Thirty years of carriage scanning experience showcased
“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.