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Latvia leads Europe in industrial level thin kerf timber conversion

Latvia leads Europe in industrial level thin kerf timber conversion In the spring of 2003 the American company Wood-Mizer demonstrated the new LT300 sawmill at the Ligna show. Wood-Mizer markets this as the most productive band sawmill in the Wood-Mizer range with a productivity of 3 to 4m3 of timber per hour or 6,700 cub per year with one shift operation. The LT300 is completely new step in the sawmilling equipment. But this article concerns another point. The first LT300 owner in Europe is Vitaliy Goyevs, a woodworker from Latvia.

Firm profile
To learn how the fast Latvian guys cut wood we’ve traveled to the north-east of Latvia, to a small town called Ludza. Vitaliy Goyevs, 36, is a native of this place. Being a villager, he likes fishing, hunting, skiing and he choose a business related to the forest: His enterprise deals exclusively with timber harvesting and sawmilling.

Vitaliy started his business in 1997. From the beginning he decided on the band saw technology. His enterprise "Maurini" increased in turnover step by step and after a couple of years he was using 7 domestically made band sawmills. Vitaliy’s introduction to the Wood-Mizer company began in Riga, at the woodworking show in 2000. Then the events developed very fast:
2001 – Vitaliy buys Wood-Mizer LT40 - well known in Latvia
2002 – 3 head MultiHead appears in "Maurini"
2003 – Vitaliy, the first in Europe, buys and installs the industrial LT300.

From a technological point of view the cutting operation is organized as follows.

Workshop # 1
Outside the building there is a log deck for incoming logs. Inside the building the log singler loads the logs one by one onto the LT300. This device is managed by operator from a remote control station.

A log is loaded on the sawmill bed where the operator can turn it, level and clamp hydraulically. Cutting dimensions are preset on the setworks. Then operator switches on the motor and the cutting operation is started. The cutting head moves from the far end of sawmill to the operator, and laser shows the position of the cut.

When the head returns, board removal fingers push the board off the log and onto an inclined belt conveyor which takes the board to the next operation.

The board then comes to the cross transfer table which is also controlled by the operator. Here the board can be sorted in two directions – for stacking or for further processing.

Latvian winters are quite cold. That’s why the operator station is installed in a separate wooden cabin. The operator is comfortably seated with all the controls ergonomically placed and with an excellent view of the cutting operation. The "cruise control" system will automatically control the cutting speed at the maximum level and automatically slows down the head in the places in "harder to cut" areas such as knots.

In addition there are edgers and a multirip in the workshop which cut the beams and wide boards into smaller dimensions. The LT40 is also downstream from the LT300working.

Along the length of the building the sawdust removal conveyor is set into the floor and takes the sawdust to the outside.

The installation of whole complex was completed in 6 days. Two employees have been trained to operate the LT300. In total there are 6 people working here in one shift (LT300 operator, LT40 operator, 2 edger / multirip operators, 2 stackers).

Workshop # 2
In this shop small logs are processed. Logs come into the building one by one on the conveyor from the outside. They follow butt to butt through two multirips which convert the log into 3 sided cants. This is the raw material for the Wood-Mizer MultiHead that produces pallet boards. The edging and strips of wood are produced here as well. Four people in a shift usually work in the workshop.

Three shift operation
Frankly speaking the question about shift quantity is open for discussion. Another Latvian LT300 owner Mr Pavel Tselichevs guesses that the best option is to operate in one 12 hour shift, but with 2 teams. «In this case, - Pavel explains, - a man works 12 hours and then has a day for rest. After that he comes into the workshop with a great desire to work and therefore gives the best results».

When it’s spoken about whole day milling, there is an opinion that it would be better to operate 2 shifts by 12 hours than 3 shifts by 8 hours. The reason is that less people are involved in the process as break-downs are less likely because the responsibility is concentrated on the definite groups of people.

"Maurini" operates 3 8 hour shifts. Vitaliy strongly stops all complaints that operators prefer to use the blades belonging to another shift (the other shifts blades always "look better").

