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L-M Equipment Co. Ltd.’s Most Advanced Verticut Introduces FACT
Canadian Supplier’s Fast Advance Cutting Technology Electronically Controls Package Saw Cut

By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 9/3/2002

L-M Equipment Co. Ltd., the Canadian manufacturer of package saws, has developed the latest, most advanced in its line of Verticut package cutting systems.

L-M Equipment has been in business since 1957 and is the leading manufacturer of package cut-off systems in North America, according to its president, Rick Weihs. "We have more machines in the market than any other North American manufacturer," he said.

The company had been manufacturing arch saws for some time when it developed the first Verticut-style package saw in the late 1980s. Its package saws have improved from the original cable-driven, more simple systems to high technology, state-of-the-art machines and incorporating such additional features as rollcases, inline strappers, side squeezers, and infeed and outfeed package transfers.

The new Verticut P4 system has a somewhat different look. The company also added a roof over the operator’s station to allow for outdoor operation in inclement weather. The drive assembly was upgraded with a stronger, self-cleaning drive system that eliminates any chance of chain stretching and saw dust build-up.

One of the most significant improvements is the use of a new technology – linear bearings – on the guide system rather than cam followers, which will increase accuracy and reduce wear.

The new Verticut features an Allen-Bradley touch screen control panel and a variable speed, electronically controlled cutting system called FACT (Fast Advance Cutting Technology). The cutting speed is controlled using a PLC that reads the amps drawn from the saw motor; the cut will speed up or slow down automatically in order to keep the saw motor at the most efficient amp draw and fastest possible cut cycle. If a lot of packages are to be cut to the same lengths, the operator can program the system using the touch screen control panel, then load the lumber with the forklift. Using a wireless remote control, he can start and stop the machine, cutting packages of lumber all day long without getting off the forklift.

The 6-foot, double-end, stellite inlaid saw blade is extremely rigid, Rick noted, and another feature of the new drive assembly is that it is "forgiving" if binding or pinching occurs. This provides protection to the operator in the possibility the chain breaks. "It took considerable time and research to make that improvement," Rick reported.

L-M Equipment has its origins as a supplier of circular saws for the forestry industry. By the 1970s its main market focus was equipment for sawmills that produced shakes and shingles; the company built a variety of shake resaws, splitters, block saws and also handling equipment and custom machinery.

Rick has been president of the company since purchasing the business in 1996 from his father, who retired, and previously worked in the company. His father initially bought into the company in 1981.

L-M Equipment manufactures a wide variety of package saws, which utilize chainsaws to cut an entire bundle of lumber or other material at one time. The company offers three portable models, for example, and a traveling arch saw as well as other stationary systems. It’s top-of-the-line Verticut is available with chain feed, carriage and rollcase and offers a number of optional features and equipment, such as plc controls, automatic strapper with side squeeze, depth programmable cutting, and infeed-outfeed package transfers, to mention just a few.

L-M Equipment’s package saws feature heavy-duty construction. "Being located in the Pacific Northwest, we are used to building machinery for large, heavy logs," said Rick. "We always think ‘heavy’ when designing machinery." L-M Equipment package saws utilize hollow section steel structural tubing, known for its strength.

"Our machinery is designed with our customers in mind," said Rick. "Most components are locally available in any major city. We also stock parts for all our machines and fill orders for them promptly." Parts in inventory include saw chain, sharpening equipment, saw bars and much more.

L-M Equipment can provide various optional equipment on its package saws. For example, the kerf opener or package lift raises the lumber when the saw gets to the bottom of the cut, preventing binding. A bi-directional digital read out enables precision cutting to 0.010-inch.

The company offers a variety of ‘bump’ system options that tap the bundle of material against a steel plate to ensure that the individual pieces are flush on one end. L-M Equipment offers both single-end and double-end bumps; the latter is more efficient when working with frozen lumber. These bumps typically are used to eliminate end trims and reduce lumber loss.

In addition, L-M Equipment provides custom manufacturing services to provide a system that meets almost any requirements a customer might have – such as different length infeeds and outfeeds. For example, the company custom-manufactured three large Verticut systems for Universal Forest Products that have been in operation for several years.

Although it is primarily known for its package saws, L-M Equipment manufactures other saw systems and material handling equipment. For example, the company manufactures a chainsaw log splitter that is designed to split large, over-size logs into two or more manageable pieces; the machine, which requires only one operator, can split logs 36 inches to 96 inches in diameter. L-M Equipment also manufactures a wide range of saws for cutting logs to length, such as deck cut-off saws and circular cut-off saws.

L-M Equipment also manufactures saw bars and refurbishes all brands and types of saw bars. "Our saw bar technicians have over 40 years of experience," said Rick, "and combined with the newest type of saw bar material and stellite rails, our saw bars are hard to beat."

Package saws can cut anything from lumber to cants. They are attractive to the pallet industry, Rick noted, because they are productive and save labor. "It’s a labor-saving machine," he said. Cutting whole bundles of lumber at one time is more efficient, he pointed out, compared with individual saws or even multi-trim saws that process one piece of lumber at a time.

