Thirty years of car­riage scan­ning ex­pe­ri­ence show­cased

Australasian Timber - - WOODTECH -

“THERE IS some­thing to be said for be­ing in busi­ness for a long time, es­pe­cially in our in­dus­try. Sawmill equip­ment com­pa­nies start up; they suc­ceed or fail, get rolled into other com­pa­nies, change iden­ti­ties and philoso­phies. Though we are rel­a­tively un­known in Aus­trala­sia, Lewis Con­trols, lo­cated in Cornelius, Ore­gon, USA, was founded in 1971,” says Marv Bern­hagen, Vice Pres­i­dent / Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer.

“Orig­i­nally set up as a part­ner­ship be­tween two en­gi­neers this small but suc­cess­ful com­pany was pur­chased 10 years later by an­other com­pany with a long (almost 100 years at the time) his­tory, Cor­ley Man­u­fac­tur­ing of Chat­tanooga Ten­nessee. Cor­ley was look­ing for a part­ner to pro­vide their own ver­sion of a new and ex­cit­ing tech­nol­ogy that was about to hit main­stream sawmills. Scan­ning, Op­ti­miza­tion and Con­trol would be­come com­mon­place over the next decade and Cor­ley/ Lewis was poised to take ad­van­tage.”

Cor­ley Man­u­fac­tur­ing makes a wide range of mill equip­ment but spe­cial­izes in equip­ment as­so­ci­ated with the car­riage. As part of a com­pre­hen­sive car­riage Line they can sup­ply ev­ery­thing from the log deck to the out­feed in­clud­ing band­mills, slab­bers, log turn­ers and drives. With the ac­qui­si­tion of Lewis they com­pleted the pack­age. Mills could now go to a sin­gle source for all of their car­riage needs.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s lin­ear po­si­tioner tech­nol­ogy had ad­vanced to the point of uni­ver­sal ac­cep­tance. One of the Lewis Co-Founders, Bob Lewis, was a true pi­o­neer in that field. Ac­cu­rate and in­de­pen­dent knee move­ment was pos­si­ble and the first sim­ple com­puter con­trols with pho­to­cell scan­ners fol­lowed. Many of the sys­tems that Lewis in­stalled in the 1980s and early 1990s are still run­ning and still sup­ported to­day.

One of the keys to the long ca­reer shared by many of these sys­tems was found in the de­sign of the com­puter cabi­net it­self, start­ing with the com­puter. The Multibus com­puter was a true in­dus­trial de­sign with wide solid con­nec­tions for the CPU that could with­stand se­vere vi­bra­tion and shock. Adding to the ro­bust na­ture of the prod­uct, Lewis de­signed the cabi­net to elim­i­nate heat. Heat was, and still is, the en­emy of elec­tron­ics. Keep­ing the prod­uct sim­ple and rugged was al­ways a Lewis de­sign goal.

Like all tech­nol­ogy, ad­vances in scan­ning com­bined with in­creas­ing com­puter speeds, mem­ory ca­pac­ity and data stor­age drove the in­dus­try for­ward. At that point, Lewis was faced with a de­ci­sion.

“Many com­pa­nies in the scan­ning busi­ness were tak­ing the new 3D scan­ners, in­stalling mul­ti­ple PCs and mar­ry­ing them to their old ob­so­lete in­dus­trial com­put­ers. It made for a fast en­try to the mar­ket but was it re­ally the cor­rect long term de­ci­sion for the cus­tomer?

“Lewis, on the other hand, chose a dif­fer­ent route,” said Marv.

Af­ter a two year de­sign phase, the Readyscan 1 was re­leased in 2001. De­sign be­gan in the late 1990s end­ing in a prod­uct re­lease in 2001.

“Orig­i­nally of­fered in Pho­to­cell or 3D mod­els, the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Readyscan I and the com­pe­ti­tion was that the Readyscan was the first sys­tem to rely on a sin­gle Win­dows com­puter to col­lect and edit scan data, cal­cu­late so­lu­tions and move set­works. Data trans­fer time be­tween com­put­ers and set­works was all but elim­i­nated,” he said.

“The re­sult was a sys­tem that could scan a log, op­ti­mize it and move it into po­si­tion very quickly with min­i­mal knee move­ment, and no need for the car­riage to stop – EVER. Us­ing the LMI L4 se­ries of scan heads, Lewis repli­cated the Readyscan I sys­tem over 100 times be­fore in­tro­duc­ing the Readyscan II in late 2009.

“Go­ing back to their roots of a fast, sim­ple and rugged prod­uct, the Readyscan II com­bines the speed of the Readyscan I with the fea­tures that made the old pho­to­cell sys­tems tough. The Win­dows com­puter we use has no mov­ing parts. The pro­gram is stored on a solid state hard drive and du­pli­cated on a thumb drive. The unit is shock mounted. Power sup­plies are high ef­fi­ciency mod­els and pro­duce very lit­tle heat. Eth­er­net is the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool used through­out the cabi­net. In­stal­la­tion wiring is sim­pli­fied and re­mote ser­vice ac­cess is avail­able through Net­work or Broad­band com­mu­ni­ca­tion. “Scan­ners have im­proved as well,” says Marv. “Cur­rently of­fered with the LMI Chro­mas­can 2440 se­ries of sen­sors, cross sec­tion data is dou­bled over our older 3D sys­tems. So is scan in­ten­sity. Dark logs no longer blind the scan­ners and these sys­tems col­lect data twice as fast. With an at­trac­tive five year war­ranty on Chro­mas­can sen­sors, over 100 Readyscan II’s have been sold and in­stalled world­wide since 2009.

“Throw in Lewis Con­trols ex­tras like free soft­ware up­grades for two years and a pro­gram of­fer­ing a full set of spares is at no charge for one year and I be­lieve you will see that the new choice may be a good choice,” Marv said.

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