Thursday, 28 December 2017 18:13

Could 2018 be the year to develop your own hardwood lumber grade?

 Those familiar with the hardwood lumber industry know that we conduct business with each other based on an agreed upon standard of product grading rules.   All of us involved in the industry put a premium on maintaining the integrity of the grading rules and conducting transactions with one another accordingly.

custom grade lumber IMG 4298However, even within those specific hardwood lumber grading parameters, characteristics of the boards manufacturers receive can vary greatly. This is because hardwood lumber grades are based on the percentage of usable cutting units that can be achieved from the individual board.  Couple this with the fact that the norm in hardwood lumber packaging is random widths and random lengths and a manufacturer can certainly see a spectrum of lumber variations that could impact their overall usage yields in today’s high-tech manufacturing process.

But there could be a better way to purchase your hardwoods.  What if you could develop your own grade of lumber based on the specifications of widths, general characteristics and overall clear lengths of usable fiber that work best for you when producing your products?  You can! We call this process developing your own custom lumber solution and we work with our customers all the time to create these customer specific grades.

When we embark on a project to develop a custom lumber solution we suggest the following points be the foundation of the engagement.

Be sure the complete production process is fully understood.

To be successful we find it is critical for your hardwood lumber supplier to really understand the complete production process. Knowledge of how your products are made, what type of materials work best, how labor factors into the equation and how the lumber conversion process takes place helps architect a solution that ensures you receive more usable fiber per load.   

Focus on lumber value versus the price per board foot.

We find it is important to focus on how specific types of hardwood lumber boards perform in your manufacturing process.  Size, shape, color, defect placement, etc. can all impact lumber yields and using price per board foot as the only gauge of measurement could be miss leading. Many times, taking a broader approach and including different factors (such as total usable fiber, supply reliability, delivery schedules, inventory costs, waste removal and labor handling costs) can determine more precisely the overall impact the lumber you use will have on your company.

Place open communications in the center of the effort.

Frequent, open and honest communication will be critical in any custom lumber solution effort.  Sharing results, concerns, issues and positive outcomes will only help enhance the process.  Expect to engage in several formal and informal meetings.  Share reports, calculations and all the analytic data you have openly. You will be surprised how many new ideas and suggestions for improvement you can uncover with your supplier.

At Baillie, we have been working with our customers for decades developing customer specific products. If you think this is something you might be able to focus on in the new year contact us today. We are here to help you succeed.

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber Co.
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