Smart Manufacturing 2.0

Smart Manufacturing 2.0

The SM² initiative (also referred to as Smart Manufacturing 2.0) aims to address structural competitiveness issues for Eastern Canadian sawmills and to promote the emergence of a new paradigm for increased diversification of new products and applications based on smart and agile technologies.

This initiative, administered by FPInnovations in collaboration with several partners, including Québec’s Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec (MFFP) and Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), addresses the challenges faced by the industry by promoting the development of innovative approaches, the implementation of revolutionary and flexible technologies, and the provision of a wide range of unique end products and by-products to sawmills.

Objectives of SM2

  • To guide the primary wood processing sector towards the adoption of new business models to reduce its dependence on co-product revenues
  • Create, develop and support revolutionary technologies to improve the value of the companies’ product basket and maximize the use of raw material
  • Adapt wood processing to market demands through agile and intelligent processing
  • Accelerate innovation by facilitating partnerships between industry, government and academia

Research topics

Log processing

Log processing

Define and develop new manufacturing concepts to change the fundamentals of log processing.

New technologies

New technologies

Develop new revolutionary technologies.

New Processes & Products

New processes and products

Designing new processes and flexible technologies to produce a wider range of products and byproducts.

DEVELOPMENT OF INTELLIGENT LOG TURNERS

Some log turner operational failures take days or even weeks to be detected and corrected. The financial losses related to these failures are considerable. It is very important to mark out the integration of new technologies to our wood transformation processes. It will therefore be interesting to integrate the virtues of artificial intelligence and machine learning into our processes to help the industry stabilize the performance of this machine and then work on improving it. The project was carried out on two types of turners (double roll and articulated roll) in two sawmills. The results of the project are used in the technological development of BID Group.

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DEBARKING

Brief description.

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SIMULATION (Optitek)

The complexity of sawmill transformation processes has increased with more and more varied supplies, more and more complex and agile processes, and an explosion of customer demands and specifications making the decision-making process more difficult for sawyers. This led FPInnovations to develop, with the financial support of the MFFP, an improved version of its sawing simulation platform. The new platform, which is called Optitek II, offers a new agile and flexible foundation that extends the use and analysis capabilities by integrating new analysis modules not covered by the existing tools (Forestry Module, secondary processing, PEP, flow analysis, MSR, optimization, etc.). It is a forward-looking platform with a modular architecture to facilitate future expansions.

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INTELLIGENT PLANER

As the last machining centre in the lumber production line, the planer plays an important role in adding value to the lumber pieces to maximize the potential value just before grading. Despite the degree of automation of the planer, communication with the automated graders is absent and as such, does not have a feedback device based on the grading. Moreover, the operating personnel adjust and calibrate the planer components according to their level of expertise in an irregular manner from one operator to another. Consequently, the performance of this equipment is highly dependent on the level of control of the human resources available in the plant, because, in addition to what has been mentioned, certain information that helps in the decision-making process, such as the actual positions of the cutting rings and the quality of the knife sharpening, is not measured in a systematic or automatic way.

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AGILE & FLEXIBLE DRYING

The traditional method of drying is to dry sawn products in batches. This method, although well known, is not very flexible and can take up to a week of drying per batch. These factors require a lot of handling and limit the agility of Quebec sawmills. To overcome this, this project aimed to study new promising drying technologies that favour rapid continuous drying piece by piece. These technologies are forced convection, conduction and high frequency. This new approach also ensures connectivity between sawing, drying and planing operations. All this improves the flexibility and agility of the process and reduces handling.

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OPERATIONAL RELIABILITY

Brief description.

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SAWING

Brief description.

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SPECIES IDENTIFICATION

Optimum drying strategies require a combination of species and moisture content sorting.

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SAW-FILING

The primary wood processing industry is facing a shortage of qualified workers. For the sharpening activity, this shortage translates into a lack of expertise. This expertise is necessary to obtain an optimal sharpening quality. The consequences of poor sharpening have an impact on the entire production line and lead to yield losses. In addition, modern sawing lines operate at very high speeds, which requires strict tolerances and greater precision in the sharpening of cutting tools. An automated sharpening facility will provide sharpening that meets these requirements. FPInnovations assessed the technical and economic feasibility of setting up an automated shop.

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SIMULATION DRYING TOOLS (FPDrySim)

Brief description.

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ALTERNATIVE JOINT PRODUCTS (Universal equipment)

The goal is to provide Quebec sawmills with new market opportunities to generate revenue by producing co-products other than chips for the pulp and paper industry. The project proposes a universal equipment concept to transform solid sawmill residues into a range of co-products with specific shapes and characteristics to meet the needs of the The project proposes a universal equipment concept to transform solid sawmill residues into a range of co-products with specific shapes and characteristics that meet the needs of fiber users for existing or emerging wood products. The project, carried out in collaboration with SEREX and an equipment manufacturer, consisted in the execution of a laboratory proof of concept based on a techno-economic evaluation and a cost/benefit estimate to demonstrate the financial potential of the implementation of such equipment.

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PARTICLES

The particleboard industry is facing challenges in terms of constant supply of raw material. Timber co-products can be an interesting solution for the manufacture of non-structural panels. The approach studied allows for the manufacture of larger particles, called wafers, for use in the core of panels (e.g., 25.4 x 25.4 x 0.7 mm). The main advantages of using this particle size are: improved mechanical and physical properties of the panels and reduced production costs. The main advantages of using this size are: improvement of the mechanical and physical properties of the panels and reduction of production costs by reducing the density of the panels and by reducing the consumption of glue required before pressing. Some fragmentation technologies exist, but they must be adapted to offer the possibility of transforming slabs and other sawing scraps into wafers of desired dimensions.

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NEW PRODUCTS

This project aims to contribute to this vision by enabling the lumber industry to take advantage of different opportunities that may arise in different markets for alternative products to those currently offered, i.e. conventional lumber products. This study supports projects that help the lumber industry increase its manufacturing agility by offering to meet specific, but varied needs of different wood users.

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STUDS (C-Stud)

For multi-story buildings, builders predominantly use metal studs as non-structural elements (interior divisions). In 2016, for the residential market, more than 10 million linear feet of steel studs were used instead of solid wood. These materials have replaced traditional 2 x 3 or 2 x 4 primarily due to their dimensional stability, superior acoustical performance, and ease of use (handling, transportation, and installation). In the context of the SM2 program, FPInnovations proposed to evaluate an economically viable option to these non-structural elements by developing engineered wood profiles from sawmill co-products. These profiles aim to use sawmill co-products to manufacture innovative products directly applicable in construction. These products will help develop or regain the market share lost by the substitution of wood by metal profiles in the residential sector.

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BORATE

Quebec sawyers must improve their competitiveness in the marketplace. One way to do this is to increase the yield of their operations in order to generate more lumber volume for each log sawn. At the same time, the U.S. is putting a lot of pressure to reduce imported softwood lumber volumes. Overseas export lumber is an interesting avenue. However, lumber destined for export must undergo either heat treatment (HT) or drying to be exported, mainly to Europe and Mexico. Borate treatment during the HT treatment phase is intended to improve the wood’s resistance to insects and fungi, thus diversifying the wood’s markets and applications.

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IMPREGNATION

Long-term durability and maintenance frequency of wood products remain critical issues in the selection of building materials. Targeting key attributes that add value to the use of wood products could significantly help the industry maintain market share that is constantly threatened by substitutes. Continuous processing could, in a rapid and agile manner, promote consistency and uniformity of treatments ensuring better in-service performance.

For more information: sm2@fpinnovations.ca

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