Roseburg responds to LVL demand

31 January 2020


Roseburg Forest Products opened a laminated veneer lumber plant in late-2019, adding to its already extensive portfolio

Roseburg Forest Products, founded in 1936, has a number of plywood, MDF and particleboard mills, as well as lumber and engineered wood facilities and value-adding operations. In 2019, the company launched a massive laminated veneer lumber (LVL) plant to be built in Chester, South Carolina.

“We are a closely held forest products company, building value with timberland….. we are vertically integrated, with timberlands and facilities across North America,” says the company.

Roseburg is largely self-sufficient in its timber supply, owning and “sustainably managing” approximately 600,000 acres of timberland in Oregon, Virginia and North Carolina.

Roseburg’s manufacturing facilities include:

  • A sawmill in Dillard, Oregon, with a capacity of 500 million board feet of stud lumber per year
  • Three plywood facilities in Coquille, Riddle and Dillard, Oregon, producing both hardwood and softwood plywood
  • An engineered wood products facility in Riddle, Oregon, producing I-joists and laminated veneer lumber (LVL)
  • Four particleboard facilities in Dillard; Missoula, Montana; Taylorsville, Mississippi; and Simsboro, Louisiana (total capacity approximately 1,673,000m3)
  • Three MDF facilities, located in El Dorado, Arkansas; Medford, Oregon; and Pembroke, Ontario, Canada (total annual capacity approximately 795,000m3)
  • Three decorative thermally-fused laminate panel facilities in Missoula; Simsboro; and Dillard; with a combined annual capacity of over 350 million square feet
  • Two pre-finished panel facilities in Dillard and Missoula
  • A panel cut-to-size facility in Dillard
  • A softwood veneer facility in Weed, California
  • A wood chip export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon: Roseburg says it is the nation's largest exporter of Douglas fir wood chips to Japan.

That is a long list of manufacturing facilities, but this year saw the addition of a very important new facility in the form of a very high-capacity LVL line, which produced its first board on September 19, 2019 and had its official opening on October 28. As we went to press, however, we heard that the line is not yet fully completed due to delays by one of the machinery suppliers, so was not running commercially at that time.

The new line is located in Chester, South Carolina and boasts the highest-capacity LVL press in the world.

The project, on Lancaster Highway, was first announced in early 2017 and the construction team broke ground later that same year. When fully operational, the plant will employ approximately 145 people from the area.

Roseburg says it carried out extensive research prior to choosing a location for the new plant.

“South Carolina is a great state to do business in,” said Roseburg president and chief executive officer Grady Mulbery. “Our research showed that this region was an ideal place to locate this facility, with its steady demand, healthy market and bountiful wood supply. Chester County and the state of South Carolina stood out, offering outstanding support and assistance as we navigated through the process.”

“What started out as an undeveloped plot of land is now home to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, thanks to the efforts of a team of people with the vision and knowledge to make it happen,” added Roseburg’s owner and chairman Allyn Ford.

“Because of those efforts, 145 people will have jobs that did not exist before, and 145 families will earn a stable income in a safe work environment that contributes to the overall health and prosperity of this community and this state.”

The Chester facility will produce LVL headers and beams used in residential and commercial construction.

Dieffenbacher of Eppingen, Germany, was awarded the contract to supply the heart of the LVL line, with a 65m-long CPS+ continuous press with a daily output capacity of 800m3. It will be the world’s largest continuous LVL press, as measured by production capacity. Meanwhile, the upstream 600kW microwave heater, also supplied by Dieffenbacher, will be the most powerful pre-heating system of its type in LVL production, says Dieffenbacher.

The machinery supplier says that in order to produce high-quality LVL in its systems, the veneers are evenly heated to 60-90°C in the microwave, over the entire mat thickness. The special design of the CPS press infeed means the distance that the mat has to travel “without pressure”, on leaving the microwave until reaching the maximum pressing pressure, is less than 2,500mm. This prevents pre-curing of the resin and means that fast-hardening glue can be used to increase production speed and capacity, explains the company.

In addition to boosting capacity, the combination of microwave and CPS also enhances board quality, says Dieffenbacher. It adds that, when compared to production on a multi-opening press, the continuously produced LVL boards have more consistent mechanical properties and significantly lower thickness tolerances.

Subsequent sanding is not necessary, claims Dieffenbacher, saying that unsanded LVL boards can be used directly as scaffolding planks and unsanded veneers can easily be pressed into high-quality boards.

It adds that its LVL technology enables board thicknesses of up to 120mm and allows MUF adhesives to be used in the top veneer overlapping area. Boards with these properties have been produced in practice at Dieffenbacher-supplied plants at Nelson Pine in New Zealand and at Pacific Woodtech in the US, says the company.

“We obviously knew of Dieffenbacher’s previous LVL projects and these references are among the reasons that we ultimately chose it as our supplier,” said Grady Mulberry. “The short distance between Chester and Dieffenbacher’s service centre in Alpharetta, Georgia, is another plus for us.”

Obviously, there is a lot more to the LVL production process than the pressing system. Raute was awarded a contract worth over €11m for the complete lay-up line. The co-operation between Roseburg and Raute has existed for many years, with Raute delivering projects of various sizes to Roseburg’s plywood and LVL mills.

Raute supplied a very high-capacity LVL lay-up line, which was delivered in late-2018. The equipment was engineered and produced in Raute’s North American unit in Delta, Vancouver, Canada.

It included a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) and Raute says it is a particularly interesting one, as it is 3D and shows the entire line, including dialling into a specific process or part of that line in real time. The company says it is currently the most advanced PLC software available.

Raute also supplied a Visual Defect Analyser (VDA). The VDA uses colour imaging to identify defects in veneer and plywood by size, type and frequency, employing high-resolution state-of-the art cameras.

So, with the lay-up line and the press line sorted, Roseburg turned to USNR of Woodland, Washington, to supply a significant amount of equipment, including: billet transport and stacking/unstacking; gang rip saw; sealing line; remanufacturing chop-saw line; tray sorting and storage line; stacking line; packaging line; horizontal bandsaws; spray line; paper wrap line; strapping equipment; and package outfeed.

Associated PLC controls were also part of USNR’s scope of supply, as well as its WinTally sorter management, ticketing system, and grade mark reader.

USNR’s systems are used in the production of dimensional lumber, plywood and panels, finger-jointed components and engineered wood products. The original company dates back to the 1850s, although it has absorbed a number of well-known names in the woodworking machinery industry over the years.

Roseburg markets its products through a variety of channels, which include: wholesale and industrial distributors; National Home Centers; original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); dealers (Pro Yards); buying groups and custom laminators and panelisers.

The company employs over 3,500 people in more than 200 communities throughout North America.

Roseburg says that demand for LVL in the US has been growing steadily in recent years and by building this new LVL mill, it was responding to that demand and the company says it intends to maintain its strong market position. 

Opening ceremony, from left, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster; Roseburg president and CEO Grady Mulbery; Roseburg owner and chairman Allyn Ford.
Raute's Human Interface (HMI) operation
The futuristic-looking control room
Raute LVL lay-up line