Covid-19 has forced many people across the world to stay at home. This has inevitably resulted in an increase in e-commerce and a massive increase in the need for cardboard and other wood-derived forms of packaging.
According to an article published in Timber Industry News on 27 July 2020 (Rising e-commerce demands optimised wood processing supply chains) the effect of this has recently been noted at the US Port of Savannah, Georgia, where, even as early as February, there was a marked rise in the handling of wood products.
According to the article, such a demand spike in the handling of these wood-based materials, so early into the onset of the pandemic, speaks volumes – literally. So how have companies met the surge? The explanation is, in part, straightforward – automation. The following is an excerpt from the article first published in Timber Industry News.
“Increased automation across all industries is becoming the new norm,” says Bruks Siwertell sales and marketing senior vice president, Ken Upchurch. “The pulp and paper industry have been using fully automated wood yards for decades and through the years of experience gained from supporting these customers, we have developed wood yard systems that utilise the best available technology for the wood pellet industry as well.”
Wood-processing facilities are, in fact, leading many other industries in terms of the extent of automation in their production chains. A notable example of a US industrial-scale, fully automated wood chip facility is Green Circle Bio Energy Inc in Cottondale, Florida. It began operations in 2008 and is now owned by Enviva Biomass. Since it began operations, the facility has gone from an annual green wood chip processing capacity of 500 000 metric tons to three million. This growth has been supported by a broad range of fully automated Bruks equipment.
“The wood yard, supplied by Bruks Siwertell, has proven to be a very reliable element of the Cottondale process,” continues Upchurch. “In fact, it is now seen as the industry model for high-volume wood processing.”
“Wood yard automation has been used for many years, but new advances in technology have made them even more reliable with higher capacities,” says Upchurch. “Automation has also improved safety and environmental aspects during the same timeframe.”
In addition to wood yards, Bruks Siwertell offers a range of dry bulk handling and wood-processing machinery that has set industry standards. All are geared towards efficient handling, the elimination of material degradation and waste, and the reduction of environmental impact.
One of its latest products is The Belt Conveyor, which is a pioneering new conveying system that has eliminated the use of traditional idlers under the belt, and instead employs a pressurised air cushion. For biomass – an alternative fuel now displacing coal at many power plants – it is a game-changer, eliminating dust emissions, conserving pellet quality and doing away with the extensive, costly maintenance demands of idler belt conveyors.