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Author Topic: Chipping slabs and waste  (Read 835 times)

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Offline Cruiser_79

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Chipping slabs and waste
« on: November 04, 2019, 04:48:01 AM »
Recently I visited a tropical woodmill with a client who buys his export wood over there. Nice, professional sawmill with 2 big vertical bandsaws, 2 gatesaws and moulding lines. The guys over there told us that they have a 35% efficiency, so 65% of the wood that enters the mill has to leave as waste. That 65 % contains sawdust, moulding chips but the biggest part are the slabs etc. They don't do anything with it, just bring it back to the forests and bury or burn it. In Europe recycling etc. is quite a hot item. 
What are the markets for sawdust, moulding chips and eventually chipped slabs?  In my opinion it is a waste of wood to just burn the slabs etc down... 

Offline nativewolf

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2019, 06:45:13 AM »
This is in Brazil or ?  Native tropical forest  have very very poor utilization yields, I've seen it down below 25%.  If it is plantation wood then they have issues though.  

If they were smart they'd probably be better off exporting the whole logs to Vietnam or India for utilization, they'd have higher yield and pay more and have markets for the waste.  

Here in the US the dust and chips usually have markets as fuel or pulp.  Sometimes the waste from circle mills will get screened for use as animal bedding.  The slabs are often chipped for fuel or for residential ground mulch products around flower beds.  In Europe, continental especially, there is a legacy of keeping shrub and tree beds really clean.  Here in the US we use deep mulch beds to suppress weeds and reduce the need for water.  As there are literally millions of residential suburban homes in the US this alone is a big market and increasingly important as full service lawn care firms continue to displace howeowner upkeep.  Nothing makes a property look better than nicely mulched flower and shrub beds.

Of course the other problem they probably have is a lack of secondary markets for things like pallet wood, bridge beams, timber mats, etc.  Having an ecosystem of users is extremely important for profitable forest management.  My companies sustainable forest program relies on almost a dozen different end users and we are constantly looking for more.  For each end user we often have more than one buyer, sometimes up to 6.  Deep markets allow better pricing and that keeps our forest values up.  
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 06:58:05 AM »
To be clear, I suspect that the lack of other markets means they are sawing logs that are really not fit, they get 1-2 boards and trash the rest.  If they had better markets that log would have been separated in the log yard and sold to another user instead of being sawn.  So while you are seeing an issue it is likely a bigger issue than having chips and slabs as waste.  Rather it is a question of the entire market being undeveloped, this creates lots of financial risk, poor utilization, waste, etc.  You usually see better utilization in S. Asia because of the demand for fuel, charcoal is a big business.  West Africa might have pockets of the same issue, I'd be surprised if they didn't have a charcoal market though.   

Europe is a very poor analogy to working in Tropical woods.  The SE of the US is better but in the last 30 years has developed quite a bit.  They've been dealing with the same issues in Appalachia for over a hundred years.  If you want come on over we'll setup some mill tours.  The reason Europe is a poor analogy is the relative lack of forest, very different climates, dense urban networks that enable rapid and easy trade, and on and on.  If you come you'd want to have it be in August  :D so you'd look forward to going back to work in the tropics.

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Offline ButchC

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2019, 07:39:53 AM »
I dont know what the big time operations do with waste but I live in the middle of an Amish community there are a dozen 2 to 10 man sawmills a half hour or less away from my home. At the hardwood mills nothing is wasted except Walnut sawdust which for whatever reasons is not used for bedding.  The headsaw slab is cut to length piled and sold as firewood. The sawdust mostly goes locally for bedding ocassionaly a load will go out on a semi. The edgings from the resaws are mostly stacked and ground for mulch by a custom operater, a little bit is sold as firewood.  Only one of the local mills has a hog. Everything that is not lumber goes into it. The output is loaded into high sided tractor trailers and goes to ??? I would guess a large mulch operation.
At the pallet lumber mills where they saw anything that is wood in nature they have lots of waste stacking up. Portable grinders come in now and then and process mulch, I think only when the hardwood supply runs low??  
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Offline Cruiser_79

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2019, 08:18:00 AM »
This is in Brazil or ?  Native tropical forest  have very very poor utilization yields, I've seen it down below 25%.  If it is plantation wood then they have issues though.  

