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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read