In a pallet plant that remanufactures long-length material on a multi-trim saw into deck boards or stringers for example, two workers may be required to feed material and another two or three to stack finished boards, Rick noted; this kind of operation may produce 20-30,000 board feet per shift. The L-M Equipment Verticut Carriage System, by contrast, using one or two workers, can produce 50-60,000 board feet a day using a Verticut Rollcase System with an Inline Bumper. One L-M Equipment customer cuts more than 200,000 board feet per shift, according to Rick.

Package saws are finding increasing applications in sawmills, too, said Rick. Sawmills "have to be more versatile," he said, when servicing customers like home centers and other businesses that sell building supplies. L-M Equipment recently sold several machines to sawmill businesses serving customers such as Home Depot. Home center stores may want lumber in 10-foot, 12-foot, and 14-foot lengths, he noted. "It’s more economical for mills to run 20-foot material through their plant, then use a package saw to cut them in two." L-M Equipment has sold several Verticuts with rollcase and carriage systems to sawmills for that very application, he added.

L-M Equipment has supplied package saws for industries in other applications – for cutting gypsum wallboard with a carbide-tipped chain, for example. The company also has experimented with package saws for cutting plastic pipe.

L-M Equipment has about 15 employees. The company’s British Columbia manufacturing facility has more than 10,000 square feet. The shop is fully equipped with over-head cranes, radial arm drill presses, machining lathes, milling machines and the newest technology of welding machines.

"Because of our high standards in quality control," said Rick, " we need to be equipped with all the right machinery to produce our product in our own shop. As soon as you start sending components and product out for others to manufacture for you, you lose quality control. We want to be self-sufficient to ensure the highest quality product with an on-time delivery."

In its advertising, L-M Equipment makes a point of its Canadian location and the favorable monetary exchange rate. "You are not getting a cheaper machine for less," said Rick. "You are getting a better machine at an affordable price. In other words, you get more bang for your lumber-cutting buck."

The shop staff has over 100 years of machinery experience; each member is certified in a trade and has completed extensive training and apprenticeship programs. "You need experienced trades people to produce a quality product," said Rick.

L-M Equipment’s products range in price from $5,200 to about $250,000. The company has hundreds of its package saws operating around the world, according to Rick, including countries like Taiwan and Israel. Sales have grown steadily in the North American market, he said.

L-M Equipment offers supervised installation, start-up assistance and operator training for all its equipment. The company also has three service technicians ready to respond to any customer request for assistance.

For more information on L-M Equipment Company Ltd. or its products, contact the company at (800) 455-8807, fax (604)431-7711, e-mail sales@LMSaws.com, or visit the Web site at www.LMSaws.com.

Alberta Pallet Maker a Firm Believer in Package Saws

Foothills Pallet and Wood Products Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta has been a firm believer in package saws and L-M Equipment Co. Ltd. almost since the pallet company’s inception 18 years ago. "We’ve chainsaw-cut from 16 years back," said owner-president Ernie Bancarz. "It saves a ton of labor."

Ernie started Foothills Pallet after working previously in the lumber industry. Today, with 18 employees, the company mainly manufactures custom pallets for customers in such industries as steel, chemicals, containers and building supplies.

Foothills buys economy and No. 3 lumber and remanufactures it into pallet parts. Material is cut to length on an L-M Verticut package saw. Lumber that requires resawing is put through a Baker Products single-head horizontal band saw. The company also is equipped with a Baker double-head notcher for notching stringers. Most pallets are assembled on a Viking Engineering Turbo 505 nailing machine.

Ernie was introduced to package saw technology and L-M when he went to look at machinery that was put up for sale by a competing pallet company that went out of business.

When he first looked at it, a smaller L-M model, "I didn’t quite understand it," he recalled, "but I saw the potential in it." He had not previously been aware of L-M Equipment Co. Ltd. when he first examined that package saw two years after starting Foothills.

Ernie bought the machine from a leasing company, and the impact on his operations was immediate and substantial. Foothills had been using three or four men and two pop-up saws to cut material to length. Cutting the same material on the L-M package saw required only one worker. "Instead of using three or four workers to cut lumber, we used that (L-M package) saw and turned it into a one-man show," he said.

Since then Foothills has upgraded its package saw twice with newer, more advanced models from L-M Equipment in order to increase production. The company purchased its Verticut system from L-M two years ago. "Yesterday we cut 106,000 board feet on it," said Ernie. Daily production ranges from 60-100,000 board feet, he said. "It’s a very reliable saw," he added.

Foothills’ newest L-M saw is equipped with such optional features as a double-bumper and automatic strapping. "You can’t get anything better than that," Ernie said of the L-M Verticut.

L-M also has provided very good service, according to Ernie. "L-M is a very good company for service. If we have any kind of problem, they handle it...As far as service and taking care of the machines, they’re excellent."

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