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N. C. Lumber Producer Enters Pallet Stock Arena in Big Way
Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle Equips Scragg Mill for Jerry Williams & Sons
Date Posted: 9/1/2004
The company, heretofore known for manufacturing hardwood and pine lumber, recently invested in a new circular scragg mill system to produce stock for the pallet industry. Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle was the sole supplier involved in the new circular scragg mill system.
Mill capital improvement projects are not new for Jerry G. Williams & Sons. The company undertook a $14 million project in the mid-1990s to position it sawmill to be competitive into the future.
Jerry G. Williams & Sons was started by Jerry Williams in 1986, when he bought a former Union Camp sawmill in
Jerry, now 74, has had a lengthy career in the forest products industry. He grew up in
At Jerry G. Williams & Sons, Mark had responsibility for forestry and logging operations while Scott supervised sawmill operations. Jerry passed the ownership of the company to his sons in 1999. However, Scott was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident later the same year, and Mark became president and owner.
Jerry has chosen not to retire and remains very active in the business. He had a leading role in the planning and development of the company’s new scragg mill. When he hosted a visitor from Pallet Enterprise for a tour of the new scragg mill, he drove throughout the company’s facilities and yard and took obvious delight in describing the company’s operations and accomplishments. He was also in constant contact via hand-held radio with key company personnel to field questions and give directions.
Within a few years after buying the Union Camp mill, the Williams family expanded it into pine production. In the pine lumber market, the company focused mainly on 5/4 lumber while its hardwood operations concentrated on producing 4/4 lumber. The company benefited from strong markets over the next 10 years that allowed it to prosper and grow. Production was about 75% hardwood lumber and 25% softwood lumber.
By the mid-1990s, however, the Williams family knew they would have to begin upgrading the mill if they were to remain competitive, and in 1996 the company began a series of investments in major machinery and equipment. Most of the improvements were finished in 1998 although the final stage was not completed until 2001.
The company’s management team now includes John Fox, vice president; Craig Gray, vice president for sawmill operations; Sam Neumann, scragg mill manager; Don Sanders, assistant scragg mill manager, Chris Newton, office and shipping; J.T. Turner,
Jerry G. Williams & Sons, with its 40-acre facilities and about 180 employees, sells to concentration yards and distributors primarily along the Eastern Seaboard – as far north as New England and as far South as Florida -- and relies on contract truckers for shipping. About 35% of its softwood production is sold to lumber treating companies. About 10% the company’s business is export
The company’s principal species are Southern Yellow Pine, red and white oak, poplar and maple as well as some ash and cypress.
When sawing hardwoods, the mill produces about 15,000 board feet of lumber per hour; pine lumber production is between 22,000 and 25,000 board feet per hour.
In the sawmill, large logs are broken down by a Cetec 6-foot bandmill and a McDonough three-knee carriage. The head rig is optimized with Perceptron 3-D LASAR scanning and optimization technology. Small logs are handled on a Maxi Mill overhead end-dogging carriage that feeds them to Key Knife chipping slabbers and a Coe 6-foot quad bandmill. The mill is also equipped with the following Hi-Tech Comact equipment: a curve sawing gang, twin band linebar resaw, four-saw optimized edger, optimized trimmer, and two 66-bin sorters and stackers.
Hardwood lumber is pre-dried in two air dry fan sheds with combined capacity of 1.6 million board feet. The company has 450,000 board feet of kiln capacity in five USNR Irvington-Moore dry kilns and two SII Dry Kilns units. Steam for the kilns is produced by a 16,000 pounds per hour Wellons boiler and a 20,000 pounds per hour
Rough kiln-dried hardwood and pine lumber goes to a cooling shed and then into an inspection building with two breakdown hoists feeding one of two inspections lines or a Yates planer. This system allows surfaced pine and rough kiln-dried hardwood to be inspected at the same time and marked with a fluorescent marker. The fluorescent marks are read by a Lucidine color grade mark reader that controls the trimmer and sorting to a Hi Tech 66-bin sorter.
