Monday, May 11, 2009

Sawmilling Industry in State Timber Corporation

Asha Dissanayake

State Timber Corporation is a government corporation responsible for harvesting and marketing wood from State-owned forests and forest plantations. The corporation is involved in the extraction of timber from forests, conservation of such timber, maintenance of finished products, sale of logs and sawn timber.

Sawmills are the primary processor of the raw wood, logs. A sawmill take the log and turn it into a product that is desired by the secondary industry. This product is usually a board, but it could be chips, sawdust, excelsior, or even firewood. Each sawmill has their own customers. These customers are the secondary industries, they all produce different products that the consumer purchases.

Kaldemulla and Ratmalana are the major sawmills operated by the State Timber Corporation. The STC have number of sawmills all over the country. Kaldemulla Saw mill produce lumber for manufactured furniture for their own furniture show room. However in Ratmalana sawmill, saws not only STC timber they also provide services to the private customers. Furthermore there is a timber depot centre to sell the timber.

These two sawmills have horizontal band saw machines. Bandsaws are the most widely used cutting tool in the primary breakdown of logs. Band saws result in less sawdust and more lumber due to a smaller kerf.

Logs brought into the sawmill pass through a process to produce the finished product. First the logs are debarked. Removing the bark removes the dirt and debris in the bark. Next the log is cut into boards. The boards may pass through several saws, edged and cut to length to produce the finished product. Then the lumber is stacked and dried in large kilns. Boards are graded and sorted to be bundled and sold to the markets.

Proper maintenance of the bandsaw blade is very important for the efficient sawing of lumber products. Punching, tensioning, straightening, leveling, swaging, setting, and sharpening are major processes that should be carried out in bandsaw blade maintenance. In these two sawmills there are specialised saw doctors to maintain saw blades and there are automatic feed mechanism to perform saw setting. Kaldemulla and Ratmalana sawmills use two different saw setting methods.

There are so many problems associated with sawmilling and wood product manufacturing. There are environmental problems, employee safety problems and maintenance problems of both machines and workers. Sawmilling industry is a profitable industry for the State Timber Corporation. However due to political interference, inefficiency of some workers and lack of new technology the sawmilling industry in STC is not performing well.

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