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Problem Solvers: Froedge Machine & Supply Company
Froedge Machine & Supply Company designed a modern, safe and efficient custom grading line for a lumber company with outdated equipment.

By Staff
Date Posted: 3/1/2013

Problem: A lumber company needed to replace its outdated equipment with something that was safer and more efficient.


Solution: Froedge Machine & Supply Company built a custom grading line that fulfilled all of the company’s requirements.


                Mayfield Lumber in McMinnville, Tenn. was using old equipment that needed to be updated for safety and efficiency. David Mayfield, president, said he wanted to replace the company’s grading machinery with something that offered more modern features and was user friendly.

                “I had an outdated line with old equipment and I wanted to get a new trim saw that was  safer,” said Mayfield. “I wanted to set up my trim line so it was more ergonomically friendly and I wanted to make it easier for everybody.”

                Mayfield found the solution in a custom built system with help from Froedge Machine & Supply Company, a supplier of lumber handing equipment and automation services located in Tompkinsville, Ky. Tom Froedge, president, and his team worked with Mayfield to design a lumber grading line that met all of the lumber company’s requests. The result was a modern grading line that employed the latest technology and was safer and easier to use.

                The system takes lumber out of the kiln, separates the sticks from the lumber, and then sends the lumber down to the inspector who marks the grade on it. An automated system pulls out anything that needs to be remanufactured before grades are read by a grade mark reader, each board is measured for length and width and a tally is done. From there the lumber goes to the trim saw where it is trimmed for length before customized information is printed on each board and it is sent to a pull sort where it is pulled off into buggies. The system keeps track of the amount of lumber width going into the buggy and when the buggy sort is full, a ticket that documents every board in it is printed out for that buggy and is ready to go with it.

                The company also received the bonus benefit of tighter accountability and increased production without additional labor costs.

                “We have witnessed a dramatic increase in our production, with essentially no more manpower,” said Mayfield. “So it has been a very good move for us. It’s  like coming out of the dark ages into the computer age. We have been extremely pleased with the machinery.”

                Finding ways to design machinery that is as efficient as possible is one of the hallmarks of Froedge’s machining and fabricating services. The Froedge team does this by finding ways to minimize the amount of manpower needed for operating their machinery.

                “Given a blank sheet of paper, we try to look at the lowest labor input to break down a pack of lumber,” said Tom Froedge. “In general we try to install our infeed, tilt, letdown, and stick handling in a configuration that allows one man to manage this. At the grading area we focus on good board delivery and steady flow so the inspector has a rhythm.”

                Froedge has also provided Mayfield with follow-up maintenance service on the equipment, keeping it running smoothly and making it a loyal customer.

                “Froedge Machine has gone the extra mile in keeping us satisfied,” said Mayfield. “And if I ever buy another piece of machinery, Tom Froedge will be the first guy I call.”

                Froedge offers a variety of machining, automation, fabrication and specialty supply needs as well as repair work.

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