CT scanner adapted for logs creates an image to determine location of flaws

Log scanning pioneered to find flaws in timber

Skeena Sawmills wants to be B.C.'s first mill to use CT scanning technology to produce high-grade wood from lower-grade stands

One of a series of articles on the future of the B.C. forest industry. More from this continuing series below.

For Skeena Sawmills in Terrace, the next efficiency tool is a CT scanner, similar to those found in hospitals.

With old hemlock and balsam trees dominant in the area, the mill has struggled to remain competitive with the ups and downs of lumber export markets and currencies. By scanning logs to identify flaws and decay areas, the mill expects to increase its usage of timber and gain efficiency in lumber production.

“A long-standing issue in the Northwest is the decadent hemlock, which is difficult to mill economically due to quality issues,” said Greg deMille, woodlands manager for Skeena Sawmills. “If proven effective, this technology would have a substantial impact on Skeena’s ability to recover value from low-grade logs, leading to a significant increase in fibre utilization in the area.”

Skeena has proposed a pilot project with FPInnovations, the industry-government research and development agency of the Canadian forest industry. It proposes to use a newly developed CT log scanner developed by Austrian mill machinery maker Springer-Microtec, which opened a North American office in Vancouver in 2014.

The company has applied for a startup grant under the B.C. government’s Rural Dividend program. The latest batch of applications is being evaluated, but Forests Minister Steve Thomson says this is the kind of project the program was set up to assist.

“We support the idea, and support FP Innovations’ work in that area,” Thomson said. “We think it could have very significant benefits for that area, because the fibre basket there is not the highest quality, and the ability to extract the maximum value through this technology is something that could really enhance the viability of the operation there and lead to greater utilization.”

Skeena’s lumber is sold mostly to Japan and China, and chips have supplied the Harmac pulp mill on Vancouver Island.

The Japanese market demands high-end clear boards and posts cut from fir, hemlock or balsam in metric sizes, which are used in traditional post-and-beam Zairai house design. Scanning allows the mill to identify its best logs to tailor to that product.

Shut down by West Fraser Timber in 2007 due to its timber base, a high Canadian dollar and slow U.S. sales, Skeena Sawmills was purchased by Chinese investors Roc Holdings Ltd. and reopened in 2012.

Just Posted

Prize winning Urban Bee Honey Farm generating a buzz

Urban Bee honoured at the Vancouver Island Business Awards

African rhythms, dance performance to help out Sierra Leone charity group

Feb. 23 show by Issamba ensemble a fundraiser for Victoria-Taiama Partnership

Excitement builds for first Victoria Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival in Sidney

First headliners announced, wide range of community friendly musical, cultural events planned

Over 100 take the Vancouver Island polar plunge

More than $25,000 raised for BC Special Olympics athletes

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read