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Visiting a Sawmill and its Operation

By Catherine Laflamme
A career in the forest products industry offers as many rewards and opportunities as it does challenges. That’s what participants in Resolute’s Engineering Graduate Program and Forest Products Association of Canada’s (FPAC) Green Dream Internship Program are discovering on the job at Resolute.
We are pleased to share a series of blogposts written by the new interns on their work experience and adventures.

I’m already past the halfway mark in my internship! Summer is in full swing in the Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean region and we’ve just experienced a major heatwave. So far, my experience has been very positive. I’m learning a lot and my experience will be a huge benefit to me in years to come.

This week, I am going to explain the process wood goes through from the time it enters to the time it leaves the facility.

First off, the wood is brought straight from the forest to the sawmill. A loader places it on the conveyors that form the two entry lines. When it enters these lines, a scanner sorts the wood according to size for the next stage. The largest pieces of wood remain at the current level and the smaller ones are placed on a lower level.

After this, they pass through the debarker, which is a unit with rotating blades to remove the tree bark.

The wood sections are then scanned to determine how they can be used. We refer to this as their pattern. This means that the log can be sawed into sections measuring 2 X 4, 2 X 6, etc. The sawing lines are themselves split into two. There is a small line, which includes the smallest logs from the start, and a large line, which comprises the larger pieces of wood. They are sorted into containers depending on their sawing pattern and are subsequently fed through various saws. This entire process is done automatically and sorting is done without any human intervention.

After sawing, the wood is taken to the grader, where it is graded with the other planks with the same pattern.

When the grader boxes are full, the planks pass down one level to the stacker where laths are overlaid on the piles of wood to form a bundle.

Finally, once the bundle is formed, it is taken outside where the heavy equipment operator places it in the yard with the other bundles. It is then taken to the dryer and planed before being sold.

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