Scanner technology is among Wintersteiger’s core competencies and is applied in systems for timber surface repair as well as in diverse sorting lines. Perception Park, a company that specialises in chemical sensing and scanning technology, now supplies to Wintersteiger the Perception HEAD, a special solution that uses hyperspectral imaging (HSI) technology. This allows chemical characteristics such as blue stain, weak spots, branch decay, galls, and knotholes to be precisely scanned & machined.
Chemical sensing is used for applications where raw materials need to be analysed and/or sorted based on chemical information. It is used in the food-processing industry, the recycling industry, and diverse medical technology applications. The benefits of this new inspection technology will become available to future customers of Wintersteiger.
Marcus Weissenbrunner, head of strategic product development at Wintersteiger, explained his vision for how the HSI technology could be used: “Our current scanner technology gives us information on the geometry, position, color, and size of a defect, such as a knot or a crack in the wood. Our solutions from the Timber Repair & Cosmetics product group can then automatically clean or machine out the defect and permanently fill it. Hyperspectral imaging will then additionally tell us about the structure of a defect. So, only those defects that would cause problems in the downstream process, such as knotholes, can be pinpointed and removed. That way, you can achieve a more natural look.”
Another application example can be found where there is a need to distinguish heartwood from sapwood when cutting green round timber, such as pinewood, according to Wintersteiger. Since the color of the heartwood will only change on contact with UV light, production has to be halted to be able to definitively detect the differences. Using the Perception HEAD means the wood can be scanned and classified at the sawing stage.
Wintersteiger is currently testing hyperspectral imaging for other customer requirements, such as for moisture measurement to trace signs of decay when analysing glued joints in multilayer boards or when detecting resin. Weissenbrunner pointed out: “In addition to our existing scanner technologies, hyperspectral imaging gives us much more information and is opening up completely new application areas in wood processing.”
The cooperation saves costs in later production steps. Variations in quality in lumber, engineering timber, etc. can be identified, enabling more accurate pricing. Its use also represents a benefit for the end customer, since the quality of timber products can be better matched to the application.
This cooperative development between the Woodtech Division of Wintersteiger and Perception Park is set to further strengthen the position of both companies in the market.