complexity of creating lubricants for the kind of hostile environments common in the panel industry.
The bad effects of water
In this issue I am going to discuss one of my ‘pet subjects’, the dimensional instability of wood based panels, especially with regard to thickness swelling.
Building the future on strong foundations
Founded in 1999, but based on a much longer history, Binos GmbH makes a wide range of machinery for the panel industry. Mike Botting paid them a visit Today’s Binos was formed from the original Bison Werke company and is still in the same premises in Springe in northern Germany.
Much to learn
Over 250 delegates from all sectors of the industry assembled in Hannover, Germany, for the 8th European Wood Based Panel Symposium in early October. Mike Botting brings a taste of some of the 27 presentations Organised by the Fraunhofer WKI institute, the European Panel Federation (EPF) and iVTH (International association for technical issues related to wood), the eighth European Wood Based Panel Symposium attracted a good number of delegates, from manufacturers of panels to suppliers of machinery/chemicals, trade associations and academia.
Growing up without losing touch
Electronic Wood Systems (EWS) moved into purpose-built, eco-friendly new premises, still in Hameln, at the beginning of this year. New premises, new products and room to grow. Mike Botting visited Hameln to bring this report This measuring technology company has come a long way since it was founded in 1996 by Hans-Peter Kleinschmidt as a very small business in rented ‘start-up’ premises in Hameln town centre.
Strong links to a line’s success
Holtec GmbH & Co KG has been specialising in log handling systems for over 40 years and has supplied its equipment to both sawmills and panel mills throughout Europe – and beyond. Mike Botting visited its Hellenthal HQ
Small firms plan growth
Despite tough economic times in Brazil, a surprising degree of interest is still being shown in new wood panel investment opportunities by smaller companies on the edge of the industry, reports Richard Higgs
The Brazilian MDF industry – where to now?
Over the last decade Brazil has emerged as a powerhouse in global MDF. However, while new regional capacity is coming on stream, demand growth is slowing down. Pöyry Management Consulting believes that the Brazilian MDF industry is approaching a defining moment
New name, new products
What’s in a name? A great deal in the case of one of Brazil’s old-established wood panel manufacturers, which recently changed its name as part of a radical structural makeover. Richard Higgs visited the Eucatex Group In a bid to cut costs and streamline its operations, Eucatex group has reorganised its diverse activities, ranging from hardboard, MDP and MDF production to flooring, doors and paint, in a newly formed subsidiary – Ectx SA.
Planning for growth
In Brazil’s still-lively wood panel industry, scarcely has one big capacity expansion scheme materialised on site than the blueprint for another ambitious new project is already emerging from the drawing board, says Richard Higgs
South America vs china
This is our final survey of the world panel industry for mills operating in 2011 outside Europe and North America, where South America and China provide the action. We also look at future plans and at the market prospects for the industry In part 1 of our survey of the world particleboard industry in 2011, on Europe and North America, we reported that there were only two new mills planned in North America (one of which is based on agricultural residues), while several US mills had closed, or were to close.
pH and why you need to know it
As many of you will know, the vast majority of wood based panels are made using formaldehyde-based resins. The curing rates of such resins are very dependent on the pH of the environment in which they cure and so the pH of the wood species used can have an effect on adhesive cure.
First high-speed plywood repair line goes to UPM
Accurate and rapid patching of its plywood’s surfaces is essential to Finnish plywood maker UPM and two technology companies worked closely together to satisfy its requirements. Mike Botting visited UPM’s Pellos mills to see the result
Diverse group invests in MDF
Dahe is another newcomer to the panel making business, choosing an imported continuous line to make its MDF and thin HDF panels at its factory in Zhengzhou, Henan province
Serving a local market
As the market momentum builds for particleboard in China, Guangdong Shixing Huazhou Wood Co Ltd is about to join the ranks of major producers of that panel with its new continuous CPS line
A new player with plans
One of the most recently inaugurated thin MDF lines in the country is that of Hunan Senhua in Yiyang City. As a completely new entrant to the panel manufacturing industry, this company had a steep learning curve to follow
Can the show go on?
This year’s edition of the biennial Milan woodworking exhibition, Xylexpo, was held in May at the Rho Fairgrounds outside the city. Mike Botting was there to bring this report
Investing for the future
Tocchio srl is a well-known manufacturer of paper impregnation and coating plants for the worldwide market and says it is continually refining its lines to meet the latest demands
The Imal-Pal Group has continued to play to the strengths of its two component companies in making an integrated whole, with a one-source approach to the global panel making industry
Still pressing ahead
A company founded even before the country of Italy has reinvented itself over the years and is still an important press maker. This is the story of today’s Pagnoni Impianti, still in business after 164 years
Staying one step ahead
Press plate maker Sesa SpA has launched a radical innovation to help its customers in making their choices when it comes to surface finishes. Mike Botting visited Sesa’s headquarters to see this new app for himself
Rest of world still grows
MDF capacity outside Europe and North America has shown a further increase, with more new mills in the pipeline for South America and Asia. In this second and final part of our survey of 2011, we look at the changes and the prospects for the industry in the coming years
Mixed fortunes in the two Europes
In this, the first part of our annual survey of the MDF producing industry worldwide, we look at the mills and their capacities in Europe and North America in 2011 and at the prospects for the industry in 2012 and beyond
The climb out of the abyss continues
Bernard Fuller of Cambridge Forest Products Associates looks at the economic prospects for the North American panel industry in 2012-14 and finds good reason for optimism, tinged with some reasons for caution in this uncertain world
Managing the woody biomass supply chain
For its 46th Annual Symposium, Washington State University (WSU) integrated the topics of composite panel developments and advanced renewables technologies, assembling a variety of experts to give presentations in Seattle, Washington State, in April. Geoff Rhodes summarises the presentations for us
The natural progression towards an ideal decor
Spectacularly positioned on the Austrian-German border and literally yards away from the towering Alps is the founding company of Egger, itself a spectacular story of growth and determination
China still a major market
China’s biennial major woodworking machinery show took place in Beijing in early March with most exhibitors happy with the response, particularly in view of some negative vibes coming from signs of cooling in the national economy
Wulian moves mountains
Many Chinese panel companies seem to like a challenge when they decide to build a new line and Guangdong Wulian certainly took one on when it decided to ‘move a mountain’ to make way for its first particleboard line
A family business
Tengchong Gulin Tree Industry Co Ltd has four production lines and a tree plantation, all run by members of the same family. Their latest MDF project saw Siempelkamp’s largest scope of supply for a single site in China
New entrant to world of continuous pressing
Tianmen Tianyuan Wood Industry Co Ltd entered the continuous pressing of MDF in 2011 for the first time, but it seems it may have plans to increase its presence in the panel market before long, as Mike Botting discovered
Aiming for domination
Yunnan Yung Lifa Forest Co Ltd was established with a very specific goal in mind. That goal involved utilising bamboo in a completely new way, requiring some revolutionary technology. Mike Botting visited the company’s pilot plant in Mangshi, Dehong Prefecture, Yunnan province
Global and American markets are the focus
The world economy has a major influence on what is accomplished at the versatile Willamette Valley Company, situated in northwestern US, reports Steve Ehle
US housing market still slumping
While the immediate situation in the housing market in the US is still not good, there are positive signs of recovery, according to a study carried out by Al Schuler for Virginia Tech University. North America correspondent Steve Ehle interviewed industry expert Mr Schuler to bring this assessment of the future
Better times ahead....
North American engineered wood producers seek global markets and growth in the coming year as they predict that 2012 will show an upturn compared to previous years, according to the APA-The Engineered Wood Association. Steve Ehle spoke to the APA’s marketing director, who kindly shared some of the association’s data
Industry tied to housing by ‘umbilical cord’
Panel industry consultant Leonard Guss says deeper penetration into existing applications is needed to breathe new life into the panel industry. Steve Ehle, WBPI’s new North America correspondent, interviewed Dr Guss for this report
Russian OSB industry about to be transformed
The Russian OSB industry is on the brink of big changes, due to the forthcoming commissioning of several large production facilities for OSB in the country, notably by Partner Tomsk, reports WBPI’s correspondent Eugene Gerden from Russia
Another good year’s sales
The markets in 2011 outside North America continued strong, making it the third year in succession in which producers have sold every board they could produce. Prices remain under pressure while costs continue to rise. However, new capacity in a country new to OSB manufacturing – Russia – is the main news
MDI – a simple equation for OSB production?
MDI resins are used in the production of MDF, particleboard and OSB, and MDI maker Huntsman says that panel manufacturers are realising the performance, cost and environmental benefits they can offer. We talk to Huntsman about why it says this binder is fast becoming the no-added-formaldehyde solution for OSB manufacture
Better than the headlines suggest?
With the US single-family homes market continuing to languish during 2011, OSB producers have seen little change in demand and mills that were indefinitely closed in the last five to six years are still shut
Cross laminated timber: The Hulk, green & strong
If it were a comic book character, cross laminated timber (CLT) would be ‘The Hulk’ – massive, strong and, yes, even green, given that it imposes a significantly lighter environmental footprint than either concrete or steel, particularly with respect to greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage.
Cleaning the air is a difficult but necessary task
In the last issue I discussed drying, which is a process that causes various organic compounds to vaporise, generating the characteristic smell of drying wood.
Monitoring the air in our environment
Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used to manufacture building materials and various household products. It is also a naturally occurring chemical in all living things, plant and animal, and is essential to life. However, as with many things, it is concentration which is important and we know that high concentrations of formaldehyde can be damaging to health.
Recycling MDF: are we there yet?
The emergence of medium density fibreboard came at a time when function and performance were of greater importance to users than any concern for environmental efficacy or the ready availability of source materials.
MDF – from newcomer to stalwart
In 1976, when the first samples of Medite MDF were seen in Europe, few would have believed the amazing and positive impact MDF would have on the industry.
Quality control on the production line
Electronic Wood Systems (EWS), located in Hameln, Germany says it has introduced new technological improvements to blow detection systems for the panel making industry.
Good-feeling texture breaks design barriers
If there was one word that nicely sums up last year’s European Decorative Surfaces Conference and Workshop in Stockholm, Sweden, it was ‘feeling’.Every supplier of HPL laminate, every direct panel printer manufacturer, every coatings supplier, every press plate and steel band manufacturer, every decor paper printer, every paper manufacturer, even designers of scanning equipment, had something to say about realistic laminate textures – especially woodgrains and wood finishes.