If they were smart they'd probably be better off exporting the whole logs to Vietnam or India for utilization, they'd have higher yield and pay more and have markets for the waste.  

Here in the US the dust and chips usually have markets as fuel or pulp.  Sometimes the waste from circle mills will get screened for use as animal bedding.  The slabs are often chipped for fuel or for residential ground mulch products around flower beds.  In Europe, continental especially, there is a legacy of keeping shrub and tree beds really clean.  Here in the US we use deep mulch beds to suppress weeds and reduce the need for water.  As there are literally millions of residential suburban homes in the US this alone is a big market and increasingly important as full service lawn care firms continue to displace howeowner upkeep.  Nothing makes a property look better than nicely mulched flower and shrub beds.

Of course the other problem they probably have is a lack of secondary markets for things like pallet wood, bridge beams, timber mats, etc.  Having an ecosystem of users is extremely important for profitable forest management.  My companies sustainable forest program relies on almost a dozen different end users and we are constantly looking for more.  For each end user we often have more than one buyer, sometimes up to 6.  Deep markets allow better pricing and that keeps our forest values up.  
No not in Brazil, but it is in the amazon. We forsee an export ban of whole logs like several countries in Africa already have. The mill capacity over there is already too low, and when there will be a ban they certainly have a capacity problem... 
They ban whole log export to improve the local employment oppurtunities, what I understand. 
I don't think that they saw inefficient but the mill I visited only exports high quality, expensive tropical hardwoods. They only export the heart of the logs (what is the english word of the center and outside material of logs, I forgot probably ??? ? ) 
They can make firewood from slabs etc, but in a tropical climate you don't really need firewood, there simply aren't winters. 
An oppurtunity is the production and export of charcoal, I should obtain more market information about that. Anyone know mobile, small scale charcoal production lines?  Problem in Western Europe is that the people want a FSC certificate, even for recycled products like charcoal. Probably they find it better to let them burn wood waste in the amazon rather than using it when the products don't have the FSC certificate...
Mulching material is used as well in Europe for flower beds etc, but I'm afraid that shipping costs will make it too expensive. 
So I'm still looking for more secondary purposes for slabs, dust and moulding curls. Thanks for so far! 
 

Offline Southside

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2019, 09:14:22 AM »
I know a few years back there was a push to export pellets into Europe via bulk cargo container loads.  Don't know what the opportunity is there now.  Of course making pellets comes with a whole list of complications and expenses so without significant capital the numbers may not pencil out.  
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2019, 05:13:12 PM »
The bigger sawmills here burn waste to heat kilns and generate electricity. One of the mills can generate ~35mW back into the national grid if they are on shutdown and just burning waste. 

But that's big investment and overheads to run the boilers / turbine etc. Only makes sense on a  LARGE scale. 

Smaller local mills don't waste anything though. 
Bark get sold then chipped for garden mulch or playground padding. Or composted and blended into potting mix. You need the urban population to make that practical though. 

Sawdust (coarse from a larger mill) and shavings gets sold as chicken of cattle bedding. The chicken bedding as a great scheme, because they charge the chicken farmer to deliver the shavings, then to take them away. The old shavings (+ the chicken poop) are then dried up and blended into fertiliser, and sold to the cattle farmers. So that get recycled twice. Tropical species might present problems there as some species can be toxic to animals.  Most mills cut pine of doug fir, which is relatively harmless. 

Slab wood gets processed into firewood, and usually just sold green by the small truckload.  But that's limited in a tropical climate. 

I can see charcoal as an option, it can be produced on a relatively small scale and it's "old tech", so you don't have to re-invent the wheel. 

Is wood being dumped because it's low grade, shorts, defects in boards etc? We see a lot of imported "Rubberwood" furniture. It's decent hardwood, but when you look at it closely it's made up of ~2" wide planks, of finger jointed wood only 1-3ft long. My understanding is it's old plantation rubber trees, that have be culled to make way for new tree. The logs aren't big, or particularly straight (it's not a requirement to produce rubber). But if the are sawed, then ripped and crosscut to remove defects, then they can be manufactured into decent hardwood table tops. Assuming you have low grade wood and relatively cheap labour, is that an option? 

