The company moved its headquarters to Springfield, Oregon, which means a much-reduced driving schedule for Mr Murphy, who made the hour’s drive from his Eugene home to the Sutherlin headquarters for many years. Kris York is mill manager. The hardwood mill peels no veneer, but both green and dry softwood veneer – which make up 95% of the hardwood plywood – come from Murphy’s Elma, Washington and White City, Oregon veneer plants. A Coe five-line, 17-section, jet dryer and a four-line, 21 section, dryer dry the incoming green veneer. Both have automatic feeders. A novel project mingled the two dryers’ output into a single line. Automatic Raute and Mecano grading works this line, video-scanning knots, knot holes and surface roughness – an important consideration for hardwood plywood.A Raute Patchman automatic veneer patch line follows, upgrading the softwood veneer which underlies faces and backs. Mr Murphy said one of the biggest assets is this Patchman for the solid core, which guarantees good material under the skins. A six-station veneer grading room separates grades by customers’ specific grading requirements. The process begins with blanks, or ‘platforms’, calibrated to specific thicknesses, which are the first pressing step. These go back to lay-up for face application and are then pressed again. The mill also has a conventional one-lay-up line. It also has two 4ft and two 8ft Globe spreaders. Two Columbia 30-opening 4x8ft presses have SparTek automatic chargers and shop-built automatic off-bearers, followed by pie racks. Skinner and cut-off saws follow.
A four-head Timesaver top-only sander handles thin board. Another six-head Timesaver has three top and three bottom heads. Two patch lines and an in-line turner – all shop-built – follow. An extensive finishing line, with most coating equipment by Black Brothers, can emboss, sand, stain, top coat, groove and print; the components can be rolled in and out of the line, depending on the desired treatment. Two new automatic banding machines handle the bundles. The mill loads about a dozen truck-loads daily, with an additional two or three rail cars. Much of the output is precision manufacturing, rather than mass production, and the company goal is to develop long-term relationships. Panelling is available with overlaid wood veneer or paper overlays. Another product is MDO (medium density overlay) overlaid plywood for signs and concrete forming. This product has a patch-free hardwood veneer under the MDO overlay face for a smooth, durable and consistent matte concrete finish. Murphy also applies a chemically-reactive release agent, thus minimising concrete build-up.
A calibrated core/platform for cabinet and furniture manufacturers has a precision inner ply with +/-0.005in variation across the sheet. The plant has about 250,000ft2 of floor space and about 100 acres of land. Both the dryers and the presses are heated by burning dried wood waste in a two-line Energex system. The dryers are fed hot air from one and the other provides heat for an Abco boiler generating steam for the hot presses. Excess hot air is piped to the finishing line for curing, while UV light cures UV material.