Test: South America and Asia promise new capacity
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Positive and unexpected
After last year’s universally downbeat assessment of the markets in 2008, the European industry is mainly in a very positive, if somewhat surprised, frame of mind about 2009 – and many are optimistic for 2010
Land of opportunity
An interesting time to hold major woodworking and furniture industry exhibitions in an uncertain global economic climate, but Beijing’s WMF and FAM shows generated a positive response. Mike Botting was there to bring this report
From chaos comes (hopefully) order.....
Production is running some 12 billion ft2 below the boom in the middle of the last decade, with another four mills permanently closed last year and about 7.8 billion ft2/year of non-permanent, market-related shutdowns ongoing. Audrey Dixon, senior editor with Forestweb, reviews the ups and downs of 2009 and what the experts are forecasting for the year ahead
Processes and performance of wood based panels
Countries in the European Union have, by and large, an excellent infrastructure of universities that are well-equipped and manned by highly trained staff. Consequently, the European Union generates a huge amount of knowledge each year and most of this is financed at the national level. The European Commission funds another layer of international research that is collaborative in nature.Inevitably, each country has its own agenda for research because of differing climates, terrains, industries and histories. All COST Actions aim to collect information about, and to co-ordinate, existing nationally-funded research programmes. This is mainly achieved by providing researchers with opportunities to meet, which is effective because if you bring together any group of researchers then they will begin to discuss their work. This leads to the sharing of good practice, the identification of knowledge gaps and the development of collaborative and synergistic projects.
Planning for a long future
Chimar Hellas resulted from the merger of four Greek companies formerly integrated into the ACM Wood Chemicals Group. It also integrates the intellectual property and technology rights of these businesses, dating back to 1978.These businesses are: Adhesives Research Institute (ARI) involved in R&D in resins and additives technology for panels and laminating papers; Marlit, a production facility for chemical additives; Delmar, with its technology for waste water treatment; and Chimar, which produces and trades in chemicals and in the procuring of chemical plants.Following the restructuring of the group in 2003, ACM’s former production plants have become licensees of Chimar Hellas, which continues the R&D work for the wood based panels industry.Chimar Hellas has offices, laboratories and a pilot plant in Thessaloniki on northern Greece’s Aegean coast, from which it serves resin manufacturers in many parts of the world.
Wood Based Panels October/November 2009
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Antonio Pozzoli founded his company in 1976 in Monza as an engineering business, designing and supplying turnkey plants to various sectors and by the late 1970s was well-known as a manufacturer of combustion plants for textiles, ceramics and printing.In 1978, ITAS supplied its first thermal oxidiser (which is still in operation and meeting today’s European standards) for cleaning of gaseous emissions.Another prominent product of the company, literally, is the construction of very tall flares to burn off excess gas in the oil and gas extraction industry.
Reflecting the spirit of the present
Süddekor GmbH plays a dominant role on the world stage of decor printing and surface finishing. It says its yearly trends always reflect a grasp of design flair which is appropriate to the time period it represents. 2009 is no exception, says the company
Adapt to survive
Washington State University held its 43rd annual International Wood Composites Symposium in Seattle, Washington State and Bill Keil was there to bring us this report
WBPI launches Wood Based Panels Buyers Guide
Wood Based Panels International, the leading print and online resource for the wood based panels and panel equipment industry, has launched its Wood Based Panels Buyers Guide, the most comprehensive directory of manufacturers, distributors and suppliers in the wood based panels industry.
The Weihua group has built a lot of continuous production lines in the last few years and one of its most recent is in Liaoning Province, as Mike Botting reports
The Weihua group is just about to start up its ninth fibreboard line, further strengthening its position as one of the largest-capacity manufacturers in China. Mike Botting visited the construction site in April to bring the first of his reports
Eagle flies in
German machinery supplier Wemhöner Surface Technologies first entered the Chinese market in 1983. It formed a local sales company in 2004 and in 2007 opened its own factory in Changzhou. Mike Botting visited that facility
A panel warrior
ShaanXi Zhong Xing Timber Co Ltd is a privately-owned business with four MDF lines, a 15-year history in the business and some interesting plans for the future. Mike Botting visited its latest line near the world-famous city of Xian
LR Group goes for thick board
The Liren Wood Industry Group (LR Group) has an annual production capacity of 720,000m3 and was an early entrant to the Chinese MDF industry. Mike Botting visited its latest, rather unusual, line in Jiangshan City
Where next for wood products?
Following on from his analysis of the MDF industry, John Wadsworth shares his personal views with us about the financial and social prospects around the world after the economic crisis and discusses the great importance of, and opportunities for, wood in that recovery
In Retreat but no Surrender
In the first part of our annual world survey, Europe and North America as at the end of 2008, John Wadsworth finds that capacity has still grown in the midst of the economic gloom
Sudati is first in MDF
In December 2008, Brazilian plywood manufacturer Sudati plywood industry ltda became the first producer of MDF in the state of Santa Catarina
More than 10 billion ft2 of capacity – about a third – has been removed from the North American market in the last two to three years, as manufacturers desperately try to restore some equilibrium to their businesses. Audrey Dixon, senior editor with Forestweb, reports
In this exclusive report for WBPI, Mike Botting travels to Slovakia to see in action the first fully functioning continuous press to be made outside Germany
Making more out of wood
The theme for this year’s Ligna exhibition on May 18-22 is‘efficient resource management’, reflecting the need for energy efficiency and careful resource management as the world faces the challenges of globalwarming, let alone the economic challenges facing the industry
What’s with wood panels and the economy?
Has the US economy and panel market hit bottom yet? No, according to expert economists and market analysts addressing the Forest Products Society in Corvallis, Oregon. Bill Keil was there to bring this report
Sunds gets dry
The market has long been looking for a system tosignificantly reduce resinconsumption in the production of such products as low density, mediumdensity and high densityfibreboard. Sunds MDF Technologies AB in Sweden claims to have the answer
Seven particleboard producers and VHI searched by German cartel office
Investigations into suspicions that seven particleboard manufacturers including VHI, the German wood based panels industry federation, have been involved in illegal price fixing between 2003 and 2007 is currently being conducted by the German Federal Cartel Office.During a search based on a warrant issued by the Bonn District Court on March 4, 2008, officials seized documents that will be reviewed in the coming weeks to ascertain whether they contain incriminating evidence.The companies involved are Glunz AG (Meppen), Pfleiderer AG (Neumarkt), Egger Holzwerkstoffe Brilon GmbH & Co KG (Brilon), Kronospan GmbH (Bischweier), Nolte Holzwerkstoff GmbH & Co KG (Germersheim), Rauch Spanplattenwerk GmbH (Markt Bibart), and Sauerlander Spanplatten GmbH & Co KG (Arnsberg).The background as to why the Federal Cartel Office undertook the investigations is not clear at present.There is an indication that tips from within the particleboard industry itself did not spark the investigations. Thus there are no cooperative witnesses working with the Federal Cartel Office providing the basis for the searches.Source: Euwid
The whole world of Dieffenbacher is now clearly formatted on its new website. The clearly structured content on products and services ensures that the web pages can be continuously developed further and updated more effectively. www.dieffenbacher.de
Cost E49 workshop covering processes and performance of wood based panels will be held April 28-29, 2009 at the Hotel Novotel Istanbul, Turkey. www.coste49.org
The US surface-coating plant of the Pfleiderer subsidiary Uniboard in Fostoria, Ohio was recently certified in accordance with the rules of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Eumabois launches Made in Europe
A huge advertising campaign is being undertaken to reinforce the pre-eminence of European-made wood working machinery.‘Made in Europe: Choose the original – choose success’ has been adopted as the slogan for the campaign by Eumabois, the European Federation of Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers.Eumabois said the slogan was a general concept rather than a fightback against south-east Asian countries, where manufacturers are alleged to have copied European-made woodworking machines.“The Eumabois campaign highlights the need to choose original machinery and technology that is the result of experience, research, commitment and expertise in wood,” it said. “This knowledge is the result of experience and cannot be copied.”
Italian woodworking industry and entrepreneurial spirit
The Italian woodworking machinery industry has reported stable production figures for 2008 but predicts real worries in the coming months.Preliminary figures from Acimall, the Italian woodworking machinery and tools manufacturers’ association, shows production dipped 2.2% in 2008 and was worth €1.82bn.A fourth-quarter trend survey showed an order reduction of 38.8% compared with a year ago. Acimall said there was no denying that the global economic trend would bring heavy consequences to the woodworking technology industry.Acimall president Ambrogio Delachi said the industry has to rely almost exclusively on its entrepreneurial spirit.
Parquet flooring sales slide
European sales of parquet flooring declined in 2008, according to the European Federation of the Parquet Industry (FEP).Total consumption in the EU area stands at 112m2, but compared with 2007 figures, sales fell by around 7%, mirroring the decline in the flooring industry, added the organisation. The last quarter of 2008 showed he steepest fall.The slow down is attributed to the reduction of construction in what have been the parquet industry’s largest markets, Germany, Spain and France. The strength of the euro, declining confidence leading to low levels of investment and rising energy costs are also blamed.
TAPPI honours Dr Gary A Baum
TAPPI has designated the 2009 Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal to Dr Gary A Baum in recognition of his achievements of proven applied significance to the world’s pulp, paper, board and forest products industries and the other industries that TAPPI serves. The presentation will be made during the PaperCon ’09 Conference in St Louis, Missouri, US, May 31-June 3, 2009.Dr Baum has had a long and distinguished career in the paper industry. He is currently president and partner of PaperFuture Technologies LLC, a company focused on application of new techniques and use for paper with an emphasis on intellectual property, technology, assessment, education and product development.
BASF no-added formaldehyde resins
With the recent implementation of California Air Resources Board (CARB) legislation limiting formaldehyde emissions, BASF has introduced the Lupranate M20 Series of products which are MDI-based resins that do not contain formaldehyde and thus do not generate formaldehyde emission during application.BASF said that these products are a viable alternative for composite wood manufacturers seeking a more sustainable way of doing business.
