One would not expect to find a Dutch Canadian running a factory in north east China,  although early March temperatures of minus 140C should not be so much of a shock to  omeone accustomed to Canadian winters.
Adrian Kuypers, president of Innovative Board Technologies (IBT), Ontario, Canada,  came to Shenyang to take charge of IBT’s joint venture project to produce MDF  doorskins for the growing Chinese market.
“The project was originally my concept, back in 1996,said Mr Kuypers, whose  experience includes working as a design engineer and project manager for engineering  consultancies to the panel industry and running the Noranda OSB factory in Scotland. He also set up the first MDF factory in China in the early 1980s, for Fuzhou Man Made Board Company.
“At IBT, we felt that moulded decorative panels had a good future and that doorskins, as a basic product of that type, had tremendous potential in Asia, and particularly China, as well as in Europe and North America,said Mr Kuypers.
In 1997, IBT signed an initial joint venture agreement with Shenyang Heavy Machinery Group (SHMG). To IBT’s extensive expertise in the industry, SHMG added experience in equipment design and manufacture and engineering, the construction of 16  particleboard and seven MDF plants, operational management of its own two MDF plants in Shenyang and product sales and distribution in China.
In 1999, a second joint venture agreement was signed, this time including a third partner, Shenyang Industrial Investment Company (SIIC). This new partner brought financial services, management and admin- istration expertise, as well as involvement in 27 other joint ventures in China, including one with automotive manufacturer BMW.
The factory buildings for the new line were provided by SHMG, being a former engineering works which it owned. This meant the premises had full zoning for industrial use and were provided with all necessary services and road links.
The project then suffered a setback, due to financial problems of another (now ex) partner, but the construction of the new doorskin production line was completed in March 2003, when the first board, which, to the company’s credit, was of saleable quality, was produced. Full production really commenced in September of last year.
Of course, doorskin production has a long history in North America with Jeld- Wen and Masonite as market leaders there.
Machinery for all those North American lines came from Washington Iron Works, whose presses became the standard equipment for doorskin lines all over the world.
Shendor broke with that standard and placed the contract for the press with Dieffenbacher of Germany, which, said Mr Kuypers, “came in with the best deal”.
Quality of the raw material for a moulded panel line is critical and Shendor decided to go for Japanese export quality pulp chips from Jilin Province in north east China.
They are produced from mixed hardwoods such as poplar, oak and birch. Poplar makes up a very small proportion because, although it gives a good light colour, it also gives problems with thickness swelling characteristics of the finished panel, explained Mr Kuypers.
For the other major raw material, resin, Shendor worked closely with Dynea to develop a satisfactory recipe.
“We were going to use our own resin plant from the start, but decided to go with Dynea,said Mr Kuypers. “We have built our own plant but I decided it would be better not to try and start up a resin plant and a new doorskin plant at the same time.That may be OK for MDF production but it is trickier for doorskins.We will have our resin production plant in production before June this year.”
Another tricky area for doorskin manufacturers is the painting process and Shendor worked closely with Akzo Nobel to develop a thermoplastic primer.
The chips arrive in sacks, and loose, in open trucks. They are offloaded and pushed into  two underground hoppers from where they are metered to a screen to remove oversize chips. A bucket elevator takes accepted material to the top of the refiner building, to the  locallymade chip washer and then on to the chip bin.
The plug screw feeder, digester and refiner are all by Andritz although, unusually, the refiner came from the ex Sprout Bauer, now Andritz, works in Pennsylvania in the US. It is a 42/44in unit with a 1600kW motor.
The dryers are locally made and energy is provided by four boilers – two for steam and two for thermal oil, all fuelled mainly by coal and some wood.
“The resins we use are melamine urea formaldehyde (MUF) to give a degree of moisture resistance to the panels but, more importantly, to produce low-formaldehyde emission panels,said Mr Kuypers.
The Dieffenbacher former has one mechanical forming head and this company also supplied all the forming and pressing line as a sub-contract. Shendor acted as its own main contractor for the project.
The hot press is an eight-daylight unit, preceded by a belt pre-press. There is a Chinese-made mat moisture detector after the forming head.
The control room is fully computerized with monitors for refining, glue mixing and drying on one side; and forming and pressing on the other.
The press loader features an electronic mat positioning system and a belt to feed the mats into the press openings mounted on rails; it can be moved sideways to facilitate maintenance and die changes.
There is also a die changing cart on the press unloader, which moves into the press and picks up the dies.
The first set of dies came from Hunts Machinery of the US, but Mr Kuypers said he had now switched to a local supplier due to the import duty.
There are two dies per press opening, giving a total of 16 doorskins per cycle. The press is guaranteed by Dieffenbacher to give a 54-second cycle, although that is in excess of Shendor’s requirements – it would equate to seven million doorskins a year and the company’s target is six million, but it gives spare capacity.
The press heating system is set up to cater for phenolic glues, if necessary, being capable of running at 260-2700C but Shendor currently runs MUF glues at around 1750C.
After press unloading, a conveyor takes the panels round to a Globe/Burelbach sawing line, grading station and sorting line.
The panels are then fed into the finishing line by vacuum lifters and pass through a pre- eater from Forest Technologies Inc as a sub-contractor to Burelbach. The spray painting booth comes next, immediately followed by two curing ovens to flash off the water immediately. The next stage is cooling to avoid warping of the panels.
An extensive testing laboratory is under the watchful eye of a chemical engineer who has extensive experience in resin technology and tests all the raw material, and sample finished panels, for quality. The recipes are critical in moulded panel production.
There is an agreement between IBT and Shendor that IBT will export at least 25% of production to gain foreign currency and to underpin new plant developments in China.
Currently, exports go to India, Pakistan, Europe and south and north America. Shendor offers five different moulding patterns and three sizes for each pattern, some of which are produced by trimming the borders of the panels.
Design capacity of the plant is six million panels a year with a density of 1,010kg/m3. This is equivalent to 100m3 a day, but the factory is ramping up to this level gradually as the market grows. Mr Kuypers anticipates achieving full production in 2006.
“Our vision for Shendor was to build doorskin warehousing in several locations and then to build five more plants in China, either owned by the company, or as majority holdings in joint ventures,he said. “That vision is still intact; consider that Jeld-Wen, Masonite and Craft Master had about 12 or 14 production lines in North America producing 100 million doorskins a year and, eventually, China will be a bigger building materials market than the United States.
“We forecast a consumption of 350 to 400 million doors in China by 2010 and 220 million by 2005.”