Increasing Hardwood Lumber Recovery and Value at the Edger and Trimmer
There are over 3500 sawmills producing hardwood lumber in the Southeastern portion of the United States for the household furniture, cabinet, millwork, dimension, and flooring industries as well as for the export market. To stay in business, these sawmills must be able to produce the highest possible value lumber from any given saw log. In these mills, about 20 percent of hardwood lumber produced must be edged and nearly all lumber must be trimmed. Decisions on where to edge and trim boards can have a major effect on the resulting dollar value of the lumber produced. Previous studies have shown that there is a potential to increase lumber value by over 20 percent through ideal edging and trimming (Bousquet, 1989). Such a large potential can translate into millions of dollars for hardwood lumber manufacturers. Making ideal edging and trimming decisions are difficult because of the complexities of hardwood grading rules, the inability of an operator to include the effect of lumber prices and grading rules into the decision process, operator fatigue, and operator skill. We are presently conducting studies that will improve the performance of edging and trimming operations. The first phase of our research has focused on finding potential sawmill increases, in both lumber volume and value, through optimal edging and trimming. Based on these findings, a training tool is being developed to improve the skills of edger and trimmer operators. In the second phase of our research, we have initiated the development of a computer-aided edging and trimming system for hardwood lumber manufacturing. This paper discusses our current progress and future plans of these research activities.
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