Weyerhaeuser posts US$1.2bn 4Q loss
Weyerhaeuser has reported a US$1.21bn loss for the fourth quarter of 2008. Company ceo Dan Fulton said the result, which includes a US$827m goodwill impairment charge, reflects the “speed and severity of the deterioration of market conditions”.Weyerhaeuser’s net loss for the whole year was US1.17bn from continuing sales of US$8bn. This compares with net profits of US$790m and sales of US$10.8bn in 2007.The wood products division made a loss of US$960m during the fourth quarter, mainly due to a US$733m goodwill impairment charge.
Laminate flooring manufacturer Pergo has been awarded a European patent relating to fold-down technology whereby a flooring panel can be locked simultaneously on two edges with panels which have already been laid.
A lot to sell
The Metro-Ply group of companies is one of the oldest players in the field of panel production in Thailand.It started out as a teak sawmill, going into plywood production in 1973, followed by entry into veneer production, wet process hardboard, doors and finger-jointed hardwood.Indeed, the company is still active in all those areas but it was in 1995 – a time of considerable activity in SE Asia for composite panel production lines – that the company entered the MDF business.
Up and running
For a company vastly experienced in lumber processing and furniture manufacture, Green River Panels (Thailand) Co Ltd was taking a big new step in setting up a state-of-the-art particleboard line from scratch.Green River Wood and Lumber Group is the parent company and has furniture making operations in China, Vietnam and Malaysia (see p38 in this issue) and sawmills in Thailand and Malaysia.Sawmills are of course excellent providers of raw material for particleboard mills and that is why Green River decided to build its first panel plant adjacent to its sawmill at Bangklum near Hat Yai in southern Thailand.
An eye for detail
One year ago, WBPI visited Siam Fibreboard’s Hat Yai site and reported on the imminent start-up of its new 18MW electrical energy generation plant, which now has thetrading name GRE Energy Company Ltd (Thailand).This in fact started up in January 2008 but is already due for expansion in the near future as it is currently supplying sufficient power for the two (ex STA) Siempelkamp ContiRoll MDF lines already running at Siam Fibreboard but will not have enough capacity for the third line which has just started up.
Grenzebach Corporation, a leading manufacturer of veneer and plywood equipment, with North American headquarters located in Newnan, GA, has opened a new sales and service office in Gladstone, Oregon. This is in addition to an office in Eugene, OR.
Waiting and hoping
You would not expect a happy story from the producers of OSB in Europe and Latin America and so this survey will not come as a surprise. It is, inevitably, for the most part a story of holding tight and waiting for the upturn
Schattdecor is to build a brand new state-of-the-art printing line in the US.The Thansau, Germany, headquartered decor printer announced the plans on August 20th at an evening reception for customers and press during the IWF exhibition in Atlanta.The 100,000ft2 new facility is currently under construction in St Louis, Missouri and is expected to produce its first roll of decor paper in the fourth quarter of 2009.Making the announcement, Schattdecor ceo Reiner Schulz said that the company has been in the US market since 1995, beginning by importing decors from Germany, and decided that the time was right to support the market with its own printing line.
Kings Mountain International, although fairly new to the market, says it has made a major impact on the decorative laminate industry. It manufactures new press plates used in the laminating industry, as well as refurbishing, reglossing, reconditioning and cleaning. This includes low pressure, high pressure, hardboard and technical laminates for the panel industry. The company supplies both chemically etched and mechanically processed textures, mirrors, mattes, and its new ‘Syncro Registration’ process where the plate texture meets the decor design.
Modul Systeme is an independent engineering firm, providing technical services and equipment (new and secondhand) for the particleboard and fibreboard (MDF) industry and for lamination lines for wood based panels. Over the years, Modul Systeme says it has actively supported and promoted the use of alternative raw materials, such as straw and bagasse. Another focus is the modernisation of existing plants to increase capacity and quality, regardless of age and type of the installation.
More than just trees
Forest Products Society members gathered in late June in St Louis, Missouri, US, for their 62nd annual meeting where chairman Steve Winistorfer presided over a large number of interesting presentations, as Bill Keil reports. A total of 111 speakers presented the latest in forest products and forestry research, with another 92 presenting posters at this year’s FPS meeting. First place Wood Award was presented to Joseph E Jakes, USDA Forest Service et al, for characterisation of modified wood cells using nano-indentation.
Made of steel
Founded in 1862 as a steel producer, today’s Sandvik AB still produces highly specialised steels for a wide variety of global markets. Göran Fredrik Göransson, founder of Högbo Stål & Jernwerks AB, known as Sandvik AB since 1972, was the first person to successfully implement Englishman Sir Henry Bessemer’s famous method for steel production on an industrial scale. He modified the original, unsuccessful, Bessemer Converter design and it then became the basis for modern steel manufacture for many years to come. Mr Göransson produced his first steel by this process 150 years ago – on July 18th 1858 to be precise.
A good market
Established in 1982, the Zhejiang Luyuan Group has a total of 11 production lines around China and a combined capacity of around one million cubic metres. We visit the company’s most recently completed project, in Yangdong. Zhejiang Luyuan Group built its first panel production line in 1984, in Suichang, Zhejiang province in the east of China. It was a wet-process hardboard line with a capacity of 10,000m3 /year. In 1995 the company moved into dry-process fibreboard, or MDF, buying its first, seven-opening, press line from Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery Co Ltd (SWPM). This line had an annual capacity of 30,000m3 and replaced that original hardboard line. Fast forward to 2003 and we find the group building its first, imported, continuous press line from Siempelkamp of Germany.
Greener as well
Part of the Mauro Saviola Group, Sadepan Chimica produces resins for the panel industry as well as other fields and, like the rest of the group, is keen to emphasise its ‘green’ credentials.Sadepan Chimica, with factories in Viadana, Castelseprio and Truccazzano in Italy, and Genk in Belgium, makes a range of products including formaldehyde, liquid and powder urea resins for panel production, melamine and urea resins for the impregnation of decorative papers and phenolic resins for Kraft papers. Trade names are Sadeform, Sadeform UFC, Sadecol Resins, Sadecol Glues, Sadecol MUF (melamine urea formaldehyde), Sadecol P, Sadefen and Papersad.
The 21st edition of Milan’s biennial Xylexpo exhibition, known as Xylexpo New, saw a record number of exhibitors but fewer visitors than the 2006 event, perhaps reflecting today’s cautious mood in the woodworking industries. Visitor numbers, admits the organiser of this year’s Xylexpo New, were 12.1% down on 2006 at 81,980. Many exhibition organisers tend to try and ‘massage’ such statistics to make things look better and credit is due to ACIMALL for its honesty. The problem was that the obvious quietness of the event left some of the record 853 exhibitors (284 from 38 countries) wondering if they should have gone to the expense of being there.
Marrying Hardwood and Softwood Veneers
The Eugene, Oregon mill of States Industries has mastered hardwood plywood production. Bill Keil visited and recounts how it is done
In niche markets
Pagnoni was founded even before the state of Italy and, at the age of 160 this year, can celebrate the fact that it is still finding new products for new markets, based on its long experience in the panel industry. The original Fratelli Pagnoni company was founded in Monza in 1848 by the two brothers Stefano and Martino Pagnoni. That is a long time ago, but when you consider that the original family business was founded in flour milling in the 1700s you begin to realise the truly long history behind today’s family business, Pagnoni Impianti.
Panel beam saw manufacturer Giben has subsidiary companies in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Denmark and Spain. It says ICON2, included in its Professional Line, is a compact angular sizing system. Thanks to its 50m2 (standard version) footprint, it can be installed anywhere, ensuring high performance and occupying the least space. ICON2 is for those who have more than one single-line panel saw, or who need to optimise their sizing department, do not want to rotate the strips any more and have small space but demand the highest automation.
Aiming for first place
The company formerly known as Hebei Yingang Man Made Board Co Ltd is now known as China National Salt Industry Yingang Artificial Slab Ltd but there is much more than a change of name to report about this fast-growing enterprise. Hebei Salt Company and Zhending County Changshan Plastic Products factory formed a joint venture to develop the panel manufacturing interests of Hebei Yingang Man Made Board Co Ltd and today the company occupies a 65.8 acre site with factories covering 77,929m2 and representing RMB820m (US$120m) in fixed assets. The company employs 680 staff at Zhengding in Hebei province.
Flamex says its Spark Detection and Extinguishing System is a cost-effective solution for the prevention of bag house fires and explosions. Sparks generated from production machinery are rapidly detected and suppressed in ductwork before entering the dust collector. Currently in its fifth generation of development, the Flamex system has, it says, been continually improved to incorporate the latest advances in technology.
Globus, based in Galliate, has enjoyed a good market in the last two years, with a number of projects around the world employing its wood preparation and handling equipment. Fabio Paron founded his company, Globus, in 1981 based on his machinery experience and a background in research and development, as well as in machinery design. The company manufactures and sells chain and vibrating conveyor systems, drum chippers, knife ring flakers, hammer mills and double stream mills, as well as the cam classifier launched at the Ligna exhibition in Germany last year. Globus also makes other products for the wood based panel and biomass energy sectors.
CMC Texpan’s name is synonymous with forming machines, but its engineering expertise means it can offer a lot more to the industry as well.Carpenterie Metalliche di Colzate, meaning the Colzate Steelwork Company, may not seem a familiar name until one looks at the initials: CMC. Today, those initials, when combined with the name Texpan, would be very familiar to anyone involved in composite wood panel manufacture. Formed in 1962 by the father of the current president of CMC Texpan, Dario Zoppetti, CMC fabricated metal structural elements for the textile industry, which at that time was very important to Colzate.
Siempelkamp will again be represented at the IWF 2008 show with its subsidiaries Büttner, Siempelkamp Handling Systems (SHS), Siempelkamp Energy Systems (SES) as well as PAL. The highlight of this exhibition is the presentation of Siempelkamp’s Generation 8 ContiRoll Press. The company says this continuous press has secured its position as a market leader in the industry over the past 24 years.
The Imeas touch...
The sanding and grinding of various materials has been the speciality of Imeas Spa since it was established in 1966 and it has always used that wide-ranging experience to inform its product design for the panel industry
Li Ren Wood Group has a relatively long history in wood based panels and owns several companies trading under different names. In the first of his reports for Part ll of our Focus, Mike Botting visits its latest factory, Senlan Wood Co in Fujian province.Li Ren was originally a wet process fibreboard producer with a capacity of 10,000m3/year at its factory in Lishui, Zhejiang province. In 1994 the company switched to MDF production with a 30,000m3/year Chinese-made line, also at Lishui. This was achieved by modifying the original wet process line. In 1995, another MDF line was installed at that site, again with a capacity of 30,000m3 and utilising Chinese-manufactured equipment.
