Biligom In­ter­na­tional launches rev­o­lu­tion­ary new struc­tural tim­ber prod­uct

Australasian Timber - - NEWS -

YOUNG MOIST eu­ca­lyp­tus tim­ber has not pre­vi­ously been suc­cess­fully fin­ger-jointed, treated and cer­ti­fied for struc­tural ap­pli­ca­tions with­out dry­ing, how­ever, a new process has re­moved the time and cap­i­tal ex­penses re­lated in kiln dry­ing, greatly im­prov­ing cash flow for saw milling op­er­a­tions.

Cur­rently, eu­ca­lyp­tus gran­dis and gran­dis x camel­d­u­len­sis species are in pro­duc­tion and re­search is un­der way with other species na­tive to Aus­tralia as this ex­cit­ing tech­nol­ogy ex­pands.

For over two years, Biligom has suc­cess­fully sup­plied the roof truss man­u­fac­tur­ing mar­ket us­ing su­pe­rior me­chan­i­cal qual­i­ties to out-com­pete con­struc­tion pine at the same price. Us­ing Biligom in a roof­ing struc­ture re­quires ap­prox­i­mately 50% less gang nails and 28% less wood by vol­ume in a 12 x 20 me­tre or larger build­ing as truss and ba­ton spac­ing can be sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased, cord and web sizes de­creased, while re­tain­ing load ca­pac­ity and rigid­ity.

Paul Roberts of Biligom re­ports there has been tremen­dous pos­i­tive feed­back from the start. Clients have re-or­dered and de­mand has steadily grown as the prod­uct has be­come known, more widely used and trusted.

Mitek In­dus­tries as­sisted Biligom de­vel­op­ment and com­pleted ex­ten­sive in­de­pen­dent test­ing us­ing moist (40% MC) and dry Biligom in 9 me­tre span test-trusses de­signed and man­u­fac­tured to glob­ally rec­og­nized stan­dards.

MiTek con­cluded Biligom can be used in the wet state for man­u­fac­tur­ing trusses and al­lowed to dry in place in a roof. Mike Ne­wham Pr Eng of MiTek, stated: “We be­lieve in Biligom and back it. The strength ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions and cal­cu­la­tions, and we had the gang nail plates fail­ing across the joint at char­ac­ter­is­tic strength.’ (when test­ing to de­struc­tion).”

MiTek has adapted their soft­ware to cater to Biligom and can pro­vide com­pa­ra­ble (Pine v Biligom) ma­te­rial and cost pro­jec­tions for roof­ing projects which al­lows clients to com­pare rel­a­tive ma­te­rial costs. Us­ing Biligom can of­fer up­wards of 30% sav­ing on a roof­ing pro­ject in many cases.

Rec­og­nized bod­ies have en­dorsed Biligom’s mar­ket en­trance. Fred Wag­ner, Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the In­sti­tute for Tim­ber Con­struc­tion South Africa (ITC-SA), which reg­u­lates the struc­tural tim­ber in­dus­try and plays a piv­otal role in the fi­nal sign-off of en­gi­neered roof­ing and build­ing, has backed Biligom and stated, “it’s great to see com­pa­nies like Biligom think­ing in­no­va­tively and tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to in­tro­duce new prod­ucts into the mar­ket’”.

Roy Southey Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Sawmilling South Africa con­firmed Biligom was a vi­able op­tion to sup­ple­ment the loom­ing pine short­ages of the fu­ture.

Biligom says raw ma­te­rial costs are more af­ford­able and avail­able than pine. Since the process does not re­quire a dry mill or kiln, start-up and op­er­at­ing costs are dra­mat­i­cally lower. Cap­i­tal start-up costs for an ex­ist­ing saw milling op­er­a­tor are rea­son­able. In­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment funds were used to com­mis­sion of the first li­cenced Biligom op­er­a­tion.

The most sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture of Biligom, is that logs can be loaded in a plan­ta­tion, pro­cessed and ready for dis­patch as struc­tural tim­ber the evening of the same day.

Trees are har­vested at a five to eight year ro­ta­tion, de­barked in-field us­ing the stand­ing rip stripe method and left for ap­prox­i­mately six weeks bring­ing down mois­ture con­tent to 40% or lower.

Tree lengths are pole graded, sorted by di­am­e­ter and length, and trans­ported to saw milling op­er­a­tions. Boards are then pro­cessed in the Biligom fin­ger joint plant which trans­forms cut moist Eu­ca­lypts boards into high qual­ity con­struc­tion lum­ber suit­able and cer­ti­fied for use in the roof truss and fram­ing mar­ket.