«I’ve bought three padlocks, and gave the keys to each shift. At the end of your shift, please, keep your blades under lock and key. Since that all complaints stopped», - Vitaliy tells.

Of course, it’s harder to work in the night. People prefer to have a rest according their biological rhythms. Here we can note one of the advantages of Wood-Mizer equipment: this is one the safest sawmills in the industry. If the blade should break, the main motor is immediately shut off, and the operator as well as the stackers are situated far away from the cutting head when sawing.

The enterprise is currently producing 15000 m3 of timber per year, but this is increasing with experience. «There are two ways of saving when cutting: material economy and labor economy, - Vilmars Jansons,
Wood-Mizer representative in Latvia, tells. – As everybody knows all band sawmills can save material. But the new LT300 Industrial Setup supplies their owners with the second advantage: productivity similar to much larger sawmills-with only one operator».

Wood: the Main Problem
«Maurini» makes green boards, pallets, products from slabs and chips. The raw material is local or from Russia. In Latvia the enterprise buys standing timber at auctions. Harvesting is done by a 20 men team who have the task to constantly have a one month stock of logs.

«We try to use 100% of the raw material - Vitaliy says. – It’s not easy to get wood today». Actually the log cost is increasing and the future entry of Latvia in the EU makes the situation even more indefinite. «It seems that it will be cheaper to buy logs in Germany soon», - Vitaliy adds - and to tell the truth his words are only partly joking.

In this unsteady situation Vitaliy has secured a competitive advantage. The narrow band technology allows him to get approximately 15% more boards from each log than the circular saw can do. In addition he gets higher quality boards from each log.

Speed and Pressure
Undoubtedly the decision to buy the LT300 industrial was not impulsive or adventurous, because the

enterprise already had experience of Wood-Mizer sawmill operation. Vitaliy has understood the most important thing: if you want to increase the productivity you need modern advanced technology, and not simply to add the usual band sawmills one by one. Being a commando in his past, Vitaliy has started the modernization very rapidly and emphatically. He has planned and put in to reality the «LT300 offensive».

Several factors helped him

he has a very good saw doctor, and so the enterprise doesn’t have problems with blade preparation
he has experienced operators. (When Americans from Wood-Mizer came to teach the operators they were very surprised: "Maurini" guys calculate the board thickness even faster than a computer) What results Vitaliy could achieve?
1) He had 7 local band sawmills before – now he operates one LT300 and one LT40 sawmill
2) There is an large saving in labour costs because all material transport functions are mechanized
3) There were 9 sawmill operator working here before – now there are 6 operators (one LT300 operator and one LT40 operator for each shift)
4) In line with the decreased amount of equipment, the cost of maintenance and service has come down as well. The enterprise needs less blades and spare parts
5) Therefore the prime cost of final products has decreased significantly.

Perhaps it isn’t the main thing.

Perspective is the main
In the not too distant past there were 2000 band sawmills working in Latvia. Now there isn’t more than a couple of hundred. Why? Scandinavian investors built here 5 gigantic facilities producing more than 1000 cub.m per shift. To compete with such a titan is beyond many companies ability - small and middle sized companies have stopped the activity or diversified. But not «Maurini»!

«To survive in the market, where global companies dominate, you need flexible technology, - Vilmars Jansons guesses. – It’s the weakest feature of the giants: if they are projected to work with small logs then they can only process small logs and "basta". «Maurini» has modern sawmilling equipment, which can easily switch production to meet any specific order. Any wood species, any log diameter, any board size and excellent quality of cut – with technology like this "Maurini" not only survives but develops successfully!»

Vitaliy bought the LT300 complex and he was the first customer in Europe. In fact he had no recommendations from other users.

«I had no worries, - he says. – First of all this is not a huge investment in plant and infrastructure. Secondly I was sure that the sawmill will return this money anyway». To be the first puts you ahead of the game. After half a year «Maurini» has a good productivity level which continues to grow. «The machine doesn’t let me down", - Vitaliy summarizes.

"Maurini" enterprise
Isnaudas pag., Ludzas raj., Latvia, LV-5701
Tel/fax: +371 57 68 280

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