With a group capacity of 1.7 million m3 of particleboard and MDF, all produced from post-consumer wood waste, the Mauro Saviola Group has strong ‘green’ credentials in which it is continuing to invest. The group has been making particleboard since 1963, starting in Viadana, and there is nothing unusual in that. What is unusual is that, in 1997, the company made a life-changing decision in how it sourced its main raw material.
A history of R&D
Wood preparation specialist Pal srl of Ponte di Piave, Treviso, will celebrate 30 years in business this November and continues to invest heavily in research and development (R&D) to ensure it continues to prosper for a lot longer yet. Founded in 1978, Pal srl has established itself as a major supplier of equipment to clean and prepare wood raw material for the panel industry, as well as adding other product areas to its portfolio.
With the cost of resins and glues rising almost constantly, Imal sees a bright future for its new MDF resination system, as well as its wide range of other products. From its factory in San Damaso near Modena – the home of Ferrari and Maserati motor cars – Imal has been designing and manufacturing a variety of technical equipment for the panel manufacturing industry since 1970.
Don’t miss TAPPI
The TAPPI Decorative & Industrial Laminates (DIL) Symposium (August 18-20, 2008, Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia) is now just two weeks away so hurry if you wish to participate: www.tappi.org/08DIL. Organisers say the symposium is an opportunity for laminate product suppliers, equipment providers and laminates consultants to focus on future trends. Sessions include green issues, savings and productivity, innovation and market demographics. Delegates will also be able to discover the latest information on new products, new equipment and new techniques.
China’s plywood industry takes stock
China – the largest plywood manufacturer and exporter in the world – is, like other wood product industries in China and elsewhere, experiencing difficult global markets. At the recent 2008 China Plywood International Trade Fair, held in Pizhou City, Jiangsu province, Chinese manufacturers were very concerned about future development.An issue identified by the Pizhou plywood industry at the fair is that the US and Europe are no longer the largest markets for plywood exports from Pizhou plywood manufacturers. More and more importers from Middle Eastern countries have become interested in purchasing plywood from China.
PANEL CRISIS - WHAT CRISIS?
Regionally and globally, 2007 proved to be one of the most dynamic, if not the most dynamic, of recent years, says John Wadsworth, introducing our survey of 2007 in the ‘rest of the world’, outside Europe and North America
Why does life have to be so difficult?
I frequently find myself wondering why it is that this industry always seems to be fighting to defend itself.Formaldehyde emissions, certification of the wood sources, tree conservationists/preservationists, competition for wood supply coming from subsidised energy generators – there always seems to be a new threat for this industry to counter.Then I find myself wondering whether the steel, aluminium, concrete and brick industries are subjected to anything like the same attacks. They certainly should be.However, it seems there is far less public criticism of those who dig massive holes in the ground to extract non-renewable minerals and then convert them in the most horrendously unenvironmentally-friendly, energy guzzling, carbon dioxide-generating processes into often unattractive finished products.
French plywood manufacturers fined for price-fixing
Six French plywood manufacturers have been fined a total of e8m for engaging in a price-fixing cartel which lasted 17 years. UPM escaped a fine after it blew the whistle on the cartel, described by the French competition authority Conseil de la Concurrence as “very serious” and damaging to the economy. Almost 70% of exotic plywood sales in France are thought to have been affected by the price-fixing.
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Valwood is a material developed in Western Australia and utilizes regrowth Jarrah thinnings from reclaimed farmland. The wood is used in such a way as to eliminate inherent stresses in young wood: small pieces of regrowth hardwood 10mm thick and 80mm wide are glue-laminated together. This enables quality sawn timber to be obtained from younger trees.
Plywood is made from a number of glued layers of wood veneer. The major uses of plywood are wall-panelling, door-skins and concrete formwork. It has also made a name for itself as a furniture building material of enormous strength and which can be moulded to produce interesting yet functional designs.
Particleboard is cheaper, denser and more uniform than conventional wood and plywood and is substituted for them when appearance and strength are less important than cost. However, particleboard can be made more attractive by painting or the use of wood veneers that are glued onto surfaces that will be visible. Though it is denser than conventional wood, it is the lightest and weakest type of fiberboard, except for insulation board. Medium-density fibreboard and hardboard, also called high-density fiberboard, are stronger and denser than particleboard.
Unilin ends dispute with Power Dekor
Laminate floor manufacturer Unilin, headquartered in Belgium, has ended its dispute with China's Power Dekor. Unilin's intellectual property arm Flooring Industries Ltd concluded a settlement and a licence agreement with Chinese laminate flooring giant Power Dekor for the manufacture and sale of certain laminate flooring products using Unilin's patented glueless technology.
Norbord implements tight cost-cutting measures
Toronto-based Norbord Inc will not pay out any management bonuses, nor commit any capital expenditure beyond essential outlays, as part of its cost-cutting measures to ride out the poor OSB market, ceo Barrie Shineton wrote in a letter to shareholders.On April 23, Norbord reported a loss of US$31m in the first quarter of 2008 because of the continued weakness in North American OSB prices.Describing the additional "aggressive" action Norbord has taken this year to reduce costs, Mr Shineton said the company had eliminated all management bonus payments in North America and moved to further cut back corporate overheads.Capital expenditures have been limited to only those projects required for environmental compliance and essential maintenance.
LP completes initial 75% purchase phase of Brazilian OSB producer
In mid-May, Louisiana-Pacific Corporation completed the initial phase of its purchase of a 75% stake in Masisa OSB Industria é Comercio SA, which operates OSB assets in Ponta Grossa, Brazil. The purchase is being made through LP Brasil Participacoes Ltda, a limited liability company and a subsidiary of Louisiana-Pacific South America SA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LP. The OSB mill, which went into production in late 2001, has an annual production capacity of around 375 million ft2.
Going for a dozen
Jiangsu Changshu Dong Fang Corporation Ltd, a government owned company, built its first MDF line in 1995. Located in Changshu City, Jiangsu province, that 15,000m3 a year single-opening line was purchased from Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery Co Ltd (SWPM) and is still in operation today. In 1999, the company built its second MDF line, from the same machinery supplier, but with a multi-opening press and annual capacity of 60,000m3. The third MDF line, built in 2000, had another SWPM multi-opening press, with a slightly larger annual capacity of 80,000m3, and was the first of a series of annual additions to the company's capacity. It was built in Hongze, Jiangsu.
Raute celebrates 100 years
Wood Products technology company Raute is celebrating 100 years of operations this year. Throughout the company's history it says it has invested heavily in product development so for its 100-year anniversary, Raute has organised a competition to help find practical new solutions for the wood products industry.The 'Raute 100 Years Innovation Award' competition seeks innovations in wood products technology. The three best innovations will receive cash rewards of e5,000 to e15,000 at Raute's 100-year jubilee celebration in Lahti in August 2008.Information on the competition rules and entry guidelines is available on Raute's website: www.raute.com
In search of the good news....
The economic crisis in North America obviously continues to have most of the world in a state of considerable nervousness as other countries ponder the likely knock-on effects for their economies. However, in this issue's Focus on North America, we begin with two articles looking at the US economic situation and the effects it may have going forward: the first article considers the implications for the US housing economy in general and the effect on the panel industry (p25), while the second looks at the situation from a panel manufacturer's perspective (p28). I think you will find them less depressing than you may imagine.
A flooring specialist
The privately-owned Chengdu Shengda company was founded 11 years ago as a laminate flooring producer, becoming the first company to manufacture that product in China. Competitor Power Dekor was already distributing laminate flooring in the country, but only imported the laminated board and then machined it in China. In the early days, Chengdu Shengda imported high density fibreboard (HDF) and laminated and machined it in its own works, but later purchased the board in China as better quality material became available from domestic panel producers.
RTA particleboard furniture maker in Colombia using panels from Ecuador
A new plant has been launched in Colombia for the manufacture of ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture using particleboard produced in neighbouring Ecuador. RTA Design SA, a flat pack furniture maker based in Medellin, Colombia has begun operating the new 6,602m2 production unit in Yumbo in Colombia's Cauca Valley region. Panels for its products are being supplied by Ecuadorian board makers Aglomerados Cotopaxi SA and Novopan SA. The Colombian-owned RTA company invested around US$2.94m in its new plant with another US$220,000 spent on machinery.
A shift of focus
Mr Shotbolt is president and ceo of Flakeboard Company Ltd, Markham, Ontario, Canada, a very large panel producer, and he presented the keynote speech at the International Wood Composite Symposium in Seattle in April (see p36 for full report). "We ride the cycle. We need to be prepared for it," Mr Shotbolt advised his audience. "It's the equivalent of musical chairs. When housing started to come down, the music crashed." He said methanol and urea price spikes last September added another US$5m in annual costs to a typical mill. Urea alone showed a 60 to 80% increase.
Sumitomo Forestry denied clearance
The New Zealand Commerce Commission in March declined to give clearance to Sumitomo Forestry Co Ltd to acquire all the MDF assets and business operations of Carter Holt Harvey Ltd (Building Supplies Division) in Rangiora.Commerce commission chair Paula Rebstock said the commission could not be satisfied the proposed acquisitions would not have: "The effect of substantially lessening competition in the national market for the manufacture and supply of raw MDF panels".
Anatomy of a ZOW exhibitor
Since its foundation in 1985 Schattdecor has shown dynamic growth, making it arguably the market leader in printed decor paper. With production plants in Germany, Poland, Italy, Russia, China and Brazil and with a further two new plants scheduled for start-up in the first half of 2009 in the US and Turkey, the group supplies printed decor paper to the timber products industry where it is mainly used for the surface enhancement of kitchen furniture and laminate flooring. Strongly focused on modern design, Schattdecor employs a team of decor paper specialists in Thansau, Germany to translate the latest interior design trends into products which meet market demand.
Has pessimism gone too far in region's panel markets?
