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A 3Phase Case Study for WestFraser – Blue Ridge Lumber

Blue Ridge Lumber’s high speed log merchandising system

Blue Ridge Lumber mill is owned by WestFraser, the largest lumber producer in North America operating 40 mills across Western Canada and the southern United States. The Blue Ridge mill is located in Blue Ridge, Alberta, and was acquired by WestFraser in 1995. The company has been constantly improving production with better equipment since that time, and 3 Phase is proud to be an integral part of that process.

A high speed log merchandising system was installed in 2004, and since that time the Blue Ridge Mill has become one of the company’s most efficient sawmills. The log merchandiser cuts stems into shorter logs after optimizing them for the best value by scanning, deciding which saws to use, and then cutting with a series of saws which travel on a track along the length of the stem.

These five saws are controlled by an electro servo drive and motor actuator, a technology that is replacing hydraulically actuated arms in the industry. This electrically powered system avoids the need for any hydraulics, which has many benefits:

  • Hydraulics require more maintenance for hoses, cylinders and seals, which can cause oil leaks and other problems.
  • Electro servo controls are more energy efficient: 85% efficient vs. hydraulics which are 50% efficient at their best.
  • Electro servo controls are environmentally friendly without the need for oil and oil disposal.
  • Electro servo controls are more accurate, with better precision in position, speed and force.

3Phase had installed the original servo system in this mill 12 years ago, and this new installation provided a much-needed upgrade. The original system had utilized a DeviceNet communication system, while the new system now features Ethernet/IP. This is easier to integrate with a process control system and communicates much faster.

It was also becoming more and more difficult for the mill to find replacement parts for the aging system. The new system uses current software and diagnostic tools, making it much easier for the mill staff to operate and maintain, and will be reliable for many years to come.

3Phase designed, assembled and tested the system at 3Phase Power Systems at our facility in Delta, BC. The exhaustive testing processes we employ allows us to install and start up systems efficiently and without major interruptions to production.

Contact us with any questions or to inquire about other custom power solutions.