In Russia there are two reasons for it. There is a chance to invest in a new business and diversify and typically the return on the investment is quick. Sometimes it is as simple as the fact that there are logs to be cut and no-one else to cut them. Sales Rule the World!
About six years ago Vladimir Dmitriev started a sawn timber trading business. On the face of it, it does not seem to be too complicated a business, but in fact you do need specialist timber knowledge that comes from experience and training.
A few years ago, in the old Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir saw a Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill in action.
"First of all I liked the fact that customers gladly bought the boards which the sawmill produced. The productivity fit my expectations too: I placed an order for sawn timber, spent a couple of lazy days in the city and a truck full of 30 m3 of boards was ready for me." Focus on Customers
Here we meet an important feature of the successful entrepreneur: from the very beginning of his career Vladimir concentrated on his customers’ needs. When he got an order to supply a picture frame manufacturing factory needing 150 m3
of clear pine lumber monthly, he prepared a business plan and decided to establish his own sawmilling facility.
To produce 150 m3
of clear boards he needed to mill about 1500 m3
"No other sawmillers could help", Vladimir realized.
He traveled to the city of Katav-Ivanovsk in South Ural, close to the forests that could produce the required quality of logs, and started to organize the sawmilling facility that is now a 2000 m2
facility that used to be a car service workshop.The old garages can be converted into kilns.
The logical sequence of events was; contracts first, source suitable raw materials, select suitable sawmilling equipment, purchase and install. Player/Coach
Although Mr Dmitriev was experienced in timber trading – he was not so experienced in sawmilling equipment. After a thorough review of the suppliers, he decided to buy a Wood-Mizer sawmill and chose the semi-industrial LT70 Series in spite of the fact that it was more expensive than some of the competitors. History has proved many times over that his decision was right.
"The local sawmill next door is always under repair. With our Wood-Mizer we produce 700-800 m3
of finished boards every month in any season".
The LT70 Series is designed for volume production. The mill operates 24 hours a day without any breaks. Four groups of workers operate the sawmill in 12 hour shifts. The increased blade wheel diameter is specifically designed for a longer and thicker blade, which allows for longer sharp life and longer total blade life. Fast hydraulic loading, turning, positioning and clamping of the logs enables high production. The special electronic programmable Setworks can store many different board thicknesses and cutting patterns and allows the operator to position the head quickly and accurately. It makes the operator’s job much easier because he doesn’t need to calculate and to remember all the board parameters.
Wood-Mizer Customer Service staff visited the facility and trained the operators. The first operator to be trained was Mr Dmitriev himself.
"I cut oak, lime, beech and pine successfully. My opinion is that the company owner must also acquire these practical skills. First of all to ensure that your operators cannot pull the wool over your eyes and secondly so that you can be a "player/coach"; if I want people to do something I simply show them how to do it in practice – I do not explain in theory". All These Minute Details
"We gained a lot of experience in our first year. Many people were hired and fired", - remembers Vladimir. His best appointment was the Production Manager Mr Vladimir Solntsev, severe but fair as all his workers agree.
Sawmilling success depends not only on the equipment used but also on the people involved. Discipline and motivation are at the forefront.
"We developed a system of bonuses and penalties, based on reliable statistics. Each team has its own re-sharp operator and its own blades. There are also excellent operators at the facility, such as Mr Kravchenko. When we get more complicated orders with increased quality demands I call on Mr Kravchenko even though his productivity is not the highest".
"In production I need both creative people and "dray-horses" – I mean those who can cut very fast with good productivity", – says Mr Solntsev.
"If the board quality is good enough there are no claims against the re-sharpening operation. At the moment each blade cuts about 50 m3
logs", - explains the production manager.
"At first look it seemed to us that Wood-Mizer sawmills were maybe not for industrial applications. But now we are sure of their capability for high-level reliable production. In the last 18 months the LT70 sawmill has cut 15.000 m3
in 7.000 hours. I am sure that not every sawmill can show results like these", - the facility owner confirms. The second Wood-Mizer
It probably comes as no surprise then that when they decided to increase capacity Mr Dmitriev bought Wood-Mizer again. This time it was the professional model LT20 Series.
"With sawmills like this, organization plays an important role. You need to maintain the sawmill properly and in time. We decided to buy a second "spare" sawmill to continue cutting when the LT70 is being maintained".
The patented cantilever cutting head on the Wood-Mizer sawmill is the main factor in cutting accuracy. LT20 head up/down and feed are electric. The traditional Wood-Mizer bed design ensures easy access to the logs and boards. The LubeMizer blade lubrication system cleans both sides of blade of sawdust and resin.
"Comparing these two Wood-Mizer models I can confirm that the LT70 Series is a much more productive machine. It handles large diameter logs easily. On the other hand the LT20 is easy to operate and is ideal for training new people. The productivity difference is 4 m3
of timber per shift. With the same log diameter, the LT70 cuts 16m3
per 8 hour shift while the LT20 cuts 12m3
", - Vladimir Solntsev informs us.
"The thicker blade on LT70 results in higher quality timber in terms of dimension and accuracy. The cutting speed is higher too – it’s amazing", - Vladimir Dmitriev adds. Reliable edger
"If you have a facility and at least one sawmill you should have an edger", - Mr Dmitriev states.
He bought a Wood-Mizer edger with his first LT70 sawmill. This edger can easily be converted to a multirip with 5 circular blades, one of which is adjustable.
"Our process is to cut logs into un-edged 25mm boards on the sawmills. Then we need to edge the boards and the slabs. The edger helps us to recover clear boards, free from knots and with a smooth surface", - Vladimir Dmitriev explains.
"This is excellent equipment – I award it top marks. Great cutting speed! In fact the edger serves both sawmills", - Dmitriev admits.
"The edger works the whole day without stoppage and has never broken down", - the production manager, Mr Solntsev, agrees.
Apart from all this, the business is also profitable because of the customers they have. The customers are the focal point in the sawmilling philosophy.
The main partner, the picture frame producer takes all the clear boards, but it’s necessary to sell the first and second grade as well. Local building companies need such boards, but in short lengths - under 1.5m in length. Producing this material the sawmill still has a sawn recovery of 73%.
But Vladimir Dmitriev is still looking for new niches. Recently he agreed with a local MDF factory to supply 400m3
of sawdust monthly.