Economy

New log machine symbolises turning point in Tumba mill’s recovery

Edwina Mason27 October 2021
Timber from the Tumbarumba Mill

Timber from the Tumbarumba Mill supplies one in four new homes across the NSW market and beyond. In better days, the daily volume of structural framing produced on site would stretch from Tumbarumba to Melbourne. Photo: Supplied.

The fact that few trees are dead straight has played into planning at Tumbarumba’s Hyne Timber Mill, leading the company to invest in new machinery to help combat the current timber shortage.

A new quad roll log turner has just become part of the world class armoury at the mill, as part of a program of efficiency upgrades following the industry-crippling bushfires of 2019-2020 which destroyed more than 50,000 hectares or 40 per cent of the NSW resource.

Local suppliers

Local suppliers were brought in to assist with the install as opposed to flying in the Canadian suppliers with the current COVID overseas travel restrictions. Photo: Supplied.

COVID lockdowns and disruptions, freight problems and soaring international prices also combined to reduce timber supply in Australia at the same time government stimulus sent demand soaring within a tight timeframe.

Timber from the Tumbarumba Mill supplies one in four new homes across the NSW market and beyond and, in better days, the daily volume of structural framing produced on site would stretch from Tumbarumba to Melbourne.

The mill’s site manager, Gary Evans said the manufacturer faced a long future of sourcing logs from further afield with high freight costs so gaining efficiencies to saw the highest possible quality timber from every log processed at the site was essential.

“Most recently, as part of the site improvements with the support of the NSW Government, we have installed and commissioned a new and upgraded Quad Roll Log Turner,” he said.


READ ALSO: Tumba timber mill’s future hangs in balance


“In short, trees are natural and usually not dead straight. This machine is the latest, high-speed, high precision log scan and log rotation system to helps us to process those logs in the most efficient way to get the highest recovery.”

The unique equipment was purchased from USNR in Canada to complement the rest of the sawline and presented a unique opportunity to engage local suppliers to assist with the install as opposed to flying in the Canadian suppliers with the current COVID overseas travel restrictions.

Mr Evans said part of the mill roof had to be removed to crane in the log turner.

“It was no mean feat, requiring two cranes, lots of planning and careful mid-air transfer to avoid a sprinkler main line,” he said, “but it was work which was successfully undertaken by local crane suppliers and operators.

“The equipment was up and running immediately, fully functional and we are already seeing the performance improvements.” Mr Evans said.

Timber machine

The machine is the latest, high-speed, high precision log scan and log rotation system which helps process logs in the most efficient way to get the highest recovery, says Tumbarumba site manager Gary Evans. Photo: Supplied.

He said the upgrade had positive flow-on effects.

“Using local skills and trades saw approximately $50,000 diverted to local suppliers including electrical, civil, hydraulics and fabrication from communities such as Gundagai, Albury, Wagga Wagga and Tumbarumba,” Mr Evans explained.

The successful installation of the quad roll log turner has already skipped Hyne Timber ahead of schedule in delivering its milestones for the NSW Bushfire Industry Recovery Package.

The total Tumbarumba Mill Optimisation Project cost is $5,979,043 with $2,989,522 support from the NSW Government Bushfire Industry Recovery Package Stream Two.

Member for Albury Justin Clancy was on site recently to inspect the new installations, the latest in sawmilling technology.

“Along with the NSW Government assisting Hyne obtain further timber supply from Walcha they help secure the viability of the mill,” he said, “after many challenges following the bushfires this offers a positive way forward.”

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