Timber Measurement Society Central Committee Meeting, Reno Nevada
28-29 October, 2008

The meeting was attended by 38 people from the US, Canada, Switzerland and Chile. The difficult economic situation in the forest sector had a negative impact on attendance, which was about half the level of last year. However, those that were able to make it, benefited from excellent speakers and presentations, not to mention nice late Fall weather. Below are summaries of the topics that the speakers covered as well as downloadable copies of their presentations.

A fresh look at taper rates for butt-cut logs – Scott Dodson, Vaagen Bros Lumber, Colville, Washington. Scott reviewed the statistics that he gathered on taper rates for various species and diameter classes of butt-cut logs delivered to the Vaagen mill in Colville Washington (NE part of USFS Region 6). Scott showed that the scanning on the merchandiser uses 3d (X-Y) profiles which accurately measures diameters every 4” and also measures crook and sweep, and thus is very accurate for assessing taper rates. The upshot of Scott’s finding was that USFS Region 6 taper rules used for butt-cut logs significantly overstates the log volume in this region (Northeastern Washington). Scott also discussed the findings of the taper study in nearby Idaho (Region 1) which closely matched the taper rates that they found in their study. Scott requested that the USFS (which sets the standard for scaling rules) review taper in the area to come to their own conclusion. Click here to view Scott's presentation on the merchandiser log scaling, and here to see the data on taper in butt-cut logs.
Review of various measurement methods in the pulpwood industry around the world – Christian Paccot, Director, Woodtech Measurement Solutions, Santiago, Chile. Christian presented the various methods of measuring pulp logs from around the world. He outline the methods of measure of pulp, mainly stacked measure but also hand scale and weight. He showed that stacked measure can be manipulated by the way logs are stacked. He showed that logs down for 6 weeks can lose up to 25% of the weight (depending on weather conditions and species). The pros and cons of each method was discussed and these included wood sample, to establish oven dry weight, and water submersion weight measure. View the presentation.

Managing and measuring Port Orford Cedar – Ken Lovelady, Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding, California. Ken discussed the natural range of Port Orford cedar (POC), which is limited to the Northwest California and Southwest Oregon. The tree resembles red cedar and yellow cedar, however the wood is very light and has a pleasant smell (although it can be quite strong and even create respiratory problems in some people). Unfortunately, a root fungus is slowly killing off this species in much, if not all, of its range. Ken said that POC prices used to be $8,000-$20,000/mbf but now are much less given the apparent loss of Japan’s market for this wood which had spiritual significance for many Japanese. He mentioned that it is sometimes difficult for some scalers to differentiate this species from incense cedar, however the wood tends to be much lighter in color, has a powerful and unique smell, and the intercept point between outer and inner park is much different when sliced into. He also mentioned that Port Orford cedar does not have the characteristic pecky rot of incense cedar, however, it will have center rot on occasion. To learn more about Port Orford Cedar click here.

How to select the best sampling system for different types of timber cruise stands – Jon Aschenbach, Resource Supply, LLC., Tigard, Oregon. Jon discussed the various types of sampling systems used and why one uses one system vs. another. If one picks the wrong sampling system, you might get the wrong answer even if all measurements are done perfectly. Jon provided a key to picking the best sample system, which he was quick to point out is just a guideline as all systems have their strength and weaknesses. The main point being, one has to look at the particular aim of the cruise, the stand type, whether acreage can be accurately determined, etc., in order to assess the best method. This should be done before any field work is attempted. View the presentation.

Logmeter 4000: An example of whole-load scanning technology applied to Wood Measurement – Christian Paccot, Director, Woodtech Measurement Solutions, Santiago, Chile. He showed the products that they developed for Arauco and other companies. Their scanner is designed to be driven through by a logging truck and the scanners and software measures log attributes such as log diameters, length, and straightness. This system can measure over 900 truck loads a day. The system uses the attributes of the outside (visible) logs to extrapolate the attributes of the inside logs. For pulp about 20% of the logs are visible and for sawlogs about 40-60% are visible. The new lasers that they are using are 30 times more intense than the old and produce images as detailed as a photo. Most of the mills are + or – 3%, 95% of the time. There are two models to measure logs and one to measure chips. Part A of the presentation; Part B.