The boards are first cross-cut to re­move de­fects and sup­ply high qual­ity short lengths of ap­prox­i­mately 800mm for fin­ger joint­ing.

The fin­ger joint process squares the ends and cuts fin­ger joint pro­files, then an air ac­ti­vated polyurethane epoxy is ap­plied. Planks are as­sem­bled, cross-cut to pro­duc­tion length and hy­drauli­cally pressed to cor­rect com­pres­sion in an au­to­mated process. Cur­ing takes ap­prox­i­mately three hours.

Cured pro­duc­tion planks are planed in a sin­gle pass on 4-sides and have end nail plates in­serted. 100% of pro­duc­tion is tested to grade 7 in a stress grader in­cor­po­rated into the pro­duc­tion process. (Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to grade 8 is cur­rently in the ap­proval process, which will make Biligom 3 grades stronger than re­tail con­struc­tion pine.)

Fi­nally, pro­duc­tion stacks are treated with cop­per azole wood preser­va­tive Tanalith E, Ecospec­i­fier to SANS 1288 H2 in a vac­uum/

pres­sure/vac­uum cy­cle, treat­ing to re­fusal ac­cord­ing to Arch Wood Pro­tec­tion pro­ce­dures.

Biligom In­ter­na­tional was de­vel­oped by fa­ther and son team, Spencer and Fred­er­ick Drake. The Drake fam­ily es­tab­lished eu­ca­lyp­tus plan­ta­tions in Ge­orges Val­ley in the 1960s and Dig­gers Rest Saw Mill in 1974. For over 40 years Dig­gers Rest Saw Mill has worked prin­ci­pally with pine sup­ply­ing build­ing ma­te­rial and (chro­mate cop­per ar­se­n­ate / cre­osote) treated poles. The po­ten­tial of eu­ca­lyp­tus had al­ways in­trigued the Drakes who de­voted years and sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal in­vest­ment to de­velop and re­fine a process which ex­cluded the need to dry, yet would al­low Eu­ca­lypt cut lum­ber to re­tain form and pro­vide the re­quired strength to com­plete with pine.

Spencer en­listed the South African Tech­ni­cal Au­dit­ing So­ci­ety (SATAS) to de­velop an in­dus­try rec­og­nized and ac­cred­ited process which ad­heres to SABS / SANS and glob­ally rec­og­nized stan­dards. SATAS has en­dorsed Biligom and ad­min­is­ters an on­go­ing au­dit­ing pro­gram at the orig­i­nal plant and the first li­cenced Biligom op­er­a­tion in nearby Politsi.

Ex­ten­sive aca­demic re­search was per­formed at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity, De­part­ment of For­est and Wood Sci­ence. http://scholar.sun.ac.za/ han­dle/10019.1/80072

Biligom should be of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to Aus­tralian saw milling op­er­a­tors who are run­ning at less than 100% ca­pac­ity due to the grow­ing gulf be­tween sup­plies of do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced soft­woods and rais­ing con­sumer de­mand in Aus­tralia. Es­ti­mates show a soft­wood con­struc­tion lum­ber short­fall will reach 1.8 mil­lion m3 by 2035.

East­ern Aus­tralia has es­tab­lished Eu­ca­lypts (Gran­dis, Nitens, Calmal­d­u­len­sis) pro­duc­tion and much of it is sup­ply­ing the pulp and pa­per and bio-en­ergy mar­ket. An op­por­tu­nity now ex­ists for en­ter­pris­ing Aus­tralian saw millers, to progress be­yond the sup­ply gap re­lated to pine.

Paul Roberts of Biligom stated: “Now that a truss prod­uct can be ef­fi­ciently made from ma­te­rial pre­vi­ous used for pulp, chip, and bio-en­ergy, sev­eral is­sues can be ad­dressed to the eco­nomic ben­e­fit of all in­volved.”

“This should not be seen as a step-back­ward to ear­lier times of hard­wood fram­ing, as Biligom con­struc­tion lum­ber com­petes di­rectly in the soft­wood mar­ket at the same whole­sale rate.

“Adding value to Eu­ca­lypts cur­rently go­ing to pulp and bioen­ergy makes a lot of sense,” said Paul.

The Biligom de­vel­op­ment pro­motes a wider range of more af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble tim­ber prod­ucts which is in the in­ter­ests all, and in-turn will ben­e­fit re­lated in­dus­tries in­clud­ing truss man­u­fac­tur­ers and con­trac­tors as well as con­sumers.

Pro­ject in West­ern Cape us­ing Biligom struc­tural grade tim­ber.

Close-up of Biligom fin­ger-joint.

Stress grader

Pro­duc­tion.

Bundling.

Bun­dles pre Tan E Treat­ment.

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