A sunny day greeted me at Instalmec’s San Giorgio di Nogaro headquarters on the Adriatic coast.

The company, which was established in 1979, is known for its depth of engineering skills, which give it the ability to make its equipment for wood based panel plants, though its main emphasis on my visit was on its technology for the cleaning of recycled or virgin wood prior to panel production.

Company founder Adriano Stocco was joined by a new business partner in 2013 – Michael Diefenbach – and the duo were working hard at this year’s Ligna exhibition in Hannover where the company had a stand.

Mr Stocco said he was very pleased by the progress made at this year’s Ligna.

"The show was very good; the best for the last 15 years," said Mr Stocco. "We had meetings with the largest groups in the world and there was big interest in our new solutions."

These days, Instalmec has a high proportion of international business.

"Until 1999, Instalmec only worked in Italy, but then it became more international.

Today, 90% of our business is international and by the end of this year it will be close to 93-94%. Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan are countries that we are moving into."

Mr Stocco is optimistic the company will start working again in the US. It has completed work there in the past, mainly through other companies as project cosuppliers.

Wood cleaning systems
He said the company’s solutions for processing and cleaning wood were designed ultimately to save customers money and improve their product quality.

"Customers are using both our types of plants – green and dry cleaning of recycled wood – to obtain material which is as good as virgin wood," said Mr Stocco.

Instalmec’s plant design for cleaning chips for the dry area (after the drying stage) of a particleboard mill has been one of its most recent developments.

The Pfleiderer plant at Grajewo in Poland was the first mill to install one of Instalmec’s particleboard dry-end cleaning plants (in 2014).

"The customer is really satisfied and is obtaining great results. They can get the cleanest particleboard wood," said Mr Stocco.

Instalmec’s solution for cleaning wood in the dry area of the mill, which is aimed at either recycled or virgin wood, followed many years of research.

This new dry cleaning system works in a different way compared to conventional systems on the market.

Instalmec says its research led to the realisation that, after screening the wood, it was essential to divide the material into different sizes.

The four different material sizes correspond to the different layers of particleboard. Each part is sent to a dedicated separator – the separator for the fine material (surface of the panel), the separator for coarse material (core of the panel) and the separator for over-size material. This method of cleaning the wood also leads to savings on glue and raw materials later in the particleboard production process.

The next process sees a separator performing a very efficient cleaning of each part of the divided material, claims the company.

The key to the operation is that each separator deals with material of similar size, as well as the efficiency of the separation process between good and waste material.

Another aspect to the performance of the separators is that they do not use nets, which Instalmec says means they are not subjected to the same wear or fouling.

The company estimates that its sifting of material eliminates about 98% of waste matter from the material flow. Then the material is further separated by its Gravimetric Separator, which divides the material to be eliminated (such as sand and small stones) from the good material, which is sent to production.

Instalmec says the result of this double cleaning is that the final material is more than 99% clean, which has a beneficial effect on quality of the wood panel produced.

The benefits of removing such a high proportion of waste material – such as stones and metal – from the recycled wood includes reduction of risks to mill machinery during the particleboard production process.

And with lower wear on blades, saws and cutters, and reduced wear on sanding equipment, the company says maintenance time can be kept to a minimum.

"So the philosophy of Instalmec is to offer the market a product which has a consistence performance so our customers can produce non-stop," said Mr Stocco. "The mill life would be as good as in a mill using virgin wood fibre."

In fact, Instalmec claims to achieve 100% recycled wood use, with less silica content than virgin fibre.

Some current projects
A dry cleaning system for particleboard is currently being installed at Unilin in Belgium.

Another new plant in 2015 will be a cleaning system for recycled wood in the green area of Pfleiderer’s Grajewo plant. Instalmec has also supplied Kronospan plants in France, Spain and Poland, with cleaning systems processing approximately 42 tonnes per hour (tph) for particleboard production.

A green area cleaning system supplied to the Kronospan particleboard plant in Szczecinek, Poland (see photo), had a record construction time. The deal was signed in December 2014 for a 50tph-capacity system, with the technology being installed in July.

Forty-five trucks delivered the equipment and installation took just three weeks.

"This is something which is futuristic, this kind of quick turnaround," said Mr Stocco.

Another European project is also currently under discussion, which would involve a 90tph cleaning system.

Meanwhile, Instalmec’s high-efficiency MDF Cleaner was installed at an IKEASwedwood production plant in Sweden last year.

Instalmec has also been fulfilling contracts to improve existing plants at several panel mills where the wood cleaning equipment was not originally installed by the company.

"We will double the turnover of Instalmec in 2015," added Mr Stocco.

Instalmec’s emphasis on innovation and engineering know-how means it is looking at developing other technologies: It plans to launch an innovative fibre gluing system soon.

"My job has always been to solve problems – and to create plants that do not cause problems," concluded Mr Stocco.