Measuring the volume of chip piles, bark piles, and hog fuel with Laser Rangefinders and MapSmart software – Jon Aschenbach, Resource Supply, LLC., Tigard, Oregon.   Jon mentioned several different methods of measuring chip piles. Historically, stock piles have been measured via an estimate, pacing, GPS, or Laser range-finders. Using a laser rangefinder with a built-in compass is ideal for measuring stock piles. This type of laser rangefinder needs some additional care when used in close proximity to metal (such as a pulp mill etc.). The Impulse laser rangefinder can be used with an angle encoder and is therefore not subject to attraction to metal objects. The advantages of both of these systems is cost; in that one can relatively easily measure the displaced volume of a pile and they are significantly less expensive than an aerial measurement with LIDAR. Both systems utilize the MapSmart software from Laser Technology to establish displaced volume and accuracy levels are within + or - 5% of engineering standards. View the presentation.
Getting the most out of measuring logs: adding value to an already valuable job – Clifford Lengstorf, Plum Creek Timber Company, Columbia Falls, Montana. Cliff outlined additional values that can be obtained from scalers. These included gathering more information about the logs such as grade, attributes, quality control information, dual scaling in different units, and the fact that the scaler is in the best position to quantify and communicated these, e.g., quality control to procurement, foresters, logging contractors, etc. Cliff also outlined other areas where scalers can add value, such as log yard inventory, mill tests, calculating monthly usage, etc., and that by being in control of the entire “circle” of the deliveries – inventory – usage calculation; there is better cohesion and understanding of the variables. View the presentation.