Waste material is collected and processed by a Fulghum chipper while a Jeffrey hog is used for grinding bark into mulch.
Band saw blades are supplied by International Knife & Saw while Cascade Southern and West Union Saw Co. supply circular saw blades.
In deciding to invest in a scragg mill and become a supplier of cut stock to the pallet industry, Jerry sought another market for the company’s pulpwood, which previously was sold round or chipped and sold to paper companies.
In the new scragg mill, Jerry G. Williams & Sons runs 4-foot to 10-foot bolts up to 20-inches in diameter. When it is up to full speed, the company expects to process ten 48-inch bolts per minute.
At the first stage, the sawyer brings in the bolt and positions it with a pop-up turner. The first Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle double-arbor scragg mill features 22-inch blades that are powered by 30 hp motors. The first scragg removes two sides from the bolt, and the slabs drop onto a conveyor as the bolt exits the saws.
A kicker system turns the two-sided cant 90 degrees in order to position it for the next scragg, and the cant is conveyed 90 degrees on a six-strand deck to be fed to the next scragg saws.
Pincher arms reach up and center the two-sided cant as it approaches the next mill, which is equipped with the second stage of the circular scragg mill. It has four blades, two above and two below. The second scragg removes the two remaining sides, producing two smaller slabs; the heart of the log exits the machine as a four-sided cant. The slabs fall on to a conveyor and are similarly conveyed 90 degrees to a slab trimmer.
Automated setworks decide if the cant is so large (8, 10 or 12 inches) that it will be split with a 4-inch bandsaw into a 4-inch or 6-inch cant, and it is positioned at the splitter by an inline pusher arm. Further down the line, the cants are conveyed 90 degrees to a three-head multi-trim saw. Even-end rolls take the cant against a fence. One blade removes about 1 inch of material, the second blade splits the cant, and the third blade trims the end.
The sections of the cant fall down to a deck to be fed into one of two gang saws. One gang is set up to resaw 4-inch material into stringers, and the other 6-inch material into deck boards. The gang saws are powered by a 125 hp motor on the bottom arbor and a 100 hp motor for the top arbor. A built-in planer head, powered by a 75 hp motor, correctly sizes the cant immediately before it enters the resaw.
“I was and still am impressed with the overall concept of having the first stage scragg scan a bolt of wood 36 inches to 110 inches long in about one second, set the saws, cut two-sided cants, send it to the second scragg, set the saws and end up with square edged cants sized correctly to go to a 4-inch or 6-inch gang saw automatically without wane or shims,” said Jerry.
The company could have elected a single gang saw machine with twin bays, but a machine designed solely for resawing 4-inch material can run 10-inch blades with thinner kerf, according to Matt Gilles, director of marketing for Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle. In addition, two separate gangs also provide more production capacity.
The lumber exits the gang saws and drops onto a belt conveyor oriented at 90 degrees. Workers cull shims and pull deck boards off to be stacked by hand. The stringers continue to an inline double-head notching machine that is followed by a stacker. The machine, with two 40 hp motors, is the highest production model in the industry, according to Matt. It is equipped with Econotool cutters and can notch 4,000 stringers per hour.
“Jerry and his crew went to Battle Lumber Co. and saw our notcher and other equipment perform, and they were convinced that Brewer Inc. made the premiere equipment in the pallet industry,” said Matt.
Slab recovery is an integral part of the scragg line. As noted above, slabs are conveyed to two edgers. Each edger is equipped with four saws and has two fixed bays, a 4-inch bay and a 6-inch bay. A worker at each edger selects the appropriate bay and feeds the slabs into the machine. The edgings drop down onto a vibrating waste conveyor as they exit the machine. The three-sided slabs, meanwhile, are conveyed to a deck oriented at 90 degrees and are fed automatically into a three-head multi-trimmer to be precision end-trimmed. Live rollers oriented at 90 degrees take the three-sided slabs into a three-head bandsaw line with run-around. When they exit the line as finished deck boards, the fall onto a turntable and are pulled and stacked by hand. The system “allows for very good yield from slabs,” Jerry noted.
