Daiken Sarawak Sendirian Berhad (Sdn Bhd) started up the first MDF mill in Malaysia’s western Borneo state in 1996, partly in response to the environmental aspirations of the Sarawak State government, which wanted to reduce the rapid deterioration of its timber resources.
The Daiken factory, located in Bintulu, close to the South China Sea coast, was thus built to convert the residues from sawmills and plywood factories into high value MDF panels.
The company was incorporated in 1994 as a joint venture between Malaysian and Japanese investors and today 95% of its production is exported to Japan.
Having chosen a suitable site, at Kidurong Industrial Estate, and built the new factory, the first commercial production came in June 1996 and from this time on, the company has continually upgraded its products to meet international, and particularly the stringent Japanese, standards.
In March 1997 Daiken produced its first water resistant MDF, E2/M-Type, and two months later, it produced its first low formaldehyde board, E1/U-Type.
November 1997 saw the first delivery of water resistant, low formaldehyde MDF, E1/M-Type, and in April 1998, Daiken gained the big prize – E0 (‘E zero’) board.
But the company did not stop there. It went on to produce water resistant low formaldehyde high density board (HDF), E1/M-Type in September of that year and then European E1 low formaldehyde HDF in November.
The company has held ISO 9001 certification since January 1999.
Further developments in moisture resistant and low formaldehyde panels for flooring, doors and window frames followed over the next three years.
In January last year, Daiken produced F four-star U-Type MDF. Rated at F0.3 formaldehyde emission, this is produced in standard and moisture resistant grades.
Japan is well known as having some of the highest standards for its building products, and for its particularly tough formaldehyde limits. Few companies outside Japan can achieve the standards demanded, but Daiken gained the coveted Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) in March 2003 – the first Malaysian producer to do so.
“From July 1 last year all companies had to comply with the JIS in order to export to Japan,said Anthony Chin, a section manager with Daiken. “It is difficult and expensive to get certification here. There are seven factories in Australia and New Zealand certified to JIS and just us in Malaysia.”
That Daiken is 70% owned by Japanese shareholders (Daiken Corporation 55%, Itochu Corporation 15%) perhaps accounts for its enthusiasm to meet those JIS standards. Daiken in Japan is one of the largest companies in the house interiors sector, supplying flooring, doors, windows and ceiling panels and the MDF supplied from Bintulu is used to manufacture mouldings, kitchen cabinets, laminate flooring and doors.
The raw material used in MDF manufacture is dipterocarp species such as meranti. Rubberwood, although a common source in Peninsular Malaysia, is not used by Daiken.
The company also has plantations of acacia mangium which should be ready to harvest in around five years. The plantation is in Similajau, 50km from Bintulu, and offers an area of 5,500ha of which about 500ha have been planted so far. The company is very particular about the trees it uses, requiring straight, not forked, trunks for maximum recovery. It thus uses a seedling supplier which has conducted extensive research into growing acacia mangium.
It is anticipated that the plantation will ultimately supply around 15-25% of Daiken’s raw material requirements.
Bintulu was chosen by the investors in Daiken because of its abundant supply of timber residues (all supplied debarked) and the presence of an established glue factory supplying veneer and plywood mills, which also had the facilities to meet Daiken’s high E0 resins standards. The MDF mill is also close to the port, with good infrastructure.
Logyard and chipping operations are on a separate site 15km from the MDF factory, at Kemena Industrial Estate. It employs Fuji Kogyo chippers.
The chip screening process is also at the Kemena facility and has recently been upgraded by Pal srl of Italy, including one of its Dynascreen systems for wet chips. Fines are used for fuel, with edge trim and sanding dust.
Chips from Kemena are stored under a roof in the yard, erected in late-2003, and then pushed into concrete pits with moving floors from which they drop onto a rubber conveyor belt with magnets above to extract ferrous material. Chip washing is by Metso equipment and the chips then pass to a screw drainer then a live bottom bin for pre-steaming. Waste water from the drainer goes to a sludge pit and filter press. The fibres continue to the digester and on to the Sunds M48 refiner, which is expandable to 54in.
Gluing is the unique feature of the Daiken factory and the key to its Super E0 achievement. The company uses pMDI resin for which it built its own system and the resin is injected into the blowline.
A two-stage Metso dryer is followed by a new discharge weighing conveyor from Binos of Germany and a spike roll separates any lumps and sifts the fibre. A relay cyclone feeds fibre to either buffer stock or the Metso vacuum Pendistor forming line. The Pendistor has three vacuum boxes under a single-head former. The weigh scale and pre-press are both also by Metso.
Another new feature on the line is an Electronic Wood Systems (EWS) density profile gauge which precedes a length conveyor allowing room for a pre-heater, which the company is considering for the future.
A Weko water spray for the mat surface precedes the Dieffenbacher CPS continuous press which is 20.6m long and 3m wide, equipped with a Sandvik 2.3mm thick belt. Fumes are extracted directly from the press. The master board is 2.81m wide and 5.6m long in thicknesses from 2.5mm to 21mm.
The flying cut-off saw is by Metso, as is the single star cooler.
A Lukki fully-automated panel handling system with a 3,000m3 capacity holds the stock for conditioning before sanding in a Steinemann eight-head line. The cut-to-size section is again from Metso; it must handle over 200 cut sizes for the Japanese market. There is a semi-automatic packing line.
Daiken’s development of its range of specialist boards in low formaldehyde and moisture resistant forms has been the result of its in-house research and development department, producing products to suit the requirements of end-users and taking care of quality control throughout the factory.
“We are pretty adventurous in what we do and in meeting new requirements while running the equipment at the maximum throughput,said Mr Chin. “We were prepared for the new Japanese standard and were ready for that July 1 deadline last year.
A lot of other Malaysian companies are only just looking at it.”
The Daiken MDF production line has a rated capacity of 105,000m3 a year but the company is aiming for at least 107,000m3.
Unfortunately it had a setback to that last April when a fire broke out in the press.
“Luckily we had Firefly protection throughout the factory and that saved us from serious damage. The fire happened at 7.15 on a Sunday evening but our people are trained for instant action and the fire was quickly put out.We only lost two weeks’ production,said the section manager.
As for the future, Daiken plans to increase its output over the next two years to around 120,000m3. “One main area we are looking at is the energy plant, together with emissions and water treatment, drying and forming,he said. “We are also looking at modifications to the press, but not at an extension, and at increasing the capacity of the Lukki system. We would also need more warehouse space.”
The company has installed a small machining centre to check out the possibility of making door stiles and rails as components out of MDF. It is also making agathis solid core panels faced and framed with MDF and already has a small market for this.
“Although MDF prices are under some pressure, the F four-star requirement has helped to keep the price of our products up,said Mr Chin. “However, it is slower to make, so some of the premium goes in production costs but we have a niche market – rubberwood MDF can’t compete in our niche.”