Laidig At The Heart Of Operations

Time is money.  When a company loses time to equipment break-downs or failures; they also lose money. And it’s impossible to get either of those back.  To prevent these losses, companies need to invest in equipment that works and reduces or eliminates any downtime on equipment that is critical to their operation.  What companies really need is to partner with an equipment supplier they can rely on. 

Banks Hardwoods is a hardwood lumber kiln drying facility, with two locations in Michigan and one in Wisconsin.  Banks purchases lumber from area saw mills and brings it into their facility and then supplies the finished product to lumber distributors, lumber yards and cabinet makers.  At the heart of their operation are large kilns that are used to dry the purchased lumber.  Banks has over 30 dry kilns in their facility, and the drying process is a valuable step in their operation where they can’t afford any equipment malfunctions or failures. 

In their daily hardwoods operations, Banks produces a lot of saw dust and wood shavings that are reused for two key purposes.  The main use of the wood by-product is to fuel their boiler system that heats all of the kilns used to dry the lumber.  The main boiler is constantly fueled and runs 24/7, utilizing wood by-products from their production lines as its energy source.  They are fed into the boiler metering bin from a storage silo and automated reclaim system. 

When not being used to fuel the boiler, the wood by-products are sold by the truckload to farms and wood pellet mills for other uses.  The truck load-out of materials is more prominent during the Summer months because the dry kilns do not require as much of the wood waste materials to burn in order to reach the appropriate temperature due to warmer outside temperatures.  In the Winter months however, the materials are primarily used to feed the boiler and keep the kilns operating at the required temperatures.  If the boiler can’t be fed due to reclaimer malfunctions, the domino effect takes place and hinders Banks’ operations.  If the boiler can’t produce heat, the kilns don’t reach temperature, the lumber can’t be dried, the lumber loses its integrity and Banks loses its product, sales and revenue. 
The silo and reclaim system has to work properly to prevent a total shutdown.  When they don’t, it causes major problems for the people at Banks.  Scott Meyer, who is the maintenance supervisor at Banks Hardwoods knows full well of the repercussions if the reclaimer fails.

“Our reclaimer system has to work.  We have to be running and can’t have down time.  We’ll never get that time back, and when something does go wrong, it’s a nightmare.  We need the reclaimer and boiler system to constantly be working efficiently and effectively.  It’s that simple.”

Banks has experienced this nightmare before.  They previously had a reclaim system that didn’t perform as it needed to.  It was a pole and chain unloader system inside the silo.  The chains would get wrapped around the pole, forcing the reclaimer to stop, and thus interrupt the flow of materials to the boiler.  When it malfunctioned, it also created a major safety hazard for the maintenance crew.  It was extremely time consuming and difficult to untangle the chains, but it was the only way to get the reclaimer and boiler running again. This was something that Banks couldn’t afford to have happen.  They needed an innovative and solid reclaim system solution.  They began talking with Laidig. 

Laidig reviewed the situation and listened to the needs Banks had and developed a reclaim system solution that would have a dual purpose, be more efficient and was guaranteed to work.  Laidig installed a Model 533 Cantilever, hydraulically–driven reclaim system, complete with a 15-foot discharge auger.

This hydraulic reclaim system works at two different speeds in order to satisfy both of Banks’ material flow needs. However the needs of the boiler will always have first priority in the Laidig system.  The high-speed reclaiming function allows for free-flow load-out of the wood materials into the trucks in about 30 minutes per truck.  The low-speed function allows the reclaimer to fill the metering bin for the boiler to heat the kilns for daily operations.  When the boiler needs fuel, the Laidig reclaiming system switches to low-speed to fill the boiler metering bin.  Then when a truck comes into the silo to load, the system gate slides back to allow the high-speed mode to initiate and complete the load out. 

Banks realized the Laidig Reclaim System was the best solution for their needs.   The Laidig Model 533 Cantilever, hydraulically–driven reclaim system is at the heart of the Banks operation and assists them in keeping their business running.  It’s been a great partnership for both Banks and Laidig. And Scott Meyer is glad he has been a part of it.

“I’m glad we bought the Laidig System.  Now, I don’t even worry about it.  I’ve got other plant issues to worry about.  If we have a problem, I know it will get fixed.  We can’t be down.  We have to run.  It is just that critical to our overall business.”