Sawing from the Inside Out: CT Log's Impact on the Hardwood Industry
The webinar focused on MiCROTEC’s CT Log, a groundbreaking x-ray scanner that internally scans the log, revealing hidden defects such as knots and splits. Recently installed at Cascade Hardwood in Chehalis, Washington, USA, this revolutionary approach allows optimization of the lumber breakdown: significantly increasing both value and volume recovery and essentially automating the grade sawing process. Laudon’s insights shed light on the potential of CT scanning to redefine the way wood is processed and bring unprecedented benefits to the industry.
The Concept of Sawing from the Inside Out
Laudon introduced the concept of CT X-ray scanning, highlighting its ability to delve into the inner characteristics of logs. Laudon explained, “CT Log can look inside logs and find things like knots and splits, and virtually grade the lumber, to come up with the best sawing solution. By determining the best log rotation and the correct thicknesses, the highest final grade of the sawn lumber is achieved. What we’re really talking about is automated grade sawing.”
One of the most compelling aspects of CT scanning, as highlighted by Laudon, is the notion of “sawing from the inside out.” This approach allows mills to gain insights into the internal structure of a log before making any cuts, enabling informed decisions regarding its utilization. By utilizing the data obtained from the CT Log’s scan, mills can optimize products for value rather than mere volume, ultimately enhancing the overall lumber breakdown process. Laudon elaborated, “The idea of CT scanning is ‘sawing from the inside out.’ That term actually came from one of our first CT Log customers. What they meant by that is being able to see what’s inside a log before you cut it and decide what to do with it.”
Close-Coupled Layout and the Significance of Knowing What’s Inside
Laudon provided an overview of how the CT Log integrates into the workflow of hardwood mills. Typically, the CT Log is linked to the sawmill, positioned just outside the facility. Every incoming log undergoes CT scanning, then moving to the designated decks near the breakdown equipment. The crucial component in this process is the headrig scanner, MiCROTEC’s Logeye Stereo, which plays a pivotal role in recognizing the logs based on the CT Log’s scan data and positioning them accordingly. Laudon outlined the process, stating, “The basic process involved: 1. Scanning the log, 2. Reconstructing it, and then 3. Optimizing it. Once it’s optimized it 4. Heads for execution.”
The value of knowing the internal characteristics of a log cannot be overstated. Laudon emphasized that this knowledge allows for optimal value and volume recovery. In MiCROTEC’s extensive testing, they found that understanding the log’s content is as crucial for higher volume yields as it is for achieving higher graded lumber value. This insight has far-reaching implications for grade sawing applications. Laudon emphasized, “If you know what’s inside the log you can optimize not only the value of lumber but the volume of the log. The fact is, you’re getting more volume of lumber out of the same volume of logs.”
Redefining the Role of Sawyers
In traditional mills, sawyers often rely on their experience and judgement to make crucial decisions during the sawing process. However, CT scanning technology transforms their role into that of optimizer and operators who execute predetermined solutions. This shift allows for greater control over production and eliminates the variability associated with individual sawyers because the decisions have been taken away from the sawyer and given to the scanner.
Increased Recovery and a Promising Future for Wood Processing
Laudon shared compelling real-world results from recent tests conducted with the CT Log. The technology led to a significant increase in both grade and volume recovery. In one example, a mill that previously processed 10 truckloads of logs per day and processed it into 5 truckloads of lumber saw an increase in volume recovery that allowed for 6 truckloads of lumber from the same logs. Additionally, the grade increase meant that each truckload leaving the mill carried a 12% higher value lumber.
The economic implications of adopting CT X-ray scanning technology are profound. By increasing the recovery and value of lumber, mills can significantly boost their profits. Laudon presented an example of a mill producing 30 million feet of lumber per year with an average sales price of $1500 per thousand board feet, equating to about $45M in gross sales per year. Laudon concluded, “When you factor in the recovery and value increase of 20%, in the case of hard maple, that equates to $9M/year in profit. Each year after the investment is paid off you have increased profit.”
As mills embrace this innovation, they not only stand to increase their profits but also ensure a more efficient and reliable production process, ushering in a promising future for hardwood processing. Laudon’s parting words, “We haven’t really found any defect that the CT Log can’t see, which is exciting. I’ve been in scanning for 25 years now in sawmills and until now, haven’t had the opportunity to work with a scanner that can see everything.”
»CT Log can look inside logs and find things like knots and splits, and virtually grade the lumber, to come up with the best sawing solution. By determining the best log rotation and the correct thicknesses, the highest final grade of the sawn lumber is achieved. What we're really talking about is automated grade sawing. «