Picking up reports on forest products markets in North America has become dangerous to your health! However, claims about how bad the markets are, and seemingly will be for months/years to come, are often overblown rhetoric. Recent examples include comments that the current housing slump is the worst in over a century. Evidently the claimant has not heard of the Great Depression; it would be hard to find a housing market weaker than that of the 1930s. Too many analysts are simply too young to remember past cycles or too near-sighted in their outlook; they often have little or no perspective. Others are simply perpetual 'bears', wallowing exultantly in doom and gloom.
China increased fibreboard by 6.7 million m3 in 2007
According to the Chinese Planning and Design Institute of the Forest Products Industry, production capacity increased by 6.7 million m3 (representing about 30% of total fibreboard production capacity in 2006) in 2007. With total announced production increases, China's MDF capacity is expected to exceed 30 million m3 in 2008 and 33 million m3 in 2009. In 2007, construction was started on 18 continuous flat presses and 20 continuous press lines, with most lines expected to come on stream in 2008.
Something to celebrate
The Association was organised in Portland, Oregon on May 16, 1933 as the Douglas Fir Plywood Association (DFPA) and held its first meeting a month later in Tacoma, Washington, where it has been headquartered ever since. Getting going wasn't easy, however. "I recall 1933, when the Douglas Fir Plywood Association took its first halting steps, as a daunting time for all but the most incurable optimists," remembered plywood industry pioneer and one-time DFPA President Norman Cruver when the Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1983.
A lot to learn
The International Wood Composite Symposium seems to have made a permanent move to Seattle, Washington from its long-time home at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. In fact, meeting veterans still refer to it as the 'Pullman meeting'. Attendance stood at 173 and of these, 25% were board manufacturers, 50% suppliers, 20% education and research and 5% associations. Kelly Shotbolt, president and ceo of North America's largest MDF and particleboard producer, keynoted the symposium.
Engineered wood plant is nation's newest
That fire resulted in big changes for Murphy, a company that dates back to 1909. Drawing on that background of continuous improvement, president John Murphy not only decided to buy a Georgia-Pacific hardwood plywood operation to the north in Eugene, Oregon, but he chose not to rebuild the destroyed plywood plant his firm bought in 1985. In its stead, he determined to erect a modern US$60m engineered wood products operation - Murphy Engineered Wood Products - and it provides much better veneer utilisation than the old plywood plant. Market niches played a big part in both decisions. Particularly in today's weak market, a replacement under-layment mill was not a viable solution, while EWP could generate considerably more income from the raw material.
CARB gets tough in January
Foreign and domestic manufacturers of composite wood products will soon face stricter standards on formaldehyde emissions under new measures by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).The new regulation applies to all raw panels or products - including cabinetry, flooring, doors and furniture - which must be third party certified and labelled to show compliance.
Fire sparked big changes
Murphy lost its plywood plant in that fire, but gained not only a brand new engineered wood products mill (see p40), but also a long-established hardwood plywood operation at Springfield. The company's purchase of Georgia-Pacific's hardwood plywood mill there, owned by GP since 1967, brings new opportunities to Murphy in a specialised output, along with a well-experienced crew to operate it; about 30 workers and managers from the Sutherlin mill came to work in the hardwood plywood mill after the fire. The mill has 215 full time employees and many stayed on after Murphy's purchase. The mill has managed to maintain a two-week market file, despite current US market and economic problems.
Complete works for US machine manufacturer
It is no secret that the US forest industry, chilled by a housing slump, is far from booming at present. Consequently staff in machine manufacturers served by the industry must use some imagination to keep their businesses on the move. One such is Mike Tart, sales manager of Globe Machine Manufacturing, which has been a fixture on Tacoma, Washington's waterfront since 1917. Mr Tart puts it succinctly when he says he will be travelling to more places requiring a passport. With a cool US market, his sights are set, like many others, across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as South America.
Dare to dominate
Dare Global is a diverse industrial company producing metal foil for cigarette packets, bright metal car trim and computer products. And wood based panels. The group decided to enter the panel business in 2002 with its Dare Wood division and has followed a path of unrelenting expansion ever since to become one of the biggest suppliers of panels in China - and the world.
CVC completes takeover of Asia Dekor
CVC Asia Pacific Ltd (CVC) has completed the acquisition of Asia Dekor Holdings Ltd, a company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. Asia Dekor is a leading manufacturer and distributor of laminate flooring, MDF and particleboard in China. Based in Shenzhen, it currently has 16 million m2 of laminate flooring production, 200,000m3 of MDF and 200,000m3 of particleboard production in Guangdong.
PG Bison's new particleboard plant ramping up
Panel and timber products manufacturer PG Bison has officially opened its new particleboard factory near Ugie in Eastern Cape, South Africa.The R1.3bn (US$169m) facility covers over half of PG Bison's 64 acre site and will produce 1,000m3 of particleboard a day from 1,300 tonnes of timber sourced from nearby plantations.The facility, which pressed its first board on December 13, 2007 and has been increasing production ever since, also features a 35,000m2 melamine facing line."When the Ugie board plant reaches full production, we will almost double our capacity, creating exciting new opportunities to establish PG Bison as the pre-eminent particleboard producer in South Africa," said PG Bison chief executive officer Chris van Niekerk.
Wood panel consumption to exceed 282 million m3
Global Wood Panel Consumption will exceed 282 million m3 by 2010, according to a new report by Global Industry Analysts Inc (GIA). Announcing the new report 'Wood Panels: A Global Strategic Business Report', the San Jose, California company said the recent drop in new housing construction in the US had lowered prices for structural wood panels and other engineered wood products as supply exceeded demand. Meanwhile, despite rising energy costs and worldwide competition, the European wood panels market is expected to record growth in consumption and production.
Turn off the lights. Save money!
Stimson Lumber Company has been in business a long time, starting in the state of Michigan in 1850. The founder, T D Stimson, moved west, buying timber and establishing several mills throughout the region. Ownership remained within the family: Harold Miller, his grand-daughter's husband, headed the company when it made its move to the present location, a little valley bordering the Coast Range, one of the country's most productive timber areas. Earlier, the company bought timberlands there and half its present timber supply still comes from perpetually managed company lands.
New MDF plant for Kastamonu Entegre
Kastamonu Integrated Wood industry and Trade Company (Kastamonu Entegre), billed as Turkey's largest wood based panel producer, has started up a new MDF line - the company's third installation in Turkey - at Kastamonu City Industrial Zone.Designed to produce 1,200m 3/day, the new 360,000m3/year Siempelkamp line has lifted Kastamonu Entegre's total MDF capacity to 660,000m3/year, ranking the company second among Turkey's MDF producers.
Roseburg Forest Products, one of the US' largest family-owned forest industry companies, is located in Dillard, a small southern Oregon town of perhaps 5,000. Together with the headquarters, Dillard houses Roseburg's huge particleboard plant, along with the company's large sawmill, two big plywood mills - and others. Probably the most impressive feature of the Dillard plywood operation is plant #1's huge Raute six-deck, 23-section jet dryer which dries veneer for both Dillard mills. The new dryer can handle 21,000ft2, 3'8in basis, of veneer hourly. It replaced two much less productive dryers. Rick Ghramm, who manages both plywood plants at Dillard, commented, "That's been an awesome dryer for us".An RCO was installed to handle emissions.
New capacity faces old problems
There looks certain to be a sharp decline in profitability for MDF manufacturers in the coming months in both Europe and North America, as John Wadsworth reports in the first part of our survey of the world MDF industry
Environment and wood supply offer serious challenges
It is just a year now since I was brave, or stupid, enough (depending on your point of view) to question whether man's generation of CO2 was really to blame for global warming. I said in my column in Issue 2, 2007 (April/May) that, while global warming is a fact, the reasons behind it are less certain.
A challenging year for panel makers
As I write this column in late January, the world's stock markets are in sharp decline and the R-word, for 'Recession', seems to be in every news bulletin. Companies are revising their forecasts downward for 2008 across Europe, and elsewhere, as the problems in the US economy apparently drive sentiment in the rest of the world.
China's plywood impact
Although probably unfamiliar to most people outside China, the city of Qingdao is widely regarded by the Chinese to be the country's most livable urban centre. In addition to being chosen as the sailing/yachting venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Qingdao also provided the striking venue for this year's China International Wood Products Summit, held on September 22-24. International Wood Markets Group (IWMG), a well-established Canadian consulting firm specialising in wood products marketing and strategic services, organised the conference there after holding previous events in Shanghai, Dongguan and Dalian.
BASF sets the pace
To give some idea of scale, the headquarters of this company in Ludwigshafen covers an area of over seven square kilometres, encompassing over 200 different production plants, connected by 2,000km of above-ground piping and 200km of railway track between the 2,000 buildings. This, it claims with some justification, makes it the largest single-company integrated chemical production site in the world. "Such big sites are not so easy to run, but we have developed this expertise over 140 years," pointed out Wolfgang Gutting, director of business management, Glues and Impregnating Resins Europe, giving an idea of the history of this company. But there is more to these statistics than just shear size. Because the site contains so many production plants, the possibilities for synergies - in both sales and marketing and research and development (R&D) - are considerable.
Formaldehyde given the 'all clear' in Barcelona
It is not often that I am invited to a purely scientific conference which aims to investigate the toxicology and epidemiology of, well, anything. Normally I would politely decline such an invitation. However, when that conference is all about formaldehyde, and being aware of the importance of that issue, I had to accept - we are all aware of formaldehyde as a constituent of resins and, indeed, of wood itself. In fact it is essential to the metabolism of all living cells. It is also present in building materials, furniture, paints and coatings, textiles and pharmaceuticals.
All set to double the turnover
Schenkmann & Piel was founded by Alfred Schenkmann and Harry Piel in 1977 in Leverkusen, on the outskirts of Cologne, where the company is still headquartered today. The first product made by the new company was an air grader/sifter aimed at the particleboard industry. Things have moved on since then in many ways. German complete line and continuous press manufacturer Dieffenbacher took a 20% share in Schenkmann & Piel in 1999. Mr Schenkmann retired in October 2001 and his partner retired at the end of December 2005.
