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Mississippi Pine Mill Adds Kiln Capacity

USNR Green Fuel Burner Heats Newest USNR Kiln at Hood Industries Mill

By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 7/1/2006

WAYNESBORO, Mississippi — The force of Hurricane Katrina, the now infamous storm that made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, can be measured in countless ways: lives lost, homes and businesses destroyed, people displaced. Yet the measures of the strength of Katrina are as varied as the endeavors of the individuals affected.

        Consider one 62-acre site occupied by a dimension lumber mill in the Magnolia State. The mill belongs to Hood Industries Inc.

        “At this site we have 55,000 tons of logs under water,” said Kevin Berkey, plant manager. He refers to the abundant supply of logs in ponds as the “Katrina effect.”

        The logs are being kept moist until they are sawn. Hood Industries cuts southern yellow pine exclusively. Logs became more than plentiful following Katrina because of storm damage to timber. Hood bought up more logs, doing as much possible to help landowners turn some profit from their timber investment.

        Many landowners had entire tracts of timber — grown for a return in their retirement — blown down by Katrina, explained Kevin. If they had any type of southern yellow pine to sell, including loblolly, longleaf, shortleaf and slash, Hood Industries was interested.

        The Hood Industries mill is located in the town of Waynesboro. It was already busy before last year’s hurricane season. Two shifts are the norm. There are 164 employees, including office staff.

        Hood Industries is part of Hood Companies, which is owned by Warren Hood. The holdings of Hood Companies, which is headquartered in Hattiesburg, Miss., include businesses that manufacture roofing materials, lumber, plywood, and bags. Sales for the dimension mill at Waynesboro and other mills are done by staff in Hattiesburg.

        The Hood Industries dimension mill in Waynesboro works out of the same log ‘basket’ as two nearby Hood plywood plants. In addition to the three plants in Mississippi, Hood Industries has dimension lumber mills in Louisiana and Georgia. Across its manufacturing and distribution facilities, Hood Industries employs 1,100 people.

        Except for 1-inch boards, all lumber that leaves the Waynesboro plant is dried and surfaced. “One of our niches is long lengths, up to 24-foot, all dried,” said Kevin. The dimension lumber is offered in sizes ranging from 2x4 to 2x12 and graded as DSS (dense select structural), #1, #2, #3 or #4 and #2 Prime.

        The Waynesboro plant needs a lot of drying capacity. And it has it. Three kilns from USNR are used to dry the pine lumber until it reaches 17%-19% moisture content. It takes about 18 hours of kiln time for the lumber to reach 17.5% moisture content.

        USNR kilns have longed served the drying needs of the Waynesboro plant, said Kevin. But when the decision was made to add a new kiln in 2005, Kevin and others, including kiln supervisor Thomas Walley, considered kilns from a number of manufacturers. In the end, they decided to stay with USNR.

        The new kiln has been running since January. “USNR did a great job of getting us up and running,” said Kevin. “It’s a system that we’re really comfortable with.”

        The newest USNR kiln at the Waynesboro plant is an 84-foot, single-zone, double-track, hi-temp kiln with a green fuel-direct fired burner for a heat source. “From an environmental (standpoint), as far as air quality, we felt going with direct-fired was the way to go,” said Kevin. “We had a plentiful fuel source —  green sawdust.”

        The green fuel burner is designed to remove gasses and stop them from going into the atmosphere. It gets good reviews from environmental regulators because it stops pollutants at the source.

        The other two USNR kilns in use at the Waynesboro plant are 104-foot, double-track, multi-zone steam kilns. They are designed to have 16 different temperature zones within the kiln. The heat source for both steam kilns is a wood-fired boiler.

        All three kilns at USNR are controlled by the USNR Kiln Boss system. The Kiln Boss system uses Allen Bradley PLC and Compact Logix technology. It is designed to run schedules and compile diagnostic information simultaneously. The control system makes it possible to maximize the amount of lumber dried per charge and also smooth energy requirements and modify schedules ‘on the fly.’

        With all the activity at Hood Industries in Waynesboro, self-regulating equipment is a great help. The newest USNR kiln fits into that category. “This kiln is really hands-off,” said Kevin.

        Raw material for the Waynesboro mill comes from several sources. “A lot of what we receive is ‘gate wood’— sometimes 70 to 80 percent gate wood,” said Kevin. “We have some Hood Companies wood.”

        Logging is contracted. Everything that arrives at the mill goes across Fairbanks scales, which have been in service for many years.

        The Waynesboro mill is 20 years old. The 14-year-old Salem carriage is slated for replacement in August by a new McDonough 36-inch, four-knee carriage. The mill also is equipped with a McDonough EDLF (end-dogging log feeder) with McDonough two bandmill system that has been in service 12 years. The EDLF gives a significant advantage in recovery over sharp chain systems and it is particularly well-suited to gate wood.

        Edging is accomplished by two USNR machines; the newer one is a USNR two-saw edger with Hi-Tech optimization. Resawing is done on a Newnes curve gang saw. The trimmer is a USNR-HEMCO.

        Incoming logs that do not go into wet storage are stacked on pads for rotation. A Taylor TLS-1000 log stacker is used. The mill buys 16-foot logs and longer. Tree-length logs are bucked with a bucking system equipped USNR-Perceptron optimization.

        “From the point of the scale, we have five pads in the rotation of green inventory,” said Kevin, including the movement to the mill. About 13,000 tons of raw materials arrive at the mill each week.

