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Did you know? » Making use of technology at Kiwi Lumber’s Masterton sawmill
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Very little of the logs that arrive at Kiwi Lumber goes to waste!

Photo: Kiwi Lumber

New technology and modern equipment are used to automate many of the sawmill’s operations. As each log enters the sawmill it is run through a scanner which calculates the best way to cut the log to obtain the maximum amount of usable timber. The log is then automatically sawn to those specifications, and the timber pieces sorted by machine into different lengths and sizes.

The cut timber is then dried at a temperature of 110˚C for 24 – 48 hours in large kilns which are heated using boilers fueled by sawdust and wood shavings.

Next stop is the planer mill where timber is machined by a high-speed planer and given the required finish and appearance.

Finally, timber products are treated with chemicals to preserve the wood, preventing rot and insect damage. Kiwi Lumber recently installed a brand-new $6 million treatment facility for its outdoor timber products, so that this step could be managed on site too.

Most of the logs processed at the sawmill come from nearby Wairarapa forests and are turned into structural framing timber and outdoor products which are used to build new houses and commercial buildings throughout the North Island – you might even be inside one right now!

Of the logs that arrive at Kiwi Lumber, very little goes to waste. As well as using sawdust and planer shavings to fuel the boilers for the kilns, wood chips generated in the sawmill are sent off-site to be turned into pulp for making paper. Planar shavings are also sold as animal bedding, and bark can be sold as a garden product.

There are 90 people in Kiwi Lumber’s Masterton team. Sawmill staff receive special training to operate each piece of equipment, including specialist “saw doctors” whose job is to keep the saws sharp and in top condition!