Lastly, is dumping the waste back in the forest actually a bad thing? From my understanding the soils are often quite poor and leached of nutrients / carbon due to the high rainfall and warm temperature. Would simply spreading it as mulch improve the fertility and help the next crop of tree? I don't know, but the question is worth asking. 
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2019, 05:40:51 PM »
35% recovery aint bad, you can't compare tropical hardwoods with temperate species... its not an apples with apples comparison its an apple being compared with a pineapple.

The number tossed around for eucalypt hardwood in this state is 30%, a mill has to be viable at 30% or you're in trouble. Mostly sit in the mid to high 30's but its an average.... you need to sit there to average up the inevitable run of bad ones. Me, I run all my numbers off being profitable at 33%, at 30% I am breakeven.

The tropical rainforest stuff recovery is mostly influenced by log size, log form, and  % defect of the log. In better rainforest logs we'll sit in the mid 40's, in some species we can be viable at around 30%. The need to remove heavy sapwood belts, and decayed or wandering hearts can chew up a whole lot of wood quick.... it's that pineapple thing, think of a tin of pineapple rings... if you cut the outside off and cut the heart out theres not a real lot of the pineapple goes in a tin right?

A lot depends on market specifications,  and that depends on what markets an individual mill has built. And yanno strait up the use of gatesaws means you're pushing against it for grade recovery.... you cant bang flitches through a multi when you're chasing grade and hope for the best, it means all your recovery is coming out in one thickness and that often negates alternate markets.

Forget the slabs and sawdust, the most profitable solution is always to try and lift recovery in target grades and sizes.  I went through all this with a way bigger fish than me the other week.... they run multi's and arent getting recovery and as I said to him I take 1 board one pass and if I can see its not going to meet the spec for a certain market I dont cut in a thickness to suit that market. Multi's  - don't matter if we're talking gatesaw or circle gangs - are quick, cheap to run, and perfect for pallet wood.
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2019, 06:02:36 PM »
This is in Brazil or ?  Native tropical forest  have very very poor utilization yields, I've seen it down below 25%.  If it is plantation wood then they have issues though.  

If they were smart they'd probably be better off exporting the whole logs to Vietnam or India for utilization, they'd have higher yield and pay more and have markets for the waste.  

Here in the US the dust and chips usually have markets as fuel or pulp.  Sometimes the waste from circle mills will get screened for use as animal bedding.  The slabs are often chipped for fuel or for residential ground mulch products around flower beds.  In Europe, continental especially, there is a legacy of keeping shrub and tree beds really clean.  Here in the US we use deep mulch beds to suppress weeds and reduce the need for water.  As there are literally millions of residential suburban homes in the US this alone is a big market and increasingly important as full service lawn care firms continue to displace howeowner upkeep.  Nothing makes a property look better than nicely mulched flower and shrub beds.

Of course the other problem they probably have is a lack of secondary markets for things like pallet wood, bridge beams, timber mats, etc.  Having an ecosystem of users is extremely important for profitable forest management.  My companies sustainable forest program relies on almost a dozen different end users and we are constantly looking for more.  For each end user we often have more than one buyer, sometimes up to 6.  Deep markets allow better pricing and that keeps our forest values up.  
No not in Brazil, but it is in the amazon. We forsee an export ban of whole logs like several countries in Africa already have. The mill capacity over there is already too low, and when there will be a ban they certainly have a capacity problem...
They ban whole log export to improve the local employment oppurtunities, what I understand.
I don't think that they saw inefficient but the mill I visited only exports high quality, expensive tropical hardwoods. They only export the heart of the logs (what is the english word of the center and outside material of logs, I forgot probably ??? ? )
They can make firewood from slabs etc, but in a tropical climate you don't really need firewood, there simply aren't winters.
An oppurtunity is the production and export of charcoal, I should obtain more market information about that. Anyone know mobile, small scale charcoal production lines?  Problem in Western Europe is that the people want a FSC certificate, even for recycled products like charcoal. Probably they find it better to let them burn wood waste in the amazon rather than using it when the products don't have the FSC certificate...
Mulching material is used as well in Europe for flower beds etc, but I'm afraid that shipping costs will make it too expensive.
So I'm still looking for more secondary purposes for slabs, dust and moulding curls. Thanks for so far!
 
