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Norra Timber invests 400 million for efficient X-ray technology

 Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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Norra Timber invests 400 million for efficient X-ray technology

In 2017, the Sävar sawmill installed its first X-ray equipment, boosting its annual board production by 6,000 cubic meters – the equivalent of 100 fully loaded truck and trailer combinations. Building on this success, Norra Timber has now committed an additional SEK 400 million to advance its industrial capabilities. This investment aims to keep their facilities at the cutting edge of technology, with state-of-the-art X-ray technology playing a central role.

The newly upgraded equipment not only optimizes log orientation to maximize plank yield but also leverages artificial intelligence to assess the quality of the logs. This AI capability helps determine the most suitable products for the wood based on the characteristics of different log sections.

”It’s about X-rays just like in a hospital. The difference is that the scanning is faster, each log only takes two seconds”, says Henrik Jönsson.

The installation, costing an impressive SEK 400 million, is set to be fully operational by autumn 2025. At that point, the X-ray technology will be integrated into the initial stage of the sawmill process. Upon arrival, every log transported by truck will undergo scanning to accurately assess its dimensions and internal characteristics.

”By scanning the logs directly, we can sort them according to quality and different internal properties. If a customer wants fine planks for furniture – without twigs and with a special drying process – we can identify right from the start which logs would be best for that customer. Even before we sawed”, says Henrik Jönsson.

He adds:

”With the help of X-rays, you can also simulate how many boards are optimal to take out of the log, which reduces wastage. In this way, we can extract as much value as possible from each log. A log with a larger branch can be turned with the help of the support from the X-ray so that the branch only ends up on one board and the board next to it becomes branch-free. The logs account for 75 percent of our cost, therefore we want to get as much value as possible from each log.

The primary purpose of the investment is to be able to connect production data to each “stock individual”. In the future, each log may also be marked with an ID number – a fingerprint.

”Traceability and data on the wood’s environmental impact will be a competitive advantage. It will also be a driving force for ourselves to work more on how we can influence that part”, says Henrik Jönsson and continues: ”If something goes wrong in production, that a plank goes bad, by mapping all the planks, we can easily go back and see exactly where in production it went wrong. We can also see how much energy was used for each product and thus get better cost and environmental control.”

The investments ensure that Norra Timber’s sawmills continue to be at the technological forefront and be competitive for the future.

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