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Baker Resaws Spark Production Boom at New Zealand Timber Processing Plant
New Zealand wood products and pallet cutstock producer positions for future through automation improvements led by Baker’s thin-kerf resaw technology.
Date Posted: 5/1/2013
KERIKERI, Northland, New Zealand – Despite a tough market, Mt. Pokaka Timber Products has experienced stellar growth over the last several years thanks to the versatility and production capacity of its upgraded facility. A component to the company’s success has been its relationship with Baker Products.
“We have doubled our sales since 2008” said Mark Hewitt, director and owner of Mt. Pokaka Timber Products. “The sawmilling industry has had a tough time over the past few years but we think that we are very well positioned for the upswing.”
Mt. Pokaka Timber Products produces fence pales, sawn posts, rough sawn timber, tree stakes, posts and stays, pallet cutstock, horticulture roundwood and stakes, marine posts, crate timber, mulch, woodchips and more. A large percentage of the products it makes are treated with a wood preservative to ensure the longevity of its products.
Hewitt credited the flexibility of his facility as one of the things that makes his operation stand out. It can process a wide variety of products in terms of lengths and dimensions. “You have to be able to adapt pretty quickly,” Hewitt said. “The last three to four years has been a time where I have had to focus hard on the management of my company. I am fortunate to have a small dedicated management team to assist, all of whom have been with the company for at least 10 years.
The two biggest products that the company makes are fencing and pallet/packaging components. “The two major product types produced at our facility are very similar. We can quickly switch over production to meet whatever customer need arises.” About 70% of the production capacity is fencing and related products compared to about 30% for pallet and crating components. Including roundwood, the total production of the facility is about 30 million board feet per year.
Baker Assists with
Mt. Pokaka Timber Products had its origins in 1989 when Mark Hewitt started with a tractor and post peeler machine making fence posts and has since grown to develop one of the largest thin board mills of its type in New Zealand. Hewitt explained, “The reason for our growth is that we are continually refining our production process to become more efficient and more competitive from a cost standpoint.”
The first five years the company existed it didn’t do any sawmilling at all. Hewitt took a trip to the United States in 1994 to see Baker equipment, and the rest is history. Baker Products launched Hewitt into the sawmill side of the business. Hewitt bought a Baker band Tri-Scragg and resaw system back in 1994. He expanded with more resaws in 2002 and 2003. Hewitt has progressively upgraded his sawmill from 2008 – 2011, adding two more six-head Baker model CX resaws. Most recently, in 2012, Mt. Pokaka Timber Products installed Baker Dedusters.
Each time the facility upgraded it became more efficient and added production capacity. Hewitt commented, “We wanted more capacity and flexibility in what we could cut in terms of lengths. The new system can handle logs of up to 20 feet in length and right down to six feet.”
The old system had the capacity to cut 42,000 board feet per day compared to 150,000 board feet with the new line added to the plant. On certain production runs the mill is cutting up to 170,000 board feet per day while it used to cut 8,000 board feet per day when the Tri-Scragg first arrived.
Along the way, Baker has been a valuable resource for Hewitt as he sought insight to improve his operation. He said, “One thing that stands out to me is Baker’s consistency. It is very reassuring to know that you can pick up the phone and talk with staff that have been there for 15 years or more. So many companies have gone out of business or had significant changeover in staff. I can pick up the phone and have a chat with Clyde Reed and the rest of the Baker staff about all sorts of sawing related issues.”
Yield and Simplicity Make
Baker Machinery a Right Fit
As log costs continue to increase, the yield of thin-kerf technology becomes a bigger advantage for Mt. Pokaka Timber Products. All of the Baker equipment runs in the resaw part of the operation where three-sided cants are broken down into thin boards. Hewitt stated, “Baker resaws provide a great yield rate thanks to their one-inch thin-kerf band systems. And we achieve a very good accuracy with the Baker resaws.”
Another major selling advantage is the simplicity and reliability of the Baker machines, according to Hewitt. He added, “In today’s world there is a real shift toward complex equipment in some sawmills, but it is good to have simple, reliable machinery that we rely on to produce simple wooden products.”
The Mt. Pokaka Plant Process
Hewitt’s company brings in raw logs that are debarked through a Valon Kone debarker. Bark is hogged and sold into the landscaping business. The log is then broken down on a Cooper scragg to pull out a center cant, which is fed into a Stenner resaw line. This resaw line cuts into various dimensions up to 20 feet in length. The random three-sided cants are processed in a multi-head trim saw that Mt. Pokaka Timber Products refined in-house. After this trimming procedure, the three-sided cants are fed through one of three six-head Baker resaw lines.
Products are then graded and put in stacks to be dried in a Windsor controlled kiln. Some products, such as tree stakes, may require some additional processing. The company added a Pendu stake pointing machine a few years ago to process tree stakes and other pointed products.
After drying, products are then blocked stacked for treatment in the company’s CCA plant to pressure treat wood. Mt. Pokaka Timber Products keeps a large selection of products on hand because it serves some of the largest building supply retailers in the country. The company owns a 68 hectare site, which allows for ample room for ongoing expansion.
