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Wespine replaces 5 kilns with one super kiln

Wespine has placed its future on a firm footing with a new Continuous Drying Kiln – the largest in Australia – that produces a more energy efficient and enhanced product. The $8 million CDK, at the company’s Dadanup plant near Bunbury, has the capacity to dry 180,000 cubic metres of timber per year. It replaces five existing kilns that operated with older technology. Source: Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz

The new technology – a different drying and reconditioning technique in the kiln – will allow Wespine to cut its gas usage by 40% and lower its electricity consumption 25%. Ground water usage in the drying process will be reduced to zero.

“This technique also allows for the wood to be dried at a lower temperature, which will result in timber that is less stressed,” a company spokeswoman said.

The new CDK is 127 metres in length (including loading zones), is about 14 metres wide and about five metres high.

The processing time for the wood depends on the size and moisture content of the timber being dried.

“As a guide, 38-millimetre thickness timber would take about 42 hours inside the chamber,” the spokeswoman said.

The company had no plans to build an additional continuous drying kiln.

“The newly built CDK meets the current capacity required by Wespine,” she said.

The sawmill has operated at the Dardanup site since the early 1980s, with Wespine starting the current sawmill operation in 1992.

Over the past 25 years, production has consistently grown, with capacity now between 450,000cm and 500,000 cm each year.

Wespine chairman Andrew Webster said the opening of the kiln was a major milestone.

“It will be critically important to secure the business into the future,” he said. “The whole project has been a success.”

South West contractors involved in the project put in more than 16,000 hours of work for the work to be completed. The project was completed on time and under budget.

Wespine managing director, Patrick Warrand, said it was the only major WA sawmilling operation in the Dardanup region’s timber hub.

“The sawmill is centrally located to a large volume of renewable plantation timber and next to the Laminex particle board plant and the Bunbury Port,” he said.

“The proximity to these services was an important factor in determining the location of the mill many years ago.”

Wespine, which is owned equally by Laminex (a Fletcher company) and Wesfarmers, sources its timber from WA’s Forest Products Commission and private growers.