Timber industry economic forecast – Henry Spelter, USFS Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin. Henry showed us the importance of U.S. single family housing starts for wood products demand and illustrated its precipitious decline over the past three years. Its collapse, down about 60% since 2001, contributed to the disappearance of one third of the North American market for solid wood products.  Beginning around 2001, housing prices increased at a much faster rate than incomes and this, together with liberal lending practices (such as variable rate loans), created an environment where many new home buyers suddenly found themselves unable to make mortgage payments when interest rates began to climb in 2005. From their peaks lumber prices have dropped 30% and OSB 50%. Log prices, however, have dropped at a slower rate than prices for wood products, which has put mills under severe financial pressure. The only good news, which is mixed, is that the trade deficit has started to drop as a result of the weaker dollar. View the presentation.
Wood fiber - reductions in saw mill residues, increased chip and hogged fuel price volatility and meeting supply needs for pulp, reconstituted panels and the growing biofuels market. - Mark Kendall, Oregon Department of Energy, Salem, Oregon. Mark gave us an overview of the current markets and policy changes that are driving demand for biofuels. These included the move to mitigate potential for large wildfires, the current high costs for fossil fuels, and the desire to reduce greenhouse gases. In Oregon there is 50 million dollars of investment in cellulosic alcohol production. Within 7-10 years, Mark predicts that there will be more money made from carbon sequestration than will be made from wood products. Forest slash is an area where there is the greatest potential to increase biomass production. View the presentation.
New Allegro MX hand-held data recorder and log scaling and cruising software for handhelds that predicts primary and secondary products recovery – David Dean, Electronic Data Solutions, Jerome, Idaho and Matt Fonseca, UNECE, Geneva Switzerland. David presented the new Juniper Systems Allegro MX, which uses Windows Mobile Six. It is faster than the previous model and has built in wifi and bluetooth. David was scheduled to show a program that he and Matt Fonseca have been working on; however there was not time to put the test program into a handheld format. Matt Fonseca showed the excel version of the program, which if setup properly will predict product output, in primary products (lumber, plywood, veneer, pulp chips) and secondary products (chips, sawdust, shavings, peeler cores, etc.). It is also setup so that if a mill produces several products; e.g., studs out of small logs; boards, dimension lumber or veneer out of big logs; the program will separate these products (when the scaler indicates end-use by type) and the volumes of the primary and secondary products will be totaled. The program has default recovery values that are “typical” but is also tunable to individual operations. View the presentation. View a data example
New Idaho log scaling manual – Ernie Bauer, Idaho Board of Scaling Practices, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Ernie covered the history of the Idaho scaling handbook. The first handbook, vocational education (VoEd) #38 was produced in the 1960s. In 1974 it was revised and widely used. In 1985 the orange USFS handbook was published and this became the standard for scaling in Idaho. When the orange USFS handbook went out of print, the decision was made to develop a new scaling manual as a ready reference of Idaho scaling standards rather than depend on an out of print handbook. Ernie walked us through the various chapters and features of the handbook. Ernie then went on to show the various areas where IBSP scaling standards have been modified introduced or clarified. The manual is available on the IBSP website.  View the presentation.
USFS strategies for measuring low-valued roundwood and biomass - Ken Cormier, Forest Measurements Service Center, USFS, Fort Collins, Colorado. Ken defined the USFS definition of woody biomass. Despite its low value, they still need to know volumes. 3P remote sensing is a method that is low cost and has proven very useful. Pile estimation is being studied as is fix count, which can be used to derive tons. They are currently reviewing and validating these methods, as there has been little work done on this in the past. Randomized branch sampling is one method used to measure branch and foliage weights and importance sampling appears to be a promising method for bole wood. View the presentation.
Advanced log scanners – Ludwig Fleischhackl, Microtec, Salmon Arm, B.C and Brixen, Italy. 
MiCROTEC is a European company that continuously invests in Research & Development of state of the art scanning systems and automation solutions. The goal of MiCROTEC is to offer highly accurate, calibrated and integrated solutions to optimize sawmill equipment, scale volume and maximize recovery. TOMOlog maps accurately knots, detects metal and defines bark from wood with feed speeds up to 780 feet per minute. SCREENlog + adds high resolution image processing with the objective to build a data file system where to archive 3D images of the logs with respective information about geometrical dimensions and quality for further review in case of need. ViSCAN for logs allows predicting stiffness with accurate precision. CT.log is an advanced prototype of the world wide first computer tomography for logs and is implemented presently in Germany. The aim is to deliver extreme detail richness likely to a crystal clear view inside the log at high conveyor speeds. The CT.log will be used for clear grade assessment, for easily separating wood volume from bark and, above all, to deliver the incredible opportunity for optimizing the log (and lumber) based on knowing where and how large internal characteristics are, such as limbs, decay and shake. Given the tremendous amount of data, this product is waiting on computer processing that can formulate it under production conditions.  View the presentation.
How to determine what a log is worth: Modeling break-even log values – Matt Fonseca, Timber Section, UNECE, Geneva. Switzerland. Matt gave an introduction on how to use sales price for lumber and residuals, recovery and manufacturing cost to calculate what a log is worth. He went on further to show how to use mill studies to determine average product values and use these to build a product matrix in order to value lumber (or veneer) by diameter class, grade, species, etc. He also showed how to model manufacturing costs using production rates by diameter or dimensions for size sensitive processes, e.g., primary log breakdown vs. the drying costs. He strongly suggested using cubic log volumes for the model and then convert to mbf or tons as a final step. View the presentation.

Some pictures

Chairman, Matt Fonseca Vice-chairman, Dennis Moore (in green) Secretary-treasurer, Thelma Alsup Scott Dodson
Christian Paccot Jon Aschenbach Ken Lovelady Ludwig Fleischhackl

Henry Spelter Mark Kendall Ken Cormier David Dean
Cliff Lengstorf Ernie Bauer Huge lodgepole pine 40 miles west of Reno Meeting room on day-two (not the best)

TMS Central Committee Officers and Contacts

Chairman: Matt Fonseca                     Matthew.Fonseca@unece.org

Vice chairman: Dennis Moore            

Secretary-Treasurer: Thelma Alsup    4alsups@centurytel.net

See the 2006 Central meeting page

See the 2006 intermountain meeting page

See the 2007 Meeting page

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                     Updated on 19 November 2008Updated 2008-11-16