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LightSORT™ Green Veneer Moisture Measuring Technology

A Revolution in Veneer Drying

The new LightSORT™ Green Veneer Moisture Measuring Technology from Westmill Machine Automation Ltd, represents a quantum leap forward in the accurate measurement of green veneer moisture content. Forward-looking mills have already begun installing this cutting-edge technology that promises to render existing Radio Frequency (RF) sensor heads obsolete in the near future.

Read more about RF sensor limitations here...

Collaboration Yields Results

The LightSORT™ technology is a co-invention of Dr. Chunping Dai (Forintek Canada Corporation), and Westmill Machine Automation Ltd. Development efforts were undertaken as a joint venture between Forintek and Westmill, with additional funding support provided by the National Research Council’s IRAP program. Westmill has exclusive world-wide development and distribution rights for the LightSORT™ Technology (U.S. patent approved, world-wide patents pending).

According to Dr. Dai, Forintek and the Forintek member mills chose Westmill over other competitors for a number of reasons:

  1. Westmill's close working relationship with both Forintek and the key industry players,
  2. Westmill’s capacity for continuous development and improvement of this technology,
  3. Westmill presented the strongest commitment towards the project.

Mills adopting this exciting new technology can expect:

  • Precision-tuned drying times, leading to greatly reduced over-dry and re-dry rates
  • Reduced energy consumption and costs
  • Increased overall dryer production
  • Greater control of the green-end sorting process
  • Comprehensive moisture data for every veneer stack

How it Works

LightSORT™ is based on cutting-edge CCD camera and LED light-transmission technologies. First, the system pulses light of a specific wavelength through the veneer. A highly sensitive CCD camera captures an image of the veneer, which is then analyzed through a series of complex algorithms designed to determine the exact peak and average moisture content for each sheet – no matter what saturation, species or peel thickness. In very basic terms: the higher the moisture content, the more light passes through the sheet.

This technology works extremely well on veneers with high moisture content (greater than 40%) – a chronic problem for Radio Frequency sensor heads, which require consistent contact with the veneer. With LightSORT™, the costly mis-sorting of veneers will be a thing of the past.

Light passing through heavy sap (left), light sap (middle) and heart wood veneer (right) determines the exact moisture content.

Technology Comparison

The new LightSORT™ Green Veneer Moisture Measuring Technology replaces the Radio Frequency (RF) sensors that dominate the industry today. LightSORT™ calculates veneer moisture content in order to pre-sort veneer sheets prior to the drying process – but with a significantly higher degree of accuracy. Here is a comparison of the two technologies:

  Radio Frequency (RF) LightSORT™ GVMM
Accuracy in measuring veneer moisture Lab tests have shown the RF heads are highly inaccurate, even when a sheet is held securely against the sensor head. A small 1mm distance between the veneer and RF sensor affects the reading by 50% – and at the high speeds that green-end conveyors run, it’s virtually impossible to keep the wavy veneer in contact with the sensors. The development of this technology was driven by the inability of the current electrical sensors to accurately measure veneer moisture. The new technology requires no contact with the veneer during the measuring process. Laboratory and mill trials have shown that Westmill’s GVMM is two to three times more accurate than RF sensors.
Sorting and drying With existing technology, veneer drying consumes 80% of a mill’s energy costs. Mills today face significant costs in re-drying and over-dry-ing, which creates substantial bottlenecks in the production process – simply because the initial moisture measurement was inaccurate. Testing at various mills that included Douglas Fir, Pine, Hemlock, Spruce, Balsam Fir and Aspen showed very good results in increased sort accuracy:

Along with a conservative 5-10% reduction in drying times.
Costs A recent Forintek survey of mills showed that each 1% loss in drying production – caused by the inefficiency of the RF sensor heads – is costing the average mill an extra $150,000 to $180,000 per year in lost profits. Benefits include energy savings, increased veneer quality, recovery improvement through reduced dry-stacker losses, and increased ‘glue-ability’ of the more consistent veneer.

Conservatively, we estimate an annual sav-ings of $750,000 to $1.8M per mill.

Introduce the LightSORT GVMM Technology to Your Mill Comparison

The benefits of this technology far exceed your existing RF moisture sorting technology, and no major modifications are required to introduce it into the existing line. The first LightSORT™ units are already being installed, so act now to maintain your competitive advantage.

About Forintek Canada Corporation

Forintek Canada Corp. is Canada’s national wood products research institute. The institute is mandated to provide support to the forest products industry in areas such as optimizing manufacturing processes, extracting higher value products from the available resource, and meeting customer’s expectations for performance, durability and affordability.

Based on priorities identified by mill members and government advisors, Forintek delivers technological solutions to industry partners. Areas of investigation include:

  • lumber processing
  • panel production
  • value-added wood products manufacturing processes
  • end-product attribute evaluations (i.e. quality testing)
  • wood drying and environmental protection
  • building systems

and so on.

Forintek also conducts market and economic studies and plays a key role in the development of national and international building codes and standards.

More details about Forintek can be found on the Forintek website.

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