In August 2015, Comact delivered a GradExpertTM to Chaleur Sawmills Associates in Belledune, New Brunswick. The investment, worth nearly $1.7 million, included the purchase of the GradExpertTM besides several other modifications which had to be brought to the building and to the planer line in order to increase throughput and fully exploit the new optimizer’s potential. Return on investment is expected to take 9 ½ months. Such gains are considered substantial and, even more so, since Chaleur Sawmills already owned a geometric lineal optimizer.
“This turns out to be an amazing installation. In fact this is one of the best projects we’ve ever done,” mentions Mr. Norbert Maltais, Vice‑President of Chaleur Sawmills. He adds, “Preparation makes all the difference. We quickly noticed the Comact team was very well-prepared for this project.” As a matter of fact, the Comact team went to the premises to conduct a pre-installation visit of the equipment. Doing so allowed the optimization team to gather all the information required on Chaleur Sawmills’ grading methods to ensure their system preparation would truly reflect how the mill works.
Training and Pre-startup: Two Key Steps for a Good Startup
In addition, the Chaleur Sawmills team went to Comact’s Boisbriand division for a one-week, intensive training session in order to grasp and master how the optimizer works. Chaleur Sawmills boards were also scanned in their own GradExpertTM during equipment preparation. This way of working gave the Comact team the opportunity to conduct a pre-startup of the equipment before its actual final installation at the client’s mill. “The training we received at Boisbriand was really useful to us. Testing our boards at Comact made all the difference. The team was really ready. Startup was conducted professionally and quickly,” states Mr. Maltais. It is worth noting that it took under a week and the GradExpertTMinstalled at Chaleur Sawmills had already reached the performances guaranteed under the contract.
A Mature Technology and an Exemplary Service
Chaleur Sawmills chose the Comact GradExpertTM since it is backed by mature technology, has a proven track record, and they trusted it would fit the bill. “Our fir volume represents 40% of our raw material procurement. Therefore, we had to have a high-performance rot detection system and only the Comact GradExpertTM could deliver the required performances,” declares Mr. Maltais. The Comact GradExpertTM has been on the market for 10 years now and almost 100 such systems have been installed so far. Mr. Maltais adds that “Comact offers us exemplary service. That’s of the reasons we have chosen them. Doing business with Comact is always a seamless experience.”
“The new optimizer has allowed us to increase our throughput and thereby go down from a 7‑day production week to five days. We have also eliminated 4 work stations, reduced our trimming by almost 1% and increased our 2 X 4 Premium & Select by 25%. Our mill has never produced as much as with our GradExpertTM,” mentions Mr. Maltais. The planer mill produced roughly 150 million FBM annually with an average throughput of 200 boards per minute.