Another mill, another fantastically scenic journey, this time from Wuzhou through the mountains to Rongcheng Town, Ronxian County.
The road winds through terraced slopes of paddy fields and past fields of maize and other cereal crops, through villages and towns, to finally arrive at the home town of Guangxi Gaofeng Rongzhou Wood Based Panels Co Ltd in Rongcheng.
The factory site is impressive and houses the company’s latest investment in the form of a Dieffenbacher continuous MDF/HDF line.
The Gaofeng Group was founded in 1953 and has always been involved in forestry and the manufacture of industrial wood products.
In Nanning City, some three hours drive away, is an MDF line with a multi-opening press also supplied by Dieffenbacher, in 1997. This line has a nameplate capacity of 50,000m3 a year but can go up to 70,000m3, making MDF for furniture panels.
On the same site in Nanning is an older, smaller line, built by Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery Co Ltd and this was Gaofeng’s first line in that city. The capacity is a modest 40,000m3.
A third MDF line is located about 100km from Rongcheng in Luchuan, also in Guangxi Province. This 80,000m3 designcapacity line has a refiner from Andritz of Austria, but the rest of the line is from Chinese suppliers. Production exceeds the nominal capacity here too.
Thus the company already had in excess of 200,000m3 of MDF capacity when it decided to invest in a new European-made continuous line.
As is often the case, the existing lines were not suited to the manufacture of thinner boards and Gaofeng felt that a large part of its market in the future lay in these thicknesses.
The new factory is 75% owned by the Gaofeng Group, with 25% being held by an investor located in Macao. The Gaofeng Group itself is government owned and is headquartered in the city of Nanning.
“The new line is for thin board in 2.5mm, 3.0mm and 4.8mm thicknesses, to supply the furniture and specialist packaging industries,explained Mr Qin Qiong Lin, general manager of the company with responsibility for the new factory.
“Later we will perhaps make 8mm for the laminate flooring industry, but there is so much flooring capacity in China already.
We hope to gain export markets with the new production as we currently only supply
the domestic market.”
Construction of the new line began on the 208mu (13.8ha) site in January 2001 and installation of the production line began in March 2003, with the first board being produced on November 12, 2003.
The woodyard contains mostly pine logs, with some eucalyptus. This area of the factory, the debarker and the chipper were all supplied by Pallmann of Germany.
A log-grab tractor first feeds the logs to the debarker, which discharges them to an unusual feature of this mill – a log washer – which Mr Qin believes leads to improved chip quality and reduced chipper wear. The next conveyor transports the logs end-on to the Type PHS disc chipper.
The chips are then conveyed to a moving floor chip bin, again provided by Pallmann, which also supplied the chip screen.
In the refiner building is the Pallmann 52/54in refiner and next door is the Dieffenbacher-supplied glue kitchen.
“We have our own glue factory just for this line, making urea formaldehyde to produce boards to E1 and E2 standards,said Mr Qin. This is housed in a separate threestorey building on the site.
Energy for the plant is supplied by Vyncke of Belgium. This and the Pallmann contracts were negotiated directly with the suppliers, as was the supply of the Steinemann sander.
The main press is a Dieffenbacher CPS with a length of 23.2m and an effective width of eight feet. Design capacity is 120- 150,000m3 a year of 4mm thick HDF.
Gaofeng has a belt cleaning system on the press to clean the stainless steel belt continuously during operation.
Mr Qin intends to purchase belt repairing equipment at a later date.
There is a Holzma Powerline HFL 66 cut-to-size plant and a Steinemann Satos eight-head sanding line.
The Holzma will be used to supply customers with cut-to-size panels as required, giving a bit more versatility to the operations at Gaofeng.
The company has taken its own route to panel handling, combining various features of the systems commonly available.
Thus it employs an overhead, manned, gantry crane with the steel pack-carrier plates characteristic of the Metso Lukki system.
GreCon supplied the combined thickness/ blow detection system, weight-per-unit area and density profile measuring systems, as well as the spark detection and extinguishing equipment.
The purpose-built production hall is well illuminated with natural light and the layout of the whole production area is very similar to that employed in Europe.
The Gaofeng Group is broadly divided into the two divisions of forestry and industrial wood products and the two are, of course, inter-dependent.
“The balance is important between the resources and the products,confirmed Mr Qin. “We build factories where there are resources and we grow trees where we have factories; this is a ‘green’ business. And although we have no firm plans yet, we will build more lines in the future and gain more power in the market.”