So in Peru and Equador, venezuela, etc there is going to be a huge demand for charcoal for cooking.  This will be in urban/semiurban areas.  Don't have to export that, locals buy it.  You could sell scrap slabs to charcoal dealers that handle the rest.  
You can sell sawdust/chips to poultry houses/dairy houses for bedding.  Somewhere there is a chicken farmer in need of bedding.  You might have to ship it aways.
You can get investment for a gasifier electric plant, germany and sweeden make several.  Create your own electricity and reduce risk.  
What you need to find is a market for poor quality logs.  
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 06:04:48 PM »
35% recovery aint bad, you can't compare tropical hardwoods with temperate species... its not an apples with apples comparison its an apple being compared with a pineapple.

The number tossed around for eucalypt hardwood in this state is 30%, a mill has to be viable at 30% or you're in trouble. Mostly sit in the mid to high 30's but its an average.... you need to sit there to average up the inevitable run of bad ones. Me, I run all my numbers off being profitable at 33%, at 30% I am breakeven.

The tropical rainforest stuff recovery is mostly influenced by log size, log form, and  % defect of the log. In better rainforest logs we'll sit in the mid 40's, in some species we can be viable at around 30%. The need to remove heavy sapwood belts, and decayed or wandering hearts can chew up a whole lot of wood quick.... it's that pineapple thing, think of a tin of pineapple rings... if you cut the outside off and cut the heart out theres not a real lot of the pineapple goes in a tin right?

A lot depends on market specifications,  and that depends on what markets an individual mill has built. And yanno strait up the use of gatesaws means you're pushing against it for grade recovery.... you cant bang flitches through a multi when you're chasing grade and hope for the best, it means all your recovery is coming out in one thickness and that often negates alternate markets.

Forget the slabs and sawdust, the most profitable solution is always to try and lift recovery in target grades and sizes.  I went through all this with a way bigger fish than me the other week.... they run multi's and arent getting recovery and as I said to him I take 1 board one pass and if I can see its not going to meet the spec for a certain market I dont cut in a thickness to suit that market. Multi's  - don't matter if we're talking gatesaw or circle gangs - are quick, cheap to run, and perfect for pallet wood.
Probably lots of market for low grade siding material too if you are in the amazon.
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Offline Cruiser_79

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2019, 03:32:23 AM »
Charcoal looks like a good alternative. Saw couple of small scale charcoal retorts, and then ran into this one; 
This one is quite massive, when building a kind of 40' container sized retort it could be fed with a skidsteer for example. Found that they place at least 3 retorts next to eachother, first one is burning/pyrolising, fired by the gasses. Heat is used for drying the second batch by a heat exchanger. When a batch is finished, it wil be cooled and heat is used for drying for another batch. Sounds efficient to me. 
I will have to calculate production cost and possible profits, interesting. 

It's not only low grade wood that is waste, they can only export A quality wood, that's a good market. I think they don't do anything with the sapwood and slabs because they already have a capacity problem. Just too expensive to be busy with B-quality, the big money is the A-quality export. Over there they only cut 25 m3 per hectare, more isn't allowed. The average is only 15 m3 being transported. Sometimes they leave trees in the woods when quality is too low.  The primary forests are really mixed, and they only take the 'commercial' species. It cost's too much too skid cheaper species through the woods and bring them to the mills. Infrastructure is terrible, few months back it took us 10 hours for a 280 km drive with a pickup truck.... And then the roads were quite 'good' because of the dry season. You don't want a truck load of garbage when the lorry will need 15 hours to bring it to the mill  :D

My client doesn't have a mill (yet), so when we visiting the mill I started thinking of a small business collecting all the waste at several mills. You can purchase it cheap or even free, sort it out for make some B-quality boards etc. for local markets, debark slabs to chip it to mulch, make charcoal of the rest, or chip it very fine and press briquettes out of it. Just thinking, it makes me cry to just burn wood down without a single use. It's not usefull for nutrition as well because they don't bring the ashes all the way back to the forests...




