December 19, 2017
It has been a momentous holiday season for Freres Lumber Company! We are not only celebrating our 95th year in operation, but the world’s first Mass Plywood Panel has finally been produced! At 6:15PM, on December 18th, a panel 4” thick by 8’ wide and 32 ½ feet long left the press, culminating over two years of planning, developing, testing, and construction.
Plant 6: Mass Plywood Panel Production Facility
Excavation for the building began in March, and construction continued through the summer. Our general contractor, CD Redding, was on a very tight timeline as we needed to have a roof on our building prior to equipment delivery. We also needed heat in the building by December to support our production processes. On both counts, they delivered.
Equipment purchased from Stiles began arriving on site in September from North Carolina, followed by the manufacturer, Deal Fabrication. Deal was able to install many of the conveyors and other transfer equipment prior to delivery in October of production equipment purchased from Minda, an equipment supplier from Germany. Due to the modular design of their equipment, installation required only two employees from Minda, who were able to assemble almost all the physical hardware with the help of our own employees and Phillipi Construction.
The beginning of November was a very busy time for our project. We shut down our 24’ scarf line in order to move it to the new building, and to extend transfers and stackers to allow for 60-foot-long product. The scarf line had to be commissioned prior to the Stiles equipment so that we had product to run through the system to test. This set the clock ticking, and our electrical crews, Northside Electrical, West Coast Industrial, and RFS Protech worked hard, and successfully, to bring the scarf system back online by the second week of December.
Scarfed plywood was delivered to the MPP line where Aiken Controls designed a system to layup our panels. Spar-Tek Industries from Portland designed, manufactured, and installed a glue extrusion system for our panels. Coordination between all of the parties was key to the success of the project.
Mass Plywood Panel Production is Ready for 2018!
Thankfully the myriad of moving parts in this project came together to a resounding success, and the best Christmas present we could have received rolled out of the press. The final piece of the puzzle, which is the commissioning of the Weinnman CNC machine, will happen later this week. At that point many of the installation crews will go home for Christmas, and we will have some time to finish up any loose ends.
Many thanks are in order for the many people who worked on this project. A special thanks to Ed Setzer, who will be the Plant Manager for the facility, and Randy Carson, his Lead Millwright. They both put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort from the start.
We will be greeting the New Year with a new product, reaching new markets, and providing new opportunities to the construction industry. It is our sincere hope that these opportunities carry our company through another 95 years.