It marked the beginning of a series of new lines and a relationship with the Siempelkamp group, which became Dare’s chosen supplier of continuous press lines for a further three projects – two more MDF lines and one for particleboard. These lines were all built in locations far away from each other in the southern half of China as a result of the company’s philosophy of positioning its production close to both wood raw material supplies and the anticipated market for the panel products – not always an easy balance to strike in a wood-starved country.
Thus that first continuous line was built in Danyang in Jiangsu province (WBPI June/July 2003, p14). The second one, and the main subject of this article, was built in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, which is a city about 90 minutes drive by highway to the south of Nanchang. By the way, Fuzhou Jiangxi is not to be confused with the distant Fuzhou in Fujian province, especially when planning a tour of mills in China. I made that mistake! The third continuous MDF line for Dare Global, as the company is now known, was built in the far south of China in Maoming City in south west Guangzhou province (WBPI issue3, 2005, p42). This is the region where Dare would have loved to build all its mills, in the heart of the furniture industry. But, as stated earlier, the site has to provide a balance of market and wood supply.
The fourth continuous MDF line was planned, ordered from Siempelkamp, but never built as the market in China changed. Instead, Dare decided to build a 450,000m3 a year particleboard line. The site chosen for this project was Sanming, about 300km west of Fuzhou – the Fujian one this time (WBPI June/July 2006, p24). Construction began at Dare ll’s site in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, in August 2003 and the first board of MDF was produced on June 28, 2004. For a greenfield site, that is impressive and beat the previous record set by Dare l in Danyang by three months. Mr Yan Chuanlin, general manager of Dare ll said: "Before we started, there was a small mountain on this site and so there was a lot of stone to be moved – a much heavier job than in Danyang where the ground is soft and sandy. In Danyang they needed to sink piles on which to build, but here we needed explosives to clear the site. It was difficult to set up all the services: water, electricity, sewage – from nothing – and it all had to be done at the same time. Compared to other sites, it was much more difficult. "This area is quite poor and it was difficult for the local government to carry out the works too. Poorer provinces tend to have more raw material because of their lack of industry, which is why our group have at least two lines in poorer areas."
The choice of site was once again a balance between wood supply and markets, and Mr Yan pointed out that for every two tons of raw material, about one ton of product is made. Thus it is cheaper to transport the finished goods and better to locate the factory closer to the raw material. "Savings on transportation lead to much-increased profit and the first thing Chinese companies have to learn to understand is the balance between distance from raw material and distance to market." With their widespread locations, the Dare companies cannot complement each other in product range – each has to specialise in the market to which it is closest. Mr Yan said this means that, broadly speaking, Dare l focuses on flooring, Dare ll on furniture and Dare lll on thin board. This Dare ll site has the advantage of rail transport to Beijing and river transport for the HDF to Changzhou and Jiangsu. Again helping to reduce transport costs, a formaldehyde supplier has set up a plant one kilometre from Dare ll. The Dare ll development has had a knock-on benefit for the local area as other industries have since been attracted to invest, once the infrastructure was in place.
The site covers an area of 620mu (around 41ha) but only about 420mu of that is currently developed for the single MDF line. Originally, it was planned to build two lines on this site, but so far only the one has been realised and there are, currently, no plans for a second line. Short-cycle pressing capacity is however more likely to be installed at some point. Wood supply is mostly Macedonian pine, with some hardwood mixed in. Around 99% of the supply comes in as round logs. Dare owns plantations covering around 15,000ha in Jiangxi province and aims to fulfil its own requirements and then maybe to sell to others. "The quality of the finished board must be the best," said Mr Yan. "We debark our logs but if we buy in chips they will not be debarked." The design capacity of the line, like the other two MDF lines, is 200,000m3/year but the output is currently around 22,000 to 23,000m3/month – a significant increase.
The line was designed to produce from two to 40mm thicknesses, but mainly produces three to 30mm in both MDF for the furniture industry and HDF for laminate flooring. Grades are E1 and E2. "We produce the top quality in China for the furniture and flooring markets because of our raw material, our human resources and our managements’ understanding of the technology and techniques of panel production," claimed Mr Yan.