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Wyoming Company Adds New Cant Line from Pendu Mfg. -- Bearlodge Forest Products also Installs New Big Jake Scragg
Bearlodge Forest Products: New Pendu cut-up system, which produces pallet deck boards and stringers from cants, helps trim labor, increase production at Wyoming company.
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 12/1/2008
“We’re pretty proud of our timber management here,” said Dan Neiman, president of Bearlodge Forest Products. “Sustainable forestry is something that’s important to us all.”
The diverse product line at Bearlodge Forest Products (BFP) includes new pallets, custom boards, wood siding, wood fuel pellets and firewood. BFP produces about 6 million board feet of lumber products annually. Its 22 employees work on a 50-acre site with five buildings and about 29,000 square feet under roof.
BFP is co-owned by four family members: Dan, his wife, Ann, who is secretary-treasurer, their daughter, Dena Mills, vice president, and Dena’s husband, Doug, vice president.
A few years ago, BFP began considering the potential of scragg logs, which were plentiful and priced right.
Selective thinning of ponderosa pine is a standard management practice in the
The U.S. Forest Service solicited grant proposals from businesses to make use of small diameter, low value trees removed by thinning projects on national forest lands, and BFP submitted one.
BFP received a $250,000 Forest Service grant in 2007 to help pay for a new cant cut-up line from Pendu Manufacturing. The company also is adding a new scragg mill to process the logs into cants.
Applying for the federal grant involved a pre-application process and then completing a formal application. The company dealt with the staff of the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in
The scragg mill was being installed when Dan, Dena and Doug talked with Pallet Enterprise in mid-October. The new Pendu line, installed in September, was not yet running at full capacity, but it will when the new scragg mill comes on line. “It’s got a lot more potential,” said Dan, referring to the new Pendu cut-up system, which produces pallet deck boards and stringers.
The investment in the Pendu system represents a necessary change, Dan explained. “We need to reduce manpower.” The company, which previously used bandsaws to resaw material into pallet parts, determined it could reduce manpower by shifting to circular sawing with a gang saw.
BFP buys standing timber and contracts for logging. It uses mainly ponderosa pine logs ranging from 8-26 feet long. They are debarked with a
The new scragg mill is a Timberland Machinery Big Jake scragg. It will process each bolt into a four-sided cant, and the cants will be routed to a six-bay sorter.
A forklift moves cants to the infeed deck and unscrambler that lead off the Pendu line of equipment. The cants are conveyed to a Pendu cant trimmer to be trimmed to the precise length. Trim ends are conveyed to the chipper, and the sized cant material continues inline to a Pendu horizontal bandsaw to be center-split. If the operator wants to eject a particular piece from the program, he can do so via a cantilevered rollcase and storage deck that were designed and built by Pendu. The material continues inline directly to a Pendu 4300 gang saw, which produces deck boards or stringers, and ends at a Pendu 4400 stacker.
Choosing Pendu as a vendor was relatively easy, according to Dan. “We tried to assess what we needed to accomplish and then find the right equipment to do it,” he said. “When we started dealing with Pendu, we found them knowledgeable and cooperative.”
Pendu sent BFP a demonstration video, and from there it was collaborative effort. “We redesigned it for the center-split bandsaw and cantilevered rollcase,” said Dan.
Doug worked closely with Pendu’s staff on the modifications. “Through the process, we were dealing with (Pendu sales representative) Wilmer Hurst, sending CAD diagrams back and forth,” he said. Pendu engineer Scott Cook also was closely involved in the project.
“They were conscientious to make the equipment fit our needs,” Dan added. “They’ve been nothing but helpful to me…My experience with Pendu has been a pleasant one.”
Dan and Doug are both knowledgeable about sawmill machinery and equipment.
Dan is a self-taught mechanic who has worked in the forest products industry his entire career. His only break came when he served four years in the Navy, including a year in
Doug holds degrees from Black Hills State University (BHSU) in
BFP originally did business as Hulett Post and Pole Co., which was owned by Dan’s father, Henry. (Dan’s grandfather was a logger and operated a sawmill, too.) Henry designed and built some of the original company’s sawmill equipment, including a carriage that runs on rubber tires. The sawmill now is equipped with more advanced machines, although much of the equipment built by Henry is still running.
