Freres Lumber turns panels with Caldwell Posi-Turner

Freres Lumber,Caldwell Posi-Turner,Mass Plywood Panels,Lyons,Oregon,U.S.

Freres Lumber Co Inc is using an 11.25 tonnes capacity Caldwell Posi-Turner to turn loads at its Mass Plywood Panels facility in Lyons, Oregon.

The Posi-Turner, which is designed to rotate bulky and hard to handle objects during manufacture or assembly processes, is operated beneath the hook of a 15-ton capacity overhead crane to flip panels in the lumber and timber company’s finishing area.

The 180,000ft2 facility (one of three Oregon locations) is serviced by seven overhead cranes, ranging in capacity from 5 tons to 15 tons, all provided by US Crane & Hoist, also of Oregon. Some of them are fitted with two hoists and tandem lifts are commonplace at the world’s first veneer-based mass timber production facility.

“We needed the ability to flip panels and the Posi-Turner has been a fantastic fit,” said Kyle Freres, vice-president of operations at Freres Lumber, said.

He added: “Typically our panels weigh about 37lbs/ft3. The largest we have picked with the Posi-Turner, and oriented upright onto a drop-deck trailer, was 12in thick, 12ft wide, and 48ft long – and weighed a little over 10 tons.”

The Posi-Turner represented a significant cost saving versus an alternative mechanical solution and operates at the heart of the Mass Plywood Panels operation. As Mr Freres explained, commercial timber construction is a growing industry in the US due to its sustainability and ability to be pre-manufactured, which can cut construction costs and dramatically reduce labour.

The facility produces panels in 8ft, 10ft, or 12ft widths, up to 48ft long, with thicknesses ranging up to 24 in. Almost all products present a requirement for custom computer numerical control (CNC) work in order to reduce labour on the job site, meaning practically that the company – and the Posi-Turner – handle a wide variety of product dimensions.

“We move product from our conveying system by crane to our CNC decks, and then off again when work is complete,” said Mr Freres. “We handle them again in the finishing area for many different activities including painting, attachment of pick points, and other tags. We also flip many panels depending on the requirements of the job.”

Recently the company produced a mat product with two half-lap edges on each item. The Posi-Turner was used to flip every other panel to add pick points on alternating sides so that the half-laps would fit together properly when the pieces were laid down.

“We take what looks like a standard sheet of plywood – but isn’t – and scarf it into a long product called structural composite lumber,” said Mr Freres. “We use 4ft- and 2ft-wide billets to construct larger panels to the appropriate size required for the project. Those pieces are sent to a CNC machine to be finished. From there the panels are sent to finishing for any last touches and are then shipped to the job site.”

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