        A Volvo front-end loader feeds the bucking system. There are two log lines into the mill, and the line taken is random. Logs are not sorted by weight or other criteria. “We do a high percentage of heavy, long lengths,” said Kevin. They are bucked to 24-foot lengths.

        The mill has two Kockums-Cambio (USNR) debarkers, and there is a log line to each. From the debarkers, larger logs go to the Salem carriage and smaller logs go to the McDonough EDLF and twin bandmill.

        Some bark is sold to nurseries, and some is used to fuel the boiler that provides steam kilns.

        A sawdust collection system — an 820-foot blow line and 45-foot silo — preceded the installation of the green fuel burner from USNR. But some reconfiguration was necessary to get the system aligned so the green fuel burner could be fed on demand. A team of individuals worked together to fit the USNR kiln and the green fuel burner into the mill. It included Alan Robbins, sales manager of USNR’s dry kiln division, and Ben Crim, a corporate engineer with Hood Industries who is based in Hattiesburg, as well as Kevin and Thomas.

        “We enjoy working with those guys” at Hood Industries, said Alan. In fact, he explained, even as one installation was completed another effort involving USNR and Hood Industries was beginning. Hood Industries recently bought a mill in Metcalf, Ga.; it has a USNR steam kiln, and Alan and Ben are going to be working together to have it refurbished. Hood Industries also has steam kilns from USNR in place at its mill in Coushatta, La.

        USNR and Hood have had a great working relationship, noted Alan. What is most gratifying is helping companies like Hood Industries get the most out of their equipment, he added. For example, USNR was able to help Hood Industries go from seven kiln charges per week to eight in its new kiln. That is the equivalent of increasing kiln capacity by more than 14%.

        That is good news for Hood Industries, Alan observed, but it will probably mean the Waynesboro plant will be able to meet its drying needs without adding another USNR kiln immediately, something that was considered an option. In any case, USNR’s sales of green fuel burners are brisk, according to Alan; the 18th burner has just been installed.

        The new 84-foot, single-zone, double-track kiln from USNR is filled with about 153,000 board feet per charge, said Kevin. The results of the drying have been very good. The gasified approach to heating eliminates warping on the top layer of wood, said Kevin, and the USNR green fuel burner is designed and built so there is no ash or other residue on the lumber.

        The wood dried with the gasified heat is “not as bright as that coming out of the steam kilns,” said Kevin. After it is planed, however, the lumber appearance is the same.

        Wood waste at Waynesboro is chipped and sold to paper mills. The mill has four chippers, all older models from Söderhamns.

        A Newman-Whitney four-head, 16-knife planer is the workhorse of the planer mill. The machine has been in service for almost two decades.

        Like other companies, the Waynes­boro mill has implemented more technology to obtain the most yield and highest quality lumber from every log. The company has been steadily upgrading machine centers with optimization systems. The curve gang saw, for instance, was equipped with optimized controls in 2000.

        Four graders work in the mill. A USNR-HEMCO sling sorter automates the sorting process. “We’re looking at automatic grading at the planer mill,” said Kevin.

        Hood Industries contracts for all trucking. There is a rail siding at the Waynes­boro plant, but much of the company’s lumber production is shipped via truck. Hood sells to customers in New England, the Mid-West and across the Southeast.

        John Hammack, vice president of operations for Hood Industries, is Kevin’s supervisor. Kevin said he appreciates the way that John and other executives at Hood Industries balance management control with delegating a degree of autonomy at the mills.

        Kevin enjoys being on the manufacturing side of the wood products industry. He started out in procurement and timber buying. “I have a forestry degree from West Virginia University,” he explained, and so his first experience in the industry was in the field.

        After working in other lumber businesses, Kevin joined Hood Industries four years ago. “We just have a great team concept here in Waynesboro,” he explained. “You want to stay on top,” and the collaborative effort is imperative to doing so.

        A recent high point for the team at Waynesboro came in the spring. “We received the SFPA safety award back in April,” said Kevin. The recognition from the Southern Forest Products Association cited the strong commitment to safety at the Waynesboro plant, including no OSHA-recordable injuries for 21 months.

        Employees at the Waynesboro mill respond to the good working environment. The age and workforce at the plant is mature with many veteran employees, said Kevin. Once hired, employees tend to stay.

        Waynesboro is located in southeast Mississippi. It is the capital of Wayne County and almost 5,200 people call it home.

        Kevin lives in Hattiesburg, which is 70 miles north of the Gulf shore. Even that far inland, Katrina sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. The Waynesboro mill was down for a week following the storm, mostly because of lost power. It was up and running soon enough to start helping landowners keep their investment in timber viable.

        The Waynesboro mill expanded the log yard at the Waynesboro mill as a way of stepping in and helping the Gulf Coast community affected by Katrina. To accommodate the surge in logs, wet pads were added to the already extensive system of ponds, ditches, pumps and existing pads.

        Kevin said everyone wishes they could have done more and that needs in Gulf Coast communities remain enormous. Just finding contractors who are available to repair roofs and other structural damage is still difficult. “There are a lot of blue roofs” some 10 months later, said Kevin, referring to the blue tarps that have been fastened over storm-damaged roofs.

        Until two years ago, the Waynesboro mill manufactured 5/4 radius edge decking. Then it moved into 2-inch dimension lumber in long lengths and rough green 1-inch lumber. Adapting to changing markets is part of the tradition of Hood Industries and its Hood Companies parent.

    Entrepreneurship and risk taking propelled Hood businesses to great success. Its forward-looking philosophy is shared by USNR. The USNR name brings tools together under one umbrella, even as it develops new ways to link the tools together to the best advantage of the wood products industry.


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