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Third Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill increases 50% Slovakian entrepreneur's oak flooring production

Third Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill increases 50% Slovakian entrepreneur's oak flooring production By education Mr Vladimir Becar is a veterinary surgeon. In the past he worked in a big ‘kolkhoz’ , or collective farm, made up of four adjoining villages. Some while ago the kolkhoz chairman asked Mr Vladimir to organize the production of wooden fruit boxes in a local joiners shop. It was the first time Mr Vladimir learnt about running a woodworking operation in a very simple manner. The ground was laid for a complete change in his career.

There is no escaping fate
Early in the 90’s Mr Vladimir was busy with a very complicated project: the production of a vacuum press kiln under license to a German manufacturer. The design was basically as follows;
- A chamber into which the green boards must be manually loaded
- The timber layers are separated by heated plates
- A vacuum pump to create a vacuum in the chamber (the boiling temperature for water in a vacuum is much less than 100C,which gives the possibility to kiln timber at lower temperatures)

The roof of the chamber is a rubber membrane, which presses the boards and makes them flat. In this way the timber can be dried quickly and the boards are kept straight by the pressure of the membrane.

Final call
A few years ago Mr Vladimir met with a potential customer for the vacuum kiln. It was a German owned Slovakian company and it produced solid wood flooring. The logs were cut on Wood-Mizer sawmills. The German manager explained to Mr Vladimir that in their case the most important issue was accuracy, not cutting speed, because their tolerance for the molding blanks was only 0.5mm. Studying the technology in detail, Mr Vladimir was convinced that flooring production really could be a very profitable business.

''I would not put all my eggs in one basket, - Mr Vladimir comments. – To keep a business stable it’s necessary to develop different projects which fit each other''.

Being an expert in timber drying, (this is a sticking point for many people) Mr Vladimir had no problems in starting up flooring production. He applied the same sawing technology as the Germans - Wood-Mizer sawmills. Thus the flooring facility ''Dazo'' appeared in the Slovakian town of Lozorno and Mr Vladimir stopped being a veterinary surgeon once and for all and became a professional woodworker.

Slovakian brotherhood
It’s very interesting that when Mr Vladimir made this investment, two more woodworking factories were being established in the neighborhood. Mr Vladimir’s colleagues found out about them. Any other man would be upset, but not Mr Vladimir! He decided that it was a good sign that this business would be profitable.

To prevent competition with one another in one village they simply split their activities.

They came to the conclusion that it would be much better if each of them was to specialize in a particular product or species. They moved even further in their co-operation: one of them is managing sales for all three factories’ products for foreign markets. In this manner the companies not only safeguarded themselves but also established a true partnership.

Mr Vladimir is the only one in the region who works with oak. His first investment was made in 1995 when he bought a couple of Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmills with hydraulic log handling.

For the last 9 years these sawmills have worked a total of 38.000 hours each and they still only require normal daily maintenance. The product is oak flooring. As previously mentioned the main issue is accuracy. The operators are not looking for high cutting speeds; they are looking for the highest accuracy of cut and the highest grade recovery from the log.

They produce 8mm thick flooring laminates. This is the first key element in the profitability of the operation. The Wood-Mizer sawmills allow them to achieve this aim without sacrificing productivity.

After the cutting process the blanks are dried in the following process.

First stage – preliminary drying: the stacks are covered with a textile material and the warm moist air (about 30C) from the later drying stages is circulated through the stacks. This gentle process brings the initial green moisture content down to about 25%MC in 24 hours – this is approximately Fibre Saturation Point where there is no fr
ee moisture left in the cells.

Second stage – the remaining moisture is removed by a normal heat/vent process with temperatures of up to 70C. This drying process dries the thin 8mm blanks down to about 7%MC and takes about 36 hours. Approximately 25% of the material is then rejected due to curly grain and also twisting.This rejected material then goes on to the third stage.

Third stage – the rejected material is loaded manually into the vacuum kiln and heated to 80C when the fibres become more plastic. The top pressure of the rubber lid flattens the blanks and virtually of the rejected material can now be utilized. In this way, drying degrade is almost completely eliminated.

The dried blanks are then graded, and the final product is packaged and sent into the Swedish, German, Austrian and Finnish markets. There have been no claims from customers since production started.

Raw material
The ''Dazo'' company works with very high quality oak imported from the Ukraine. The monthly lo
g volume is about 450 cubic meters with a recovery rate of about 22-24%.

The company employs 36 people in total. The sawing operation operates 24 hours a day, in 3 shifts. There is only one operator per sawmill because the log handling ids all hydraulic and the flooring blanks are easy to handle. ''Dazo'' has 9 Wood-Mizer operators, three for each shift. Blade Maintenance is carried out in-house by one technician.

Until recently the facility had only 2 Wood-Mizer sawmills, and production was a bottleneck with production limited to about 12000 m2 of flooring a month. In January 2004 Mr Vladimir bought one more Wood-Mizer LT40HDE and production has increased to 18.000 m2 – a 50% increase.

Next generation
Mr Vladimir Becar has never been technically trained, however he uses innovative technologies. It seems like his sons will go even further. His oldest son, 28, already works in the family business as a lawyer. The younger son, 21, still studies at university, but he already has his own company developing software for cable TV.

'The next generation in our family will be much richer', Mr Vladimir laughs. Mr Vladimir proves there is no difference if you are a veterinary surgeon or a woodworker, if you have an enquiring mind you can gain an understanding of the details.

Nevertheless… 'When I get the smell of cows, my heart fills with nostalgia', Mr Vladimir confesses.

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