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

Oak Bay cyclists have new resource to aid in health and fitness

Bike Fix Station installed at Rec Centre thanks to Firefighters Charitable Foundation

Elizabeth May arrested at Kinder Morgan protest

Randall Garrison, MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, speaks out against pipeline

Esquimalt High robotics students engineer their way to Texas

Rookie team qualifies for FIRST World Championship after breathing life into armed robot Spike

Large Kinder Morgan pipeline protest at Victoria MP office

Dozens gathered out front of Murray Rankin’s constituency office Friday to protest Trans Mountain pipeline

5 must-do things this weekend in Greater Victoria

Soccer playoffs, hockey playoffs, Dunahee run, art show and Lego

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 23, 2018

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Vancouver Island pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions we received from around the region

MLA Report: Lowering the voting age to 16 in BC

By Andrew Weaver On March 13, I introduced for a third time… Continue reading

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

Comox Valley hospital operating above patient capacity

The new healthcare facility averaged a 110 per cent patient volume between October and February

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

Most Read