All of the un-merchantable material is chipped and sold into the softwood chip market for pulp and paper. Sawdust is burned at the facility to provide heat to run the kilns.
The Challenging New Zealand Market
Over the last few years, New Zealand has faced the same challenges from a reduced housing market that has hit sawmills hard in the United States. Hewitt says, “Since the global credit market crunch in 2008, there have been over 50 sawmills that have closed in New Zealand.”
One of the things that has helped Mt. Pokaka Timber Products do better than the competition is its focus on the home improvement sector. “Although new home construction is down, remodeling remains strong. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) market has kept on trucking.”
Hewitt suggested, “Our business has certainly moved in more of a wholesale direction. We tend to focus on supplying the merchant chain N.Z. wide.” This has helped the company remain strong because it is dealing with larger firms.
Mt. Pokaka Timber Products works primarily with radiata pine from tree plantations. Hewitt said, “Our logs are from local radiata forests - widely acknowledged for producing high density, strong wood.”
Beyond selling throughout New Zealand, the company also exports to other countries, including pallet and crate components that are shipped to the Middle East.
The size of the fencing market is much larger per capita in New Zealand compared to the United States. Hewitt explained, “In New Zealand every house has a fence around it. Pretty much everybody has a privacy fence around the entire yard and the house. It’s a big market.”
All of this wood has to be treated due to the climate in the region or it wouldn’t last more than a few years. The company is a fully accredited licensee of Grade Right (N.Z.) Ltd and complies with the “Treat Right” audit assurance program.
Some local factors have led to recent demand spikes. A massive earthquake a few years ago in Christchurch, the second largest city in N.Z. before the earthquake, has created a large demand for treated wood products as the city rebuilds.
Despite the challenges Hewitt believes that his company is positioned for the future thanks to its commitment to automation and continuous improvement as well as the large and growing customer footprint it enjoys. Hewitt added that strong suppliers, such as Baker, have helped guide the process and enabled him to succeed by becoming more efficient and productive.
For more information on Mt Pokaka view the website www.mtpokaka.co.nz.
Baker Products Reaches 25th Anniversary, Continues Going Strong
Thin-kerf band resaw pioneer, Baker Products, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year! From its humble beginnings in 1988, when the company introduced the first Baker band resaw at the EXPO Richmond in Richmond, Va., Baker Products has evolved to become a leader in the design and manufacture of thin-kerf wood processing equipment. Baker Products has lived up to its slogan as a “Log-To-Lumber Leader.”
Founded by Ed Baker, one of the most innovative designers in the lumber equipment manufacturing business, Baker Products has always produced cutting edge technology that is simple to operate and affordable to own. The industry has embraced Baker’s equipment and made Baker Products one of the leading companies in the real world application of thin-kerf sawing as a method to producing more end products from fewer raw materials.
Whether you are a weekend hobbyist or a full-time industrial operation, Baker Products has always been committed to offering an extensive range of products that will meet your wood processing needs now and into the future. Baker Products offers a broad range of wood processing equipment, priced right for anyone’s budget.
Baker Products manufactures quality and highly productive woodworking machinery. Its machines are known for their long-lasting durability and high production. Baker’s product list consists of resaws, scragg mills, sawmills, cut-off saws, notchers, edgers and much more. Baker Products also offers specialty machinery such as its deduster, banding groove notcher, and chamfering machine, as well as material handling equipment like its unscrambler and various conveyors.
With over 30 different machines including a long list of accessories and options, Baker can create a successful, high production operation for a wide variety of sawing applications. Baker has firmly established a strong reputation in the pallet and lumber processing market. Its equipment is designed and produced within the company’s USA facility. One of the strategic advantages that Baker has is the fact that it operates a pallet facility where it can test and improve upon equipment designs. Baker equipment has been proven easy-to-use, high quality and long lasting while priced competitively.
Over the last year Baker Products has continued to innovate and evolve several of its woodworking machinery. For instance, the Baker double notcher has been a successful machine for years. However, since Baker introduced its first notcher, demands for higher production rates were something that Baker Products analyzed and wanted to take to the next level. Baker developed a new design to meet today’s higher production demands. The latest design, the Baker double notcher X2, increases production rates by 30% and is now producing 5,600 stringers per hour. This machine is powered by two 30-HP electric motors and will greatly assist high volume needs. Baker double notcher X2 requires no operator due to the integrated Baker unscrambler. The Baker double notcher X2 maximizes your production rate and is a high volume way to notch your wooden pallet stringers.
Within the last 25 years, Baker Products has achieved a great reputation for customer satisfaction in the wooden pallet industry. Baker Products would like to thank all of those who have trusted in Baker over the last 25 years! The Baker team looks forward with enthusiasm toward its second quarter of a century. Whether you are a small start-up operation or a large manufacturing plant, Baker Products thanks all of its customers for allowing the Baker team to supply your wood processing equipment needs. Baker Products will continue to work hard to develop its machinery and technology so that it will remain a supplier of high production, long lasting and innovative machinery.