Specialist in panel saws
Erwin Jenkner founded the Holzma company in 1966 to put into action a steady stream of his innovative ideas for woodworking machinery. He had been having machines made to his specifications by other manufacturers for some years - mainly drilling and similar machines for the window manufacturing industry. Then, in 1967, his Holzma company produced the first horizontal saw with the saw unit running underneath the table. This was intended mainly for cutting solid wood. Mr Jenkner then saw a market opportunity in the form of a growing demand for saws capable of cutting melamine-faced particleboard to tight tolerances without the surface chipping away.
A good result for formaldehyde
I think it is fair to say that one of the major worries of the panel manufacturing industry in many regions is the issue of formaldehyde and whether or not it is a health hazard. Of course it is an even bigger worry for those companies involved in the supply of formaldehyde, or products containing added formaldehyde. I underline the word 'added' because as most of us know, there is no such thing as a formaldehyde-free panel if it contains wood or any other once-living material.
It's all in the handling
Johannes Fuchs began manufacturing agricultural machinery in 1888 and, having received the first patents, began serious production in 1904 and continued in that market until the Second World War. In the 1950s, the company moved from agricultural machinery into excavators and loading machines for civil engineering. In 1957, Fuchs began production at its present location in Bad Schönborn near Karlsruhe, specialising in excavators and loaders, and by 1970 was exporting to more than 70 countries.
Global expansion in top gear please
Wemhöner Surface Technologies. That is the new name for a family company which has been established in Herford for over 80 years and was previously known as Heinrich Wemhöner Maschinenfabrik. However, it is not so much a change of name as a change of emphasis in that name, for reasons which will soon become apparent, and it came into effect at the end of 2006. In fact, there has been a lot of change going on in the Wemhöner company recently, including a new venture into China. In June 2007, the company's new 3,000m2 factory, with 500m2 of office space, opened for business in Changzhou in Jiangsu province and delivered its first machine just four months later, in October.
The true cost of a global market
There are times when the 'global market' that everybody talks about really makes itself felt and not always in a positive way. The US is certainly making itself felt globally as I write this column, with the poor state of its housing market having major repercussions in two main areas at least. Firstly, of course, there is the severe downturn in the market for structural panels in the US. Although this mainly impacts on the North American producers, there was a time, not so long ago, when European OSB manufacturers were exporting to the booming US market, which couldn't make enough to meet the demand.
Good news and bad news time
First, the good news: May's Ligna exhibition may seem a long time ago now but for the vast majority, if not all, the exhibitors the memory lingers sweetly on, buoying their spirits. As I travelled the exhibition, the mood of optimism was everywhere, with all the exhibitors reporting very good contacts and, I suspect, an unprecedented number of orders actually placed at the show, as opposed to signing deals set up beforehand.
There is life after the Chinese boom
For some years now all the talk in terms of expansion in MDF, and to some extent particleboard, production has centred on China. Then, in 2005, the Chinese market went relatively quiet for the European complete-line machinery suppliers and most thought it was likely to stay that way for a while.
Is what they tell you always right?
A comfortable pair of shoes. My note book and pen. A catalogue. It may still be a few weeks off as you read this issue, but Ligna+ 2007 is approaching fast and, yes, I am getting ready to pound the halls of the Hanover Messe once again. Apart from the shear scale of this exhibition, I am left in no doubt about its importance by many people I meet in my travels around the world. I am often told by those who have built a panel manufacturing line or new factory that it all started at Ligna.
Mixed fortunes in world OSB markets
As we start a new year, the tables have very much turned in the OSB industry worldwide, as our surveys in this issue reveal. In last year's report on the market in 2005, North American mill owners were well inside their 'comfort zone' after three years of unprecedented demand and the associated bumper profits. However, they were, it is fair to say, viewing 2006 with some caution as forecasters talked of a marked fall in housing demand. The reality was far worse.
Ten years on, what have we learned?
This issue contains two conference reports, the annual European Panel Products Symposium (EPPS), organised by the BioComposites Centre in Wales, and the biennial European Wood Based Panels Symposium, organised by the European Panel Federation and the Wilhelm Klauditz Institute and held in Germany.In the case of EPPS, this was the tenth such event (and the fifth for EPF/WKI). The symposium started life in the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno in October 1997. It has since moved to a purpose-built conference centre in the town and next year is to change its name slightly and move further afield, to Cardiff in south Wales.
New forestry museum traces huge Oregon fires
The Oregon State Department of Forestry has opened a new Tillamook Forest Center which is generating a great deal of educational interest, both for adults and children. The new museum, 50 miles west of Portland and not far from the Oregon Pacific Coast, celebrates the reclaiming of thousands of acres of some of the most productive tree growing land in the world. August of 1933 was hot, dry and extremely windy, not unlike August 2006, which was one of the worst Pacific Northwest wildfire seasons. August 24, 1933, was an extra hazardous day in the Oregon Coast Range mountains. A log hung up briefly while being yarded into a log truck loading area in Gales Creek canyon - this is in the western part of the magnificent old-growth forest and some of the huge Douglas firs measured up to 10ft in diameter and up to 300ft tall. That big log freed itself, rubbing heavily on another. A friction spark quickly set off a small blaze, which mushroomed and soon exploded to the tree tops.
Back to the basics
Many in the wood based panel business realise that logs - their raw material - are getting smaller. This trend has forced changes in machinery and manufacturing methods to efficiently utilise the smaller material while maintaining production volumes. This same trend has forced loggers - suppliers of that raw material - to make their operations more efficient by developing and adapting new machines for their forest harvesting operations.The Pacific Logging Congress (PLC) bands together western US and Canadian loggers to keep them up to date on the newest techniques. It has been an entity since 1909. Interestingly, the logging congress was instigated by George M Cornwall, founding publisher of The Timberman magazine, a US logging trade journal.
A celebration and a new beginning
In introducing the 10th edition of EPPS in the newly extended North Wales Conference Centre in the coastal resort of Llandudno, Dr Paul Fowler, director of organisers the BioComposites Centre, said: "This year we can celebrate 10 years of excellence in the dissemination of information from all over the world". Dr Fowler went on to say that the delegates could also help to celebrate the official opening of the BioComposite Centre's redeveloped pilot facility at its new home on the island of Anglesey, not far from the university in Bangor, followed by a 10th anniversary gala dinner in the unique atmosphere of Beaumaris Castle (pictured above). He also announced a big change for 2007.
European industry listens and learns
The 5th European Wood Based Panel Symposium took place in the Maritim Airport Hotel, a short covered walk from the arrivals/departures area. The symposium organisers, the European Panel Federation (EPF) and the Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut (WKI) crammed in 32 presentations in two days for an audience of around 320 delegates from 30 countries in the panel manufacturing, machinery making and resin producing sectors. Simultaneous translation was supplied in German, English, French and Italian (though many slides were still in the speaker's native language). Sessions were: Market trends, challenges and opportunities for wood based panels; advanced production technologies; products and quality control; new products and technologies; adhesives and gluing technologies; and ecological challenges and credentials.
Proceed with an air of caution
To achieve a reduction in HAP emissions, the EPA developed new national standards (rules) for specific industrial groups and one such rule is the Plywood and Composite Wood Products Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule (PCWP MACT). The PCWP rule requires that facilities reduce their emissions of a select group of HAPs thought to pose the most significant impact on public health through emission control devices or modifying operations. However, facilities which would be impacted by the PCWP rule have a second option. They can avoid its requirements completely if it can be demonstrated that emissions from certain process units do not pose a significant public health risk or hazard. This is referred to as low-risk delisting.
A PERFECT FACADE
Trespa International BV, headquartered in Weert, Netherlands, defines its core activities as the production, sale and marketing of high quality decorative panels for outdoor and indoor applications, offering the user a very broad range of design options. With a turnover of EUR125m Trespa manufactures some four million m2 of HPL panelling per annum. Customers include Mango, Esprit, McDonalds', Volkswagen/Audi and Harley Davidson. In 2004 the company obtained ISO 14001 accreditation, becoming one of the first producers of panel material to receive such recognition. The ISO 14001 standard describes the steps required for setting up, implementing, maintaining and improving a completely integrated environmental management system.
Satisfying the market trends
China has been a major market for the products of Andritz during the boom in the construction of new MDF mills there in recent years. In fact, the company has sold over 80 lines to that country, some of them being complete high-capacity lines in which Andritz has supplied everything from woodyard to chip washer to refiner. Of course China is a less active market now in terms of new 'green field' lines, due mainly to the shortage of raw material and energy supplies, but that has not troubled Andritz, which reports a full order book and manufacturing programme based on orders from around the world. And it still has good business in China.
Putting the puzzle together
The Dieffenbacher of today is no longer just a press manufacturer but is a sum of many parts brought together over the years in an ongoing process. The policy for some time has been to take over, or to take shares in, companies which can supply each piece of the complete jigsaw puzzle which is a modern panel production plant. Thus, forming came into the fold some years ago, from the expertise of Schenck Panel Systems which was absorbed into the Dieffenbacher company and today trades as ASA, based, like Dieffenbacher GmbH & Co KG, in Eppingen. More recently, specialist dryer manufacturer Schenkmann & Piel of Leverkusen joined the family in a two-stage takeover and still trades as Schenkmann-Piel-Engineering.
No end to the possibilities
Berndorf Band has been supplying stainless steel belts for continuous presses for wood based panels since the first of those presses hit the market in the 1970s. That press was made by Küsters in Germany and the belt was 1.2mm thick. Of course the number of continuous presses made since then has soared, with Dieffenbacher, Siempelkamp and Metso Panelboard (inheritor of the Küsters press) having sold many continuous press lines for panel production worldwide, with belts up to 3mm thick. However, responding to market demand, Berndorf recently developed a new 3.5mm thickness, which it says is unique in the market. The first belts are already delivered and will be used in Siempelkamp presses for continuous panel production.
A producer of textures
Hindrichs-Auffermann has a history of over 100 years in metal working and in the 1960s brought its experience to bear on the manufacture of steel press plates for the production of laminates. At first these plates had smooth surfaces, but in the 1970s, the company moved into making plates with textured surfaces. About 20 years later, it made the leap into producing endless press belts with both smooth and textured surfaces. Then in 2000, Swedish-headquartered stainless steel belt manufacturer Sandvik bought Ennepetal-based Hindrichs-Auffermann, fully incorporating the company into its group two years later.
