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    Sometimes you look around the industry and have a need that just doesn’t seem to be met with the standard machinery offered by the leading suppliers. And when those instances occur, you may have to go back to the drawing board to develop something new. That is what happened when North Star Pallets of Edmonton, Alberta, partnered with Pallet Machinery Group and Automated Industrial Technologies (AIT) to develop a new high-speed resaw for cutting pallet lumber.

    David Luscombe, owner of North Star Pallets, offered some key insights when you want to develop a customized solution. It all starts with selecting the right machinery supplier. You will want to find a vendor who has the expertise to deliver. Luscombe said, “Greg is very straightforward and doesn’t over promise or under deliver. He consistently walks the talk.”

    Luscombe was speaking of Greg Wine, the president of Pallet Machinery Group. Wine has been an industry veteran for years and is well known for his experience and integrity. Luscombe said, “Greg Wine in conjunction with AIT developed this saw from scratch for us. They both stand behind their equipment and have been excellent vendors.”


Keys to Smart Production

    North Star needed to boost production in its resaw operation. The company has used a Producto circular resaw for years. While it was a good saw in its day, the pallet manufacturer needed to boost the feed rate of this part of its operation. Luscombe explained, “We needed to increase our feed speeds from 200 ft. per minute to 350-400 ft. per minute with a very thin kerf.” The saw is currently running a .125 Kerf Blade and testing of thinner kerfs is in progress.

    Greg Wine and Pallet Machinery Group has worked with Gary Sill of Automated Industrial Technologies (AIT) to develop various stackers in the past and collaborated with AIT on this resaw project. AIT developed a prototype for North Star a number of years ago and has made some improvements to produce a saw that is working well now. This new resaw, called the HY400 due to its high-speed production rate, will be debuted at EXPO Richmond in May 2014.

     AIT made a number of key changes including the infeed rollers and the blade design in addition to electronic controls and a design that allows for easy access for maintenance and replacing worn blades.

    Getting the right balance between speed and efficiency can be difficult. Luscombe commented, “Trying to get the accuracy and the speed to work together can be hard. What we found is when we tried to increase speed, we would burn up blades. We wanted to run really fast and get an accurate cut.”

     The four keys to smart production are processing speed, ease of maintenance, changeover efficiency and operational costs. You can have top production, but if you drive up one of the other key variables too high, it will cost your company too much for the production speed you gain.

    Luscombe stated, “Pallet Machinery Group looks at the whole scenario. Too often companies just look at the production speeds. But your changeover times are too long. Your maintenance is way too high. There are way more moving parts than there needs to be. In the past we have had equipment engineered and built for us, but it has only been focused on production speeds.”

     Luscombe explained, “In the long term, this new design will help us save time and money. For example the process required to change the blade is very simple.” The old Producto saw required wrenches and virtually taking apart some of the machine to access the saw blades. The HY400 resaw features an easy-access panel door that makes it simple to change blades.

    Achieving savings and efficiency in these four key areas doesn’t come easy. And not all suppliers can deliver this level of experience and innovation. Luscombe said, “I have never had a machinery supplier approach a custom project the way that Pallet Machinery Group did, and it made a huge difference.”

    North Star uses the HY400 to process SPF dimensional lumber fed from a Pendu multi-trim saw. The HY400 is controlled by software to make some adjustments easier for users during changeovers. Luscombe said, “It is all push button controls compared to wrenches and such for making changeovers with the old style equipment.”

    In addition to the HY400, North Star owns a number of other pieces of equipment sold by Pallet Machinery Group including a Flex 61/62 M pallet nailer by Storti. This nailing line is composed of a tandem of mechanical nailers with rapid setting for stringer pallets. The design allows for rapid changeover.

     Luscombe stated, “The Flex machine has performed well, and Storti has been good to work with over the years.”

– Chaille Brindley