The bandsaws are Brewer Inc.’s Diamond Eagle machines, which are larger, more powerful versions of its Golden Eagle band resaws. The Brewer Inc. Diamond Eagle bandsaw is equipped with 40-inch wheels and runs a 4-inch blade (compared to 36-inch wheels and a 2-inch blade on the Golden Eagle model). Each bandsaw is equipped with a blade lubricating system as well as a reserve air tank, which helps prevent damaged and broken blades in case of a loss of air pressure.
Jerry originally bought a Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle band scragg mill at an auction. “We’ve gotten a lot of calls from people going to auctions in the last 24 months and seeing our equipment after this latest shake-up in the industry,” said Matt. Jerry was impressed with the Brewer Inc. band scragg but later decided for high production circular mills.
Although Brewer Inc. has built and sold quite a few Golden Eagle band scragg mills in the past, it has only recently designed and built its first two circular scragg mill systems. In addition to the mill at Jerry G. Williams, Brewer also supplied a circular scragg mill to Tar River Lumber in
In deciding to add the scragg mill, Jerry spent a lot of time with company vice president John Fox. They studied what they wanted the plant to do considering the company’s raw material, including its projected cost and availability, as well as other factors, such as customer base, the complement to its wood procurement organization, product mix, and expected production volume. Don Sanders, who handles pallet part
They also visited the Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle manufacturing plant “and were impressed with their people, the quality of the equipment they make,” said Jerry. “We especially liked their openness and willingness to draw and re-draw a plan to utilize their equipment in a way that suited us.” He spent a lot of time with Brewer engineers Tony Fox and David Piper. “Tony helped us in many revisions of the original plan,” said Jerry, who also conferred with Glenn Watkins, owner of Tar River Lumber.
Brewer Inc. has 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space at its headquarters in Central City, Kty., and 20,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. “We can get customers parts very quickly,” Matt pointed out. If a part is not in stock, Brewer Inc. can arrange to have it drop-shipped direct from the manufacturer. “They need parts fast,” said Matt, “and we get them to them fast.”
“We have for several years wanted to build a plant to use small, low-grade hardwood and pine logs,” said Jerry. The company’s procurement organization can keep the scragg mill supplied with wood from the timber and logs that are purchased for the main sawmill. “Now we can bring almost all of a tract of timber to one location,” said Jerry. “The scragg mill’s log deck allows us to merchandise logs real well when necessary.” The main mill will produce about 5 million board feet of lumber and cants for the scragg mill, which is expected to produce another 7.5 million board feet of pallet parts from small, low-grade logs for a combined production of 12.5 million board feet.
The new scragg mill is also equipped outside with a complete log handling, bucking and debarking system that Jerry acquired in an auction. “Our log deck allows us to handle tree-length stems as well as cut-to-length logs,” said Jerry. The log deck is equipped with a Prentice 410 knuckleboom loader and 75-inch cut-off saw to straighten logs before kicking them into the trough feeding the debarker. After debarking the logs go through an MDI metal detector. There is a put-and-take deck before the final cut-to-length saw and kicker into the scragg mill. Unusable material goes directly into a Bush 66-inch chipper along with waste from the mill.
D.A. Reynolds of
The scragg mill also houses some ancillary operations. It is equipped with several single-head bandsaws and other equipment to process low-grade material into stakes.
Jerry G. Williams & Sons buys standing timber and operates a separate logging company, J&B Logging and Timber Inc. It also relies on contract loggers for cutting and buys logs from additional logging contractors. The log yard is equipped with a sprinkler system to keep the wood wet in order to prevent blue stain during the summer.