Dare Global produces a wide range of products, from cigarette packet silver paper and filters to car trim to computer products and entered the panel business in 2002 with two Chinese-made MDF production lines.

The company built its first continuous line in Danyang City in Jiangsu province in 2003, employing a Siempelkamp ContiRoll continuous press. It has a capacity of 280,000m3 today, although its design capacity was only 200,000m3.

The second of Dare Wood’s Siempelkamp-supplied continuous MDF lines was built in Fuzhou, Jiangxi (capacity 200,000m3, production again 280,000m3 in 2006) and its third in Maoming, Guangdong province. This produced around 230,000m3 in 2006, with the relatively lower figure representing a mix of mainly thin board production.

The company then switched to particleboard, with another ContiRoll line in Sanming in Fujian province.

A fifth continuous line is planned for Zhoaqing, again in Guangdong province, although 400km from its sister plant. This will be another MDF line.

The wide geographical spread of its production lines is due to the availability of wood raw material in each location and results in each mill specialising in a different type of product to serve its local market, as well as customers further afield.

In the case of Dare ll in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, the speciality is thicker MDF boards, for which it claims to be famous in China, although the line can and does produce all thicknesses from 2.5 to 30mm.

“Our boards are of the best quality – and the highest price,” said Mr Zhongliang Yan, vice general manager/production manager. “The reason for this is two-fold: technology and good raw material. We mainly use pine roundwood and some branches, which are trucked from a 100km radius, as well as some wood which comes from further away, by rail.”

The production volume of the line obviously depends on the thickness being produced, but Mr Yan said that on 3mm and below, they are achieving 700m3 a day, while on 4.5-10mm, the figure is 1,000m3 a day; This on a press line designed for 200,000m3 a year based on 8mm thickness and a design maximum speed of 1200mm/second.

As stated earlier, Dare ll achieved 280,000m3 last year and next year the company is targeting 320,000m3. “Even Siempelkamp is surprised at how much we are able to produce on our line,” said Mr Yan. The ContiRoll press is 34m long.

The markets for Dare ll are furniture, flooring, decorative panels and doors, as well as the popular gift box market which uses very thin HDF.

Shoe heels is a special market for this mill, using 6mm HDF with a density of up to 900kg/m3.

As an experienced user of continuous presses, Dare is able to be fairly independent of its suppliers for much of the routine maintenance and has tools from both Sandvik and Berndorf enabling it to carry out its own repairs to the stainless steel continuous belts of its presses, including patching and levelling.

The company has also learnt a few tricks of its own and, for instance, fits steel rollers to the nose of the press to control the tracking of the belt.

Dare ll also employs its own-design ‘pinching’ unit to keep the forming belt on track after the pre-press. This is something which it fitted in addition to the standard unit before the pre-press.

Since the mill debarks all its incoming log supply, it is able to utilise that resource for fuel in the Vyncke energy plant, where many Chinese mills are using coal or fuel oil for at least part of their fuel requirements.

It is quite unusual to see any significant investment in environmental standards in Chinese panel mills, but Dare Wood is obviously taking this matter seriously.

Since our last visit to Fuzhou, the company has implemented a dramatic increase in the capacity of its water treatment plant. Completed in 2006, this upgrade enables the treatment of 100% of the process water from the MDF line.

“Originally we had two small holding tanks but we added two large ones last year and can now treat 600 tonnes of waste water per day,” said Mr Yan, admitting that much of this ‘grey’ water had previously gone onto the surrounding fields, as it probably does in many Chinese MDF mills.

The treatment process is biochemical and the treated water is clean enough to go back into the production process.

The sludge from the settlement tanks will be burnt in the energy plant in future, although this system had not yet been established at the time of WBPI’s visit.

Two years ago, the company built a housing for its sifters out in the yard and a covering for its mat formers within the factory, designed to provide thermal insulation.

Dare ll has its own resin plant on site and buys in solid urea in sacks, while formaldehyde is delivered by road tanker. At the time of our visit, the sacks of urea were being stored anywhere there was space under cover because the company had forward-bought to pre-empt a price increase. Controlling costs of raw materials such as resin, where possible, is of course a main driver for panel mills worldwide in these days of rising oil prices.

Attention to detail is not just evident in the upgraded water treatment plant, but the Dare ll line has an Imal thickness gauge, GreCon density profile measurement and GreCon moisture meters on the production line, as well as an extensive laboratory for testing internal bond, surface soundness, screw retention and so on.

These are of course all signs of a company which has pitched its sales at a quality-conscious market and is thus able to achieve higher prices for its boards.