Offline nativewolf

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2019, 07:19:49 AM »
Yep, that's a real charcoal operation.  No need to be that big though.  In Thailand there were operations that fed off of mangrove forest, they'd have a dozen massive beehive ovens going, just massive things.  It was then that I realized the value of charcoal...even in Thailand it made money to ship that charcoal 200 miles on crappy roads up to bangkok.  

If you could get the boiler/powerplant going that would be a win.  Buy an older one maybe and ship over.  No leaks and a working generator, maybe send a replacement genset.  The certainty of power and no need for diesel would be a win.  

Last, you're may lose your timber.  Don't get too attached to that location.  In almost all tropical countries the only way to get tenure on a natural forest is to convert to agriculture.  That's a big reason the forest is being burned, to get land ownership.  So, If you set a sawmill up on the edge of the forest that edge will move backwards and further and further away.  Soon, it will be 30 miles away and log transport becomes another issue.  



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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2019, 08:56:00 AM »
The charcoal plant in the youtube link is quite big indeed, don't have to be that big. Best should be to combine a smaller charcoal production line with a sawmill. Electricity from the retorts could be very useful, or use the heat for dry kilns. When collecting slabs etc from other sawmills it could be an interesting business case. 

The forests won't go backwards cause the government has good regulation, and there is hardly any deforestation. It's in Surinam, one of the few countries in the Amazon that hasn't too much deforestation, except for mining operations and a few Chinese palm oil plantations. 
But the capital (the only 'big' city over there) is expanding so most old mills are in the middle of the city, causing problems to reach the mills with big logs. A mill and charcoal operation  in between the forests and the city would be ideal. When you can provide your own electricity, or a part of it, will make you independent from the crappy electricity network. Every day some idiot hits a pole and the entire power is shut off for at least a few hours or even days  :D 

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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2019, 08:21:49 PM »
Oh, Surinam, I was wondering with the whole Dutch thing.  Ah...well...good and bad.  I've actually analyzed a few forest cruises from there but it was over 20 years ago.  What I remember most was the silici impregnated species.  Tough on blades.  If you are cutting native hardwoods there I'd expect a log of work sharpening.  Stay the heck off the border though my friend...be safe.  

Well this does bring back memories.  I even knew an American sawyer that married from Surinam and was keen to get back there instead of living in Pennsylvania mountain country.  Lost track of him though, hope he made it back down there.  

Will all the higher end sawn wood products get exported back to the Netherlands or ?  
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Re: Chipping slabs and waste
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2019, 02:47:03 AM »
Oh, Surinam, I was wondering with the whole Dutch thing.  Ah...well...good and bad.  I've actually analyzed a few forest cruises from there but it was over 20 years ago.  What I remember most was the silici impregnated species.  Tough on blades.  If you are cutting native hardwoods there I'd expect a log of work sharpening.  Stay the heck off the border though my friend...be safe.  

Well this does bring back memories.  I even knew an American sawyer that married from Surinam and was keen to get back there instead of living in Pennsylvania mountain country.  Lost track of him though, hope he made it back down there.  

Will all the higher end sawn wood products get exported back to the Netherlands or ?  
Yeah it is quite strange, people speak Dutch, lots of old Dutch trucks and lorries over there but they all drive on the left side of the road :D
Lots of species are impregnated with silica indeed. That's why I think it may be better to saw them as fresh as possible, the silica hardens while drying apparently. One of the reasons we don't want to export logs and saw them in Europe. The mill we visited told us they saw 6 hours with a blade, and then change it for sharpening. I can try to upload a picture, they use massive vertical bandsaws, it should take some time to change and sharpens those blades! 
Most harvested wood is shipped to Asia, 98%. From the 98% about 70 % finds his way to China, the rest to India. 
About 1% of the harvested volume goes to Europe. In Europe people are not used to work with south american species, because Belgium and France have a few colonies over there, lots of african wood is used in construction and underwater use. Since there are some problems with the availability of African species, my client thinks/hopes there will be a bigger demand for comparible South American species. 
Give me the name of your friend, maybe I can track him down when I'm back ;) 


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