Today, Dare has five imported continuous-press production lines for MDF and particleboard distributed around China and plans are already in hand for two more. These are in addition to the company’s two multi-opening lines of Chinese manufacture, from Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery Co Ltd. Dare Wood first ventured into continuous production in 2003 with the commissioning of Dare l in Danyang, Jiangsu province. This is a Siempelkamp ContiRoll line with a nominal capacity of 200,000m3 of MDF a year from its 37.1m press. Actual production is more like 280,000m3. The market for this line is principally thin board for flooring.For its second continuous line, Dare chose Fuzhou in Jiangxi province. It again selected a ContiRoll continuous press of the same length and nominal capacity, though this line is reported to be achieving over 300,000m3 of MDF a year, producing panel mainly for the furniture industry. This line went into production in June 2004. Line three was built in Maoming in the southern province of Guangdong and went into production in December 2004. With its ContiRoll press of 37.2m, it again has a nominal annual capacity of 200,000m3 but comfortably exceeds that figure, like its two sister mills.
The Maoming mill has a more sophisticated cut-to-size system than the others as it has a lot of demand for a wide variety of panel sizes. The fourth continuous line was built in Sanming, Fujian province and ‘broke the mould’ because the panel produced is not MDF but particleboard and it remains the only such mill in the Dare group; the particleboard market in China is stubbornly sluggish and the returns on MDF are better. Siempelkamp again supplied its ContiRoll press with a Siempelkamp design capacity of 450,000m3 a year; but Dare’s designs were on 600,000m3 from the start. The press is 42.1m long.
This is where things can get a little confusing in terms of the numbering sequence of Dare’s mills. There is much debate in the industry about this issue, but Mr Yuan Chuanlin, vice general manager at the Deqing, Guangdong, line (more of which shortly), said that, although the Sanming line is known as line five, it was in fact the fourth continuous line to be built. The order for ‘line four’ was cancelled with the supplier (again Siempelkamp) and was never reinstated. The confusion is understandable. So, we come to line 6, which is actually the fifth continuous line to be built by Dare Wood.
Located in Deqing county, Guangdong province, it went into production in April this year to make MDF. The factory is situated on a new industrial zone and a large chemical company is setting up alongside it. This means that a reliable supply of electricity and other services is already in place. "There are not many factories in this area yet," said Mr Yuan. "It is a new industrial zone in an area formerly reliant on agriculture and tourism. We are close to the Panrong Gorge on the river and this is very popular with domestic and foreign tourists." You will have noticed that Dare’s mills are distributed over a wide geographical area. This is because the company’s policy is to consider the combination of wood raw material location and the target market for the panels when choosing a site for a new panel factory. "We chose this location because it is close to the famous Zhu river, offering transportation south to the sea for our panels, and because this is a mountain area with wood readily available to us," said Mr Yuan. "We are also close to the market for our thin board production."
The Zhu and Xi rivers are also used for the transport of wood raw material to a dock two kilometres from the factory site. Approximately 50% of the wood is sourced locally and 50% from Guizhou, Guangxi and Yunan provinces. It can come from up to 1,000km away, utilising those rivers. All wood supply is in the form of logs, with about 70% being pine and 30% hardwood. All logs are debarked, which is by no means universal practice in the Chinese panel industry, although it is for Dare, which sees it as key to its quality ethic. Mr Yuan has considerable experience in start-ups, having been responsible for the inauguration of the Dare l line in Danyang, Jiangsu – the first continuous line in China – and Dare ll in Fuzhou, Jiangxi.
For the first time, Dare did not award the contract for the continuous press to Siempelkamp. Instead, Dieffenbacher supplied its first CPS line to this company, adding to its many references in China generally. "On this line we wanted to produce thin board and we selected a 24.2mx8ft CPS from Dieffenbacher as the most appropriate machine to do this," said Mr Yuan. The contract for the Deqing line was awarded in two parts: From dryer to finishing line went to Dieffenbacher, while the refiner was ordered from Metso Panelboard. The latest EVO series refiner was selected, with a 56in diameter. Wood preparation equipment was sourced from a Chinese supplier. On visiting the production hall, the most obvious visual difference is that the control room is situated at first floor level, as normal for Dieffenbacher, while Siempelkamp control rooms are normally on the ground level. Siemens control systems are common to both suppliers so operation of the lines is essentially similar, said Mr Yuan.
Dieffenbacher engineers were responsible for bringing the line to start-up, but Mr Yuan said that after acceptance of the line, he anticipated that Dare’s own, by now very experienced, engineers would carry out some upgrading/optimisation. Although Dare’s Deqing line is the latest to go into production, it is not the latest line purchased by the group. At Suifenhe in Heilongjiang province, continuous line number six (or Dare Vll, depending which counting system you are using) is currently under construction. This will have a 37.1m Siempelkamp ContiRoll press and an anticipated capacity of 300,000m3 of thicker MDF. It is due for completion in the third quarter of 2008. That line will have a good supply of sawmill residue as it is in a forested region close to the border between China and Russia," said Mr Yuan. For the future, another thin MDF line – and Dare’s seventh continuous line – is planned for Jiangsu province, though the details of this project were still under discussion at the time of my visit in March.
Dare Wood has only been in continuous-line panel production for six years but already has six lines, with another planned. If this company continues to average one new line a year, it will soon be a very significant world player, let alone a leader in China.