Ex­port award high­lights never-say-die at­ti­tude

Australasian Timber - - WOODTECH -

AUTOMATON & Elec­tron­ics won the en­gi­neer­ing in­no­va­tion cat­e­gory at this year’s Bay of Plenty Ex­portNZ Awards for log pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy. The com­pany has rev­o­lu­tionised log pro­cess­ing by us­ing the lat­est cam­era and laser tech­nol­ogy and has in­creased yields by at least 5% over other tech­nolo­gies, ac­cord­ing to the judg­ing panel.

The award was a strong en­dorse­ment of the Tau­ranga-based com­pany’s suc­cess in de­vel­op­ing its ex­port busi­ness af­ter suf­fer­ing from the ef­fects of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“The re­ces­sion re­ally made us lift our game be­cause at the time our do­mes­tic mar­ket was shrink­ing,” said man­ag­ing direc­tor Brian Smith, who co-founded the busi­ness with Tony Cable in 1986.

“We saw 35 sawmill clo­sures in Aus­trala­sia over a five-year pe­riod.”

Al­though Au­to­ma­tion & Elec­tron­ics con­tin­ues to work with a num­ber of New Zealand sawmills, and to pro­vide process au­to­ma­tion con­trol sys­tems for other New Zealand com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Domin­ion Salt and Bay of Plenty ki­wifruit cool stores, the fo­cus in­ter­na­tion­ally has been on solid wood pro­cess­ing sys­tems.

The firm had al­ready be­gun part­ner­ing in 1998 with Welling­ton­based Wind­sor En­gi­neer­ing Group, which spe­cialises in tim­ber dry­ing kilns and re­lated prod­ucts.

In 2006 the two com­pa­nies founded Wind­sor Tech­nol­ogy Inc in the US.

The new ven­ture pro­vides a range of lum­ber dry­ing sys­tems, peeler log con­di­tion­ing sys­tems, sawmill con­trol and au­to­ma­tion and in-kiln mois­ture con­tent mea­sur­ing sys­tems.

Au­to­ma­tion & Elec­tron­ics has about 15 peo­ple work­ing for it in the Bay, with 3 staff mem­bers in the US. A&E di­rec­tors are Brian Smith (man­ag­ing direc­tor) and Glen Pur­cell (en­gi­neer­ing direc­tor).

The com­pany spe­cialises in de­sign, pro­gram­ming and de­vel­op­ment of in­dus­trial con­trol so­lu­tions and soft­ware for the solid wood pro­cess­ing in­dus­try through­out Aus­trala­sia and the US and also pro­vides in­stal­la­tion ser­vices in Pa­pua New Guinea, South Africa and Chile.

Key spe­cialised prod­ucts in­clude 3D Laser scan­ning in­te­grated into a full 3D model to op­ti­mise saw log break­down and yield the best re­cov­ery from a log. The sys­tem in­cor­po­rates in­no­va­tive sim­u­la­tion fea­tures.

“We use lasers to pro­file logs or boards in a sawmill to build up a 3D im­age of it then we run optimisation soft­ware, which con­sid­ers all of the prob­a­ble fits based on value or vol­ume, then gen­er­ates a so­lu­tion,” said Mr Smith.

Darryl Robin­son, sawmill man­ager for Tenon Man­u­fac­tur­ing Lim­ited, a ma­jor Taupo-based wood prod­ucts pro­ces­sor, said the bar was con­stantly ris­ing when it came to op­ti­mis­ing log re­cov­ery.

Tenon uses an A&E Log View optimisation pack­age on its Head Rig log break­down.

“Every lit­tle bit of re­cov­ery helps in the sawmilling process,” he said. “Au­to­ma­tion & Elec­tron­ics has helped us and a lot of sawmilling com­pa­nies around New Zealand with their sys­tems and scan­ning equip­ment.”

The crew and the craft ...

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