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Norra Skog initiates woodworking ‘Tinder’ for customers

 Friday, October 13, 2023

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Swedish sawmills are focusing on the cutting-edge technology to upgrade their production as well as sawmills existing features. The industrial boom in northern Sweden continues at pace, with substantial investments taking place at Norra Timber’s sawmills. Rather than slowing down through the current tough recession, the sawmills owned by Norra Skog’s forestry owner’s association has opted to invest heavily to the amount of half a billion SEK.

Cutting-edge technology is now the talk of the town when it comes to woodworking industry. These technology upgrades are strengthening the sawmill’s reputation as one of the most modern facilities of its kind anywhere in the world. Norra Skog’s looks forward to utilise all the potentials of advanced sawmill technology that ensures the perfect match of raw material with high-end products.

“The sawmill is updating its already modern machinery to make it possible to read a log’s individual fingerprint. So now, instead of only being able to sort logs by characteristics such as dimensions and length, an the X-ray option allows us to view the internal characteristics of a log, such as any knots, shakes and fiberdeformation. With the help of this information we can process logs even more efficiently into products our buyers really want. In other words, we make sure it’s the perfect match every single time”, says Fredrik Samuelsson, Sawmill Manager at Norra Timber Sävar Sawmill.

‘Tinder’ for Swedish logs

Norra Timber brought a unique concept to make the timber match making process more easier for customers. Just like today’s popular dating apps, where you match people looking for love based on photos and preferences, Norra Timber’s sawmill in Sävar uses X-ray photography of logs and scans of the planks to accurately match products to the right customer.

“With the help of advanced technology utilized throughout the sawmill process, we are able to sort logs in a completely new way and determine what the final product will be before we insert the bandsaw blade into the log. In the past we visually detected characteristics along the bandsaw saw line. Thanks to AI technology, we can now ‘swipe’ right or left at the beginning of the process. It’s another step towards treating and maximizing each log individually, instead of processing logs collectively”, says Fredrik Samuelsson.

Investing half a billion SEK in modern sawmills

The board of Norra Skog, which is owned by its 27,000 forestry business members, has committed to investing just over half a billion SEK in modern technology at its three sawmills in Kåge, Hissmofors and Sävar. The investment in Sävar totals SEK 200 million, and includes a brand new log sorting line (including the land it is being built on), as well as upgrades to the saw intake to improve control over the saw line. This will enable individual logs to be identified, as well as make it possible to follow and document logs throughout the entire sawing process – ensuring maximum utilization of the raw material.

“With continuous improvements to our processes, we hope to get closer to 100% value exchange in the future. It is an important technological step that will make even better use of the forest’s sustainable products”, says Fredrik Samuelsson.

Norra Skog is concerned about environmental impact.

The forestry industry contributes to society and its transition towards a more circular and fossil-free future by using renewable raw materials from forests and creating fossil-free products that bind carbon as the forests grow. Norra Timber works tirelessly to ensure that nothing is wasted in the production of sawn and planed timber products. For example, chippings are used to produce bedding products for
horses and agriculture, wood chips are used in pulp mills, and the residual products from sawing are utilized to heat households in the local community via the electricity company’s district heating network.

How does the entire thing work?

Incoming logs are X-rayed in an industrial X-ray machine called CT-log, where knots and physical dimensions are recorded and used to identify individual logs. A new scanner (Goldeneye) in the grading mill then pairs the physical plank with data from the X-ray scans in order to locate the specific log the plank comes from. These components are connected via a software program that analyzes the data and provides operators with the ability to trace the log throughout the entire process from a log to a sawn timber product.

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