New techniques New products
Since the first continuous press was introduced to the wood based panel industry, the pressure has been on to produce boards at higher speeds, with better quality, and to produce them ever more economically. Very thin boards have to be produced at high speed to make them an economical proposition and in this case, thin means thicknesses of 3mm down to 1mm. This is where the latest development of the ContiRoll line comes in. "Engineering a successful thin board plant is very difficult because of the speed required, with a guarantee of 105 metres per minute," said Lothar Sebastian, manager of engineering design for the wood processing section of Siempelkamp.
In the race FOR SPEED
Decor paper impregnation lines are fundamental to the production of papers for laminating wood based panels for furniture or laminate flooring and, like all stages of the panel production process, are subject to demands for ever-higher speed and efficiency of production. Vits Systems GmbH, founded in 1928 in Langenfeld, is a specialist in 'web treatment' systems and for the panel industry that means laminating paper impregnation lines. This year brings a landmark development for the company because under construction in one of the halls of its factory is the result of almost two years' research and development. The first results of this new development were in fact announced at Ligna 2005, where the company introduced its new dryer generation and new sheeter and stacking systems for a high-speed line.
ATLANTA HOSTS A SHOW
Holding an exhibition at a time when most of Europe, and some other parts of the world, are still enjoying their summer vacation period and Atlanta's climate is not at its most congenial and calling it 'international' is stretching credibility a bit. The show is certainly the biggest and most comprehensive in North America, is considered by some to be the 'North American Ligna' and attracts a good attendance from the 50 states. Its international attendance is very much confined to the US's neighbours in the south and exhibitors did report good meetings with visitors from Brazil, Chile and other South American countries.
How to make a better product
Thirteen nations were represented at the meeting which drew 170 participants to learn the latest about veneer and wood based panels. Kimmo Suomalainen of Raute Oy, Nastola, Finland, explained the advantages of producing 4x8ft from 8x8ft plywood, including less required labour, fewer man-hours per unit of production, less equipment and reduced trim loss. Panels are produced at l00x100in and sawn into either 4x8ft or 8x4ft with long-grain faces used in construction and short grain in industrial applications.
Researchers emphasise smart building
The 60th annual Forest Products Society meeting in June melded 300 wood scientists, educators, mill managers and forest industry suppliers, who heard 130 speakers and chatted with another 130 poster presenters. The gathering point was southern California's Newport Beach where the delegates, in their scarce free time, could enjoy the beaches, the surf and nearby golfing. An added feature was honouring Art Brauner who has retired from the society's top staff job, executive vice president, after 37 years of service. Thirteen society past presidents attended.
Thin is beautiful in Montana
Thin MDF is the star of Plum Creek's Columbia Falls, Montana, mill occupying 71'2 acres of buildings in the company's complex of a plywood mill and sawmill. When they say "thin", they mean thin; thicknesses down to 1'16in are possible. That's 1.6mm. Obviously, it couldn't be done economically without a continuous press, which was part of the plan when the new thin board line was installed in 2002. There has been some equipment updating on the mill's original MDF number 1 line, which was one of the first in the United States. Processes have been thoroughly streamlined and production has increased, but most of that line is the same. It was originally designed for 70 million ft2, 3'4in basis per year, but management expects 150 million ft2 this year. Refining capacity has been the principal change, adding 20 million ft2 just in the past two years.
Non-EU mills lead the way
The 2006 global particleboard capacity survey contains over 60 additions and modifications to the previous mill listings as a result of new or revised data being received from operators, equipment suppliers and many other industry commentators. This report covers only the North American and European mills. Part 2, covering the mills in the 'Rest of the world', will be published in issue 6 of WBPI. Please note that although this research was conducted during the 2006 calendar year, the listings in the following pages show mill capacities as at the end of 2005 and forecast changes apply to the current year and to 2007.
Tapping into surfacing Knowledge
Around 200 delegates attended the 2006 Decorative & Industrial Laminates Symposium (DIL) in the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta in late August. This symposium, held under the auspices of TAPPI every two years, is timed to coincide with the week in which the IWF exhibition takes place in the Georgia World Congress Centre adjacent to the Omni. The symposium covered Monday to midday Wednesday, while the exhibition this year ran from Wednesday to Saturday. Monday morning was devoted to six, thirty minute, tutorial sessions repeated throughout the morning, mostly on fairly basic subjects.
Set up for a niche product
Canpar Industries' particleboard mill, annually producing 150 million ft2, 3'4in basis, in Grand Forks, British Columbia, is not one of those flashy headline-making brand new plants. But under a patina of age leavened with some new machinery and techniques, it's North America's largest door core manufacturer. Grand Forks is somewhat off the beaten path, a scant two miles north of the US-Canadian border. It's really not on the way to anywhere, but Grand Forks is a peaceful, attractive mountain-rimmed community and Canpar is an important ingredient.
A quality surface or 'just laminate'?
Public perception is everything. Is the industry producing a high-quality decorative paper based surface to compete on equal terms with solid wood, veneer or stone, or is it producing 'just laminate'? "I can't afford 'the real thing', so I will have 'just laminate' on my kitchen worktops," says Mr or Mrs homeowner.
Spain's sound investment
Spanish architecture is now suddenly undergoing a renaissance, with masters such as architect Santigo Calatrava leading the way with new ideas and innovations. Structural solutions are being solved at a remarkable level and the union between engineering and architecture has never been closer. "I always try to design buildings that respond to people's needs, including the need not only for functional buildings, but for buildings that represent something for the community," says Santigo Calatrava.
Established mill stays profitable through specialities
When Plum Creek Timber Company's plywood mill was built in Columbia Falls Montana, US, in 1964, it was one of the many commodity mills producing sheathing which rose up in US softwood plywood's heyday, but many have gone. It is specialities that have kept many of the remaining mills - including Plum Creek's - in business, and keeping up with the latest time and labour-saving innovations is a big part of it, along with methods and equipment giving better-quality output. Encouraging employees to do their best is another big feature in Plum Creek's mills.
World experts mull OSB production and markets
Some 70 experts from 11 nations exchanged information in Miami Beach, Florida for the Structural Board Association's third world OSB symposium in May. The adjoining hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast will be an important OSB market during the next few years of rebuilding from recent storms. And the delegates got a personal preview of the bitter weather as thunder storms, huge hail, torrential rain and raging winds lashed their headquarters at Miami Beach Resort Hotel. The storm, which broke a long Florida drought, forced a change in meeting rooms. Containers lined the original room catching water coursing down from a leaking roof, while nearby new high-rise building construction continued in one of the US' largest building markets.
Second in the line
The Dare group of companies has a diverse range of products including silver paper for cigarette packets, cigarette filters, alloy wheels for cars and computer products. It entered the MDF manufacturing business in 2002 with two 80,000m3 production lines supplied by Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery (SWPM). Having 'tested the water' with these lines, Dare decided it was a good move and started up its first continuous-press MDF line in Danyang City, Jiangsu province in 2003, with a nominal capacity of 200,000m3.
Closer relations boost specific skills
The preparation of the raw material for panel manufacture, in the form of chips and flakes, has been the sole concentration of Pal since it formed an alliance with fellow Italian company Imal in 1998 and the two firms ceased to compete in the same market areas, choosing instead to concentrate on their respective strengths. Pal has in fact been involved in wood preparation since its foundation in 1978. This alliance coincided with the beginning of a dramatic increase in the use of recycled wood for panel production - particularly particleboard. Using recycled wood is of course a real benefit to the environment as well as offering a relatively cheap source of raw material to the panel manufacturer. But it does have its own set of problems, chief of which is the contamination of the wood with a whole range of pollutants in the form of metals, sand and stones.
A breath of fresh air
Termoventilmec started life as the brainchild of the Benvenuti brothers in 1951 in Treviso. In those days, the company, known today as TVM, supplied galvanised ducting for suction systems for flour mills for the food industry. In 1955, it spread its technology into the wood, mechanical and footwear industries and today 70% of its turnover is in the wood processing industry and 50% is in the panel manufacturing sector. Recycling of plastic, paper, rubber and other areas where there is airborne pollution make up the rest of the company's sales.
A view of the future
The rolling grasslands of northern Uruguay, for long the lone preserve of the gaucho and his grazing cattle, are gradually giving way to a fresh, green landscape of gently swaying pine and eucalyptus trees. Like the pampas breeze, the transition has been gentle, with groups of cows still wandering lazily between the precise tree lines of the plantations. But this idyllic rural scene masks what promises to be one solution to the ever-pressing search for fresh timber to meet a growing shortfall in global wood supply. One US giant in forest products which recognised the value of buying and planting timberland in Uruguay a decade ago is Weyerhaeuser Company. Today, the Washington State-based group and its joint venture partners have built up a national estate of some 130,000ha, chiefly loblolly pine and eucalyptus grandis plantations.
More new growth - but will it be profitable?
World MDF capacity grew by 3.2 million m3 in 2005 - somewhat less than the exceptional 4.8 million m3 in 2004 but still a 7.6% increase. The growth in 2004 was reportedly the largest, before two years of lesser increments. This year's WBPI World MDF capacity survey would tend to support this view. It shows continued growth globally but at lower levels than the recent past. Furthermore, with some adjustments to last year's European data, it transpires that 80% of world capacity growth in 2005 was attributed to 'the rest of the World' and amounted to 2.5 million m3, or 10.7%. The 2004 survey referred to the 'old MDF world' of Europe, North America and Australasia. The old world lost its majority position in 2003/4 and by 2005 accounted for only 43% of world capacity.
Looking under the surface
Chunping Dai, organising committee chairman, explained the background of the meetings, which began in Cluny, France in 2004. He said, "The veneer industry is a dynamic and diversified sector of the wood products industry. Products include plywood, LVL, decorative veneer and light packaging. "The objective of this symposium is to bring together representatives from producers, equipment and resin suppliers, as well as researchers from around the world, to discuss key issues and opportunities." Participants heard some 40 speakers. They met in the midst of a Vancouver building boom escalated by the forthcoming 2010 Winter Olympics.
Ladislaus Döry, president of the EPF, welcomed delegates to the open part of the EPF and FEIC's joint annual meetings in Helsinki, pointing out the appropriateness of Finland as a venue, given the importance of the forest products industry to the national economy. He then welcomed Finland's minister of trade and industry, Mr Mauri Pekkarinen, who addressed the meeting. Mr Pekkarinen said that in the 1990s, the Finnish government launched its 'Time for Wood' campaign to strengthen competitiveness and ensure future development in the industry. "We wanted to raise public awareness and during the campaign, wood made a comeback and domestic use of sawn wood doubled," said the minister.