The old mill continues to be important to the product line, especially its Chink-a-log® siding, which is sold under a trademarked name. The siding is so named because it features chinked joints that eliminate air movement.
“If we want to make Chink-a-log,” said Dan, “we’ll saw 2x8s at the sawmill.” In the finishing processes, the siding is surfaced and shaped with a Woods 414 planer. A Yates moulder and a shop-built log lathe are also part of the Chink-a-log system.
The abundant slabs produced at the sawmill eventually led the owners to look at ways to recover lumber from them. With the addition of slab recovery machinery, the company began producing low-grade lumber that it could use for pallets, which it began manufacturing in the 1970s.
Most of the company’s pallets are assembled on a Viking Duo-Matic nailing machine purchased in 2005. The company has two older nailing machines that are no longer in service, a Viking Champion bought in 1993 and a Palletron made in 1981.
BFP is based in Hulett, a town of about 400 people in northeast
Henry launched a logging business in 1953, and in 1973 he added a post and pole mill and treating facility. However, the steel fence post came along about then, and they were unable to compete, so they soon switched to other wood products.
BFP produces about 10,000 pallets each month. Common sizes are 42x42 and 42x52. Only about 5% of the company’s pallets are heat-treated, but beginning in 2009, about 95% will be heat-treated. The company has a Nyle Corp. kiln system to heat-treat pallets, and its heat-treating processes are audited by Timber Products Inspection.
BFP supplies pallets to local mining and manufacturing companies. The company’s Mack trucks deliver most of the products they manufacture within about a 300-mile radius.
BFP entered the wood fuel pellet business in 2008. It is a growing part of the company’s business. “At 100 tons per month, we obviously can’t make them fast enough,” said Dena. “We expect to make about 5,000 tons per year when the plant is complete and we make it around the learning curve.” Pellets are packaged in standard 40-pound bags as well as 2,000-pound tote bags. Another federal grant enabled the company to invest in equipment for the pellet operations, the centerpiece of which is a Sprout Waldron pellet mill.
The team at BFP put its collective mechanical expertise to work when launching the pellet mill. “We designed the layout and bought all the pieces separately,” said Dan. A Schutte-Buffalo hammermill is used to reduce the wood to the proper size for the pellet mill. “We grind everything several times to three-sixteenths of an inch or less,” said Dan.
The raw material for the wood fuel pellet mill comes from the sawdust, shavings, slabs, edgings, trim ends and other scrap material.
BFP buys saw blades directly from Pendu to use on the Pendu line. It also buys blades from Missoula Saws, which provides saw blade service, too. Lindsey Forest Products provides sawmill wear parts.
When fully operational, the new scragg mill and the Pendu cant line will be staffed by six workers – one operating the bucking saw, another controlling the scragg mill, three for the Pendu system, and a forklift driver.
The team that operates BFP universally agreed they have an invigorating day-to-day pace. “We’re never bored,” said Dena.
“There’s always a variety as far as what we do,” said Doug. Adding or updating machinery or equipment enables the business to grow and evolve, which is exciting.
Dan has even a longer view since he started out years ago as a logger. “It’s been quite an adventure, looking back,” he said. Until he bought Hulett Post and Pole in 2001, Dan did all the logging for his father’s mill. That took him through advancements in logging equipment from the first stroke-boom delimbers to feller-bunchers and other machines.
Dan has been keenly interested in forestry management issues over the years. “I think I’m kind of a farmer at heart,” he said. He sees a connection between forestry and farming. Like a farmer, he is striving for a healthy ‘crop’ of trees year after year.
Principles of sustainable forestry have always been a part of Dan’s approach. “We do them because they are the right thing to do,” he said, and he gets a lot of satisfaction from the results. People do a much better job of managing forests than nature, he noted, which may wreak havoc with storms, fire, insects and disease.
The principals of BFP enjoy camping in their free time. It’s a good way to be with family and enjoy the picturesque part of the country where they live.