By Paul Miller Jr.
Liberty, PA—Located on a 40-acre facility in the Appalachian Mountains, Wheeland Lumber Co. has come a long way in the Hardwood production industry. A fourth generation family-owned and operated sawmill, the company is a manufacturer of lumber products, servicing the world markets and constantly growing with the demands of the wood industry. Lumber is produced in thicknesses, from 4/4 to 12/4, with nearly 30 percent of the company’s Cherry, Oak, Maple, Ash and Poplar being exported to more than 20 countries around the world.
A clear focus on secondary wood manufacturing and value-added marketing has kept the firm in the forefront of the world marketplace.
Located in the lumber-history rich mountains of North Central Pennsylvania, close to the Susquehanna River, the company produces more than 8 million board feet of Hardwood lumber cut from some of the finest Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Ash and Oak logs in the world.
Wheeland Lumber recently reinvested in new equipment and operations to ensure efficient, quality products. Derek Wheeland said 2013 has been a year of improvements and upgrades.
“We recently installed a new 62-inch McDonough horizontal resaw with the McDonough MAXX Infeed and Tipple Outfeed system. This system was designed to replace our existing 54-inch McDonough and Pinheiro vertical resaws. With the new McDonough resaw system we went from running two resaws to operating and maintaining current production through one saw. After the operator chooses which face to saw and makes the thickness decision, the width scanning and PLC take over. At that point, the cants index automatically and the feed speeds through the saw change depending on the size of the cant. We are achieving speeds of 300fpm. We looked at various options when deciding on which direction to take. Our main objective was to eliminate personnel and reduce the amount of downtime or hang-ups associated with our vertical resaws. All of our cants are sized through our resaws, and without having a gang-edger, we were left with a thin shim that created many problems downstream. With the horizontal resaw, the shim is left on top of the cant and then is automatically discharged into the waste conveyor.
“Our trimeline was another area we focused much of our attention on. After evaluating and speaking with Riley Smith at TS Manufacturing of Lindsay, ON, we developed a solution that would eliminate two positions just by automating and improving material flow. First of all, we moved our existing HMC drop-saw trimmer downstream an additional 50 feet and elevated it to over 10 feet high. This allowed the needed room to add the necessary equipment to feed material to a lug loader. Then the material goes onto the sloped grading station at which point the boards are graded and read by the grade mark reader and the automatic fence positioning system positions the boards according to the grader’s marks. The controls of this system are provided by Automation & Electronic (AE USA), based out of Ruston, LA. We have had great success with the guys from Automation & Electronic as they did a complete upgrade to our edger scanning in 2011.
In addition to our sawmill overhaul, later this year we will be adding a new Cleereman linear carriage and upgrading our existing headrig Innovec 3-D scanning to the new USNR YieldMaster G3 upgrade. The system that’s currently running is becoming outdated quickly, and spare parts either are not available or difficult to get. During the later part of 2014, we will be installing a 33 bay bin sorter with a complete stacker system. This system will integrate flawlessly with the new trimline and controls recently added.”
Located in an area heavily affected by the Marcellus Shale, a natural gas play, Derek said finding skilled laborers is very challenging. “By installing new machinery, we’re able to reduce labor and improve material flow.”
Wheeland Lumber also offers specialized services and secondary manufacturing, which continues to grow with the industry. The process starts with a fully computerized double-band headrig equipped with USNR YieldMaster G3 scanning and linear positioning. The company accommodates 3 million board feet of dried lumber with nine dry kilns at a total capacity of 500,000 board feet. Along with shipping kiln-dried lumber, some specialized services include: Clear strips, S2S, gang ripping, straight line ripping, optimized cross cut, moulding and millwork, edged and face-glued products and end matching.
A 100-plus-mile procurement range centered in some of the best Hardwood forests of the Appalachian chain gives the company access to the highest quality timber sources to be found, according to Ray Wheeland. The firm manufactures 2.5 million board feet through the secondary manufacturing facility, as well as purchasing kiln-dried items from valued suppliers.
Wheeland Lumber Co. has 80 full-time employees and more than 25 sub-contractors. Many of the workforce at the facility have been with the company for 15+ years, through the growth that the company has encountered.
Wheeland Lumber updates its machinery to stay current with the times, and one thing has stayed the same. The company’s commitment to providing its customers with the best products and customer service has not changed in the company’s history, nor will it change in the future, according to Ray.
“Hard work, honesty and determination are the values that motivate our employees and are the basis for our continued growth in the industry,” Ray said. “We have always believed that one needs a vision for the future, that change is a healthy motivation for growth, and the result of this outcome promotes a strong unity of people working together to accomplish a common goal. We take pride in our products and services and are experienced and dedicated to providing top quality forest and lumber products our customers can rely on.”
Wheeland Lumber Co. is a member of National Hardwood Lumber Association, Hardwood Manufacturers Association, Pennsylvania Forest Association, Penn-York Lumbermen’s Club, Wood Products Manufacturers Association, American Hardwood Export Council, International Wood Products Association, Sustainable Forestry Initiative of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Forest Products Association. For more information visit www.wheelandlumber.com.