Handling with care
Transporting panels around the panel production and finishing lines is a job which needs to be done accurately and with some care, while having those panels in the right place at the right time is vital to the efficiency of the mill. Twenty years ago, EMG was founded in Pozzaglio ed Uniti, near Cremona in northern Italy to do just that. The company has always specialised in the production of special automation plants for the panel and furniture manufacturing industries and its products are to be found in every part of the factory and, these days, most parts of the world. The essential central feature of EMG's products is the movement of panels around the factory.
Forty years on
This is a particularly significant year for Imeas as it marks the 40th anniversary of this manufacturer of wide belt sanders and grinding machines. When it set up in business in 1966 in Villa Cortese near Milan, Imeas Spa specialised in the design and manufacture of machines to sand and grind stainless steel and wood based panels. The name of the company means, in Italian, Industria Macchine ed Attrezzature Speciali, or 'special industrial machines and tools'. Since 1996, the company has added a range of other substrates to its list of materials to sand and grind, including fibre cement board, decorative laminates, rubber, PVC and linoleum, to name but a few. And a new project for Imeas this year is to supply a calibrating line to flooring specialist Tarkett for PVC flooring panels.
Cheaper, cleaner, better
The BioComposites Centre is a self-financing business within the University of Wales, Bangor, which itself has the oldest school of agriculture and forest science in the UK. Headquartered in the university in Bangor on the north Wales coast, BioComposites offers its services to the international panel industry and other wood based product sectors. Explaining the business structure of the centre, director Paul Fowler said: "We are self-financing but with the support and infrastructure of the university behind us. We have to go out and actively seek business to fund the centre and that keeps us hungry for funds".
To go to Xian in Shanxi province without visiting one of the most famous World Heritage Sites, sometimes described as the eighth wonder of the world, would be a mistake. It is one that I did not make, thanks to a conveniently placed weekend in my schedule. Discovered by four peasants in Xiyang Village in 1974, the site contains three pits where 8,000 life-size pottery soldiers and horses have been unearthed - each one unique in appearance - together with 10,000 weapons such as bronze spears and arrow heads. In another area, bronze chariots and horses have also been uncovered.
Winning a war of many battles
The panel industry, together with all other sectors of the wood products business, is fighting an ongoing war. A war is made up of many battles and several of those battles have already been won by the industry and/or its representatives. Unfortunately there always seems to be another one to fight.
Italy and Romania
The expertise of Trasmec Company Ltd is in industrial conveying and the storage of loose materials and stretches back to the formation of the company in 1954. Originally, Trasmec operated in the chemical, food, feedstuffs and seed industries, transferring its expertise to the panel industry as Italy's particleboard sector developed. Today, 90% of Trasmec's business comes from the panel industry globally. "We have a good order book because we have received so many orders for delivery through to mid-2007," said general manager Roberto Moroni, whose father Dante founded the family business.
At the birth of a panel
After more than 40 years, CMC Texpan has established a solid position in the international panel industry as a specialist in forming systems. Dario Zoppetti, chairman of the company his father started as CMC in 1962, is content. "We are very satisfied with the existing situation - we have plenty of work to take us through to mid-2007 which is unusual in our branch of the industry," he says in his office, situated beneath the Alps and alongside the river Serio in Colzate. Work in progress in the factory includes a four-head forming station for Egger at Hexham, UK, another for Giriu Bizonas in Lithuania and a similar set-up for PG Bison in South Africa. The capacities of these lines range from 1,000m3 a day at PG Bison to 2,600m3 a day at Egger Hexham.
A united approach
In a surprise announcement at the Xylexpo exhibition in May, we heard that Imal had bought a majority stake in sister company Pal. This move further cements the close relationship which the two businesses have enjoyed since 1998 when they exchanged shares in each others' companies and separated their scope of supply. In this arrangement, areas where the two companies competed directly were separated, with Imal continuing and expanding its essentially electronic-based expertise in the areas of electrical equipment, glue blending, on-the-line and laboratory quality control devices and so on, while Pal concentrated on its range of wood preparation equipment such as screens, sifters and related equipment up to the dry silo in particleboard and MDF mills. Areas of direct competition between the two companies were thus removed by re-allocating them to the most appropriate factory.
A dry run at Annovati
After four years of operation, the Trombini Group's drying plant in Frossasco has met the expectations of both the Annovati and Instalmec technicians, says Adriano Stocco, managing director and founder of Instalmec srl. Annovati's engineers say the plant responds fully to the requirements of the original order, while the Instalmec technicians have seen the planning and processing choices of the client realised, he says. "The first 45,000kg/hour mono-tube drum dryer in Italy, created in vacuum, has thus proved to be a success both in terms of our planning and in terms of our customer's requirements. Plant characteristics were studied down to the smallest detail, which is our philosophy, so as to obtain a reliable and highly functional plant."
Awaiting new life in the markets
Writing this column in mid-May in the UK, I am blessed with warm spring sunshine and blue skies (and an official drought in several regions of the country by the way!). Everyone in the industry in the northern hemisphere should be seeing the first green shoots of new spring growth after what was, for many, some long hard winter weather this year.
Mixed fortunes for inorganic panels
The eighth Inorganic-Bonded Wood and Fibre Composite Materials Conference at Sun Valley, Idaho, for manufacturers and researchers of wood fibre, cement and plastic panels had a slightly lower attendance this year. This was apparently due to a delayed effect of the terrorist attacks on New York City a year earlier. Conference Chairman Dr Al Moslemi of the sponsoring University of Idaho reported that 22 of the planned attendants were unable to get US visas. He suggested that the next, ninth, conference might be held in Canada. Twenty-one countries, from all continents except Antarctica, were represented in the attendance of 109. Twenty speakers and 10 exhibitors explained the latest technology. Moderators included Dr Moslemi, George Venta, Fred Kurpiel, Paul Miller, and William A Kirn.
European event, global attendance
An unusual feature of north Wales - dry weather - greeted the 120 delegates as they arrived in the coastal resort of Llandudno for the sixth annual European Panel Products Symposium (EPPS6). The weather stayed fine until the last of the three days of the symposium when rain brought a touch of reality. However, this was of little concern to the delegates who had come to hear presentations in four sessions covering fundamental properties; new products; environmental and process control; and resins. In what was probably the most international assembly of delegates in the history of this symposium, representatives came from Canada, the US, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Holland, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Chile and Ecuador. Of these, 19 represented panel manufacturing companies and although this seems a small percentage, it is higher than the average achieved by most of conferences of this type.
Good news to round off a difficult year
It is a pleasure to be able to report good news for a change and an even greater pleasure to say that there are several items of good news in this issue.Firstly, two important German machinery supplying companies, both driven into receivership largely by circumstances beyond their control, have been rescued. I refer to the former Babcock BSH, dryer manufacturer, and Vits Maschinenbau, maker of decor paper impregnation lines, both of whom feature in the news.
Looking forward to new developments
At the AGM of the European Panel Federation (EPF) in June, Robert Kokshoorn gave a presentation on behalf of the Asia Pacific MDF Exporters Association (APMEA) of which he is chairman.The main thrust of his address was a call for closer cooperation among MDF producers in the two regions through APMEA and the EPF. He feels such cooperation would have benefits, particularly in marketing initiatives and the generic promotion of MDF as a versatile product. Such promotion has always been a strength of the EPF and with wood products now enjoying long-overdue recognition for their environmentally friendly attributes, a united voice from the MDF industry in Europe and Asia would seem to have many advantages.
Nearly 86 million cubic metres. That is the figure we have come up with for world particleboard manufacturing capacity at the end of part ll of our marathon survey.We are by no means saying that is the definitive figure, but it is a start in trying to establish the first realistic catalogue of the world's mills and their capacities.
It seems the MDF industry is always approaching another capacity milestone, and in part ll of our survey of world mills, we find global capacity will be nudging 30 million m³ by early next year.John Wadsworth again received an excellent response to his survey and one particularly interesting result this time was a significant increase in information about the number of MDF mills in China.
Wood supply and market concerns
The North American economic dip probably contributed to a somewhat decreased attendance in Portland, Oregon at this year's annual Wood Technology Clinic & Show. The US stock market plunged that week, imitating the recent trend in forest product prices. Other markets fell into line. Yet many of the nearly 400 exhibitors were cautiously optimistic. Their investment in exhibiting heavy machines showed faith. And the centre's hallmark twin glass towers remained unscathed by a recent earthquake.
It's show time!
We are in an odd-numbered year so it must be time for the big biennial exhibitions, Ligna and Interzum.Chronologically, the first is Interzum, the exhibition for the value adding sector, in Cologne. For the past five years, this event has had growing competition from the annual ZOW exhibition, held in north Germany's furniture heartland every February. While ZOW is a far smaller event than Interzum, some consider it more user-friendly, focused and better timed for choosing furniture designs for the new season.
Innovation is key to beating competition
The fourth European Panel Products Symposium (EPPS), organised by the BioComposites Centre, University of Wales, Bangor, UK, took place against a backdrop of rising panel production in Europe. As Dr Jamie Hague, director of the Centre, pointed out in his introduction to the conference, the European Panel Federation (EPF) reported a reasonably strong performance for the industry in 1999. He quoted EPF production figures of 33 million m³ of particleboard - the leading volume product - and strong growth in both MDF and OSB production, at 11% and 25%, respectively.
As I write this column, the United States is still embroiled in the aftermath of an indecisive presidential election. With each new day, the embarrassment for the nation, domestically and internationally, grows, and the uncertainty in political circles and financial institutions worldwide increases.Taking a slightly selfish view, it has made life challenging for WBPI as well, as it happened just as we were going to press with our North American focus.
A balancing act
This edition carries part one of our annual survey of the world MDF industry, covering Europe and North America.Our new compiler, John Wadsworth, started his research with a 'clean sheet' and revisited the figures published for 1998 and '99 to provide as accurate a picture as possible of the current state of the industry. He also questioned mills about their non-standard products and invited them to do a bit of forecasting.If you are involved in the MDF business, I think you will find the results very interesting, thought-provoking and even cheering!