Two short years ago, in April, we visited a half-built MDF factory in Danyang City, Jiangsu Province. It produced its first board in July 2003.
It was the Dare Group’s first venture into panel making; the company previously had been involved in the manufacture of silver paper for cigarette packets, specialised  packaging, aluminium alloy wheels for automobiles, cigarette filters and computer products.
It is still involved in all those activities but recent years have seen dramatic growth in Dare’s commitment to the panel industry, with the construction of three continuous MDF/HDF lines and one for particleboard.
Line two for MDF is at Fuzhou in Fujian province while line three is in Maoming in Guangdong province.
All three of these MDF lines employ Siempelkamp ContiRoll continuous presses and have design capacities of at least 200,000m3 a year each.
For its fourth line Dare Global, as the company is now known, chose to make particleboard. This line, which was under civil construction work in April and is scheduled to produce its first board at the end of this year, is a big one. Design capacity is 450,000-500,000m3 a year, again employing a ContiRoll press, to feed the particleboardstarved Chinese market. It is located in Sanming in Fujian province.
The company “hopesto produce that first board by the end of the year, but experience indicates that its hopes are normally realised, with some very short bare earth-tofinished-panel times. History also suggests that design capacities for Dare are on the conservative side of actual production figures.
Dare Global also has two MDF lines supplied by Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery Co Ltd, one in Funing, Jiangsu province and the other in Fuyang, Anhui. Both are 80,000m3-capacity lines and both went into production in 2002.
The contract with Siempelkamp for the Danyang line was formally completed with a down-payment on May 15, 2002 and the first board was produced on July 31, 2003 – a feat which the company suggests was the fastest start-up in China, at 14 months.
If you take into account the fact that China went through its SARS crisis during that time, with all the restrictions on movement of labour which that imposed, the achievement is even more remarkable.
Many Chinese cities are famous for their concentration of companies manufacturing one particular product. In Huizhou, Guangdong province, for example, it is mobile phones. In Danyang, it is spectacles, but Danyang is also unusual in having two modern continuous MDF lines – Kronoshuangfeng and Dare Global.
The 29ha Dare Global site is located beside a canal and the company has a 600m-long quay with 10 cranes to unload barges loaded with logs. These are of pine, poplar and a little mixed hardwood, supplied in fixed lengths of two to three metres.
Some of the log supply comes from nearby, some from up to 1,000km away, via the Yangtse River. The mill consumes 400,000 tonnes of wood a year and normally holds about 100,000 tonnes in stock.
However, logging is banned from approximately July to September, so a buffer stock is essential during that period.
Being beside a river does have its disadvantages in that part of the site had to be piled due to the soft land and there were some challenges with regard to the press foundations, but even that evidently did not slow the project’s progress.
Logs are debarked using an Andritz drum debarker and the bark forms part of the 100% wood-based fuel supply for energy production, being carried by overhead conveyor to the Vyncke energy plant.
Andritz also supplied the disc chipper and the chips produced go to a 4,000m3-capacity concrete chip bin.
Chips are washed and screened on an oscillating screen before going to the Andritz digester and the 58in refiner.
Gluing for the line was supplied by Imal of Italy, a part-owned subsidiary of the Siempelkamp group.
The vast majority of MDF production and all laminate flooring is to E1 standard, with a little E2 in MDF, but the company plans to produce E0 very soon, as it wishes to capture some of the Japanese market.
The production line is only 1.5m off the floor so the control room is at ground level. Some say this is an advantage, while others prefer to have a greater clearance under the line for easier access for maintenance.
The Siempelkamp ContiRoll continuous hot press is 37.1m long and 8ft 6in wide and can run at a maximum speed of 1,200mm per second when producing 3mm thick panels.
Thickness and blister detection after the SHS (Siempelkamp Handling Systems) diagonal flying cross-cut saw is by Imal, while the three star coolers and all panel handling at the end of the line was imported from SHS of Germany.
From the cooler, 200mm stacks of MDF panels are assembled and then transferred by automatic overhead crane to build 4mhigh stacks which are then taken by automated transfer truck to intermediate storage on concrete bearers in the warehouse.
Sanding is carried out on a Steinemann eight-head Satos sander with mineral-cast frame and this is followed by a cut-to-size system supplied by SHS.
Master panels are cut to 4ft x 8ft, 6ft x 8ft, 7ft x 8ft and other similar sizes, but the factory is not geared up for small cut-sizes, for furniture components for example.
Dare Global occupies a very large site in Danyang. In a separate building there is a laminate flooring production line producing flooring under the Power Dekor brand, which is a joint venture with Asia Dekor, another Chinese MDF/HDF producer.
The Danyang factory produces seven million m2 of laminate flooring a year for both the domestic and export markets and, like the MDF/HDF line, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The flooring line employs a Wemhöner short-cycle press and a Torwegge tongue and grooving line. Boards are conditioned in a special warehouse after laminating before being machined.
The paper lay-up for the presses is contained in a glazed enclosure for cleanliness and for moisture and temperature control.
A second Wemhöner short-cycle line was planned at the time of my visit in early April, with the contract already signed.
Dare also has a second laminate flooring line already in operation in another building on the site, employing Chinese-made presses. It also has a separate factory for another type of flooring – laminated flooring, which is made up of three layers of veneer, and this facility has a capacity of about two to three million m2 a year.
Completing the facilities at the Danyang complex is a small furniture production line making panel-based cabinets.
The river and the rail network are used to deliver finished products, as well as road transport. For example, boats are used as the most economical way to deliver thin board to a flooring manufacturer in Suzhou.
So we can see that Dare Global has gone from nothing to a total group panel capacity of around 1.2 million m3 in three years, making it a very significant player in the Chinese market. Its customers are in China and the Asian region in general, with a lot of its flooring being exported to both Asian countries and Europe.