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

Canada Women’s Rugby 7s Team land at home after series triumph

Next stop at Langford offers Olympic qualification

Saanich soccer player survives bout with flesh eating disease

Harinder Sandhu picked up the disease after soccer game

Two-sailing waits continue Victoria to Tsawwassen

Backlog continues despite extra sailings over Easter

Second earthquake in less than two hours strikes off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Vancouver Island-based company provides glass alternatives to plastic straws

Enviro Glass Straws now producing more than 60,000 straws each year

Most Read