IWT-Moldrup, a Danish company that manufactures wood treatment operations, has in recent years supplied a number of semi-automatic wood treatment plants to Australia for treating 30,000 m3 treated timber per annum. Some plants have been delivered ready for expansion to fully automatic material handling at a later time. Many local companies did not want to go to the fully automated material handling systems where no fork-lift handling is required from the beginning.
In Europe, the high-volume wood treatment plants are part of a trend being seen with consolidation of the wood treatment industry. In the forest rich country, Sweden, for example, the number of treatment plants have gone from 150 small/medium-size plants to 60 medium-size/big-size plants in a few years. Wood treatment is also moving from being more a niche product from specialized wood treatment operations to being an integrated part of standard production at larger sawmills across Europe.
Shortage of available labour resource and the cost of labour in Europe also has also pushed wood producers towards fully automated plants with limited human intervention. Earlier, with small to medium-sized plants, 12 – 15 operators were needed in Europe for a 200,000 m3 treated timber per annum operation. Now, with the fully automated plants, just one person is needed for a 200,000 m3 annual production.
Over the past 10 years, the automation of treating plants has developed in Europe from semi-automatic solutions to fully automated solutions where wood is being fed into one end of the system, and finished treated ready-to-ship timber is taken out at the other end. The fully automated plants also have a much reduced foot-print compared to smaller manual or semi-automatic plants. This is important in countries where the building cost is an important factor in the total investment for a new treating plant.
In Europe the other driver to fully automated wood treatment operations is the increasing work-safety regulations where treatment companies aim to reduce contact between workers and the preservative chemicals.
IWT-Moldrup have just introduced a wood treatment plant including a fully automated material handling system with an annual capacity of 200,000 m3 for radiata pine in one 8-hour work-shift. The plant has a very small foot-print in a building of only 1,200 m2 and requires only one single operator. It can be operated with no contact with the freshly treated wood nor with the wood preservative. The plant does not require any dedicated fork-lift, as all handling of freshly treated wood is done by the integrated material handling system inside the building.
Source and Image Credit: IWT-Moldrup
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